Saturday, March 12, 2011

Latest Do512 Lounge Session

I arrived just as Auroavore was finishing their sound check. The room filled with applause and laughter as the band began their set. With nearly the entirety of the line-up (Zeale, Ume, and The Black and White Years) among the crowd, there was no line between artist and audience, a rarity in the ever-growing Austin music scene. In the Do512 Lounge, libations flowed freely and praises of the bountiful sliders, provided by Black Sheep Lodge, were loudly sung. The session had a feel much more reminiscent of an after-party than a concert, and every one was into it.

With fresh faces and lavish locks, Auroavore would fit in just as naturally at a frat party as in this cozy yet classy lounge. Rejecting the apathetic ennui-ridden rocker persona that is all to common among independent artists, the energy and excitement communicated in the performance was refreshing. Their stylized vocals and poppy hooks certainly merit comparisons to Neon Trees with notes of Pico vs Island Trees, but Auroavore has its own distinct sort of charm. I must say I was a bit smitten.

As The Black and White Years set up, I could taste their oozing rock stardom from across the room. Each member had his own modus operandi from Billy Potts, the head-phone clad and deeply pensive drummer, to John Alderidge whose ability to visually invoke the 70’s was only surpassed by his impressive skill on the keyboard, trumpet and bass. Landon Thomson’s Joy Division-esque glittering guitar and spot on back up vocals added that bit of polish that forced the band the illuminate. That said, I was completely mesmerized by Scott Butler’s (guitar, keyboard, vocals) performance. Step aside Katy Perry, white pants and all - Freddie Mercury reincarnate has arrived. Although Butler’s voice resides comfortably alongside that of John McCrea (Cake), Tom Smith (Editors), and Paul Banks (Interpol), his entrancing and confidant stage presence mark The Black and White Years as sumthin’ else.

It was about eight-thirty when Ume began their set. The audience was thoroughly inhibited, but liquid courage was hardly necessary as the crowd cheered for the Austin favorite loudly and wholeheartedly. We welcomed the band back from tour, and Ume thanked us with their usual intensity and virtuosic composition. Lauren Larson looked exquisite in a black kimono dress. And as she sang sweetly vibrant blond locks blurring her face, thick punk riffs cocooned the room, leaving the audience in a silent trance.

After a night of intense guitar and mind-blowing keyboard hooks, Zeale’s change of tone was a welcome one. Strongly supported by DJ Rapid Ric, Zeale played with the conventions of hip-hop and rap, bringing the audience along with him. Not only did his songs regularly feature out-of-genre hooks (favorites of the evening included “Feed the Lion” feat. The Black and White Years, and “Monzter Hozpital” feat. MSTRKRFT and Metric), his tone was incredibly distinct. Not quite a bellow, his unique voice was deep and his lyrics ranged from impossibly fast to laid back. He owned the stage, making small talk with the audience between songs, and even giving us a taste of his freestyle. Zeale is like no one you have ever heard, and is likely to define the sound of Austin hip-hop.

After Zeale’s much-desired encore, I walked home with thoughts of dope beats and thick guitar riffs dancing in my head. The evening thoroughly wet my palate for South by Southwest where, even with incredible bands from all over the world, Austin music more than holds its own. Thank you Do512.

-April Kaplowitz (Photos by Dominique Imani Kaplowitz)

via Austin Music Weekly: