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Transmission

sxsw2015 Mon Mar 23 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 6 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our final SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano answers the age-old question: Was it worth it?

The end is near.

In many past years, SX Sunday was a day to get some last minute face time with out of town friends and industry folk. We generally didn't have any gigs on Sunday and often were flying home that day. But the schedule seems to get more packed each year. This year, I've got four sets and a brief late night appearance at the Continental Gallery. It would not surprise me if I'm writing about our Monday gigs next year.

At about 11:30, Ice Cold Singles arrive at the Hole In The Wall for our noon set. The club is just getting ready to open. The bartender who unlocks the front door proceeds to have some sort of manic episode. Some issue with his keys is enough to send him over the edge. After the craziness of the weekend, staff at these joints are on edge. ICS plays a nice bloody mary set to about 15 people. Note to self- next year, no sets before 2pm on Sunday. If the fans can't get outta bed, we'll sleep too.

From there, it's off to Lucy's Fried Chicken for another Ice Cold Singles set, followed by a set backing Jon Langford as the Far Forlorn. The Lucy's party is a sprawling, mellow, family friendly affair. Kids and dogs running everywhere. We gorge on the provided fried chicken and set up on the tiny stage. Soundcheck mostly consists of trying to get singer Jo Walston to stop swearing into the mic. Family show. The crowd is great and both sets are a blast.

Waco-lucys.jpg
The scene at Lucy's Fried Chicken.

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Sun Mar 22 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 5 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our fifth SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano lays out the what went down on Saturday. He also might be in need of a salad.

This day and night were all about Jon Langford and Buck Hogarth. The Waco Brothers had no Saturday sets. Backing up Jon's sets of solo and Mekons material would be the order of the day. A set with the legendary Buck would end the evening.

My only intake of fruits and vegetables this week has consisted of lime juice and salsa. Though I'm exhausted, sleep is difficult. I get up at 9am, put some caffeine in my bloodstream, hose myself down and head out to run some errands. Then, it's back to the office at Guero's. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Waco-crowd.jpg
Happy Yard Doggers, showing us some love!

In the early years we came to SX, I searched out and saw a lot of great shows. These days, with 15 shows of my own to do, about the only music I catch are the bands that play right before or right after us. On Friday, I saw a terrific end of a set by new Bloodshot signees Banditos. One of the singers has the tone of Janis. Lots of people try to imitate the wailing Joplin but I've never heard someone with that tone before. I'm impressed. Yesterday, I caught great closing moments of local legend Jon Dee Graham and Chuck Prophet. Langford jokes about having to play immediately after Chuck, "As he was leaving the stage, Chuck said, "Follow that, fat boy!"".

Follow we do. The Far Forlorn is now in full seven piece mode, with the addition of Yard Dog owner Randy Franklin on mandolin. The songs are coming together and the band is becoming a formidable unit. It's a shame we don't do this more than once per year!

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Sat Mar 21 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 4 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our fourth SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano talks Bloodshot celebrations and SX traditions (of which he is a part of both.)

I'm just tryin' to get me some SLEEP! But my neighbors, apparently feeling the SX vibe, decide to crank Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons "December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)". Not only is this a crap song but it's of a creepy genre. Why people ever wanted to hear the "I look back fondly on finally convincing a girl to let me lose my virginity" song is beyond me. But I digress....

March weather in Austin is reliably about as picture perfect as can be. When you overhear someone yelling, "I'm TOTALLY moving here!" into their cellphone, it's always in March, never in the midst of 60 straight days of triple digit temperatures. Coming here from Chicago at the end of a long winter was always a treat. In 20 years, I can remember only one SX with cold (by Austin standards) weather. It was 2000. Here's footage of a younger, sexier Waco Brothers playing at Scholtz Beer Garden that year. Note that I am wearing a jean jacket. You cannot find any other year where outerwear in use at SX! Note that Alan is still stripped down to a wifebeater. Because he is Alan.



But yesterday, the rains came. This is bad news for the day parties. If you do not have some corporate entity handing you a big check, that is. These parties cost tens of thousands of dollars to put on. If no one's there to buy beer, there's nothing to offset the cost of renting tents, stages, PA equipment, etc. Most of the little guys who do this, like Yard Dog, lose a little money each year but consider it a worthwhile investment in raising their business' profile. Yesterday, that advertising just got a lot more expensive.

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Sat Mar 21 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 3 Tour Diary from In Tall Buildings

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In Tall Buildings' Erik Hall wraps up his time at SXSW with (what else) seeing some excellent live acts.

On our last day in Austin we venture out as festival goers. After enjoying some of Mi Madre's tacos we're walking four-deep into downtown, each bearing a cold Topo Chico and half-joking about the sparkling water endorsement of our dreams. (This is not an uncommon aspiration for a band to hold, I've found.)

We head to Red Eyed Fly to meet some friends and hear some bands. We're pleased to happen upon our pal Michael Libramento chill-ly holding down the bass for a should-to-shoulder Natalie Prass set. Afterwards I'm finally able to catch fellow Chicago jammers Twin Peaks and am glad to affirm that those dudes put on a seriously rocking and aptly composed show.

Next we try our luck at the Fader Fort, the ominously imposing makeshift festival-within-a-festival east of the highway. At this point it's officially cold and raining, and folks are crammed underneath the shelter of the main stage tent. We're lucky to score some fancy wristbands and are watching Viet Cong pound out their set from the side of the stage. Their drummer seems unimpeded by the cast on one of his arms, and I give the band much respect for their super heavy, super minimal arrangements. The crowd is equal parts wide-eyed and dumbfounded.

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Fri Mar 20 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 2 Tour Diary from In Tall Buildings

Chicago at SXSW 2015

As In Tall Buildings, Erik Hall had just one show to play in Austin for SXSW this year. Here's how he spent the day before and after, in the mix with other Chicago friends and musicians who traveled south.

Morning: There's cool air and cloud cover. We drink coffee for a while and then sit down to breakfast tacos at El Chilito. (Funny how much more American the Mexican food tends to be here than back home, despite the proximity to the border.)

Afternoon: We're casually running through tonight's set around the dining room table when Quin receives an urgent invitation via text to join Ryley Walker and his band at the Austin Psych Fest day party at Hotel Vegas. The astoundingly effective Uber — which I've only just started to use this week — gets us there within minutes, and we're suddenly taking in our first show of the week. The band is already playing its first notes when Quin slides onto the stage, seamlessly drizzling cymbals and drums into the mix. Lots of friends present, and it's good to say hey. "Delicate" Steve Marion, Ben Boye, Scottie McNiece, Grey Gersten, Dustin and Kristin from CHIRP.

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Fri Mar 20 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 3 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our third SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano talks side projects, art projects, and why not to judge a band by their name.

With barely enough time to wipe the sleep out of my eyes, the first stop for me and my throbbing headache is Broken Spoke. There, the Waco Brothers will play the noon set at the day party for Twangfest, the St. Louis roots music festival. The Twangfest folks have been very kind to us over the years.

If you've never experienced a true honky tonk, the Spoke would be a good place to start. This is the real deal, folks. Any other time of year, this place is all about classic, old school country and two steppin'. If not for the fact that they rent the place out for SX, we would not be allowed to grace this stage. When we played here for the first time last year, the owner's wife was overheard grousing, "There hasn't been any real goddamn country played here all day!" She probably had a point. It's certainly true in our case!

The Wacos have a tradition of leaping at the end many songs. It's part of our schtick to make rock star moves in a supposedly ironic way, all the while firmly believing that we actually are rock stars. The Spoke's ceiling is about three inches above our heads. That bit of choreographed comedy gold is out the window. Though at the rate our vertical leaps are declining, in a few years we may be able to incorporate them into the routine anywhere.

Waco-day3-wristband.jpg
Joe, Tracey and Jon plotting the Wacos plans for world domination.

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Thu Mar 19 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 2 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our second SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano climbs up out of his hangover to give us a pretty remarkably lucid recounting of the first night's events.

At five o'clock, the whistle blows, I am freed from the salt mines and my SX weekend officially begins. I step out onto West Sixth Street and I'm greeted by Austin's most perfect weather. I'm also greeted by sensory overload. Aurally, it's a mash-up of 15 bands playing simultaneously within about a three block radius. Visually, it's a parade of music players and fans, along with spring breakers (SX has become a popular spring break destination over the years). Most are doing their best to look crazy, sexy, cool. I'm trying my best not to look like a fossil. SX usually gives me the rare inspiration to actually purchase some new clothes. I'm sporting a newly acquired thrift store shirt and a spankin' new pair of PF Flyers. I'm still just as rockin' as these kids, dammit!

toronto party.jpg
Are we in Toronto yet? Jon & I hobnobbing with the power brokers of Toronto.

Facebook posts inform me that my Waco Brothers have arrived. They have checked in at Polvo's and taking in some Tex-Mex rock fuel. Me, I'm making my way through the madness to eventually meet up with Jon at an annual party for Canadian industry folk. It's put on by Jeff Cohen of the Horseshoe Tavern and Lee's Palace in Toronto. Jeff saw the Wacos at Yard Dog during SX many years ago. He became a super fan and our Canadian ambassador. Over the years, this has developed to the point where we feel like we have a Toronto family. The opportunity to eat free smoked meat, drink Shiner Bock and rub elbows with the Toronto music elite proves irresistible and Jon meets me there. The now traditional Rob Ford jokes are exchanged. Consumption and storytelling begins in earnest. This is the definition of SX. Folks seem obsessed with some newcomer/old timer, Buck Hogarth, who has a Saturday night set at ABGB. This years' buzz I guess.

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Thu Mar 19 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 1 Tour Diary from In Tall Buildings

Chicago at SXSW 2015

Erik Hall is In Tall Buildings. He's also a SXSW vet. Deciding to keep things simple this time around, he's keeping things pretty Zen. Catch him tonight if you're in Austin!


March, 2006 - Ann Arbor, MI: Young members of the band NOMO are gathering to load up the van and embark on the 20-hour drive from Ann Arbor to Austin, TX for our first-ever trip to South By Southwest. We've decided to depart in the early evening and drive straight through the night. We've heard tales of the mayhem and sheer magnitude of the event at our destination, and spirits and expectations are high as we roll out of town and turn on to I-94 West.

(hours later...)

It's dark. The hours are long. Some brave band member is piloting the van through some part of the middle of the U.S.A., and the road drones along under us. No one has spoken for a while. At some point we discovered that if one bench-mate opts to take the floor then both can stretch out their legs and attempt to get some actual sleep. Dan Piccolo (drums) is stirring while trying his best to stay comfortable. He rolls over onto his other side, and through the darkness he can make out the face of one Justin Walter (trumpet). Justin is staring back at him, wide awake, and in his usual, darkly-comical monotone he utters two words: "Maximum pain."

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Wed Mar 18 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 1 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

The Waco Brothers are SXSW veterans and it says something that the descent on Austin still gets at least one member of the band excited. In our first SXSW Tour Diary update from Dean Schlabowske (aka Deano), the guitarist/singer/songwriter waxes a bit nostalgic.

As this past year marked Bloodshot Records' 20th Anniversary, it's great to see him recount the good ole days of SXSW way back in 1996, when, as he puts it : "Bloodshot was more of a hobby than a career for the principals involved. And the band was more of a gentleman's tippling club than a proper group. Come to think of it, it still is!"


I start getting giddy about SXSW at the beginning of March each year. Yes, I realize this makes me hopelessly uncool. Any legit rocker adopts a stock photo sneer and rants about corporations, hipsters, unpaid gigs, blah, blah, blah. But I'm here to preach magic, good people!

My first SX was 1990. I played in a noisy guitar band called Wreck. Although we played in the same Chicago circles as Jesus Lizard, Tar and the like, the fact that our records were released on industrial dance label Wax Trax! meant that we were never quite accepted in that world, despite our Albini-produced records. But Wax Trax! was quite a big label by indie standards. That meant we were expected to be a "national act". Which meant playing the big industry events like SX and CMJ in New York.

Wax Trax! secured us an official showcase gig. We drove down in two vehicles: my Ford Escort and bassist Kurt Moore's small pick up. The Escort broke down along the way. Somehow (credit cards), we made it 1,000 miles with all of our gear. We only had the one set to play. If there were day parties in 1990, we didn't know about them and certainly weren't invited! We had nowhere to stay. We slept on the lawn of the City of Austin Power building. We ate at Taco Cabana. The only thing else I can remember is that I knew I had to come back to Austin.

We did, the next year. Our showcase gig was at Emo's. After loading in our gear, drummer Bart Flores and I wandered around the corner and stumbled upon a Flaco Jimenez and Freddy Fender set on a big outdoor stage. On the bill with us at Emo's were the Bad Livers. We found better Mexican food. We had floors to sleep on. Things were looking up.

Despite our obvious genius, Wreck did not rocket to stardom and we broke up a couple years later. But during a Wreck recording session that we had asked Jon Langford to produce, Jon & I discovered our mutual love of classic country. Drunk story short, the Waco Brothers were formed and a 20 year tradition at SX was born shortly thereafter.

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Tue Mar 17 2015

SXSW 2015 Tour Diaries: Let's Meet the Bands

Chicago at SXSW 2015Once again, a lucky gang of Chicago musicians are headed to Austin, TX for the annual music crush, South by Southwest. This year, as in years past, we'll be living vicariously through two awesome local acts: The Waco Brothers and In Tall Buildings.

wacos_2012.jpg

Bloodshot Records artists Waco Brothers would be right at home in Austin any day of the year, with their tried and true alt-country heart and rugged punk edges. Helmed by Jon Langford, they're loud enough to drown out a crowd and sweet enough to charm your momma, and ultimately they're a force to be reckoned with on stage or off. Their most recent release was 2012's Great Chicago Fire.

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

SXSW Mon Mar 02 2015

Chicago at SXSW 2015: Our Complete Band List, Showcases & More

We at Gapers Block try to cover the SXSW Music Festival in Austin as if it were a local festival — because every March, Chicago sends dozens of acts and hundreds of fans down to Texas, making sure our city's music scene stays well represented. This year's festival runs March 11-16, and will feature a broad swath of Chicago acts both young and old.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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