As the river flows surely to the sea, some things are meant to be. The wolf will eat the lamb (screw you Isaiah 11:6!!), 2+2 will continue to equal 4, Daniel Sturridge will refuse to pass the ball and concert season will restart in the fall. Praise be to jeebus!
Nothing gets the Moist Graffiti krew, well, moister, than pressing up against hundreds of strangers in a dark sweaty dungeon listening to the latest British buzz band blast through their first EP in a sloppy, ear splitting mess; for why do eardrums exist except to ring, why do us work-a-day 99%er desk jockeys slave through every waking hour drooling over a mouse and keyboard, if not to cut some rug once in a while; who wouldn’t want a shiny new second-hand liver about 30 years from now and WOULD SOMEONE ANSWER THE GODDAMN PHONE!?!
The first south/central Texas concert on the MG radar this fall, year of our dark lord 0047, happened to be Brooklyn hipster Jesus indie popstar Darwin Deez and his merry band of Deezes. Their fall tour strangely bypassed the third coast’s most important drug importation hub, but made calls in our friendly northern neighbors Austin and Fuckyoudallas. Now, MG is no stranger for having to travel to get what we want, and besides, sometimes it’s better to leave town until the heat has died down. So, we drew lots, greco-roman wrestled and eventually pulled rank to determine an advance scouting party, swiped the petty cash sock full of pennies wedged down the back of the fridge for our paltry per diem and set about obtaining the seventeen signatures needed for travel approval from the MG VPs of Content Delivery, Travel and Sundry Appropriations, Risk Assessment, Indie Popsters, Brooklyn, Hairstyles, J-Fros, Dance Dance Revolution, Liver Transplants, Austin Inoculations, Microchips and Television Programming, Liver Implants, Facial Recognition Software, Samples A-W, Samples X-Z and Mathematical Numbering Quality Control. Half an hour later we were ready to hit the road.
The advance scouting party selected by the MG powers-that-be consisted of myself, the Schnitzel Boogieman, and my partner in cephalopodia Dr Socktopus. For liability reasons it was also decreed that we must bring along a few of the interns. I generally consider this to be a good thing, as senior reporters such as myself cannot be trusted to deal with all the iPad recording, Siri twittering, Bud Light pounding, e-cigarette consuming and band heckling while simultaneously capturing the essence of the gig in an archival fashion. Plus we needed someone sober enough to drive home. The losers of this particular assignment were Hissing Flora, a young Rice student you may have spoken to if you’ve ever called the Moist Graffiti head offices, and Audrey Graham, a shy, retiring Jewish-Canadian who mans our all-important Justin Beiber desk. He would spend most of the trip glued to his laptop trying to discern meaning from the numerous tweets that the Belieber-in-Chief spits out into the abyss every 5 mins. This is no simple task for a mere mortal and TBH I think it might be messing with his mind a little.
We all set off to the local car2go depot to procure a ride for the journey. As our budget typically does not stretch to transport expenses, this meant hiding in the parking lot until some unsuspecting Vibram FiveFinger-wearing, ground-floor-retail-frequenting, carbon-offsetting inner-looper rested his growler of Tornado Shark on the roof and activated the rental, then employing the sockfull-of-pennies to relieve him of his keys and growler. But not the FiveFingers. Seriously bro, no-one wears that crap anymore.
One slight drawback, the car we had purloined was a Smart car. So I climbed into the driver’s seat, Dr Sox claimed shotgun, and we shoe-horned the interns into the space between the seats and the tailgate. It would be a long journey to Austin. I settled in, took a hit of whatever the good Doctor keeps in that brown glass jar, jammed my favorite Eagles 8-track into the stereo and set off.
It is a little-known fact that old hurricanes never die, they just rattle round the globe, waxing and waning, spreading their misery and destruction in ever-decreasing amounts until they finally coalesce and set up camp in central Texas. So it was that as we sped down the HOV lane at 45 mph past the bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic of bleary-eyed commuters savoring their favorite 2 hours of the day between leaving their worthless, going nowhere McJobs and rolling up to their crumbling, moldy stucco shacks in the ex-urbs, where their gin-soaked wife and ungrateful children surely awaited, and not even the bottle of whiskey in the glove compartment or the sleek barrel of a .45 in your mouth can take away the bitter taste of failure, we were suddenly drenched by an entire rainforest’s worth of rain. A deluge. A vertical river. The fountains of the deep split open and the waters of the flood were upon the interstate. Our little vessel of gopher wood bore no resistance to the power of the almighty. We were soon cast adrift, taken away from our journey and cast out into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. Every living thing was destroyed. The great waters were all around. By the sixteenth day we were so ravenous that we had to dispose of poor Audrey. He was still screaming “Vote For Me At The MTVEMA’s #loveyou #beleib!!!!” as we tore him limb from limb, stuffing his sweet flesh into our gaping maws, satisfying our basest urges and soothing the demons that burn within our souls. MY STOMACH IS A GRAVEYARD. By day 25 the waters had begun to recede. We ran aground on a beach and began to forage for fruits, fresh water and fish, until we were set upon by the native islanders. With arrows and spears they beat us back to the safety of the Smart car and we watched in horror as they caught up with poor Hissing Flora. They strung her up on a pole and began to chant in unison, carrying her shoulder high toward the smouldering volcano that overlooked their primitive settlement. The drums beat louder and louder, the chanting crescendoed and we had to look away as the final sacrifice was proffered. We loaded our hard-won supplies into the car and cast off into the depths again. The struggle had taken it’s toll on me, and i closed my eyes in anguish.
When I awoke the seas had subsided. There were golden rays of sunshine streaming through candy corn clouds. Dr S was behind the wheel, grooving along to the latest Arctic Monkeys album and we were pulling into the promised land, the parking lot behind the holiest of Holy Mountains. I made a mental note to never again sample the contents of Dr S’s brown bottle. However, when I peeked behind the seats I could see that the interns were missing. I turned toward Dr S. “Wha…?”, I started. He reached out with a gentle tentacle and touched my lips before I could finish my question. “Shh…”, he said, looking directly at me for an uncomfortably long time. And as I gazed into those large, inky pools of sadness I realized that I understood, that I did not need to question, and that we would never, ever talk of this again…
We entered the Holy Mountain to discover that strange vehicular maladies had also claimed the van of the opening band “Caged Animals“, so we were treated to a last minute local act whose name we totally would have sent an intern to find out. Unfortunately…etc., which is a shame, as they might have been rather good <editor’s note JFGI – Growl>. I placed an order for a case of Bud light from the barkeep and began to mentally prepare myself for the act of music journalism I was about to embark on. “Show us your tits!!” I yelled. “Play one of your good ones!!”. I find that a good heckle really loosens up the band and encourages them to perform to the best of their ability.
Next up was Tele Novella. This band of underfed waifs and crisply attired vintage ne’er-do-wells contains ex-members of the sadly departed but fondly remembered one time blogosphere heroes Voxtrot, and the potentially amazing Agent Ribbons, who sadly split before they ever had a chance to be blogosphere beloved . They claim to be psych-poppers, but I mostly got a twee indie pop vibe from them, which will be of vital importance to hair splitters everywhere. As a twee pop aficionado I was most impressed, and hope to hear more from them in the future. “Get a haircut, hippy!!”.
The main attraction of the night was, of course, Darwin Deez. Darwin Deez are consistently one of the most entertaining live bands in existence. Seriously, if you’ve never seen Darwin Deez live, you need to stop reading this, get in your Mom’s car and drive to wherever tonight’s show is. Or if it’s longer than a day’s drive you may have to drive to tomorrow night’s gig to allow enough time. Or the day after. Look, I can’t plan your exact itinerary for you, that’s what google maps is for. Just go do it.
The entertainment factor from DD Live comes from 3 main things. 1) Darwin himself is the consummate modern popstar. He hangs out in the crowd before the show. He mans the merch table afterwards. He tweets constantly (or he has a cage full of teenagers locked in his basement fed only on raw liver and Gatorade tweeting for him like Justin Beiber). He is approachable, personable and seems to be a genuinely nice guy. By the end of the night you will be grinning like a loon, rooting for him and his band to succeed and vowing to name your firstborn children after him. Or at the very least you will want to give him a big hug. Just don’t ask him to pose for a picture.
2) The tunes. With two albums released and the third one on the way, Darwin has put together a strong collection of fractured, angular pop songs. My favorite of these is probably Radar Detector, from his 2010 s/t album. If you don’t like this song, then you have no heart, no soul and probably no ears*. Live, the songs really sparkle, the band vamps it up, instruments are swapped, effects pedals are bothered and, surprisingly, Darwin added a bunch of noodly soft-rock guitar solos. I’m not sure if this indicates a bit of a new direction for the third album, but given that the man has also released a rap album and a Last Splash remix album, anything this musical magpie does should not be a surprise.
3) *SPOILER ALERT – IF YOU HAVEN”T SEEN THEM LIVE AND DIDN’T IMMEDIATELY JUMP IN YOUR MOM’S CAR AND DRIVE TO THEIR NEXT SHOW (or the one after that etc, google is your friend) I HAVE NO SYMPATHY FOR YOU* The dance routines. Oh my god, the dance routines! Periodically throughout the show, Darwin will put on a backing track, the band will get together at the front of the stage and they will dance for your entertainment. This will be the highlight of your sad pathetic little life. The backing jams are awesome, but the dance routines are even better. I’ve seen them 3 times over 4 years with different line ups every time and yet I’ve never seen them repeat a routine. This is a band that works incredibly hard to ensure that they put on an awesome you and you will enjoy it damn you. They might look like hygiene-dodging, Brooklyn hipster nerd slackers, but it takes craft dedication and creativity to be this good. In their early tours the dance routines would be more frequent and more elaborate, but as time has passed they have toned it down a little, perhaps to avoid being seen as a novelty act. Fair enough, but when you’re this good at doing something you should flaunt it. There’s no-one else doing what they do, they haven’t exactly set the charts alight in the US and I think what the world needs now is more joy. Dance on Darwin Deez.
It was a long and uneventful ride back to HTx the next day for the Doctor and I. His many arms held sweet souvenirs of the long journey. A t-shirt, a set list, a few brown jars of unspecified liquid. I merely had my thoughts. The warm remembrance of seeing an awesome band at the height of their powers in a small venue. But I knew that although the road ahead might be rocky, and that the storms of life would surely return in the future, I could always cast up mine eyes to the Holy Mountain, and from there Darwin himself would look down upon me, and tell me it was all good, and to please, please stay away from the ether.
Moist Graffiti Rating
Venue: Holy Mountain, Austin. Excellent ambiance, good sightlines, great sound: 91.55
Audience: Laid back, but dedicated fans. Many below drinking age. Occasional heckle: 88.65
Songs: Nice balance of old and new. Live versions differ slightly from record in good way: 72.78
Band: Fully on form. Loose, relaxed, I want to take them home and lock them in my garage: 97.31
Those dance routines!!: +7
No encore?: -4
The dude who let me photograph the set list he’d nabbed and his gf for reminding me to turn on the flash: +2
MG Rating: 92.573
*Apologies to all ear agenesised readers for my callous equation of your condition with a lack of musical appreciation.