Editor’s note: This article was originally published December 24, 2013
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds playing "From Her to Eternity" at Stubb’s, SXSW. The new album, "Push the Sky Away," and exceptionally chill vibe just didn’t do much for me, but even those songs warmed up a bit live during this dynamic set. However, when Cave and Co. kicked into this early Bad Seeds classic, one of the best songs about unrequited desire ever written, the show caught fire.
Two great Austin punk acts made four excellent albums. Wiry Austin punks Spray Paint and one-man psychedelic noise machine Quttinirpaaq each released two good albums apiece in 2013. ("Spray Paint" and "Rodeo Songs, both on S-S Records, for the former; "No Visitors" and "Let’s Hang Out," both on Rural Isolation Project, for the latter.) Austin’s tradition of trippy noise and scrappy amp abuse is almost as strong as its fondness for barbecue and burnt orange; nice to see it alive and well.
Anytime, anywhere that John Wesley Coleman got on a stage, either with the Golden Boys or with his own band. Absurdly prolific songwriter Coleman (six albums, a demo collection and a few singles since 2009, plus six albums with the Golden Boys since 2005) also likes to play out a lot, often at Hotel Vegas. Every time he plays, you’re reminded that you’re in the presence of Austin’s own Robert Pollard, a crank-em-out craftsman of a high and rare order.
Anytime, anywhere that Destruction Unit got on stage. It seems like these psychedelic noise rockers were here once a month for a while there, including multiple sets around festival season. Like clockwork, when they hit the stage, chaos reigned. The best live rock band in America? Entirely possible.
Depche Mode’s Dave Gahan and Martin Gore at ACL Fest. From the neck up, these 50-somethings looked at least every second of their age. From the neck down, in their early 30s. Kids, don’t drink or do drugs. Not everyone can afford personal trainers.