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Archive | May, 2017

Movie Breakdown: Wonder Woman (Noah)

May 31, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

This is the studio that made Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, not only one of the worst superhero films of all time, but two of the rare hours of my life I’d like back.

Post-Screening Stance:

Huzzah huzzah, a miracle hath occurred: DC, in its newest incarnation, has made a pretty good film. Sure, you and I both believed that the one-two shit punch of Suicide Squad and Batman vs. Superman implied that every film the studio would now release would be the cinematic equivalent of dragging your face on asphalt. Dark, moody, overly stuffed with characters and character introductions, these two films, and the directing of Zack Snyder set the tone for a possible future of the DC. Call Wonder Woman the course-correction. Patty Jenkins – the first female director of a major superhero film – has made a film that seems to align with the current values of DC comics – upbeat, fun, an adventure more than a deep dive into the darkness of being a superhero. And, for the most part, it works. Gal Gadot is physically a perfect choice for Diana, able to capture the godlike beauty of the character and handle the more action-oriented moments. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), the sidekick in the film, has all the reserves of comedy and pathos a great sidekick is supposed to have, and he nearly steals the movie. Beyond all this, this is a female superhero finally getting her film and it’s well made and well acted and it has a narrative arc that goes from start to finish and for the most part makes sense. The action scenes are strong – lots of whip camera slo-mo as pioneered by DC uber-father Zack Snyder – and the film feels complete, its own story outside of the expanded universe. It is, to be brief, a good film. Is it the next coming of superhero films? No. It still spins its wheels in the mud of superhero burnout with a weak villain and some over-processed cheese. But, details aside, this is a cheer-worthy film (seriously the audience clapped more than any movie I’ve ever seen) and as silly as it’ll be in ten years that a female superhero was a big deal – it is. I sat next to two young women during the film and their genuine excitement when the credits rolled was kind of heartwarming. It’s not perfect, don’t think it is, but Wonder Woman, hell, it’s good and for DC, that’s saying a lot.

One Last Thing:

I don’t know if this implies that all DC films going forward are going to be good. This one was though, so take it while you can get it.

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Movie Breakdown: Wonder Woman

May 31, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

I was slightly skeptical when Gal Gadot got cast as WW, but she was a real highlight in the murky Batman v Superman and everything in the lead up to the release of her debut solo film has been totally on point.  Hard to not be at least a little excited about this one.

Post-Screening Ramble:

While I dig that superheroes everywhere are getting their shot on the big screen, that whole game has grown old for me.  It’s all generic origin stories and drawn out setup films, and I’m just ready for the genre to disappear for a while.  And yet, Wonder Woman delighted me.  Now, this isn’t to say it does anything different.  It’s booked-ended with an unnecessary connection to the DC films that have come before it, and the middle is one big by-the-numbers origin story, but the movie works and it works well.  I give all of the credit to Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, who are both absolutely fantastic in the movie.  Seriously, without them, Wonder Woman just wouldn’t work.

I should probably say more here, but I don’t really want to tell you anything about the story.  It’s not particularly complicated or difficult to predict (again, it’s the two main performances that make it function), so you might as well let it unfold at the theater.  Just go, watch Gadot and Pine dazzle, and then feel good about DC finally getting something legit right.

One Last Thought:

I wonder if all of the DC flicks are going to look like Zack Snyder movies?  I suppose it helps thematically (and Snyder’s style is definitely cool), but I wouldn’t mind seeing some different takes.  Otherwise all of these films will start to look the same, which is a problem in the MCU (with the exception of Guardians of the Galaxy and, hopefully, Thor: Ragnarok).

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Carly Rae Jepsen

May 30, 2017

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This shortened holiday week is actually an even shorter one on the SOTO-front, as I’m about to head out of town.  Good news though, I have an anthemic new track from Carley Rae Jepsen (and a Wonder Woman review) to give to you before I split.  Hooray!

The CRJ track is from the soundtrack for an animated film called Leap, and it’s one of the supposed 250 songs that she wrote for the very good album E-MO-TION.  I’ve been humming it for days.  Enjoy.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

May 29, 2017

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Check out the latest 101X Homegrown!  Enjoy.

Summer Salt – Revvin’ My CJ7
Go Fever – This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Hovvdy – Problem
(NEW) Hikes – Habit
(NEW) A. Sinclair – Cars
Darkbird – All There Is
Suspirians – Nocturne
(NEW) Basketball Shorts – This Summer
A Giant Dog – Creep
Kay Odyssey – Coming On
The Suffers – Gwan
Ishi – Disco Queen
Night Drive – Trapeze Artist Regrets
(NEW) Fort Never – Fly High


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The Kills

May 25, 2017

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The Kills have a new EP coming on June 2.  It’s titled Echo Home – Non-Electric, and it features “audio from a stripped down session the band captured recently at Electric Lady Studios in New York.”  Below you’ll find the Rihanna cover that’s on the EP.  I think the song is pretty slick, but I’m mostly transfixed by how undeniably cool Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince look in the vid.  Rock stars, man.  Enjoy.

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Movie Breakdown: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

May 24, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Pirates Of The Caribbean 1 is a great movie.  Pirates 2 & 3 are OK movies.  I didn’t even bother with Pirates 4, but I heard it wasn’t good.  Frankly, I’m surprised (or disappointed, I don’t know) that there’s a Pirates 5, but people gotta eat and get their swashbuckling fix in, I suppose.

Post-Screening Ramble:

To be honest, I don’t even know what Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was about.  Franchise face Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is around but he’s got half a crew, no ship and is surprisingly sidelined for most scenes.  Series regular Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) is present as well, but mostly just because he has a shoehorned connection to one of the main characters, a discount Keira Knightley (Kaya Scodelario).  There’s a budget Orlando Bloom (Brenton Thwaites) involved, too, but he doesn’t seem to have any particularly useful skills.  He just wants to bumble about until he finds some magical trident that will free the actual Orlando Bloom from a life of servitude aboard the Flying Dutchman.  Javier Bardem plays a cursed pirate killer who wants to take down Sparrow.  Or all pirates.  I’m not really sure.  There’s a somewhat perplexing Paul McCartney cameo, but it at least made me smile since everything up until then was confusing and one shade above awful.  On the action front, it’s all rather boring.  There are some neat designs, but none of them go anywhere and once the eye candy simmers, you realize you’re watching a bunch of bored actors in a tired franchise.  Seriously, there’s nothing here worth cheering for or remembering (obviously).  Hell, I can’t even call this film a misfire because all parties involved didn’t even bother loading the canon.  I think in most years this is the kind of movie that would kill a bunch of careers, but I guess in sequel happy Hollywood this will pass as solid filler.  What a shipwreck.  Skip it.

One Last Thought:

I’m willing to bet $20 that Johnny Depp was actually drunk during the making of this movie.  I couldn’t understand a damn thing he was saying due to all of the slurring.

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Movie Breakdown: Baywatch

May 24, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Baywatch looks like it was modeled after the very successful (and funny) 21/22 Jump Street flicks.  That’s exciting.  Hopefully it cracks me up.  If it doesn’t, I guess I can just stare at the very pretty trio of Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Alexandra Daddario.

Post-Screening Ramble:

There’s not much to like about Baywatch.  Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) is a detective/good samaritan/water lover in charge of Baywatch, a group of … lifeguards who watch over a … bay.  Annually, because previous employees get new jobs (or drown, maybe), his team holds a competition to accept a new member.  The tryout is meant to find ONE new co-worker, but because this movie is cluttered and generally doesn’t make a lot of sense, three are selected to join the crew.  These chosen ones include a bad boy former Olympian named Matt Brody (Zac Efron), the Baywatch-ready Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) and the all-heart but out of shape and very dorky Ronnie (Jon Bass).  If you haven’t already guessed, Ronnie is the lovable goof, Summer is the moral compass and Matt is the guy who has to get yelled at and shamed a lot by Mitch so that he can learn to appreciate being a part of Baywatch.  They’re all shallow characters who never have a memorable moment on the screen.  Thankfully (but not really), the film has more at play than inter-team dealings, and it’s a whole other muddled plot about a lady (Priyanka Chopra) trying to force-ably attain real estate to build a shopping mall or something.  And she sells drugs, too!  Because why not!  Like I mentioned, this thing is a real jammed up mess.  My guess is that someone made the decision to just throw everything at the viewer to hide the movie’s extreme lack of laugh-worthy bits, but who knows for sure.

Don’t watch this sloppy, hollow, unfunny and eternally long film.  Find anything else to do.  Unless you just really like bad dick jokes, I guess.

One Last Thought:

At some point The Rock is going to have to dial back and go for more of a quality over quantity approach with his roles.  The guy is seemingly in everything, and most of it is forgettable garbage.

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Show Of The Week

May 24, 2017

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It’s a holiday weekend, so there’s a large amount of shows happening around town.  See below for extra recommendations.  If you’re just looking to go all out at one though, my pick is Ty Segall at Stubb’s on Saturday.  Here are there reasons.  1) He’s always a blast live.  2) His latest self titled album is a good one. 3) For $20 you get to see Mr. Segall plus Christian Bland, Meatbodies and The Zoltars.  What a deal!  Go have a blast.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- X, Folk Uke, John Egan at the Mohawk
- Cotton Mather, Wiretree, Slomo Drags at 3ten ACL Live

Thursday:
- The Black Angels at Waterloo Records
- Pearl Earl, Que Pasa, Pataphysics, Kay Odyssey at Cheer Up Charlies
- Bidi Bidi Banda, The Reputations at Hotel Vegas
- Metalachi, El Conjunto Nueva at Stubb’s
- Growl, Tres Ouis, Blushing at the Hole in the Wall

Friday:
- Otis The Destroyer, Blood Pumps, Think No Think, Magic Rockers of Texas at Hotel Vegas
- Black Books, Residual Kid, Slomo Drags, Modern Medicine, DJ Fitnez at Cheer Up Charlies
- Hard Proof, Greyhounds, Cilantro Boombox at the Mohawk
- Meat Puppets, Mike Watt & The Tom and Jerry Show at Barracuda
- The Joe Jacksons, Go Fever at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.
- Brownout, Tameca Jones, DJ Steven Lee Moya at Antone’s

Saturday:
- Meatbodies, Annabelle Chairlegs at Hotel Vegas
- Dream Machine at Hotel Vegas
- Dillinger Escape Plan, American Sharks, Illustrations at the Mohawk
- Teenage Cavegirl, The Ghost Wolves, Jamey Simms, Magic Rockers of Texas at The Swan Dive
- Brownout, Kalu James’ Electric Joint, Money Chicha at Antone’s
- Reverend Horton Heat, Flat Duo Jets, Rosie Flores, Clyde & Clem’s Whiskey Business at Come and Take It Live
- Abram Shook, Upper Deck Pets at Barrel O’ Fun

Sunday:
- Wavves, Kino Kimino at the Mohawk
- Star Parks, Birthday Club, Pearl Crush, Single Lash at Cheer Up Charlies
- A. Sinclair, El Lago, Elijah Ford, Sounds del Mar at Barracuda

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Beach House

May 23, 2017

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I’ve never been able to decide whether b-side/rarity/cover compilations are lazy or neat.  Maybe it’s just good fan service and I’m being cynical?  Regardless, Beach House have one coming that’s creatively called B-Sides and Rarities (due June 30 via Sub Pop).  The first “single” is a nice slow burner.  Enjoy.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

May 22, 2017

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Listen to the latest 101X Homegrown!  Enjoy.

The Black Angels – Currency
(NEW) The Ghost Wolves – Strychnine In My Lemonade
Otis The Destroyer – Cheatah
(NEW) Suspirians – Nocturne
(NEW) Hikes – Lit
Dream Machine – All For A Chance
(NEW) Kay Odyssey – Coming On
(NEW) Summer Salt – Revvin’ My CJ7
Growl – Date With Satan
Black Books – Golden OK
Wiretree – JF Sebastian
Abram Shook – Lisbon
Birthday Club – Having Too Much Fun
(NEW) Night Drive – Trapeze Artist Regrets


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The National

May 22, 2017

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The National have always existed in a sort of gray area for me.  Sometimes I really dig what they’re doing, other times I don’t.  Currently, I’m all about their driving new single (that I took forever to listen to because of the aforementioned stuff).  Here’s hoping there’s more of the same on their upcoming album, Sleep Well Beast, which is due September 8 via 4AD.  Enjoy.

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Raised Eyebrows: Dick’s Picks Vol. 1-36 (Randy)

May 19, 2017

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Since the long-awaited release of The Grateful Dead’s historic May 1977 run a few weeks back, my eternal love for The Dead has been rejuvenated and endless ultraness has been revealed. 5/8/77 is without a doubt one of the Dead’s finest hours. It includes one of the few “New Minglewood Blues” I will proudly jam, the ultimate version of “Loser” in my book, and a peak version of “Brown Eyed Women.”

Beyond 5/8/77, I have continued to mine the wealth overflowing in the Dick’s Picks series started by Dick Latvala back in ‘93. I thought I’d share some of my favs & new discoveries from the series with a playlist that features a pick from all 36 releases. Buckle up!

Vol. 1 12/19/72 Tampa, FL

Finest “Weather Report Suite” they ever did IMO. Bob’s phaser is LOCKED. End coda is crucial and one of the few times they circle back to it to end.

Vol. 2 10/31/71 Columbus, OH

Highest “Dark Star.”

Vol. 3 5/2//77 Pembroke Pines, FL

This “Eyes” is a long one and I have a soft spot for it. Some of Jer’s most gymnastic playing.

Vol. 4 2/13/70 New York, NY

Though a little thin sound-wise, this “Dire Wolf” is PEAK. This has mostly to do with Jerry’s ability, around this time, to carry the whole crew on his back.  The man was touched.

Vol. 5 12/26/79 Oakland, CA

Not usually a choice for me but, this “Big River” is GREAT. Jer plays his ass off and Bob doesn’t stray.

Vol. 6 10/14/83 Hartford CT

A rare and rad version of “Althea.”

Vol. 7 9/9/74 London, England

One of my fav Picks as a whole. You can’t go wrong with much of anything here but the “Stella Blue” is PURE.

Vol. 8 5/2/70 Binghamton, NY

Getting into earlier versions of “Morning Dew.” This one is LOCKED.

Vol. 9 9/16/90 New York, NY

A No-Brainer. “Hell In A Bucket” opener. Great song that gets a solid treatment here.

Vol. 10 12/29/77 San Francisco, CA

Monster “Terrapin Station.” Complete with that sweet chill end they were doing in ‘77.

Vol. 11 9/27/72 Jersey City, NJ

Jer is unstoppable on this “Cumberland Blues” and the singing is good too!!!

Vol. 12 6/26/74 Boston, MA

Another almost perfect Picks release. I could have chosen a lot from here but this “To Lay Me Down” is DEEP.

Vol. 13 5/6/81 Uniondale, NY

‘81 was a good year for “Cassidy.” This one has got some HEAVY AURA through the pre-chorus/solo.

Vol. 14 12/2/73 Boston, MA

Top 5 “Half-Step.” Vol. 34 11/5/77 is another.

Vol. 15 9/3/77 Englishtown, NJ

More ‘77 HEAT. All-time “FOTD.”

Vol. 16 11/8/69 San Francisco, CA

Peak garage Dead RIGHT HERE.

Vol. 17 9/25/91 Boston, MA

Don’t sleep on ‘91 folks. Gold in them hills. Nice “Tennessee Jed” here with Jer sounding strong and the band on their game.

Vol. 18 2/3/78 Madison, WI

RAD early set “Cold Rain and Snow.” Need I say more?

Vol. 19 10/19/73 Oklahoma City, OK

When it comes to “Playing In The Band,” you can’t go wrong with ‘71 or ‘73. This is a strong one from ‘73 that goes WAY OUT.

Vol. 20 9/28/76 Syracuse, NY

I am in love with the jam that precedes “The Wheel.” Vocals and playing here are ON POINT.

Vol. 21 11/1/85 Richmond, VA

One of the worst Picks releases due to the band’s halfhearted performance. “Stagger Lee” manages to get Jer stoked for 5 minutes or so.

Vol. 22 2/23/68 Lake Tahoe, CA

KILLER version of “Viola Lee Blues.”

Vol. 23 9/17/72 Baltimore, MD

OH MAN. DO NOT MISS THIS “Sing Me Back Home.”

Vol. 24 3/23/74 Daly City, CA

This release is pretty rough due to it being a Wall of Sound-era soundcheck. The band manages a soothing “Black Throated Wind.”

Vol. 25 5/10/78 New Haven, CT

This “Deal” is a pleasure from start to finish.

Vol. 26 4/26/69 Chicago, IL

SG-era Jer is up there for me. This “Cryptical Envelopment” is one of the band’s best.

Vol. 27 12/16/92

Jer’s vocals in the early 90’s have just got this black magic. The band is TIGHT by this time. There was room to explore like there hadn’t been since ‘71. Check the solo on this “BEW” and my fav bridge in any song ever.

Vol. 28 2/26/73 Lincoln, NE

A celestial “Jack Straw” from a very solid show.

Vol. 29 5/19/77 Atlanta, GA

One of the best Picks in the series. YOU CAN’T GO WRONG. Highest “Peggy-O” they ever did IMO.

Vol. 30 3/28/72 New York, NY

Tight “Mr. Charlie” happenin’ right HERE.

Vol. 31 8/4/74 Philadelphia, PA

Not my fav Dead song but this “Scarlet Begonias” cannot be denied.

Vol. 32 8/7/82 East Troy, WI

A lackluster Picks release overall with a couple highlights. This “U.S. Blues” features Bobby on slide and Jer having an OK time.

Vol. 33 10/9/76 Oakland, CA

A crisp “Franklin’s Tower.” A grower.

Vol. 34 11/5/77 Rochester, NY

High flying and rare “Candyman.”

Vol. 35 8/7/71 San Diego, CA

‘71 versions of “Casey Jones” do not disappoint. SICK TONES.

Vol. 36 9/21/72 Philadelphia, PA

You know it’s on when “Black Peter” shows up in the set.

Read my other SOTO article on The Dead HERE.

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Movie Breakdown: Chuck

May 18, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Since the Rocky flicks seem to have run their course, someone decided to make a movie about the real life guy/boxer who inspired Sylvester Stallone to create the Italian Stallion.  Is this a story that’s worth telling?  Maybe.

Post-Screening Ramble:

It’s 1975, and there’s a top 10 fighter by the name of Chuck “The Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner (Liev Schreiber) who has been given the chance to take on the Rumble In The Jungle winner himself, Muhammad Ali.  Naturally, no one thinks he has a shot at anything but getting KO’d, but through sheer determination (and with the help of a thick skull), he lasts 15 rounds and becomes a hero to everyone in his hometown.  Then, of course, he goes about ruining his life because he’s an impulsive, selfish fool.

Chuck is a fairly brief hour and a half.  You see some lead up to the fight, the fight itself and then the downfall.  I’m sure there’s more story that could have been told, but the film works as is because what’s there is grounded and relatable.  It’s full of real people doing real things, and there’s something oddly charming and warm about the way its generally unfortunate plot unfolds.  I give all the credit to Schreiber, who turns in a great performance on the screen and as the film’s narrator.  He really does well to make you feel like Chuck’s collapse isn’t because he’s a bad person, it’s because he’s an idiot.  And let’s face it, we’ve all been there.

If you want a nice matinee (that doesn’t feature superheros and explosions and whatnot) this weekend, Chuck is a solid option.

One Last Thought:

I’ve always found Naomi Watts to be an alluring presence, but something about her in this film is just intoxicating.  Maybe it’s the red hair.  Or the don’t give a fuck attitude.  Or both.

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Lo Tom

May 18, 2017

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David Bazan is having a great year.  His recently released album, Care, is really good, and now he’s got a fancy new project called Lo Tom.  The group also features Trey Many (Velour 100, Starflyer 59), TW Walsh (Pedro the Lion, The Soft Drugs), and Jason Martin (Starflyer 59), and their debut will be out on July 14 via Barsuk.  I’m loving the catchy first single.  Enjoy.


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Show Of The Week

May 17, 2017

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Know what I’ve really been digging this year?  Conor Oberst’s Salutations.  It’s a great album with a slew of comfy country tunes on it, and I’ve left it on repeat a lot so far in 2017.  If I’m lucky, he’ll play most of it at ACL Live this Friday.  Or he won’t and I’ll have a good time anyways because its Conor Oberst, man of many great songs.  By the way, be sure to show up early to see the fantastic Julien Baker.  That girl is a legit talent.

Tix are $35-46.

Side note, also on Friday (and just below the Conor Oberst gig) is The Wild Now’s EP release party at 3TEN at ACL Live.  If you’re going to see Oberst, you should hop down and watch some of this local act’s set.  They have some fantastic pop tunes.

Tix are $10.  Shoot an email HERE for a chance to win a pair of guest list spots for The Wild Now!

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- Thurston Moore Group at the Mohawk
- Basketball Shorts at the Mohawk

Thursday:
- Crooked Bangs, Hidden Ritual, Lung Letters, Autlier at Hotel Vegas
- Hot Luck Festival with Black Lips, Big Bill, Surfbort at Barracuda
- Ringo Deathstarr, Krista Van Liew, Ultraviolet, Knifight, This Cold Night, ANDY, Graffiti Trials, Jacob Green, Scorpio DJ Sets at Cheer Up Charlies
- Lowin, Star Parks at Stubb’s
- Genuine Leather, Magic Rockers of Texas, Sun June at the Sahara Lounge
- The B-52s at ACL Live at the Moody Theater

Friday:
- The Damned, The BellRays at the Mohawk
- Bad Sports, UVH, Xetas, Super Thief at the Mohawk
- Flesh Lights, Street Eaters, Nameless Frames at Hotel Vegas
- Ben Millburn, Girling, A. Sinclair at The Sidewinder
- Hot Luck Festival with Shonen Knife, Mean Jolene, Missing Pages at Barracuda
- Hot Luck Festival with Rayland Baxter, Jonathan Terrell, Carson McHone at the White Horse

Saturday:
- JD Clark, Moving Panoramas at Hotel Vegas
- Star Parks, The Battlemen, Silver Ships at The Sidewinder
- Jr. Jr. at Empire Control Room
- Food Group, Thor & Friends, Botany, Smile, Zettajoule, Roaring Sun at Cheer Up Charlies
- The Black Angels, A Place to Bury Strangers, Gonn at Stubb’s
- Hot Luck Festival with Black Joe Lewis, Bad Lovers, Payton Andrew Green at Barracuda
- Hot Luck Festival with Robert Ellis, Harvest Thieves, Altamesa at the White Horse
- Big Bill, Ladyfang, MAMIS at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.
- Mastodon, Eagles of Death Metal, Russian Circles at ACL Live at the Moody Theater

Sunday:
- Carson McHone, Jonathan Terrell, Booher, Motion Hotel at Barracuda
- Go Fever, Blood Pumps at Kebabalicious
- New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul, Boyz II Men at the Erwin Center

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