Monthly Archives: October 2013

FUZZ – Fuzz / THE FUZZ – The Fuzz

Album: Fuzz / The Fuzz


Label: In The Red / Munster

Release Date: September 24, 2013



 It’s dueling Fuzz-balls, BLURT style, kids! Let us explain…

 In San Franciscan Ty Segall we have a musician here of Pollardian proportions; in other words, the dude’s prolific. Here, Segall, on drums, is joined by pals Charlie Moothart and Roland Cosio and the word power trio comes to mind.

 Yes, the eight songs on the FUZZ debut are heavy, real heavy. You’ll be reminded of Black Sabbath right off but you’ll also hear some love for Hendrix and, of course, the heaviest band ever, Blue Cheer. From the opening cut of “Earthen Gate” the songs nudge, heave, shove and then finally bulldoze their way to your hearts. Both “Loose Sutures” and “Raise” offer up Iommi-ish guitar sludge; while “Hazemaze” speeds things up, if just a bit, but still, compared to the other tunes, makes it seem like a souped-up GTO racing against a poor Pinto. Put that lit-up cell phone down and get a cigarette lighter, dammit. This deserves it.

The Fuzz

Meanwhile, across the country, in Memphis’ Hector Bobo we have a musician of Bobo-esque proportions; we are advised by the good folks of Spain’s Munster label that he’s the sibling of another prolific songwriter, one Harlan T. Bobo, who we are additionally advised has never been seen in public together with Hector. Uhhh, right. Well, both “brothers” are published by Harlan T. Bobo Music (BMI) so there’s at least peace in the family.

 All myth-making and –mongering aside, the eleven songs on the self-titled debut by The Fuzz are heavy in their own milieu, a garage-rocking blast of Fleshtones-meets-early-Kinks looniness, with a touch of Ramones lining the lint-filled pockets. Bobo, along with Jeff “Bunny” Dutton, Tom Jones and Steve Selvidge, emits a joyful racket of whap, bam, boom, crunch and, yes, fuzz, on such sonic delicacies as the thrashy “Birdie,” drunk strut “Cold Stars,” the glam-slam of “Teen Rex” (get it?) and the “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” rewrite that is “Merry-Go-Round.” All that, and a cover of Dead Moon’s timeless minor chord surf-blooze “Sorrow’s Forecast”? Mama, weer all krazee nowwww!

 Already booking our flights to Memphis and San Fran for this year’s spring break. Join us and the rest of our staff as we hit the touring road, won’t you? Opening act for BLURT’s First Annual Fuzz-fest—kinda like Ozzfest, minus a budget—will be the legendary Fuzztones….

 DOWNLOAD: FUZZ – “Earthen Gate,” “Hazemaze”; The Fuzz – “Teen Rex,” “Merry-Go-Round”

THE AVETT BROTHERS – Magpie and the Dandelion

Album: Magpie and the Dandelion

Artist: Avett Brothers

Label: Universal/American

Release Date: October 15, 2013



 There’s no shortage of reasons why the Avett Brothers have become the darlings of the Americana crowd, and every one of them is evident on this, the band’s latest superb offering. The fact that it’s essentially a set of outtakes (these were songs originally recorded for the Avetts’ last album, 2012’s The Carpenter, but for whatever reason, failed to make the cut) makes this even more impressive… and, for that matter, all the more essential as well.

 Most artists would kill to have secondary material half this good, but the fact that the Avetts can take a batch of leftover tracks and repurpose them as such an exceptional album reflects the high bar they always attain. The mix of pathos and determination reflects a willingness to wear their tattered emotions on their collective sleeves, and turn those sentiments into songs that resonate with everyman appeal. The staunch and assertive “Open-Ended Life” boasts banjos and harmonies that bring Poco to mind, but the forlorn desire inherent in songs such as “Morning Song” and “Never Been Alive” offers another indication of the innate vulnerability that’s endeared them to their admirers. For the most part, the songs are simply stated – whether it’s the homespun pluck of “Another Is Waiting,” the simple acoustic set-up on “Bring Your Love to Me” or the opening melody of “Good to You,” which sounds so eerily like the beginning of “Norwegian Wood.”

The latter is no matter however. At this point, comparisons are moot. The Avett Brothers have established a singular style. And with it, a well-deserved reputation that assures their place among the best of the breed.

 DOWNLOAD: “Bring Your Love to Me,” “Open-Ended Life,” “Never Been Alive”

THE SOUNDS – Weekend

Album: Weekend

Artist: The Sounds

Label: Ingrooves

Release Date: October 29, 2013




The last album by The Sounds was a little bit all over the place, ranging from upbeat, throbbing, electronic dance numbers, to pop-rock, and even an acoustic ballad. It was a little disjointed and felt like an album where the band had a lot of ideas but didn’t really know which direction to head into (more on that below). Overall, it was a satisfactory effort, but definitely not their finest work. With Weekend, the band comes full circle and revisits their roots, taking best elements from their first 3 albums and injecting a newfound energy, and a ‘60s style rock element that brings their sound to new heights.


The Sounds aren’t young adults anymore. This time, it’s almost as if the band is sitting back and both enjoying what they do and reflecting on life. “Great Day” is a perfect example of this, and it’s hands down the best strongest track on the entire album. It’s a breezy, pop-rock number driven by beautiful acoustic guitar with a slight southern twang, storytelling style lyrics, and heartfelt vocals by Maja Ivarsson. During its catchy, uplifting chorus, Ivarsson sings, “It’s a great day to be alive,” with heart, confidence and ease. You’ll feel like you’re having a great day right along with her. “Young and Wild” is another reflective, feel-good anthem that recaptures the youth and innocence and their early days. “Put your hands up in the air/Listen we are, we are/Young and wild,” is the insanely catchy chorus you’ll find stuck in your head all day. It’s one of those tracks that will suck your sorrows away and make you hit the “repeat” button. These could easily be the two best songs of the band’s entire catalogue so far.


Longtime fans will be pleased to hear songs like “Shake Shake Shake,” “Take It The Wrong Way,” “Emperor,” “Outlaw,” and “Too Young to Die” all evoke the signature indie-rock sounds of Living in America, which is never a bad thing. “Panic,” is the standout, synth-driven, dance-rock track and “Animal” is a straight up clap along, attitude-filled rock number. But amidst all the upbeat indie rock, you get the chill out acoustic title track “Weekend” where Ivarsson further proves she can carry a strong ballad even though it has the tritest lyrics of the batch. Really, there’s nothing bad to say about this album. There’s no over-thinking or experimentation here. It’s far more polished than Something to Die For and thanks to strong acoustic guitars driving nearly every track, everything sounds uniform. It’s a blend of their two best efforts, Living in America and Crossing the Rubicon, complete with the maturity of a band that is clearly aging like wine. These aren’t the early twenty-something young adults we knew from the Living in America era. Weekend may be a more stripped down, back to the basics effort, but it is definitely the most mature album the band has ever put out. They’re all in their early thirties now. All five members seem to be comfortable and content with what they’re doing. They do it well, and it especially shows in their songwriting. Weekend marks a promising and strong start to the second decade of their recording career.


DOWNLOAD: “Great Day,” “Young and Wild,” “Outlaw,” “Emperor,” “Animal,” “Panic”

John Wesley Coleman 10/20/13, Chicago

Dates: October 20, 2013

Location: Empty Bottle, Chicago IL

coleman sheiks morons 015


 A drunken night of garage punk at Chicago’s Empty Bottle on October 20,  starts with the killer-drummed, grunge-slanted roar of Memphis’ Sheiks, winds through the straight-up, speed addled hardcore of the Morons (the Chicago Morons, not the semi-legendary 1990s Albany punk band) and ends up slurred, bleary and mesmeric in John Wesley Coleman’s swaggering set. Peyton Manning is on the TV between sets, proving that you can’t go home again, at least not without getting the shit kicked out of you, so why not go out instead, Sunday nights be damned.

 I’m actually sort of proud of myself for being in the Empty Bottle, since I don’t live in Chicago, no one would go with me and the trip there involves one subway, one long connecting bus ride and about six blocks of walking alone in the dark. There are not many people there when I arrive (or when I leave), fewer than 20 and all but five or six of them are in the three bands. Maybe everyone else got lost.

 coleman sheiks morons 001

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But you know what, it’s worth the trip, because Sheiks, a two-guitar, one-awesome drummer trio out of Memphis, plays a great set, evoking garage band classics like the Saints and NY Dolls one minute, then switching to woozy, grunge-y overload. Songs like “Makin’ Me Scream” clatter and slash a la melodic, scrappy garage punk bands like the Ponys, Jay Reatard and Cheap Time, but then the tall long-haired guitar player begins churning a viscous, evilly dissonant riff and “Fever” starts sounding like Bleach-era Nirvana. Behind it all is the band’s secret weapon, the drummer Graham Winchester, pounding hard and fast and all over the kit in 16th note spatters and rattles and rampages.

 Sheiks have a wild, transformative, acid-eaten expansiveness to their sound that toys with 1960s mod psych (one song, something about “palace of darkness” has harmonies, sitar-ish wavery chords and a strong whiff of the Nuggets box). The Morons are far more straightforward, playing blazing fast, hard, melodic punk like a Fatwreck band or maybe Vagrant, and occasionally, I think with “Broke + Stupid” sounding a bit like the Clash, with blazing walls of “White Riot”-esque strumming. There’s nothing very complicated about what the Morons do, but they do it pretty well, with unstoppable energy, blitzkrieg speed and scrabbly enthusiasm.  

 coleman sheiks morons 006

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As the Morons are banging out their frenetic set, John Wesley Coleman, the blues-punk-poet ex- of Golden Boys, glides by on a skateboard.  

 coleman sheiks morons 013

That’s maybe a signal, because soon after, Coleman is onstage with a large ensemble – himself, bassist Geena Spigarelli, drummer Yamal Said, a sax player and a keyboard player. It’s a swaggering, crazily chaotic line-up, Spigarelli and Said holding things together, as the sax, keyboard and JWC himself careen off into unpredictable directions. They start with “My Grave” from The Last Donkey Show,  hitting the knife-edge balance between circus-y exuberance (the sax and wheedling keyboard) and heart-ache (Coleman’s raking, breaking voice). Then, the show spirals further into weirdness with the Coleman classic “Jesus Never Went to Junior High,” a honky-tonk oddity reflecting, perhaps, Coleman’s churchy Texas youth. It imagines Jesus on board school bus, Coleman in the back “eating all the acid.”

That song is as close as Coleman gets to a folk song, though it’s a twisted, outsider-y one. Then it’s off into blaring, blasting, rock, the blistered chords and strung-out melodic rampage of “Fields of Love,” the roadhouse swagger of “Bad Lady Goes to Jail.”

 coleman sheiks morons 017

 In amongst the songs, Coleman ventures some observations – about Jesus, the suckiness of Sunday night shows, the cowboy-film clichés of “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places” – but it’s hard to make out what he’s saying. That’s partly because of the sound system, partly because of his thick Texas drawl and partly because he’s been drinking all night and, by the end, is damned close to incoherent. Indeed, drunken-ness is a bit of theme. Instead of the standard “We’ve got a few more songs to play” he announces, “We’ve got one more round of drink tickets,” and late in the show, during the droning, transporting “Oh Basketball” he orders a round of shots for everyone in the band. The keyboard player holds Spigarelli’s dose up to her lips and she downs it without missing a thunk of her dense, pick-less bass line.  The whole band is swaying by the end of the set, mostly from the music, but also because the room is likely spinning.

 Coleman, playing a borrowed guitar, has to tune it for every song, and finally, near the end asks if anyone else wants to play guitar. A skinny man in a Stetson climbs onto the stage and mimes guitar as the band plays a bastardized version of “Monster Mash.” It’s rock and roll veering wildly out of control, off the tracks and over the precipice, about as far as you can get from the manicured market-readiness of CMJ (going on at the exact same time, 800 miles away in NYC). Nice to know that it still goes on, even if no one is paying attention.

Austin City Limits Festival 2013 Day One (Oct. 4)

Dates: October 4, 2013

Location: Austin City Limits Festival, Austin TX

1. The Chuckleberrys ACL Blurt


As a happy coincidence to the festival weekend, The Mummies drummer Russell Quan played a few days before at Hotel Vegas with his band The Chuckleberrys (above).

  ACL Festival has a reputation for a limited variety of music, but not necessarily up and coming acts.  That changed this year. Among the newer acts to play were The Savages, an all female act that played loud and perfectly channeled ‘80s goth angst.

 2. The Savages ACL Blurt

 3. The Savages ACL Blurt

An unexpected surprise show was Detroit’s Electric Six, a garage rock band best known for their single “Gay Bar”.

4. The Electric Six ACL Blurt

Stoner Rockers Queens of The Stone Age put in a great performance later that evening, which was followed up by Depeche Mode and Muse playing simultaneously on two stages. Story and images for Depeche Mode can be found here.

 5. Queens of The Stone Age Blurt

6. Queens of The Stone Age Blurt

There were some great ACL sponsored aftershows the first night, including Ty Segall’s new band Fuzz. However, Renaldo Checker and André Williams played a non ACL show at The Continental Club that evening.  I was hoping for a large turnout for such a legend, but the turnout was disappointing. Still, it was a nice change from the masses of festival goers.

 Reynaldo Checker

 7. Renaldo Domino ACL Blurt

Reynaldo did incredible soul covers, including a rousing version of Curtis Mayfield’s Move on Up.  André was a surprise. I’ve seen him perform regularly for seven years and he gets better every time, but I’ve seen him at very low points in his career where he looked tired and frail, have short seizures, and I’ve seen him absolutely wow the crowd.  He held the crowd captivated.

8. Andre Willaims ACL Blurt

Instead of just a performance, André controlled the crowd and kept them excited from start to finish, both with material from two albums released in the past year as well as his classics like Bacon Fat.  Of course, Pussy Stank is always saved for last.

8. Andre Williams ACL Blurt

With Austin having such a big music history that continues, festival weekends often have some unexpected combinations on stage and in the audience. André is a legend, so I had high hopes. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion performed at ACL Festival earlier that evening. I missed them since I was shooting Queens of The Stone Age, but Jon Spencer is among those responsible for reviving André’s career (and André himself), so I had hopes Jon Spencer would get on stage with him.  That didn’t happen, but Jon came by to catch the end of his set, hung out for a while, and shook hands, signed autographs, and chatted up with everyone who approached him. As much as I wanted to see him on stage with André, it was great that he came to see the show and lend his support.

 After Jon left, I sat out back of the club to talk to André while he had a cigarette and decompressed from the show. André stopped drinking four years ago, so after the show and all the hellos and autographs, his time to calm down involves some quiet and conversation.  A guy walked out the back door and said “I’m with The Arctic Monkeys and Queens of The Stone Age.  You’re a big influence on them and they’d like to meet you, can you come inside?”  André said he’d come in soon. At that, the guy said “Come in. They’d like to meet you. We’ll pay you for the cigarettes.” André stood up, put out the smoke, and bowed his head to come back in. As nice as the bands were to him and the few left around closing time, the interaction with the handler was disgusting and brought to mind Cotton Club racism, where the same performers were subordinated to being called upon. If André was so important to them, they should have approached him instead of summoned him to come to them. It wasn’t intentional, but it was racist. Also, I can understand that other cities might be a bit uncomfortable with celebrities, but for both Austin and especially The Continental Club, nobody really cares.  If he was that important, they should have come to the show to see him perform. Nobody would have recognized them and if they did, chances are they wouldn’t have cared since most who come out to see André could care less about those two bands.

 Adding further insult, the other handler tried to clear out the bar while it was still open by advising others that they should leave so the band could have the bar to themselves, including me and a few other regulars. I was ready to leave anyway since it was late and I had an early start, but in recounting the story to a few employees at the club the next evening, a few were livid and said that nobody wanted the bands there and they wanted them to leave instead. Apparently, both handlers were not exactly favorable to other media and others had negative experiences with them. Suffice to say, the band should have come to him out of respect and admiration, not to mention the fact that it would be the least they could do considering both acts see more money in a few years than André will see in his lifetime.

Passman’s Complete ACL Coverage:

Day 1

Day 2

Joy Formidable

Depeche Mode

The Cure

The Joy Formidable 10/5 & 10/12/13, Austin City Limits Festival

Dates: October 5 & 12, 2013

Location: Austin City Limits Festival, Austin TX

1. The Joy Formidable ACL Blurt


 I live for rock ‘n’ roll. I have a day job, but seeing, shooting, interacting with, and writing about bands takes up nearly every ounce of my free time, and if you read Blurt, you share that affinity.   There comes a pitfall with loving music: You think you’re open to hearing new music, but most of it sounds the same or sounds like something you’ve heard before. Although rock ‘n’ roll is the greatest rip-off, so everything good sounds like something you’ve heard before, a lot of it is generic. Most of the time, this assessment is fair. However, one ends up missing some really great acts like The Joy Formidable.

 The band was a favorite at SXSW a few years ago. They even did a live set for KEXP during the festival. They also played Fun Fun Fun Fest last year. I was shooting something else, obviously.  For their Saturday set at ACL Festival this year, a prerecorded intro played to start their set. Once they came out and started playing, it was infectious.  They all smiled wide and dug in. Ritzy Bryan, the guitarist/vocalist, turned, smiled, and made eye contact to different parts of the crowd as if recognizing individuals.  Although this is part of the performance, it establishes a connection with the crowd that I haven’t seen a band do since The Alarm, who like The Joy Formidable, are Welsh.  Not only was the crowd hooked, but all of us in the photo pit had wide grins on our faces and lumps in our throat. We felt it, too.

You could feel it in the music.  The opener “This Ladder is Ours” is a pop shoegaze full of swirling guitar punch. Overall, they sound the cool forcefulness of The Breeders with harmonic swirls of My Bloody Valentine, both loud and melodic.  With its first line “Let’s take a walk, it’s long overdue” was not just the band’s introduction, but an invitation to everyone to join them.

2. The Joy Formidable ACL Blurt

Their second song, “Cholla,” is a serious rocker, although catchy.  For “Silent Treatment,” the slow song off their new album “Wolf’s Law,” Ritzy easily commanded the crowd to quiet down While bassist Rhydian Dayfdd traded off his bass for an acoustic guitar.  The audience stayed captivated and silent except for those who knew the song while Ritzy stood and smiled out at the crowd, inflecting every line with her eyes letting the audience know who she’s singing to.

3. The Joy Formidable ACL Blurt

The band is musically polished, but their performance pulled everyone in for the show. Ritzy, Rhydian, and drummer Matt Thomas show all appear as if they’re having the time of their lives on stage and the crowd responded accordingly.  It was not just exciting, it felt like hearing and seeing an amazing band for the first time and loving every minute of it, despite not knowing their songs, much like being taken to a rock concert/show for the first time.  

4. The Joy Formidable ACL Blurt

There are way too many bands now that receive critical praise, but forget they’re playing for an audience and end up performing with the artist and audience barrier firmly in place.  The Joy Formidable break that mold.  It’s so unusual these days to see a band that connects with the audience and makes the performance special and personal.  In fact, many of the other photographers stayed for the performance and mixed with the audience instead of heading over to another stage to shoot more. The audience also grew during their performance. The Joy Formidable was magnetic and played with abandon. 

5. The Joy Formidable ACL Blurt

The band ended with an ultimate catchy and blistering loud performance of “Whirring”, which stays in one’s head for days afterwards.  Although ACL Festival had larger headliners who had much larger stages, set times, and bigger crowds, The Joy Formidable played and rocked the audience better from start to finish.  There are those that feel that show pics don’t mean enough and that one had to be there to experience it. I agree with that. The photos don’t do justice enough. However, everyone who I recommended them to that saw them thought they were amazing.  That’s the best description. I wish I knew about them before now.

Passman’s Complete ACL Coverage:

Day 1

Day 2

Joy Formidable

Depeche Mode

The Cure


Album: Bull Goose Rooser

Artist: Watermelon Slim & the Workers

Label: Northern Blues Music

Release Date: June 25, 2013

Watermelon Slim 6-25


In the hands of lesser musicians, the blues can be a singular form, complete with a stoic beat and a mournful wail. Consequently, it takes a confident artist to redefine the norm, expand the parameters and add an imaginative twist.

Watermelon Slim has both the savvy and experience to add different hues to the blues, thanks to a resume that includes combat service in Vietnam, anti-war activism, art, literature, criminal missteps, a variety of blue collar occupations and a musical pedigree that dates back 40 years. While his tenure with his backing band The Workers has been on and off over the years, Slim – born Bill Homans – has integrated his own back story into his songs and developed a rugged revisionist style not unlike that of Taj Mahal or Keb Mo in terms of the template. While he’s adept at spewing a bluesy bluster on songs such as “Tomorrow Night,” some bottleneck blues on “A Wrench in the Machine” or a cocky cover of “I’m A King Bee,” the driving delivery of Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man,” the a cappella gospel of “Take My Mother Home” and the twilight piano duet “Over the Horizon” suggest a remarkably wide palette.

Despite his lengthy track record, Watermelon Slim is clearly still in prime form and anxious as ever to explore new terrain. And on the terrific Bull Goose Rooster, he has cause to crow even louder.

DOWNLOAD: “Vigilante Man,” “A Wrench in the Machine,” “”Tomorrow Night” LEE ZIMMERMAN

LISSIE — Back to Forever

Album: Back to Forever

Artist: Lissie

Label: Fat Possum

Release Date: October 08, 2013

Lissie 10-8


 Lissie recently told this writer that when she writes her songs, she’s usually “deep in the middle of heartbreak.” “Lately though, my ability to write songs has improved,” she continued. “I’ve gotten some distance from my heartaches.”

 Given Lissie’s description of her creative process — the results of which are evident on her sophomore set — it would seem as if she’s making music from a disengaged point of view. So it’s somewhat surprising that key tracks like “The Habit,” “I Bet On You” and “Shameless” in particular leave an entirely different impression, one that conveys an unmistakable air of angst and intensity. Where her first full length, 2010‘s Catching a Tiger, found her recovering from a love affair gone wrong, Back to Forever finds her lashing out at her former lover and emerging from that malaise wholly unrepentant. Equally significantly, she’s abandoned those labels affixed to her early on — particular those that branded her as some sort of sensitive singer/songwriter type — and instead veered towards a modern rock sound that boasts more in common with modern hipsters like Katy Perry, or dare we say, Miley Cyrus. With songs built on perky dance rhythms and elaborate arrangements, she seems to be prepping her fans for more elaborate productions and the bigger stages she already commands overseas.

 As a result, Back to Forever looks forward to the future and success built on a solid pop premise. Given her confidence and credo, she’s ready to make that leap right now.

 DOWNLOAD: “The Habit,” “I Bet On You,” “Shameless”

NO AGE – An Object

Album: An Object

Artist: No Age

Label: Sub Pop

Release Date: August 27, 2013

No Age 8-20


Noise, some say, is just noise.  Noise in the hands of Randy Randall and Dean Spunt is a tangible, something to be shaped, molded.  On the duo’s latest for Sub Pop “An Object”, they take the monotone sparseness of The Velvet Underground, the distorted volume of Husker Du, some drone from the Sonic Youth playbook and somehow find melody in ram shackled, crazed beauty.

With each of No Age’s previous albums (“Nouns” in 2008, “Weirdo Rippers” and 2010’s “Everything in Between”) they leaned on the comfort of punk or post-punk, both genre variations that they did very well within, to drive the concept, to shape the sound, to find definition of No Age as a band.  With “An Object” however, they seem to be shifting and growing, looking for a middle ground and they find it.

The direction they have gone with “An Object” is less punk and more no wave, a sound more experimental than even their most experimental that came before.  “Running a Go-Go” comes together as if it is the sound Joy Division would have taken on if Curtis hadn’t reached the end of his rope.  “An Impression” is shockingly near joy, the sound of a band that is stepping out of their comfort zone and being pleased with the outcome.

On “Circling the Dizzy” fuzzy guitars are the order of the day while “Commerce, Comment, Commence” rubs so close to the shoegazer sweet spot forever held by My Bloody Valentine that you’d swear it was a cover or at least an homage to the masters of the distortion tidal wave.

The minimal coldness of “An Object” is what makes the record so good.  No Age has made an album devoid of joy, yet I couldn’t help but smile when listening to it.  It would have been human instinct to hate it, to search out something happy as a palate cleanser; instead, I embraced it and, odds are, you will too.

With “An Object” Randall and Spunt prove that they are ready, willing and able to change gears and try something new.  That is the mark of a good musician, someone always looking for something else, something different.  No Age has found a place to be unafraid, a place to rest their weary souls.  Not too loud, not too soft, a place that is just right.

DOWNLOAD:  “I Won’t Be Your Generator”  “An Impression”

The Cure 10/5 & 10/12/13, Austin City Limits Festival

Dates: October 5 & 12, 2013

Location: Austin City Limits Festival, Austin TX

1. The Cure ACL Blurt


  ACL Festival this year had two astronomical headliners who saw their heyday in the ‘80s: Depeche Mode and The Cure. Both are new wave pioneers, but The Cure shares more popularity as a rock band that turned more people on to new wave and alternative rock.  Robert Smith’s trademark hair obviously helped that, but The Cure’s songs seem to resonate more.  The intro was quite a spectacle with a fog and keyboard melody intro to “Plainsong” as the band took the stage with the lights only in the back.  Smith’s emergence is unmistakable. His mop leads him.  The only other original founding member of The Cure who’s still in the band is Simon Gallup, who had an even bigger trademark do. Lately, it looks like he just walked out of London’s Marquee Club in 1976.

2. The Cure ACL Blurt

The first three songs in the set were the first three songs from Disintegration, a lush, psychedelic album that many view as their best album. However, most of those with that affinity were not old enough to remember their earlier work.  I thought Pornography was their best album, with everything that came before that and then to The Head On The Door as all being innovative. I wasn’t a big fan of Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss me, which had their first major US hits in “Why Can’t I Be You?”, which I thought was silly, and “Just Like Heaven,” which could only be described as a timelessly perfect psychpop song. Both songs were played during the set.

3. The Cure ACL Blurt

Other songs in the set were “High”, “Friday I’m in Love,” “Doing The Unstuck”, and “Trust” from 1992’s release Wish.  That was the last album I bought from The Cure. It was not as memorable to me back then since I liked their earlier material more, but the songs held up surprisingly well. I didn’t realize they were as good as they were, so it was great to realize it.  “Fascination Street” was a crowd pleaser. I liked the song, but the it’s a long song that I felt could have been taken up with two earlier songs.  Not to disappoint, they played Pornography’s “100 Years” and “The Caterpillar” from The Top, which was the first album where Robert Smith emphasized their psychedelic influences. They also included their first hits from Japanese Whispers: “The Love Cats”, “The Walk”, and “Let’s Go To Bed.”  I was not a big fan of the album at the time it came out. I thought it was too poppy.  Hearing them for the first time in who knows how many years made me feel like a 15 year old again.  It was really fun to sing along to them and their other songs.

4. The Cure ACL Blurt

“Hot Hot Hot” and “Why Can’t I Be You?” were obligatory, but they ended with “Boys Don’t Cry” in their seven song encore.  What could I say? I finally got to see The Cure!  Their set the second weekend was much better as it included “A Night Like This,” “In Between Days”, and “Push” from The Head On The Door, which was regarded as a rebirth. The songs on the album had more punch with jangly acoustic guitars adding to their sound.  The major hit from that album was “Close To Me”, which is another song I thought was silly, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it.  Two curious additions to the set the second week were very welcome by me and a couple that I met during the show that was also familiar with their catalog: “Give Me It”, which is one of their loudest songs, and “Stop Dead,” the b-side of In Between Days. 

5. The Cure ACL Blurt

The Cure always had a reputation for great shows. I was always jealous of my friends that went up to see them at Red Rocks during the ‘80s.  As much as I would have liked to have been at those shows to see and hear earlier material, I felt awfully lucky to see them. Robert looks like a Grandma with his hair appearing white from backlighting and a sequin glittery hoodie, but he can wear and look however he wants to, lipstick and all. Nobody cares. It’s The Cure. We’re all still going to go see them and we’re going to dance, sing, and have the time of our lives.  We did.  Robert did, too.

6. The Cure ACL Blurt

Passman’s Complete ACL Coverage:

Day 1

Day 2

Joy Formidable

Depeche Mode

The Cure