Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 14, 2014
While Soundgarden, Lady Gaga and the Butler Park Hendrix tribute grabbed the big headlines Thursday, plenty of local bands took stages in various states of career development. Here’s a look at how three of them fared up and down the East Sixth Street corridor:
Mastersons, 10 p.m. at Velveeta Room: Though this husband-wife team released one of 2012’s best records ("Birds Fly South," made before they relocated from New York to Austin), they played not a single track from that debut, putting all their chips on "Good Luck Charm" (due in June on New West Records). It was a smart bet: The new material pushes the Mastersons’ considerable potential to a new level, blending tasteful Americana with muscular, melodic guitar-pop on songs that drew the small-club full house directly into the moment. A revealing bonus: Whenever you see bassist George Reiff on stage with a band, you know they’re deserving of attention.
Abram Shook, 9 p.m. at Driskill Victorian Room: The longtime Shearwater member’s debut solo disc "Sun Marquee" came out a couple months ago with a release party at the Mohawk, so this was a lower-key affair by comparison. Still, Shook and a sizable backing ensemble delivered a lively and eclectic set to the crowd at the Western Vinyl showcase, with male and female backing vocalists lending an extra dimension to the sound on several songs. Shook opened the show with an acknowledgment of Wednesday’s tragedy on Red River Street, playing a sweet song solo acoustic before kicking into full gear with the band. The only down side was the length of the set; allotted 40 minutes, they played less than 30, leaving at least two or three songs on the table.
Painted Redstarts, 8 p.m. at Shotguns: Though it would be wrong to expect too much too fast from this under-18 band that features next-generation ringers William Graham and Marlon Sexton, there’s no doubt they’re onto something. Sexton’s a recent addition, and he’s kicked the Redstarts’ stage presence and song chops up a notch; what was a group with potential now feels like a real, full-fledged band. Their sound seems to draw more on ’80s new wave than ’90s-’00s indie rock, which is somewhat surprising given their ages but perhaps sensible when considering their lineage. They’re also smart enough to keep the songs short and to the point; all three tracks on an EP they’re giving away on their Bandcamp page come in at just under three minutes. Thursday night, they also reached back to "Rock and Roll in the Street," a song Graham wrote when he was 6 and which they’d revived at the Austin Music Awards on Wednesday night. The glorious set-closer was a cover of the True Believers’ "She’s Got," first played in January at ACL Live as part of the marathon multi-artist United Sounds of Austin show.