SXSW2000: 8 Days, 54 shows
Thursday, 16-March-2000

Doolittle Records Party @ Club DeVille
Always one of the best parties, although the legendary BBQ buffet had been replaced by a more basic Hamburger / Hot Dog buffet this year...

Mount Pilot @ Club DeVille (Doolittle Records Party)

Mount Pilot's Roots rock reveals itself with twangy electric guitars, homely progressions and sincere, melodic vocals. Imagine Matchbox 20 covering Wilco. - Kelly B. (

Mount Pilot kicked this years' party off with "Sunshine", one of their best songs, from their self-titled CD. And indeed, it was a sunny, warm and pleasant afternoon when the event started at 3pm. Later on, however, the band played "Rain", and huge dark clouds started to move in. They finished their set with a rousing rendition of "The Seeker". Another band that continues to grow on me.

Cindy Bullens @ Club DeVille (Doolittle Records Party)

"A rock singer/songwriter who appeared in Grease and sang backup with Elton John before cutting a series of albums of her own. After 1979's Steal the Night, Bullens did not return with new material for a decade, releasing a self-titled effort on MCA in 1989; another ten-year gap preceded the release of Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth, an album inspired by the tragic cancer-related death of the singer's 11-year-old daughter Jessie." -- William Ruhlmann (All Music Guide)

Cindy played a solo/acoustic set that was largely ignored by the audience - her songs were barely audible over the audience schmoozing + networking + munching. Then the rain started, which brought a few people under the tent and closer to the stage, but very few people knew who she was or why she was there (she's on Artemis Records). 

Hamell On Trial @ Club DeVille (Doolittle Records Party)

I bet our singer-songwriters can beat up your singer-songwriters. Okay, so he's moved out of Austin, but Hamell on Trial (aka Ed Hamell) is not for pregnant women and people with previous heart conditions. Sure he's just one man with an acoustic guitar, but he beats the crap out of his guitar and the audience with chords and stories so brutal that you'd believe even if they weren't true. -- Michael Bertin (Austin Chronicle)

A nice surprise: "Special Guest" Hamell started out on Doolittle in 1994, before getting signed to a major and moving to New York. His CDs are almost impossible to sell commercially, you have to see him live to get it. He took the stage like a storm trooper, assaulting and insulting everyone in reach, telling a few dirty jokes and delivering two songs in his typical machine-gun style guitar fashion. A riot, and a very entertaining one.

Trish Murphy @ Club DeVille (Doolittle Records Party)

An "Outsider" no longer, this Houston transplant hit the jackpot with last year's sparkling Rubies on the Lawn. Couching straight-ahead rock chords in shimmering pop melodies, Rubies is an album to play in the car as you try to decide whether or not to leave a note on the windshield of that cute girl you followed home from HEB. Good luck, buddy. -- Christopher Gray (Austin Chronicle)

There is no reason why Trish couldn't be the next Sheryl Crow. Her songs are good, but maybe she is trying just a little too hard to be a star. Her "Rubies On The Lawn" CD suffers from too much slick production. On stage and with the right band it's a different story: With all the unnecessary layers of Mainstream-Pop-Sugarcoating removed, the songs show their real quality. Setlist: Concession Stand Song, Paralyzed, Go There, Vanilla Sun, Relentless, Johnny To Blue, Outsider, These Boots Are Made For Walking

Hotwheels Jr. @ Blind Pig Pub

"This Austin four-piece plows through introverted, brilliant melodies, and blistering rhythm work like a bulldozer in a dirt bike race. ...tight, solid, bracing, riffy punk rock songs that, for the most part, are nothing short of inspired." - Christopher Gray (Austin Chronicle)

What a shitty place! You can't see the band unless you are right in front of the stage, which also means you are trapped between the entrance and the bar, and I won't even talk about the sound. It's hard to appreciate any band in there, but Hotwheels Jr. were good. Fast'n'Loud, but not afraid to throw in a bit of lap steel here and there. 

Kitty Gordon @ Babe's

"After their self-released Seven earned Gordon a big buzz for last SXSW's ASCAP showcase, it's been a relatively quiet but not unproductive year for ex-Borrowers Mark Addison and Nina Singh's local pop project. With one album in the can and a follow-up already nearing completion, as well as a live show that's finally jelled, if either album has songs as radio-ready as Seven, this will be their last SXSW as an unsigned contender." -- Andy Langer (Austin Chronicle)

A mixed experience. Some good songs, others sounded a bit too "modern". Also, I would argue that the live show is jelled - they threw in a few funk elements on one song, a few HipHop grooves on the next and followed it with a straight ahead Rocker. Let's give them another chance next year... 

54 Seconds @ Speakeasy

"That leader Spencer Gibb is the son of a Bee Gee (Robin) isn't so much a secret anymore, nor is it the real reason to see 'em. See 'em because Gibb's one of the town's most inventive guitar players and his haunting songs are full of surprising depth and passion. They're also a super-tight live outfit, featuring drummer J.J. Johnson, organist Stewart Cochran (Jimmy LaFave), and bassist Glenn McGregor (Ten Percenter)." -- Andy Langer (Austin Chronicle)

Outside it was raining again, hard. The Speakeasy wasn't too far away, and the description for the next three showcases sounded interesting. 54 Seconds play Psych-tinged Pop and were fun to watch: the grooviest light-show since Hawkwind, plus TV-sets tuned to static. 

Bukka Allen @ Speakeasy

"It's really no surprise that Bukka Allen grew up to musician. The eldest son of revered Texas songwriter/artist Terry Allen and multitalented playwright/songstress JoHarvey Allen, he was raised in a very creative atmosphere. Allen attended college at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston in the mid 1980's and moved to Austin after he graduated. When he arrived in Texas, he immediately became a fixture as a sideman and bandmate to several Austin artists, including Will Sexton, Kris McKay, Alejandro Escovedo and Beaver Nelson. Sweet Valentine, which Allen recently released independently, is a song cycle of sorts -- a remarkably fresh, deeply spiritual collection of mood pieces that combines his distinctive piano work, haunting vocals and simple, perceptive lyrics." -- Jim Caligiuri (Austin Chronicle)

Well-crafted songs, sometimes a little too piano-centric for my liking, and an ace band including Scott Garber on bass, that was able to support the songs from the quietest to the most dynamic moments.

Angie Aparo @ Speakeasy

"With the help of producer Matt Sereltic (Matchbox 20, Collective Soul), this Atlanta-based singer-songwriter/guitarist (Angie's a man, by the way) has offered one of the year's quirkiest major-label pop records, The American (Arista). The album's strong melodies, passionate vocals and subtly funky textures make Aparo a natural radio contender." -- Andy Langer (Austin Chronicle)
That sounded quite interesting. But maybe I should have read the following before making the decision to see this show:
"Aparo's powerful and dynamic voice attacks each moment, turning the tragic into the heroic, the seedy into the passionate. He fuses the anger of rock, the passion of folk, the edge of hip-hop and the electronics of the new millennium to create a singular sound." (SXSW Band Info)

I hadn't seen that many keyboards stacked on stage since late 70's. It wasn't a bad show, but there was nothing memorable about it at all. Mr. Aparo is trying a little too hard to fit into the "Modern Rock Radio" scene, and he ends up sounding like Queensryche doing Matchbox 20 songs.

The Pushbacks @ Buffalo Billiards

"Listening to the Pushbacks' "No Strings Attached,'' it doesn't take an expert to ascertain that John Freeman has the science of writing clean, punchy pop-rock songs down pat. Pleasing melodies backed by a wall of unintimidating rock 'n' roll are the basis for most of the Pushbacks' tunes. Strong, catchy numbers prove the Pushbacks might not be breaking any new musical ground, but they are currently one of the best local acts playing energetic, melodic rock 'n' roll. -- Amy Carlson (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

The quote says it all. John Freeman used to be in the Magnolias and now leads this old-school Minneapolis Pop-Rock quartet. Pretty average stuff...

Tim Easton, Sally Timms, Daryll-Ann, Jim Roll, Tara MacLean, Jennyanykind, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise, Stephen Bruton, Hazeldine, Kelly Hogan, Marah, Mark Eitzel, Poster Children, Hamell On Trial, Shaver, Therapy, Lonesome Bob, Fastbacks, Bevis Frond, Los Lobos, Podunk, Polara, Jon Dee Graham, Radar Bros, The Nomads, The Blue Rags, The Jayhawks, The Nixons, Dolly Varden, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, The Blacks, Waco Brothers, Phil Lee, Steve Earle, John Doe Thing, George DeVore, Barbara K, The Hangdogs

Show count: 33  ...  click here to read about the next day!