Show Review: The Contortionist & Intervals

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Written & Photos by Taylor Kokas

Recently The Contortionist and supporting band Intervals made a few stops on their latest tour in Texas. The Reimagined tour is unlike what most fans of this genre are used to, with only two bands on the ticket both were able to play much longer sets, and if you spent a little extra for the VIP experience you would’ve gotten access to a Meet & Greet, signed merch and exclusive first listen to The Contortionist new EP.

Instrumental band Intervals started off the night with “Touch and Go” which is the first track off their latest album The Way Forward. The rest of their nearly hour long set consisted of songs off The Way Forward as well as their previous record The Shape of Colour with songs like “I’m Awake”, “Sure Shot”, and “Leave No Stone” that warmed up the crowd.

Now it was time for progressive metal band The Contortionist, who would take the stage for the next two hours. As a signal that they were about to take the stage the lighting changed to a dim purple hue while Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” began to play and the crowd erupted into a chorus. Then the lights went dim and the outro to “The Parable” with its mesmerizing instrumentals paired with archive speeches from philosopher Alan Watts set the tone, leading into their first track of the night “Language I: Intuition”; the second track off their previous album Language. Next a couple of tracks off their latest album Clairvoyant, “Reimagined” and “Godspeed”. Followed by a throwback to their heavier roots “Primal Directive” and “Flourish” from their debut album Exoplanet. The Contortionist finished off their first half of their set with “Clairvoyant”, “Return To The Earth”, “Integration” and “Language II: Conspire” before taking a fifteen minute break.

After their break they started off the second half with acoustic performances of “The Source” and “The Parable”. Fans were also treated to a cover of The Smashing Pumpkins hit song “1979”. To close out their set they played two more off Clairvoyant, “The Center” and their emotional encore “Monochrome(Pensive)”. Having been lucky enough to catch two of their stops in Texas I have to say it was one of the more unique and intimate concerts I’ve ever experienced. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_gallery interval=”3″ images=”4911,4910,4912,4913,4915,4914,4916,4917″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Show Review: Make Them Suffer @ Come and Take It Live

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Written & Photos by Taylor Kokas

The symphonic metal/deathcore band from Perth, Australia have made their way back to the lone star state on their latest US tour supporting Erra and two headliners who are both celebrating the 10 year anniversary of their albums; Acacia Strain’s Continent and After The Burial’s Rareform.

Last time Texas fans saw Make Them Suffer they were on their own headlining tour for their album Worlds Apart. Although its their latest album, Make Them Suffer chose a selection of some of their heaviest and more well known tracks for this tours setlist. Which I assume is due to the fact that they knew the type of crowd that would be attracted to this tour. Their set started off with one of the heaviest tracks off World Apart Vortex (Interdimensional Spiral Hindering Inexplicable Euphoria)” which would also be the only song that they would play off that album for the remainder of the set. From there “Fake” a chaotic track from Old Souls, “Widower” their hit single off Neverbloom, “Blood Moon” another Old Souls track, and to close out their set “Ether” a track from their combo album Old Souls & Lord of Woe, which represented the new direction they took going into Worlds Apart that leans more toward metalcore rather than deathcore.

My only complaint with their set is the lack of newer material, over this summer they put out a single titled “27” in my opinion it could have fit into their setlist seamlessly but I totally understand the choices they made in order to attract newer fans from a heavier crowd while showcasing their range within such a short set.[/vc_column_text][vc_gallery interval=”3″ images=”4900,4899,4901,4904,4902,4903″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Show Review: Parkway Drive, August Burns Red, The Devil Wears Prada & Polaris at House of Blues Houston

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Written & photos by Taylor Kokas

It’s been nearly two years since Parkway Drive last visited Texas. Now on their latest touring cycle promoting their 6th studio album Reverence, the Australian natives have made their way back to House of Blues Houston. This time they brought along August Burns Red, The Devil Wears Prada and fellow Australian band Polaris. I sympathize with anyone who wasn’t able to make it to the show. Having been a fan myself for the past 6 years I’ve missed every opportunity to witness a Parkway Drive performance until now. This was definitely the chance of a lifetime.

Polaris kicked off the evening, playing songs off their latest record The Mortal Coil. Songs like “Relapse” and “The Remedy’’ were perfect for the crowd to warm up to and to be ready for the madness that would continue to build throughout the night.

Next up was The Devil Wears Prada whose set consisted of songs off the latest album Transit Blues and 2009’s hit record With Roots Above and Branches Below. TDWP also sprinkled in some other songs like “Escape” from 2010’s Zombie EP, “Born to Lose” 2011’s Dead Throne, and “Planet A” from their Space EP. Finally concluding their set as they always have with “Danger: Wildman”.

When August Burns Red took the stage the venue erupted. The floor literally shook to the rhythm of the crowd bouncing up and down when they started off their set with “King of Sorrow”, “Martyr”, and “Invisible Enemy”. Lead guitarist JB Brubaker flawlessly shredded away at his Ibanez guitar in sandals, as he always does. The remainder of the set consisted of songs ranging across their catalog, from “Composure” off of 2007’s Messengers all the way to 2017’s Phantom Anthem.  After their set concluded, drummer Matt Greiner hopped off the kit to greet fans at the front row.

Finally for the highly anticipated set of the night, Parkway Drive. As haze and darkness fell upon the room, the crowd cheered, and the spoken word intro of “Wishing Wells” set the tone. *BOOM* “Until I’m done!”, all hell broke loose from there, and it was only just the beginning, continuing to warm up the crowd with tracks like “Prey” and “Carrion”; an old favorite. The band went on playing a variety of new and old tracks, ranging from their latest records Reverence and Ire all the way to their, now, 11-year-old sophomore . Along with nods to Deep Blue and Atlas. It’s really tough for me to pick favorites with this band because every song is so massive and full of energy. If I had to pick I’d have to say “Dedicated, “Boneyards”, and their encore “Bottom Feeder” all three of which I think just express invincibility. I witnessed many fans that night throw down in the pit, letting the music take them, and so many came running to the back of the venue to catch a breather for the remainder of a song, then got upset when their next favorite came on because they wanted to spend whatever energy they had left on it. When the night concluded, I walked out of the venue with my hearing muted, limping down the stairs to make my way to the food trucks outside the venue. Many others from the show sat in silence eating with friends, probably reflecting on the insane night that was just experienced.

The Devil Wears Prada will be on their 10-year anniversary tour, playing With Roots Above and Branches Below in its entirety, and is set to be back in Texas in early December. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_gallery interval=”3″ images=”4869,4868,4867,4866,4863,4862,4861,4860,4871,4872,4873,4864,4865″ img_size=”large”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

NxNRG

Written by Amye Bueno
Photos by Wes Eng

Students gathered at NxNRG
Students gathered at NxNRG

As part of Stress Less Finals Week, and a chance to show off students’ talent, Student Life specialist Josh Garcia, hosted the first annual North by Northridge(NxNRG) showcase. “NxNRG is a showcase of student artwork of all different mediums” says Garcia.

Artwork included paintings, photography, digital art, and more. “We were going to have some music but the weather was kind of unpredictable today,” says Garcia. The weather was predicted to be a high of 86 with clouds in the sky and possible rain.

Northridge is known for hosting many creative and design departments including creative digital, music business, animation and more. Students submitted artwork and set up tables along the breezeway with their artwork on display. There were also interactive tables where students could paint flower pots, a friendship bracelet making station hosted by Riverbat Ambassador Dorothy Alexander. Plus, Student Life hosted a swag station with finals necessities like scantrons and pencils. Chick-fil-a was also nearby to show their support for students with sandwiches and prizes.

Students making friendship bracelets
Students making friendship bracelets

Wrapping up NxNRG, students had one last chance to de-stress by giving the piñata their best shot. This created an opportunity to network and interact with other students, faculty, and staff. As this was the first NxNRG, Student Life hopes to host this event for students every semester.

“Student Life is an opportunity for students to connect with their campus, with pretty much everything relating to outside of the classroom” says Garcia. Aiming to help students succeed in and out of the classroom, and connecting them with resources, Student Life is here to help students at ACC. “Student Life has done a lot, a lot for me, it’s another place I can call home” says gaming student and aspiring Riverbat Ambassador, Ty Howard.

If you would like to get involved or volunteer, stop by your Student Life office located on your campus or visit austincc.edu/sl for opportunities and resources available to you.

Q&A with Sego

Written and Photo by Nathaniel Torres

Sego, a Utah born and LA transplant band, was featured on NPR’s “The Austin 100″ and played their second official SXSW showcase this year.  The band was founded by members Spencer Peterson and Thomas Carroll and has since expanded to include Alyssa Davey (bass) and Brandon McBride (synth and guitar).  The band captures their audience by enveloping them in a groovy mirage. A sound I compare to a short-lived age of 90’s pop. A sort of mix between The Verve and Blur. Despite the older references, Sego stands on their own today while their crowds sing and dance to their tunes. If you needed any more convincing to take a listen just know the band’s cover of “Young Turks” was approved by Sir Rod Stewart himself.

How many SXSW have you attended/played?
Spencer: Second [as Sego]. We were here three years ago right after we started. Alyssa [bassist], this is her first time. She’s just getting acclimated to the noise.

Had you heard or known about SXSW before coming out?
Spencer: I’ve been here a bunch.  I was coming with different bands for years.  I’ve been to SXSW like 6 times maybe and it just continues to change every time I’m here.
Alyssa: I had always heard about SXSW. My dad actually was always pushing this other band I was in to go to SXSW. He was all about it.

Was it difficult getting an official showcase?
Spencer: It’s been relatively easy for us, in the past though. It’s interesting because you get one show and you are coming all this way for one show, but then within the month you end up picking up ten different showcases. As all these bands descend upon Austin there’s all this sifting and settling of the load. I feel like it’s hard because you have to put in some time, but once you’re kind of like in there, it really kind of pays off. You can find shows if you really push for it, even if you are not official. I’ve done SXSW [with different bands] three years in a row – not being official – and we played awesome huge shows. It was great.

How was your travel out here?
Spencer: We are trying to make a loop of it. A lot of out-of-state bands will try to make a route into and out of SXSW; which makes it tough touring in and out of SXSW because all of a sudden it means every band is routed on the same timeline and the same place.
Alyssa: I found that with a friend of mine; their band played here. They did the same thing and made a tour out of it. You’re already going out there so do some shows on the way and do some shows on the way back.
Spencer: It kind of creates a weird road culture where all these little towns that normally don’t get big bands are overwhelmed. All these bands need a place to play. Places most people haven’t heard of get decent shows leading up and coming away from SXSW. This place moves like a small little economy outside of Austin just because of so much cross traffic.

What are your feelings on the atmosphere? Were you well received?

Alyssa: The people here are into music because clearly they’re at a music festival but in a different way. It’s an appreciation. Here it’s a little different because you’re seeing so many bands that you don’t know that you’ve never heard of, so it’s like new ears every time.
Spencer: Yeah the whole attitude is different. It’s still cool.

Badges are quite expensive and the word is that artists do not really make a profit.  What are your feelings on this?
Spencer: I think everybody treats it like a loss. I knew one band that actually made money on a show…and it blew my mind. We pay out just to get here, just get the opportunity. Personally, I go into it assuming that it’s just a wash. You can offset the loss a little bit by booking some shows in and out and making it more purposeful.

Does the festival open doors? What are the benefits of getting out here?
Spencer: Yeah and close some. Most people here are here with a purpose and have some industry clout. We had a crappy show and it turned cool people off on us. They were at that show and they were actually kind of high rollers. So, we learned the hard way you should never mail in a show, ever…especially at SXSW because you never know who’s out in the audience. It’s not like a random tour stop. Whether [it’s a] label or PR people, I feel like every time I’m out here I meet people I forge friendships with and relationships with.

What were some other things you got into while you were here?
Alyssa: Barbecue!
Spencer: I feel like I got to get some barbecue while we’re in town.

Will you be doing SXSW again or coming back our way sometime soon?
Alyssa: I hope.
Spencer: We have nothing in the books as of right now but I feel we come out here about every once a year, year and ha alf. So yeah, we’ll be back soon.

Sego is well on their way making the tour back home where the brisket is lacking. They are making sure to stop in their origin city of Provo, Utah where they say they always receive the warmest welcome. Sego’s music can be found on Spotify where you can also listen to their Audiotree Live set. They are also on social media if you’d like to give them a shout out. Just don’t expect it to compare to acknowledgment from Sir Stewart.

Q&A with Bad Pony

Written and photo by Nathaniel Torres

Broadening the scope internationally I spoke with Bad Pony, a five-piece from Down Under. Bad Pony has now traveled to North America twice and is the recipients of Australian Music Week’s prize of 2017.  The band is the result of Jarred and Sam’s need to break out of their previous band’s bluesy genre. Searching for their own sound, they poached a few other front men from different bands, divided the percussion responsibilities, and now showcase their individual talents as Bad Pony.  They brilliantly stitch together an array of genre sounds and tempos within their music, dropping bass and transitioning to a bluesy upbeat one song and then exposing their Aussie roots and relating it to a funky soulful chorus the next. I had the privilege to speak with the entire band which along with Jarred on vocals/percussion and Sam playing guitar/percussion also include Mark on bass, Cron on guitar and Isaac on synths/percussion.  This was the band’s first SXSW appearance.

Had you heard or known about SXSW before coming out?
Mark: Of course!
Jarred: It’s been a dream of mine just to come and see music here. When I was growing up I used to see bands who were quite low-level, then they’d come here and they’d blow up. It seems like a whole world of promise and potential.
Sam: The idea of SXSW in my head is I get to see all these bands that I’ve dreamt about seeing for so long and then walk into a random pub and stumble upon something brilliant I’ve never heard before.

How was your travel out here?
Isaac: We flew into LA. That was killer.
Mark: It’s about 24 hours, in transit, to get from home to Austin so that was two days of our lives spent super excited and anxious.
Jarred: If we could have come straight here that would have been amazing. LAX is like my idea of hell. It’s my least favorite place in the world.

What are your feelings on the atmosphere? Were you well received?
Isaac: The crowds here are just so welcoming. Just really, really up for a good time.
Jarred: Everyone has been so nice to us and looked after us.  Even the accommodation we stayed at, the dude gave us a great deal.
Sam: He just wanted Australian beer.
Jarred: He gave us three extra units in his house for a six pack of beer!

Badges are quite expensive and the word is that artists don’t really make a profit.  What are your feelings on this?
Isaac: We are just artists man. We just play. We don’t know the business side of it.
Jarred: We’re happy to be here – we didn’t have to pay a $1,000, so we’re happy.
Sam: I did.
Jarred: No, we did. We did.
Mark: Much more actually.

Does the festival open doors? What are the benefits of getting out here?
Sam: We had people see us two days ago who were just walk-ins and that’s one of the biggest benefits. They have no idea that you’re about to play and catch your set. Then, 15-minutes later they’re organizing an interview with you.

What were some other things you got into while you were here?
Sam: Everyone I worked with was like, ‘Man you’re going to Texas. It’s all about the barbecue sauce and the meat. And it was absolutely about the barbecue sauce and the meat.  It was everything I hoped it would be and I fell in love

Will you be doing SXSW again or coming back our way sometime soon?
Isaac: In a heartbeat.
Jarred: No brainer.
Isaac: As soon as possible.
Sam: All it takes is an email.

Bad Pony, who easily spent the most time and money (out of the bands interviewed) to get out here, expressed extreme gratitude for the opportunity not just to play but to see other bands performing.  They were recently picked up by Arow Agency and say they never take too much time off from touring stating that they easily become bored when not on the road. The band is high spirited on and off stage expressing there’s nothing better than getting to tour around the world with their best mates. Bad Pony’s music can be found on Spotify but make sure to check out the acoustic videos on YouTube made during their stay here in Austin. For a more in-depth interview including Mark’s SXSW reaction story and Isaac’s PSA keep a lookout for the full video interview.

 

Q&A with Löwin

Written by Nathaniel Torres
Photo by Sarah Vasquez

I spoke with Sara Houser (vocals) of Löwin, an Austin band that debuted SXSW in 2014.  The band regularly plays at establishments such as ABGB, Hotel Vegas and Barracuda. They feature a female vocalist who’s soothing croons accompany a unique blend of guitar melodies and hooks over a solid low end.  Löwin played seven shows this year and their members have been performing unofficial shows for the festival every year since they started calling Austin their home.

Was it difficult getting an official showcase?
Sara: I’ve played SXSW [unofficially] pretty much every year that I’ve lived in Austin, but this is the first year that any of the bands I was in actually made it as an official artist. I think [unofficial shows] are the case for a lot of Austin-based bands. From what I understand Austin-based bands are kind of last to be considered. We were lucky that we fell into a booking agency that helped usher us into SXSW as an official artist.

What are your feelings on the atmosphere? Were you well received?
Sara: All the shows we played were amazing. The crowds at SXSW are always refreshing because people are engaged and they’re moving around and dancing – not like your typical Austin crowd who have seen and done everything. People are generally out to enjoy themselves. It’s not their run-of-the-mill show.

Badges are quite expensive and the word is that artists do not really make a profit.  What are your feelings on this?
Sara: I think a lot of show-goers maybe don’t take into consideration that most of the shows that we’re playing that week are free; meaning we don’t get paid to play. We had a couple of shows that did pay us…not a lot. But all four of us had to ask off work, which for Chris and I…SXSW is a huge money-making week. We didn’t go into it hoping to make a lot of money.  We were just hoping to reach a fan base that, otherwise, wouldn’t have seen us…and that’s what’s cool about it.

Does the festival open doors? What are the benefits of getting out here?
Sara: Exposure for sure. We used it as kind of a testing ground for all of our new material that we’re going to be releasing, shortly now that SXSW is over. We connected with lots of great photographers and lots of new fans – but as far as did we have anybody walking up to us after a set waving contracts at us, no. Being an official SXSW artist is a great thing on a resume for any band. There is a level of legitimacy it brings to the table.

Even for the local veterans of SXSW there was more to learn about the festival stating that reaching out to the industry side of the festival could unlock further potential for the band.  You can catch Löwin at Barracuda March 30 and keep a lookout for that new material to be released. Until then, they have a few singles available on Spotify. Just hold down the “o” on your phone keyboard to get “ö”.

Photos of SXSW 2018

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Photos by Tracy Fuller

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MBPT Calls For SXSW Volunteers

Written by Tracy Fuller

Now that the spring semester is in full swing, Spring Break is looming on some minds. Whether traveling out of town or doing a staycation, Spring Break is typically the time for decompressing.

Conveniently, Spring Break falls during the live music capital of the world’s most famous festival, SXSW.  As many know, SXSW’s Festivals are divided into Interactive, Film, Music, Comedy and Gaming.

Typically SXSW’s Interactive covers a wide array of technology related panels with the potential to form connections for networking.

SXSW’s Film Festival is a mecca for global and national cinema releases. This year has an incredible 132 film features. This would be a good time for film lovers to get in and check out what is premiering. In fact, for any enrolled student, there is a substantial discount that you should probably take advantage of by going here.

ACC’s Music, Business, Performance + Technology (MBPT) department is calling for volunteers to assist in SXSW’s Music Festival. Many times, these volunteers have the opportunity to assist in stage operations throughout the festival. In fact, some previous ACC MBPT students have become Stage Managers due to their experiences as a volunteer. The volunteer call is general, so there are plenty of options for MBPT and other students

For more information please reach out to gschulma@austincc.edu.

Show Review: Snow Tha Product Gettin’ It At Empire

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Written and photos by Tracy Fuller

I have been a fan of Snow Tha Product’s music for about five years now, but oddly enough, I have never seen her perform in concert. So naturally, when the opportunity arose to review this show after the Sound On Sound Fest cancellation, I jumped on it. Snow, originally from San Jose, California, ended up moving to Texas in 2010. It was then she started to make a name for herself by performing here in Austin at South By Southwest.Snow The Product

This performance was originally scheduled to take place at Sound On Sound Festival but was rescheduled to take place at Empire Control Room.

Within the first few minutes of her hitting the stage, I realized that this is no ordinary hip-hop show, this was a full-fledged party! You could quickly call this a family celebration, since it was the last stop on Snow’s tour that her mom would be present.

Snow is not your average hip-hop artist. She could be pitted against the best of the best, and would utterly school them with her chopper styled flow. She transitions between spitting bars, melodic singing, and jumps between English and Spanish without missing a beat. Snow also does not not hold back when it comes to expressing her political views.

Snow kept the crowd turned up as she played a bunch of songs from her Good Nights & Bad Mornings 2 mixtape.  She performed “Play,” “Lord Be With You,” “Cookie Cutter B*****s”, “Business Is,” “Hopeless,” “Waste of Time,” and even took to crowd surfing for the hype party track “Gettin’ It.”

Snow and her fans have a robust Chicano pride in common. Between songs, she takes time to connect with them personally.

I couldn’t close out this review without giving a shout out to the venue staff at Empire Control Room. The staff are always on point and accommodating. For a Sunday night and a first-time experience with Snow Tha Product, I had an absolute blast – even with a 10:30 PM curfew![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/wfISNlnN0bI”][/vc_column][/vc_row]