Act: Big Boi
Place: Austin Music Hall
What it was like: Awesome. The set of the night. And yet the most frustrating. Big Boi did a couple of solo jams from his upcoming Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. Otherwise the set was nearly all Oukast gems going all the way back to Southernplayalisticadillacmuzic. "Rosa Parks," leading into a remixed "So Fresh, So Clean." By the time he got to "Mrs. Jackson," the absence of Andre 3000 was noticeable. Boi can rock a crowd, but seeing him sharing the stage with another sideman the whole night was like watching a friend cheat on his partner. Of course, if it was an Outkast show, there'd have been a line, and the place would have been jammed to capacity with people waiting for "Hey Ya." I wonder how many people didn't realize that one half of Outkast was performing because they didn't recognize Big Boi's name? He rocked the club with thunderous authority, and the crowd boiled with people dancing and hopping in place with recognition at each song. The bass was set somewhere between "Bowel-Loosening" and "Cardiac Arrest." "Thump" would be a massive understatement. His solo "Backup Plan"--deep club bass meets Southern funk--was awesome. "Can we speed this up?" he asked the sweaty crowd and his rock-hard backup band. That would not be a problem, he was assured by all parties. The mind-blowing warp-speed "Ghettomuzik" instantly energized the dancefloor, and was followed by a phenomenal take on "B.O.B."
Verdict: With a live presence that's limited to pacing across the stage and handling the mic, Big Boi isn't a showman. Not that there's any need for him to be--the music is quite capable of enrapturing a crowd.
Random Note: The soundman played Randy Newman's
"I've Got A Friend In You" "You've Got A Friend In Me" over the P.A. after the set ended, which seemed ironic considering Andre's absence.
Where: Habana Bar Back Yard
What It Was Like: P.O.S. is a captivating bad-ass on the mic and on the guitar. He never missed a syllable. The way his production borrows from indie-rock and reminded me a lot of Astronautilis, which makes sense; P.O.S. traded rhymes with him on Astronautalis' Pomegranate. In fact, I saw Andy Bothwell in the crowd. I missed the first couple songs, so if they did a collabo song, I didn't catch it. Before P.O.S. ended with "Optimist," he strapped on the guitar one last time. Nothing happened. "Sorry the amp broke," he said. "I was having fun playing guitar. I'm even more sorry because I borrowed it, and now I'm gonna have to fix it."
Verdict: He's a great rapper. Catch him at 11 p.m. tonight at Buffalo Billiards.
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Act: Psychedelic Horseshit
Place: Soho Lounge
What It Was Like: What's so clever about the band name is that it's appropriate. Meandering, occasionally off-key or otherwise inept lead guitar wailing. Bongos. A Trey Anastasio look-alike in the band. But the sweeping, buzzing synthesizer and aggressive guitar parts made them sound like no jam band on earth. Plus, nobody in the big sloppy improv mess was trying to impress with jerk-off technical prowess.
Verdict: Punk-rock meets hippie: not as bad as that description sounds.
Uncomfortable moment: The soundman kept waving down the band in the middle of jams to let them know exactly how many minutes they had left, which didn't endear him to the band or the crowd. Then he tried to cut them off at the end. "We've just got one more," said the singer. "Thirty more seconds." It was not 30 seconds, of course.
Act: Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
What it was like: Classic guitar rock with the risk of taking a ball to the eye. In one song, the bassist threw tennis balls against a tom held by a guitarist, bouncing them into the audience. Another song had a rhythmic buzzing synth that sounded like when a cell phone receives a call next to an amp.
Verdict: Their songs aren't really memorable, but a recommended live show.
Random note: This was the first time I've ever seen jinglesticks, a pair of tambourines attached to long staffs that one band member banged loudly against the stage.