March 16th, 2012
The day begins, as many such band days do, with the wonder of how to fit all the people and all the gear into one van. There are musicians and girlfriends and friends and guitar techs and even a writer along for the trip, and there are all manner of instruments and rack cases full of cables and extension cords and extra sets of guitar strings and, of course, merchandise, CDs, stickers and tee shirts, some specific to a band, some to the whole Critical Sun 2012 event. We all stand around the van. It can’t be done. Some of us are going to have to bus it to the first show, the first of two shows on our second day here.
The venue is Kick Butt Coffee where there is another Critical Sun showcase so we pile in the van as many as can fit and while the rest take the bus Stacey from the Furniture Girls states calmly from the back of the van, “This amp will sound better since I’m straddling on the way to the show.” There are nods of agreement. One can’t argue such a thing. The amp probably would sound better after rubbing along a woman’s private parts. Rock and Roll.
We get to Kick Butt and are saddened at the first discovery. Their coffee does not, in fact, kick butt. Maybe that’s the Seattle Coffee Snob in me, but it’s lacking and that’s the truth of it. Thankfully, they have other reasonably priced options like Blue Moon for $4.50 so we power up on those and let the fun begin whereby Bubba from the Furniture Girls prompts the masses for a “Critical Sun FLASH MOB! Kick Butt Coffee 5775 Airport blvd 78701 Austin TX Pants optional!” and where, thankfully, all pants remained on as Alejandro Garcia played a beautiful and heartfelt solo set to start things off. I believe he regularly plays with Vancouver-based No Rey, but as the rest of the group couldn’t make it he came down on his own to represent. And he did it well, so I have to give props to Stacey after the set. “That amp does sound great.”
She laughs. “Damn straight!”
I leave Kick Butt after that to meet the friend of a friend and to get a little quiet. With a whole week of music, quiet time comes at a premium, but after a good few hours (and one most excellent Chocolate Martini in the bar at the IPic Gold Class Cinema), I catch up with the Critical Sun folks downtown at Opal Divine’s where there’s a very cool patio stage with a view, and where Fox and the Law is opening the show. They aren’t a Critical Sun band, but they are from Seattle, and I once wrote about them, “They’re good for a high energy rock show and worth keeping an eye on to see which way they go.” (Thanks to them for using that quote on their Facebook page) That was two years ago when they were just getting started, and seeing them here in Austin, they’ve come a long way. They’ve matured, solidified, become a good punkish, garagey rock band. I should probably catch a full set back in Seattle.
When Fox and the Law is done, I sit with Stacey, her girlfriend, and couple of their friends, both women, and the women from Seeing Blind, Melissa and Jessika, and while I try to eat nachos the conversation somehow gets around to the topic of girls and their first periods. Darrius Willrich steps up to the stage for his set of soulful jazzy numbers, and the women at my table begin speaking of their first times, their ages back then, the lack of information from their parents, help from the mother, the surprise and horror of it and its first color. Their is laughter. “I know. I know,” is repeated often. Stacey looks at me, “Dave, you’re not gonna think that amp sounds good anymore, are you?”
I look up at Darrius. He’s singing a song called Whatchagonnado and is in the main part of the chorus, “Whatchagonnado, Whatchagonnado, Whatchagonnado?” His brand of soul reminds me of my days in Detroit when I was a line cook in a gourmet burger place. I was the only white guy in the kitchen and so had no control over the radio and wound up listening to very similar stuff while I flipped burgers and cooked fries, and the rest of the cooks grooved and sang about loving a woman or losing a woman or needing a woman. And they could all sing well. I can imagine all of them now singing and spinning and digging this tune while making salads and teriyaki chicken and fried fish, “Whatchagonnado, Whatchagonnado, Whatchagonnado, Dave?” They often added my name at the end of such phrases before bursting into laughter. “Whatchagonnado, Dave?” I hope they get a chance to hear Darrius sometime. They’d like his music for sure.
I look at Stacey, “Quite the contrary,” I say, “The amp sounds even better.”