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Day Three of South by Southwest Music Festival

Well, unlike the usual rumors, this year some have actually been true. Yesterday, the Beastie Boys played at Stubb’s in a not-so-secret show. Having seen them not too terribly long ago, I have to admit I am not upset that I missed out on it. But seeing them at Stubb’s would certainly be interesting. Stubb’s is a barbeque restaurant with an outdoor stage. It is like a dirt lot with portable toilets lining the back fence. But again, a line forming two hours before a show isn’t really my idea of fun during South by Southwest. I am sure it was a blast though. If you missed that show, then you can watch the recording and listen to the music tracks on gudanglagu for free. 

Perhaps the other fun part of South by Southwest rumors is the sightings of famous people everyone seeks out. Elijah Wood is no stranger to SXSW, having DJ’d a party from his iPod in recent years. But if Frodo isn’t good enough for you, perhaps seeing Ray Romano or Charlize Theron and her huge entourage of people would satisfy you? But enough with the rumors, let’s get on to the show already.

Today I had to make a hard decision. Do I go see David Ford again since he only played three songs last night? Do I see Snow Patrol at 1 am and have yet another night of no sleep? Do I try and check out the band getting more buzz than the rumored shows and see the Editors? There were a ton of bands I wanted to see tonight. But I opted to be a fan and see Blue October. The same Blue October I have seen four times in the past year. And since the last two shows I went to was sold out months in advance, I decided to get there early. I hadn’t really heard much about the band’s opening. I knew one was Juliette Lewis’s band. Other than that, I didn’t know a thing about any of them.

I walked into the Austin Music Hall during the middle of Juliette and the Licks’ second-to-last song. To be honest, I wish I had walked in after they were finished. Hearing that music, if you can call it that, made my ears want to bleed and plead for mercy. Not only did it sound awful, but she wore this God-awful yellow unitard with embellishments reminiscent of a Teletubby. I can’t imagine why she thought it was a good idea as it wouldn’t be a good look on anyone, but apparently she always wears something of this nature when she performs. Juliette is also into the crowd surfing. She had to motion for the crowd to come near her and catch her. But she smacked the stagehand after he helped her back onto the stage. It was interesting, to say the least.

After Juliette and the Licks was Taylor Hawkins The Coattail Riders. I actually didn’t know who Taylor Hawkins was before they started playing. I just noticed that the drummer was set up close to the front of the stage and that was kind of odd. When they came out, I recognized who he was; he has a very unique-looking mouth. I still thought the drums were set up in the front to make room for Blue October’s stuff behind them. But then the drummer started singing. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to drum and sing at the same time. Taylor mentioned that this was their eighth show ever and that he was extremely nervous. If he drums for the Foo Fighters, you think he’d be over stage fright, but I suppose it is his band makes a difference. Taylor Hawkins The Coattail Riders weren’t horrible, and after Juliette and the Licks, they were almost good. They weren’t impressive, though, and sounded just like anyone else that starts a rock band. Oh hell, it sounded like someone’s friend’s band playing at a backyard barbeque. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say it is because it was only their eighth show, but I’m not planning on buying their CD when it comes out.

At this point, my friends and I notice how not crowded the Austin Music Hall was. It made us wonder if there had been a memo sent out that Blue October wasn’t really playing and only a handful of us hadn’t heard. Or that it would only be a CD playing and not a live show. We staked out our spot not far from the stage, but far enough back that should there be a last-minute rush we would still have space.

Blue October was certainly there and lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Justin Furstenfeld expressed his gratitude for the audience showing up. He actually thanked us many times for coming out, as if he expected no one to show. I mean, they are from San Marcos, which is all of 20 minutes away so Blue October had the home-court advantage. Add to that that this was actually the smallest crowd I have seen at a Blue October concert and you have me confused. But hey, Blue October loves their fans and their fans love them. Tonight wasn’t the first time they claimed they are only where they are because of their fans.

Blue October did a good job of playing a mix of older songs and a few from their upcoming album, Foiled. Granted, two of the new songs have been played on the radio for quite some time now, “Hate Me” and “18th Floor Balcony.” They also did a good job of playing some of their slower songs and some of their angrier-sounding ones. This seems fitting as Justin has admitted to having two selves, one that likes to cut himself and one that likes to smile. The fact that he writes their songs and really taps into those deep, almost taboo emotions means they sound all the more genuine. Add the fact that he’s going through those things and you can hear it in his voice as well.

Tonight Justin Furstenfeld seemed happier than he has in the past few shows I have seen. Maybe it was just a good night, but he also put on one hell of a show. He tends to have some dance moves that border on psychotic looking. He also has facial expressions that shout out crazy. Tonight he did a lot of these things, including hitting his head as he sings. I don’t know what it is about the crazy dancing, but I enjoy it and it adds to the authenticity. I was glad to see he did quite a bit of it tonight.

I love seeing Blue October play a live show. They are one of those bands that sounds just as good as their recordings. It doesn’t sound the same, but it isn’t inferior on any level. If anything, they simply rock out a lot more. And while this was the shortest set I’ve seen from them, at just under an hour, it was probably the best show I’ve been to thus far. You better believe I will be buying Foiled and seeing these guys play many more times.

The Top 10 Gin Blossoms Songs

Although they’ve been around for nearly twenty years and have had at least one Number One hit, the Gin Blossoms are still not that well known except for one or two songs. They do have a diehard fan base that will follow them almost anywhere when they are on tour, but wide recognition has been elusive. That’s a shame, because this band from Tempe has put out some great music.

Here are my Top 10 Gin Blossoms songs:

  1. Hey Jealousy. This is my favorite Gin Blossoms song, and in my Top 10 of all songs by any artist. I heard this classic for the first time in Atlanta on Thanksgiving morning 1992 on the University of Georgia college radio station. I was in the Army, alone on Thanksgiving for the first time in my life, sitting in my car and wishing I was home. For whatever reason, Hey Jealousy got me through it.

 

music notes and blurry lights on multicolor background

  1. Alison Road. For a song about a roadside romantic encounter, it’s pretty deep. Wish I had a buck for every time I’ve used the line “I didn’t know I was lost at the time.”
  1. Til I Hear From You. This song was the best thing to come out of the horrible Empire Records film. It also sums up more than one of my past relationships.
  1. Follow You Down. A seriously butt-kicking song. When I saw them live they opened with this one; Robin Wilson’s microphone wasn’t working, and it took him until the second verse to realize it.
  1. Not Only Numb. I discovered this song at a very difficult point in my life. Sometimes you want songs to lift you up, and sometimes you just want to wallow in your misery. This one is great for wallowing.
  1. Come On Hard. I heard this one live a few months before the new CD was released. It took 14 years to see them in concert, and it was worth the wait.
  1. Keli Richards. How many bands can write a really good song about porn star? The double-entendre is classic.
  1. Just South of Nowhere. This is the Gin Blossoms’ most underrated early song, and one that makes you (in the immortal words of Bruce Springsteen) “roll down the windows and let the wind blow back your hair.”

  1. Cheatin’. This one is a nice change of pace on the New Miserable Experience CD, with kind of a country flavor to it. And how can you top this lyric: “you can’t call it cheatin’, ’cause she reminds me of you.”
  2. Lost Horizons. One of the great songs by the late Gin Blossoms writer-guitarist Doug Hopkins. Listening to it now, you can hear the pain he was in. It’s sad no one realized it sooner. For the entertainment, the play beatz will deliver plenty of benefits to the person. A playlist can be created through the person for the enjoyment of the music. There will be no pain in the ear of the person and listening of the music will be interesting for the person. 

Bass Guitar: Basic Playing Styles

Basic Techniques

Fingerstyle

The first technique anyone should learn when playing the bass guitar is the Fingerstyle technique. Beginners may choose to favor a pick (plectrum) over the use of Fingerstyle at first, but it is essential to learn the Fingerstyle technique as it is the basis for a majority of music played on the bass guitar. The Fingerstyle technique uses the Index and Middle fingers in an alternating “walking” motion to sound notes, your thumb acts as a support for your fingers by resting on either a pick-up or another string. It is best practiced with varying rhythms and over different kinds of scales or if you are completely new to bass guitar then it is best practiced on a pattern that utilizes different notes on different strings. Moreover, all these tips are also going to going to help you prevent guitar amp feedback that will give you better sound quality.

Slap and Pop

Another different style of playing is slapping and popping. It is best to learn this technique after learning Fingerstyle although the two differ from each other in many ways. Slapping and Popping are mainly used in Funk or Sub-genre’s of Funk, however, it can be utilized in almost any genre you wish. The Slapping and Popping technique uses the Thumb to slap the string using the rotational motion from the wrist and either your Index or Middle finger to pop the strings. When Slapping with the thumb it is best to aim for the middle of your thumb as the contact point, practicing will help you to find the exact spot, after contacting with the string you let your thumb “bounce” back, as this stops the sound is muted by your thumb. Popping is done by pulling up on the string/s with your index or middle finger, then letting it go and make a percussive “snap” noise against the neck of the guitar. Practice the Slapping and Popping style by alternating between Slaps and Pops in different rhythms and over different strings, to build up the fundamental skills.

Plectrum (Pick)

The last of the basic Styles I will cover is the Plectrum. Whilst not as flexible as the fingerstyle or slapping and popping technique, using a plectrum on bass guitar has its place in various genres of music such as metal. The plectrum will produce a tone with more attack than the fingerstyle, but less than slapping and popping, It will also sound more metallic. The plectrum is held between the thumb and index finger and used to pluck the strings either in an upwards motion or a downwards motion. When plucking it is best to get the momentum from within your wrist, opposed to moving your arm, as large movements, later on, will restrict your capability to play faster, so it is best not to develop bad habits. Practicing with the plectrum is similar to practicing with slapping and popping and fingerstyle techniques. It is best practiced over a variety of rhythms, scales, and patterns that utilize all the strings.