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Archive | July, 2015

Laird’s Library: One Blog Wonders

July 31, 2015

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For my latest Laird’s Library mix I decided to go with bands that only have one song in their folder on my hard drive.  So, in essence, I liked a track, wrote about it, and then either never looked into the band again or they just went about releasing stuff I didn’t like.  They’re all One Blog Wonders!  Get it?  You get it.  Enjoy.

:Explorers Club – Last Kiss:
:Dark Side Of The Cop – Shaky Little Rules:
:Eugene Francis Jr – Poor Me:
:The Oohlas – Small Parts:
:Chairs In The Arno – Winter Song:
:Etta Place – In Reverie:
:Dead Man’s Bones – My Body’s A Zombie For You:
:ultCult – Five Bedrooms And Two Lounges:
:Happy Birthday – Girls FM:
:Gentleman Auction House – The Book Of Matches:
:The North Atlantic – Scientist Girl:
:Electric Black – Our Love Is Smoking:

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Movie Breakdown: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Noah)

July 30, 2015

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The Impression:

You can call me a fan of the Mission Impossible franchise. Sure, like everyone else who has eyes and was forced to be subjected to John Woo’s second Mission Impossible film, I understand that there can be some flaws in the format, but overall these are entertaining films with a charismatic star and everything I’ve seen from film number 5 assures me that it’s going to be another enjoyable romp down Tom Cruise lane.

The Reality:

Let’s lay the Tom Cruise hate to rest before we get going. Sure, Tom Cruise is annoying, and he has been bad in one or two movies over his big, brilliant career and yes he’s a Scientologist who possibly forced Katie Holmes to be his wife and probably has a crystal planet floating somewhere in the universe. Does this affect the way we see him as an actor? It shouldn’t, so let’s just assume, while reading this review, that all of you love Tom Cruise and if you like or don’t like this film it isn’t predicated on the fact that he’s the star of it. Pretty much: Tom Cruise is a beast, and you need to get over it. That said, Mission; Impossible – Rogue Nation is, outside of the untouchable Mad Max: Fury Road, the best blockbuster of the summer. It’s a light, fun, spy-romp that has a cast of characters we’ve come to know and love (Simon Pegg, I am especially fond of you) slipping back into a slightly altered format and doing what the IMF does best – spy shit. This go around the government, again, has decided that the IMF is bad news and that it isn’t exactly up to code having them running around the world, blowing up shit. Just about the same time this is happening, Tom Cruise discovers that an “anti-IMF” called The Syndicate exists and well, it’s up to him to shut it down. Amazing character-driven, spy-action commences for the next two hours. Seriously, this is how a blockbuster should be done. It’s fun, but not entirely adrift on action scenes and good looking girls (though it has both in spades), instead director Christopher McQuarrie and his team inject a layer of subtext in regards to why we as world powers continue to indulge in spycraft. As always, Rogue Nation features a sort of anti-Bond girl, meaning a strong-willed, ass-kicking opponent for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt (this time it’s the very convincingly bad-ass Rebecca Ferguson playing a bad-spy-who-might-be-good-or-might-just-be-playing-good-to-do-bad-things) and it features Simon Pegg saying cheeky things, but more so it features the evolution of the relationships of these characters. We’ve spent almost 20 years with the folks from IMF (both Cruise and Pegg are showing signs) and instead of just bouncing them around like money-making pinballs, McQuarrie and team reminds us why not only we love to watch them spy, but that after mission after mission, these characters genuinely care about each other. It’s a little cherry on the top of a great entry into an already pretty fantastic franchise.

The Lesson:

Don’t hate. Seriously, I can smell your hating. Scrub off the odor and go see these film.

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Ought

July 30, 2015

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I really love Ought.  Frontman Tim Darcy’s rambly but somehow on-point vocal style is one of the more interesting things out there right now, and I just can’t get enough of it.  Below you’ll find their new single (and the one from before in video-ish form).  Soak them up and then share them with everyone you know.  Enjoy.

:Ought – Men For Miles:

Sun Coming Down is due out September 18 via Constellations Records.

Bonus Video:

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Movie Breakdown: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

July 30, 2015

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The Impression:

The fifth entry into the Mission: Impossible series has arrived.  There’s no reason to not be excited.

The Reality:

If I were to count how many truly bad movies that Tom Cruise has been in, it wouldn’t come anywhere close to the number of shitty films I’ve seen in just 2015 alone.  The guy knows how to pick ‘em, so I honestly went into Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation with the utmost confidence.  And why wouldn’t I?  The very talented Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow) both wrote and directed it, the trailers have been good, and – again -  it features the always reliable Tom Cruise.

As it turns out, I wasn’t wrong to assume the movie would be good.  Rogue Nation is a wildly entertaining film that’s pretty much the best Mission: Impossible entry yet.

The story isn’t too original – there’s a secret organization that’s bent on twisting the world to fit its own agenda – but that doesn’t really matter.  Overall, the film is epic (the airplane scene, the underwater sequence, the car/motorcycle chase), grounded (anything to do with Simon Pegg), cocky (all things Cruise and/or Ving Rhames), tense, twisty and funny when it needs to be, and it all amounts to something that very much never stops trying to engage you.  How many action flicks can lay claim to that?  Most try to dazzle you to the point to where you’ll willingly zone out until the next big scene, but Rogue Nation actually wants to steadily hold your attention.  I found this to be really impressive.

Those of you on the hunt for an entertaining action film will find a lot to love in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and I recommend that you see it ASAP.  If you’re not currently searching for such a thing, then why in the world would you even consider seeing it?  Stop being silly!

The Lesson:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ll watch anything featuring Tom Cruise.  The guy is 100% committed to his craft and I both love and appreciate his unlimited enthusiasm to entertain.

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Show Of The Week

July 29, 2015

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Gorilla vs Bear 5 (with Jamie XX, Lower Dens, Bop English, Tei Shi, Yumi Zouma, Prince Innocence) looks like an amazing time, but it’s sold out.  You can’t go.  So, instead I think your goal this week should be joining me at Empire Control Room on Friday for the Red Bull Sound Select showcase with Jeff The Brotherhood, Novosti and Mirror Travel.  Yes, I work for RBSS and am probably being totally biased here, but I’m certain it’s going to be a rad show.  JTB are always great, Novosti have an interesting sound that I’m excited to check out live, and Mirror Travel will be putting on their first show in Austin in a good long while.  Also, I hired a magician as a host.  A magician!  Not to mention the show is in celebration of Waterloo Records’ 33 1/3 Anniversary.  This is all good stuff.  Be there.

PS – The show is $3 with an RSVP, but if you’d like to be on the guest list for it, just send me an email.  I have some extra spots I can giveaway!

Here’s a few other shows worth looking into this week.

ThursdayMagna Carda, Gina Chavez, Alesia Lani, Emily Wolfe at Holy Mountain
ThursdayRuby Fray, Julia Lucille, Besos de Lobos, Molly Burch, DJ Moe Zilla at Hotel Vegas
FridayGood Graeff at Holy Mountain
SaturdayGhetto Ghouls, Flesh Lights, US Weekly, Decider at Hotel Vegas
Saturday101X Homegrown with Major Major Major, Migrant Kids, Good Talk, Desert Culture at Empire Control Room
SaturdayDanny Malone, Matt Hines, Ben Ballinger at Holy Mountain
SundayThe Gary, Benko, San Saba County at Cheer Up Charlies

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Movie Breakdown: Vacation

July 29, 2015

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The Impression:

Vacation has been given an update (thankfully, it’s more of a spiritual sequel than an outright reboot) with Ed Helms and Christina Applegate.  The trailers have been somewhat hit or miss on the laugh-front.

The Reality:

The original Vacation is a solid time.  Chevy Chase bumbles around, there’s a hefty variety of goofy jokes to be had, and then just when you’ve had enough you’re reminded that family is important.  Moral delivered!  The end.

The 2015 version of Vacation is somewhat the same.  Ed Helms (as Rusty Griswold) does indeed bumble about just as Chevy did on the original voyage to Wally World, and the concept of family is certainly hailed as the end all be all of creation, but the humor is in a completely different realm.  I don’t know if that’s part of the “updating” or what, but the new Vacation is as crass as can be at every turn.  Personally, I didn’t mind.  I laughed quite a bit at all of the ridiculousness on the screen and generally found the film to be an entertaining entry into the series, but I can see how some might just find the whole damn thing to be offensive.

If you’re really attached to Chevy’s Vacation, I’m not sure the new one is for you.  While it does feature nice callbacks to the 1983 film, overall it’s a louder (some would say dumber) effort that clearly wants to make you yell #OMG every few minutes.  On the other hand, if you’re like me and get a good laugh out of most things immature and kind of stupid, then I say catch a matinee and have some fun.

One late note, I wish Christina Applegate was in every movie.

The Lesson:

Sure, I’d watch another one.  It just can’t be a new take on Christmas Vacation.  That film is perfect.

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El Ten Eleven

July 28, 2015

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I pretty much missed the boat on the two singles that El Ten Eleven recently put out, so I’m rectifying that today by delivering both of them to you.  The duo have long been one of the best post-rock acts out there, and I’m sure their new album will only further solidify that status.  Do yourself a favor and grab some headphones before you hit play.  Enjoy.

:El Ten Eleven – Point Breeze:
:El Ten Eleven – Peter And Jack:

Fast Forward is due out August 21 via Fake Record Label.  See the band at the Mohawk on September 12.

Bonus Video:

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Quickdraw: Kurt Vile, Night Beds, Here We Go Magic, Pure Bathing Culture, Ramesh And Emeen

July 27, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin:  Here’s a catchy new rambler from Kurt Vile.  The guy just gets better and better with age, don’t you think?  B’lieve I’m Goin Down is due out September 25 via Matador.

:Night Beds – Corner:  Winston Yellen’s vocal work here is so outstanding that I’ve gone from just being aware of Night Beds’ upcoming album to actually being pretty excited to check it out.  Neat.  Ivywild is due out August 7 via Dead Oceans.

:Here We Go Magic – Falling:  For whatever reason I really thought Here We Go Magic had called it quits.  Oops.  At any rate, this new single is ambitious and energetic.  Be Small is due out October 16 via Secretly Canadian.

:Pure Bathing Culture – Pray For Rain:  This very 80s-inspired track from Pure Bathing Culture has been stuck in my head for the last couple of days.  Here’s hoping the rest of their new LP is this upbeat.  Pray For Rain is due out August 23 via Partisan.

:Ramesh And Emeen – Changing Colors:  Voxtrot were great, but I’ve been really liking what Ramesh has been up to on his own.  Here he is with a pretty pop tune that he crafted with Emeen.  By the way, this song may just be a one-off effort, so grab it while you can.

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Hip Hop Hooray (Leah)

July 24, 2015

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Something big is coming back to Austin, and it’s something that I care deeply about – it’s Weird City Hip Hop Fest.  We’ve only just made the initial artist announcement, but it includes some really amazing acts, a lot of whom I’ve included in the below mix.  So, listen close, jam out, and pick up your tickets! Last year’s festival ran the spectrum from awe-inducing showmanship, to heartwarming communion, and you know what I’m talking about if you were there for the Jean Grae show.

It’s such a positive and fun experience, and I hope you can do it with me (like drugs). Also, tell your friends. For a limited time, you can receive a $50 discount code on VIP tickets by signing up for Jukely Unlimited (free 7-day trial) and emailing a screenshot of your Jukely subscription settings page with your full name HERE.

Say what you will about the saturation of festivals in this market, none focuses as much on an under-served Austin genre, and none includes as many local performers. So, hitch your wagon to this star and let’s sail through the universe (do drugs) together.

:Jay Electronica – Road To Perdition:
:Aesop Rock – Cat Food:
:Freddie Gibbs – High:
:Danny Brown – Dope Song:
:Hail Mary Mallon – Jonathan:
:Fat Tony – Hood Party:
:Crew 54 – Vibrations (Featuring Bavu Blakes):
:Riders Against The Storm – Booty Sweat (Club Digi Mix):
:Space Camp Death Squad – Fuck Sally May:
:Magna Carda – Game Like Jimmy:
:P-Tek – Austin:
:Clemits-  No Nostalgia:
:Mindz Of A Different Kind – Problematic:
:MODAL –  Diggin:
:Subkulture Patriots – 40oz Molotov To Freedom (Featuring OT23):
:KB The BooBonic – Farrah Flossitt:

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Negative Scanner (Noah)

July 24, 2015

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We live in a world of polish these days. Movies, animated or otherwise, are for the most part just very realistic cartoons with live-actors squished in front of green screens. Our most popular books are summer reads, happy-slappy romances with tidy endings and formulaic quirky characters. And our music, oh jeez our music, has jumped the track of originality into lengthy studio sessions with the end-product seeking slickness over texture. It’s a strange world, and every so often you get a chance to power-wash away the sheen and find something just a little rougher. Enter, Negative Scanner. Trouble In Mind’s newest band (and if you haven’t spent some good quality time digging around in this label’s discography, you’re doing yourself a disservice) drags you out of the smiles and manufactured perfection of the ’10s and into a seedy basement in some guys house in wrong-side-of-the-track suburbs. Gone are synths and fretless basses and autotune and in their place are just four Chicagoans and some nicked up guitars, reminding you that the world is infused with cracks and breaks and a thin coating of grit. Would You Rather? draws up imagery of back-rooms in dive bars, a band caterwauling away, a lead singer throwing herself from side-to-side, sweat bubbling up at the edge of her hairline. It makes you think of a sweaty bodies mashed against each other, the feel of a shirt soaked through with perspiration, a singer’s voice lost in a hail of off-key guitars. It makes you think that some things in life haven’t been buffed down to a hearty shine. It makes you remember that things aren’t always perfect. And that’s just fine.

:Negative Scanner – Would You Rather?:

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Movie Breakdown: Southpaw (Noah)

July 23, 2015

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The Impression:

Jake Gyllenhaal looks like a piece of thugged out granite in the trailers for this film and that Eminem track makes me want throw on my hoodie and punch some bags. I’d say that’s a pretty good impression.

The Reality:

Southpaw is, very much, your typical sports film filtered through the visual aesthetic and grit-infused mind of Antoine Fuqua (he of Training Day fame). It finds famed boxer Billy “The Great” Hope (Mr. Gyllenhaal, all muscles and tats) at the top of his game, beating up fools, taking hits in the cabeza and generally being every ounce of the toughened sports cliche we all love to love. Bad things happen though and in a sequence so drawn out and depressing I internally begged for beautiful shot boxing (which the film has plenty) to occur, Hope loses, well, everything – his wife, his daughter, his money, his friends and even his fleet of black cars with vanity license plates. As you can guess, the rest of the film follows Mr. Hope as, with the help of toughened trainer Tic Willis (Forrest Whitaker), he redeems himself as both a boxer and person. It’s nothing new, but in the hands of Antoine Fuqua it is, for the most part, one part tear-jerking tale of redemption/one part street-tough-boxing-film filmed in severe closeups with a heavy dose of gouting eye blood and slo-mo sweat droplets. Gyllenhaal manages to transform his foster-kid-turned-boxing-champion into a tightly wound hulk of man, broken by tragedy, and unable to find his way back. It’s another fine turn for Gyllenhaal, and if his punch-beaten face doesn’t pop up at the Oscars, I’d be surprised. I personally found Forrest Whitaker’s portrayal of a former boxer turned trainer turned less successful trainer the shining highlight of the film. Whitaker, his eye a cloudy remembrance of punches past, gives his character the sort of nuance and roundness one doesn’t often attribute to a sports film. His mumbly patois (there’s a lot of mumbling in this flick) and quick temper give Willis an indelible heart of gold, surround by the rough exterior of a man broken and redeemed. I found the boxing, the boxing training and well, anything that had anything to do with boxing to be superb in this film, but found my attention lagging as Fuqua takes Hope through the rigamarole of New York’s Child Protective Services. Clearly, this a film about overcoming the worst parts of yourself and living a better life, but this is not Fuqua’s strong point as a director and for every moment Gyllenhaal tried to convince his daughter to love him again, I wished for another boxing scene. But hey, if I have to trade earnest emotional outpouring for scene after scene of beautiful boxing, well, it’s a sacrifice worth making.

The Lesson:

Not every sports film needs a gooey center. Sometimes I just want to watch people hit each other until their eyes explode. And in this film, sometimes that happens.

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Movie Breakdown: Pixels (Noah)

July 23, 2015

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The Impression:

Somehow, in some terrible, horrible way the trailers for Pixels have managed to convince me that a new Adam Sandler film directed by the ghost of Christopher Columbus’ career might be good. I apologize to my own brain for allowing this to be a thought.

The Reality:

Pixels is, handily, the worst film I’ve seen this year, possibly in the last ten. I would pair it with Halle Berry’s Catwoman and a video I once saw of a woman pleasuring a horse as an unholy trinity of all that is awful in the world. In 1982, America sends a probe into the space-heavens loaded with, amongst other things, a collection of classic video games, in the hopes that an alien life-form will find the probe and be alerted to the presence of humans. Cut to today, Kevin James (his character is so forgettable I can’t remember his name, or take the time to look it up on IMDB) is President and, well, the Earth is under attack by alien representations of said classic video games. Seemingly, the probe from 1982 somehow convinced the aliens that Earth was looking for a scuffle, and now, well, they’re here, because aliens are seemingly very stupid, to battle our kind with our video game creations. Because this movie is horrible, Kevin James’ best friend is Adam Sandler (playing serious Adam Sandler) who was, at one point the best video game player in the world. Now, with a team of other former video game players, they must battle the aliens in a series of video game related, uh, competitions. And what follows is two solid hours of absolute shit. Chris Columbus has managed to make a flashy film that doesn’t make any sense, follows no rules, and is populated by some of the most egregiously obnoxious characters in film history. Including, and I’m sad to write this, Peter Dinklage as a PG version of a sexist, racist, cheating ex-con. This is our obsession with nostalgia finally pushed to its terrible, logical end; a series of loosely connected scenes featuring Bad Pac Man, Bad Donkey Kong, and Bad Every Other Video Game Character of All Time battling to destroy our world. Things happen, nothing of importance and or imbued with any sort of consequence and or feeling; characters do stuff; and the movie ends with the feeling that everything good about your childhood was dragged into an alley and beaten into a coma. Hopefully this film will bomb so miserably that anything from the 80s now being zombified into a skeleton of a film will be placed back into the exhumed grave and allowed to fade into our memories in peace.

The Lesson:

Please, someone lower the flag to half-mast at Atari headquarters and signal that our days of nostalgia regurgitation have come to an end.

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Fuzz

July 23, 2015

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This morning I was on the hunt for something loud to help shake off my hangover bleariness, and I got in the form of two new songs from Fuzz.  In case you forgot, the band features Ty Segall, Charlie Moothart and Chad Ubovich, and they’ve already put out one album together (it was back in 2013 and was pretty solid).  If you like riffs upon riffs, then they’re definitely for you.  Enjoy.

:Fuzz – Pollinate:
:Fuzz – Rat Race:

II is due out October 23 via In The Red.  See them at Fun Fun Fun Fest in November.

Bonus Video:

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Movie Breakdown: Southpaw

July 22, 2015

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The Impression:

BELIEVE IN HOPE.  Antoine Fuqua’s Southpaw stars Jake Gyllenhaal and looks like an overly dramatic sports flick.  I’m in.

The Reality:

I very much enjoyed Southpaw, but I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t essentially just a raw re-imagining of various moments from the Rocky series.  Boxer Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) was once on top of the world, but the tragic loss of his wife (Rachel McAdams), a forced separation from his daughter, and his financial ruin have pushed him all the way back to square one.  Now it’s time to get back to the basics with a tough new trainer (Forest Whitaker) so that he can reclaim what has been taken from him.  Some of that, unless you haven’t seen a Rocky film, should sound fairly familiar, and it shouldn’t require much effort to guess which path Southpaw travels down and where it ultimately ends up.  The film is, and the pun is totally intended here, a full-on telegraphed punch.  Thankfully though, the lack of originality doesn’t keep it from being an entertaining movie.  Director Antoine Fuqua seems to be a legit boxing fan, and his treatment of the sport (the training, the actual fights) gives the film an underlying stream of enthusiasm.  Then there’s Gyllenhaal, who clearly poured his all into the mumbly, punch drunk Hope, and his performance in and out of the ring is transfixing.  In other words, while the film doesn’t do anything new, it seems to have largely been made by people who clearly love their characters, the story of Billy Hope’s redemption and the actual sport of boxing.  I can appreciate that.

If you’re a sports fan, I think you’ll really like the drama and energy that’s packed into Southpaw.  If you’re not, you may still find it entertaining, but I wouldn’t expect to be blown away.

PS – Forest Whitaker is such a great actor that he could have put on a bad wig and also played 50 Cent’s part, and it would have been 200% better than 50 Cent’s flat as hell performance.  Just saying.

The Lesson:

Jake Gyllenhaal has now more than redeemed himself for doing Prince of Persia.

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Show Of The Week

July 22, 2015

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FREE.  Oh yes, experimental rockers The Octopus Project and the afrobeat-leaning Golden Dawn Arkestra are playing Music Under The Star for FREE this Friday at the Bob Bullock Museum.  If you don’t know, the event is in celebration of Texas Music and 10 years of Fun Fun Fun Fest.  I also mentioned it’s free, yeah?  No reason to not go.

For fun, here are some other local gigs worth attending this week.

Tonight: A Giant Dog, Blind Pets, Street Dads at Hotel Vegas
Tonight: Tele Novella, Big Bill, Tucker Perry, DJ Cloak and Dagger at Beerland
Thursday: Feverbones, Dead Recipe, III Bones at the Mohawk
Thursday: Magna Carda, Lowin, AMA, Satalights at Holy Mountain
Friday: The Rich Hands, Grape St., GLOVES, The Bolos, The Oblios at Hotel Vegas
Saturday: Alien Summer with Holiday Mountain, Roger Sellers, Corduroi, CAPYAC, Tapes, Silk Rodeo, Cyma at the Mohawk

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