It's Monday night following what's always the most exciting and inspiring week of the year. I'm exhausted, perhaps a bit emotional and coming down from another thrilling week in Austin, Texas. Although my job calls me for to actually do quite a bit of work at this wonderful festival, I did find time to see some bands who absolutely blew me away: Some I already knew, some were new to me and many just reminded me why I love fuckin' rock and roll so much. Why I'll never get sick of it. Why my blood, heart and mind always call for music. It keeps me going. It keeps me charged. It pulls me out of bad places. It's inside of me.
The following are the bands/artists who I was fortunate enough to catch this year:
APOLLO SUNSHINE: I had never even heard of these guys. I found myself with a hole in the schedule one night and figured I'd check out the SpinART showcase. I mean, it's SpinART, the bands have to be good. Good? Oh my dear lord. Blistering guitars, punk, southern rock, Crosstown Traffic, ballads, mid-song instrument switches, fury, lust, emotion, balls f'n out. This three-piece was the greatest thing I've seen in maybe a decade. Yes, that's right. Maybe it was because I knew NOTHING by them, maybe it was because they really were THAT good. Whatever the reason(s), I couldn't contain myself at this show. Amazing find. DO NOT MISS THIS BAND IF THEY'RE WITHIN A TIME ZONE OF YOUR HOME.
BRAKES: This foursome from the UK spits rock n' roll in your face and they don't give two shits what you think about it. Some songs carried on for up to five minutes while others didn't make it past ten seconds. The lead singer delivers the words with such angst that I was worried his head might blow off his shoulders. If not for the mastery of Apollo Sunshine, this would've been the best show I've seen in years.
CENTRO-MATIC: Better and better each time I see them. Will Johnson has become one of the better stagemans in the business. This is a band, a full band, a band with heart, balls and intelligence. I caught them twice and the first show had me jumping up and down during each song. The damn blisters may come!
WORLD PARTY: I could hear "Put the Message In the Box" on repeat for the rest of my life. After disbanding about a decade ago, to see them take the stage and open with "Message" literally had me on the verge of tears. The venue sucked but I didn't care. This was World Party. This was special.
NIC ARMSTRONG: Hell of a set.
Other great sets: THE DRAMS, THE PRETENDERS, LYLE LOVETT, MOGWAI, GRAND CHAMPEEN......
Other Hightlights: Neil Young/Jonathan Demme Keynote, Steve Earle & Hank Shoklee talking politics and activism, hanging with Brent Best until the wee hours of the morning, seeing all of my great friends in and outside of the "business".
It was truly an amazing experience.