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Topic: acl

ACL: Day 2 recap

Dale Earnhardt, Sooner football and Christian Bale?

OKSee took it easy Saturday at ACL, as the crowds turned out in their typical Saturday droves, making it difficult to get close enough to shoot artists on stage. But that’s not to say there wasn’t much going on, as Zilker Park was hopping with Sooner football fans anticipating not just their biggest road test of the season, but the conflict between their school pride and headlining bands.

I chose to join my friend James Corley, the Oklahoma Daily’s sports editor (and roving ACL reporter) in the TV lounge at 7:00 p.m., which turned out to be a great decision because we got to watch OU beat Florida State in an ugly, gritty fashion soundtracked by My Morning Jacket’s badass Kentucky rock ‘n’ roll.

The morning began with an interview Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jr. an excellent electronic indie rock duo from Detroit who record thoughtful pop music over gorgeous, tinkling textures. The dudes were very friendly and endearing in person, and asked a lot about the Flaming Lips, which is always a plus for me. Expect a writeup from that in my post-coverage.

Once finished, I hurried over to the AMD stage to see The Antlers, who played terrific cuts from their excellent sophomore record “Burst Apart." “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” held the early morning kids in a daze.

The Antlers at Austin City Limits 2011

I zipped over to the Google Plus stage immediately after to catch another buzzy Brooklyn band (you’ve really gotta use big festivals to catch acts that don’t tour the Midwest so heavy), Twin Shadow. George Lewis, Jr.’s songs were similarly hypnotic and way, way sexier. Shortly after “I Can’t Wait,” he showed off his sense of good humor, laughing at a Waldo in the crowd. “I found you, man! You gotta leave and go to the next page.”

Twin Shadow at Austin City Limits 2011

After another visit to the press tent for sustenance from the ubiquitous, muggy South Texas heat, I got up fairly close for Iron & Wine, who no doubt disappointed a few of their more faithful fans with an all full-band set. “The Creek Drank the Cradle,” this was not, but Sam Beam and company slayed a whole bunch of newer songs in a neo-trad fashion, including “Boy with a Coin,” (which was shifted into more of an uptempo funky number) and the wistful, brand-new “Tree by the River.”

Iron & Wine at Austin City Limits 2011

According to a few different sources, Christian Bale was at the front of the crowd for the Iron & Wine show, flanked by a working camera crew who appeared to be filming him and some “cute indie chick,” according to a witness. Curious, and very cool!
 
From there I wandered around a bit, easily able to hear Aussie dance band Cut Copy’s heavy electronic rhythms and high-pitched singing. Be sure to check the Gazette’s advance of their upcoming Tulsa show in the Sept. 28 issue! “Corner of the Sky” and “Take Me Over” have now returned to my heavy rotation.

Okie rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson told stories at the Austin Ventures stage while Cut Copy thundered from the much larger AMD stage nearby. It was mind-boggling to hear her talk about how nobody was recording “rock ‘n’ roll for girls in 1955, ’56.” From there she tore into her classic “Mean Mean Man,” quickly followed by a brief sermon and the gospel standard “I Saw the Light.”

I spent the rest of the night in the TV lounge, stressing out about the OU-FSU game in a den of obnoxious, beer-spattering Longhorns. It was great being able to hear My Morning Jacket (who are hugely loud anyway) from the comfort of my big screen-viewing seat. “Holdin on to Black Metal” stood out, backed by a brass band. I’m just sad they didn’t play “I Will Sing You Songs,” but other than that, it was a remarkable, headliner-worthy performance, full of heavy metal, hair-whipping, and a caped Yim Yames.

Day 2’s in the books, folks. Currently OKSee's Day 3 plans are to catch Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. at 1:30, then proceed to camp out at the Bud Light stage for a good view off the Airborne Toxic Event, Broken Social Scene, Fleet Foxes, and Arcade Fire in succession. It's gonna be a great day.

For more ACL coverage:

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Day 1 photos
Day 1 recap

Day 2 photos

Day 3 photos to come
Day 3 recap to come

Interviews with Reptar & Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. to come

by Matt Carney 09.18.2011 2 years ago
at 12:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

OKS Chatter: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

The Detroit band talks Wayne Coyne, hip-hop beats, pop radio and Pitchfork.

The three best shows I saw at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival were two obvious choices (Kanye West, Arcade Fire) and one dark horse I’d pinned a lot of hope on. That band is Detroit’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., and the duo’s Sunday-afternoon set showed off their flair for garish styles, fun-loving melodies, twinkling electronic textures, falsetto harmonizing, bubble machines and straight-up rock ’n’ roll. Also, they tossed Popsicles to a thankful crowd, heat-exhausted by three days of loud music in the Texas sun.

With those antics – the names, the games, the showmanship, these press photos  – it’s hard to tell whether or not Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein have their tongues wriggling in their cheeks. Luckily, I had the chance to chat with them the day before their set, and the guys seem as genuine as the homegrown, preservative-free cheese I bought at Forward Foods during my lunch break yesterday.



My verdict: They’re ambitious, quirky guys who record weirdly lovable music and are nostalgic for a time when physical media was more important and radio stations crackled with music that was beautiful and challenging. But I’m rambling now. On to the chatting:

Zott: So what’s up with Wayne Coyne? He gets to do whatever he wants on a major label, and everyone loves him. It’s weird.

Epstein: He has like, three houses, right? Right in a row?

OKS: It’s actually four. He’s expanded. I think they’re all back-to-back, and connected by the backyard. It’s just a gigantic compound.

Epstein: That’s so weird.

OKS: It’s in the shady side of Oklahoma City, so the houses are probably pretty cheap. He’s spent a lot of money remodeling and redecorating them.

“Nothing but Our Love” at ACL 2011


Epstein: That’s awesome. Is he part of the community?

OKS: I see him at concerts all the time. There’s a venue in Norman called Opolis, where a lot of the smaller-name indie acts come through, and he’s there with friends and family at a lot of the shows I go to. He just walks right up to the stage, pulls out his phone and tweets photos. He’s checking out new bands and hanging around.

But on to you guys. One of the things I like so much about your music is that a lot of it’s textured with electronica — the little fizzly sounds that keep things going. How is that coming out of Detroit? It seems very different to me, from most of the music that comes out of there.

Music video for “Simple Girl”


Zott: You’re talking about the garage-rock scene.

OKS: Yeah, that’s usually what I think about when I hear about Detroit.

Zott: There’s that element, and we do have a rock element to our sound, but Detroit does have an electronic scene that’s really huge. It kinda started there.

Epstein: Yeah, techno music came from Detroit.

Zott: There’s a lot of bands doing that kinda stuff right now, and the roots are there for it. A lot of bands we like are electronic-type bands. It’s more natural than you think, there’s a lot of electronic tinkering going on up there.

Epstein: There’s a huge, underground hip-hop scene that’s getting notoriety also. I think hip-hop’s actually a big part of our music, too.

Zott: I’d say more so than electronica is a hip-hop type vibe. It’s a little bit warmer. There’s a groovier beat than a stale, 4-4 beat.

OKS: I definitely feel like – listening to you guys’ music – it’s more intimate and warm-sounding.

Zott: Yeah, there’s definitely some of that electronic texturing, but it’s Detroit to us.

OKS: You guys did the “Summer Babe” cover for The A.V. Club. Do you guys have a particular affinity for Pavement, or that song in particular?

Epstein: Well, the songs had to have “Summer” in the title, but I’ve always been a huge Pavement fan, so it seemed to be a pretty obvious choice.

Zott: And I hadn’t listened to them much. Usually when we do a cover or a remix or something like that, one of us has heard the song and the other hasn’t, so it makes it more fun because you can’t quite put as much of a spin on the song if you know it in and out. That’s really hard to do. I think we were able to get away from it because I wasn’t familiar. Josh kept the things that we needed to keep, but we also made it fresh.

OKS: Let me ask you guys about your album, particularly the Gil Scott-Heron cover, “We Almost Lost Detroit.” Did you guys pick that one out because you’re big fans of Gil Scott-Heron, or because of the hometown mention, or kind of a mix of both, or what?

“We Almost Lost Detroit” live on KEXP


Epstein: I think initially it was because of Detroit. We really liked the version we did. It felt updated, in comparison to the original. But also we really liked the sentiment in it. It sums up so much about our record, especially the name “It’s a Coporate World,” so it felt like we had to include it. It was just kinda meant to be.

OKS: Do you guys’ songs start out with words, or do you go melody first or what?

Zott: It’s different every time. I think the key is to keep it inspired and to avoid forcing anything. Sometimes Josh’ll have an idea and we’ll work it out, sometimes I’ll have an idea and we’ll work it out, sometimes we push something together, or sometimes we write a whole song and there’s no lyrics. Sometimes you need to make lyrics sound good. It’s different every time, I think.

OKS: If you guys had to record a pop album or a folk album, which one would you choose?

Zott: That’s where we’re kind of a mix. We want to be a pop band. We hate the idea that a pop band has to be dumbed-down — lyrically, sonically, chord structure-wise. It used to not be like that. “God Only Knows” was a massive hit worldwide, and that song has the weirdest chords in it, it has time-signature changes, a key change. It’s weird: It would never fly right now on pop-radio format.

God Only Knows:


OKS: It’s morbid, too.

Zott: Yeah! It was considered a beautiful love song, and it is. But it’s got these funky lyrics that aren’t typical love-song lyrics. But we think people can still digest that stuff, and people do. I’d like to write a pop album that breaks that rule. We’re just making music we love, that we think could be pop music and doesn’t necessarily have to be Top-40 radio. It can be complex. I think we’d do a pop record.

Epstein: To me, they both exist within me, and I don’t think I can separate them. I’ll still feel the need to write lyrics that are meaningful and challenging. You can do it. People just aren’t doing it in the Top 40 anymore. The system’s a bit broken. People at the radio stations want to keep their jobs. Radio plays a huge role to make bands visible to people who aren’t on blogs, who don’t seek out new things.

People who read Pitchfork fail to realize that most people in the world don’t read Pitchfork. I was working with this band, recording a song, and they were like, “Pitchfork’s gonna love this.” And I told them they were idiots. Do it because you love, not because Pitchfork’s gonna like it. They’re just one opinion, anyways. Somehow they’ve managed to make people think they’re the authority.

I just think that, ultimately, if it were DJs playing the songs they wanted to play, like it was in the ‘60s, then we’d have a much more diverse popular music scene. People are hungry for good stuff. That’s how Phoenix became a Top-40 band. I think mostly probably because it was so different when it played on those stations. People were like, “Holy crap! What is this? It’s not Nickelback!” y’know?

OKS: So are you guys going to get to go around at the fest at all? Who are you going to see?

Zott: If we have time, we’d love to see Stevie Wonder.

Epstein: As a musician, it’s really hard for me to go to a show and just be entertained. And when bands can do that, I’m always so blown away. Like going to a Flaming Lips show: You feel like a little kid and you just want to cry. I learn a lot from them.

Zott: I don’t go to concerts, which is kind of a weird thing. I guess I’m going to have to make up for it now.

Epstein: I go to too many. I played with OK Go one time, and they said something along the lines of, “Everything we do, we try to be like The Flaming Lips.”
by Matt Carney 09.28.2011 2 years ago
at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 
 
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