What It Was Like: Beach House, The Paper Chase, Tricky, Devo

Act: Beach House
Where: Cedar Street Courtyard
What It Was Like: Packed. There were obviously quite a few fans of Beach House's mellow, cheery songs. Also, judging by all the "Who are these guys?" I heard, many badge-holders were taking advantage of a relatively quiet set to talk, text or chill out. Which pretty much defines Beach House for me: they're good background music.
Verdict: Good buzzy, cheery songs. I especially like the electric harpsichord sound. But after three days on my feet, I needed something more energizing to keep from falling asleep.
Venue Advice: If you catch a show in the Cedar Street Courtyard, go inside one of the bars on either side. They're not crowded, and doorways provide a great close-up view of the bands.

Act: The Paper Chase
Where: The Parish
What It Was Like: Thrilling. John Congleton was in top form, flailing all over the stage, flinging his guitar around by the strap and pantomiming onstage suicide. Word of the band's fantastic live shows has obviously spread, as the place was packed. "Dying With Decent Music" was awesome; I'm going to have to give God Bless Your Black Heart another listen after hearing how cathartic that song felt.
Verdict: According to another critic I ran into at the show, "They're the best live band in Dallas." They're pretty damn high on my list too. 
Cool Stage Move: Congleton let the feedback gradually build in intensity during the final song--with his Stratocaster balanced on the back of his neck.

Act: Tricky
Where: Austin Music Hall
What It Was Like: A rock show. For all his history as a pioneering electronica producer with Massive Attack and solo, Tricky is doing rock these days. Trip hop is officially dead. That said, his band was good, even if it bordered on a nu-metal/rap-rock sound at times, and he is a magnetic front man.
Verdict: Definitely a good choice as opener for Devo. He was wise to keep his set short.
Random Note: It was entertaining to watch all the gray-haired guys--clearly there for Devo--get into the music. Devo has some pretty cool fans, as nobody seemed confused or asked who the hell this Tricky band was.

Act: Devo
Where: Austin Music Hall
What It Was Like: Five guys who look like they just stepped out of cubicles, put on goofy costumes and then playing an awesome variety of weirdo punk classics in front of an enormous video screen with hilarious, mind-boggling film clips. They kicked off the set with the new "Don't Shoot, I'm A Man," which got roars of appreciation. It's no less jerky and robotic than older Devo, but energized by hard-edged guitar and electro beats. But as enthusiastic as its reception was, the hits and near-hits like "Peek A Boo," "Mongoloid" and, of course, "Whip It" had the crowd in a frenzy--despite an updated sound that didn't recreate the album versions note for note.
Verdict: I am now actually interested in the new album.
Cover Me: The band played its two oddball covers "Secret Agent Man" and "Satisfaction" back to back, which served to emphasize how their robotic versions can somehow take the piss out of the original while also paying homage.
Video Highlight: During one song, the video showed a hilarious animation of fruit, golden sparkles and a kitten flying from a woman's (bikini-covered) crotch. Sounds revolting on paper, but it was really funny in its execution.

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Jesse Hughey
Contact: Jesse Hughey