Piknic Électronik at Auditorium Shores to feature Moon Boots, Claude VonStroke, DJ Mel

House DJs Moon Boots (Saturday) and Claude VonStroke (Sunday) top the lineup for the inaugural Piknic Électronik at Auditorium Shores on  Oct. 27-28.

DJ Mel plays the Titos Handmade Vodka stage at ACL Fest weekend on Saturday October 1, 2016. Dave Creaney/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Also on the bill for the “picnic in the park” electronic music event are  Tensnake, Breezah and DJ Mel who will play on Saturday and Solardo, Brett Johnson and DJ Girlfriend on Sunday.

The original Piknic Électronik is a summer concert series in Montreal that aims to be the opposite of an all-night rave. The event was founded in 2003 by a group of electronic music enthusiasts who hoped to make the genre more accessible “by bringing it out in broad daylight.” Organizers have staged Piknic Électronik events around the world, but this will be the first Piknic on U.S. soil.

The event is family friendly. Kids 10 and younger are free, and there will be a Petite Piknic area with special children’s programming.

Curated food selections from Central Market are available for pre-order, and there will be food trucks on site.

Early bird tickets are $15 and available through Front Gate Tickets.

More information. 

Austin 11-year-old is the youngest person nominated for a Tejano Music Award

Young Austin singer Mia Garcia has been nominated for Best New Female Artist at the 2018 Tejano Music Awards. At 11, she’s the youngest person in the history of the award show to receive a nomination.

In a video about her nomination on her Facebook page, Garcia says she’s been singing her whole life. Coming from a family of Tejano musicians, Garcia got her start doing karaoke at restaurants with her family. By the time she was five, she had her first recording under her belt. These days, she has five.

“A lot of people call me the future Selena. I want to live up to that. But I want to be my own person. I want to be Mia,” Garcia says in a post on her Facebook page.

In addition to singing, Garcia takes guitar lessons. She also does gymnastics and karate.

Last year, the city proclaimed Oct. 14, Mia Garcia Day.

The Tejano Music Awards nominees are currently open for voting by industry professionals. If Garcia makes it to the top five, the ballot will be opened to a public vote.

The Tejano Music Awards  Show takes place November 17 in San Antonio.

h/t KVUE


Austin club crawl: 13 music venues to explore downtown

Where should you go see live music in Austin? Glad you asked. Here are 13 music venues to check out downtown.

Soweto Kinch plays the Elephant Room during SXSW 2018. Deborah Sengupta Stith/American-Statesman

Elephant Room. This venue has been the heart of the city’s jazz scene since 1991. In this no-frills spot tucked away in a cozy cellar under a strip of swanky restaurants on Congress Avenue, hundreds of signed dollar bills tacked to the ceiling count as decor, the remains of saxophonist Tony Campise watch over the stage and Austin’s top players are all regulars. The club hosts free happy hour shows from 6 to 8 p.m. on weeknights. 315 Congress Ave.

Parker Jazz Club. This newcomer to Austin’s basement jazz scene, co-owned by Austin jazz-lifer Kris Kimura, provides a more upscale experience with a polished look and a full menu of craft cocktails. Experience live music Tuesday-Saturday. 117 W. Fourth St. #107B.

Austin singer Mélat performs at Antone’s. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Antone’s. The fourth iteration of the storied club founded by blues enthusiast Clifford Antone more than 40 years ago has an upscale vibe and swanky cocktail selections, but the well-curated calendar still reflects Antone’s love of American roots music. The best blues artists in Austin are all regulars, and national greats stop through regularly. Stop by for music most nights with happy hour shows generally starting at 6:30 p.m. 305 E. Fifth St.

The Parish. With brick walls, a wide wooden dance floor and one of the best sound systems in town, this mid-sized room, upstairs in a historic building on Dirty Sixth, is a fantastic place to catch hot locals and buzzy touring artists before they break out onto a bigger stage. The club is open intermittently, check listings. 214 E. Sixth St.

Cilantro Boombox performs at Flamingo Cantina. Dave Creaney/AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

Flamingo Cantina. Opened in 1995, it’s one of the few live music venues to weather the typhoon cocktail of change that’s shaken Dirty Sixth Street. The club’s founding vision is centered on the irie vibes of reggae music, and it also hosts hip-hop, Latin music and other global sounds. The venue features live music Wednesday through Saturday most weeks. 515 E. Sixth St.

Cheer Up Charlie’s. Owners describe the club as an “ambiguous everybody space [for] LGBTQIA and friends.” The venue includes a small, often tightly packed, indoor speakeasy and a spacious outdoor patio bordered by a natural rock wall. Their well-curated programming mixes up local bands, DJ nights, poetry readings, drag shows and more. Grab food at the vegan food truck on site. 900 Red River St.

Rapper T.I. performs at Empire Garage. Robert Hein for American-Statesman

Empire Control Room and Garage. The former automotive shop has been converted into a spacious music hangar that hosts mid-size touring shows and larger local events, with sounds that run the gamut from hip-hop and EDM to rock. Adjacent to the Garage is an intimate indoor room with an excellent A/V system where you can sweat it out on the dance floor or hide away on one of the benches ringing the room. Alternatively, take a break and lounge on a small patio by the least seedy part of Waller Creek. You can see live music most Thursdays-Saturdays. 606 E. Seventh St

Barracuda. Once home to classic punk rock dive Red 7, this two-stage spot has been transformed into a warm and inviting space that maintains the adventurous spirit of its earlier incarnation. The inside club boasts pool tables at the front and warm wood paneling throughout, and the back patio has a beer garden feel with long picnic tables where you can sit and sip while you take in tunes. Check out live music most nights. 611 E. Seventh St.

White Denim performs at Beerland Feb. 23 as part of a series of Thursday night pop-up shows. Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

BeerlandThe heart of Austin’s garage scene is hard, fast and loud. This defiantly unpretentious dive serves cold beer, cheap liquor and the grimiest punk and rowdiest rock the city has to offer. Experience live music most nights. 711 1/2 Red River St.

Stubb’s BBQ. In 1968, Navasota native Christopher B. Stubblefield, a former mess sergeant in the last all-black U.S. Army infantry, returned to Texas after the Korean War and opened a barbecue joint in Lubbock. It became a favorite hangout of touring musicians such as Joe Ely, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and B.B. King. In the mid-’80s he shut down the Lubbock shop and relocated to Austin. These days the restaurant is a two-stage club with a large open-air amphitheater that hosts big-name touring acts. The indoor room features shows by local artists, smaller tours and a weekly gospel brunch on Sundays. 801 Red River St.

Future Islands plays the Mohawk outdoor. Tom McCarthy Jr. for American-Statesman

The Mohawk. With a spacious upstairs deck, great sound and an adventurous calendar filled with everything from hip-hop to punk rock, the outdoor stage is one of the best places in town to catch mid-size touring acts. Enjoy the intimate indoor space where you’ll see the best emerging artists in town. Features live music most nights. 912 Red River St.

ACL Live. The home base for the storied “Austin City Limits” television show is also the best place in town to see a large touring show. The sound system is excellent, the seats are comfortable and there’s not a bad view in the house. Check the website for listings; venue tours are available, too. Note: All conference badge-holders are welcome here during the ONA18 Opening Night Reception! 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd.

3TenACL Live’s little sister venue is a great place to catch smaller touring bands and local acts. Check the website for listings. 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd.

Some customer information compromised in Ticketfly cyber attack

Online ticketing company Ticketfly was taken offline last week following a cyber attack on the company. On a web page set up by Ticketfly to share information about the attack, the company has confirmed that some user data was compromised.

Ticketfly reports that the compromised data includes names, addresses, emails and phone numbers of Ticketfly users.

Local venues Antone’s, ACL Live and 3Ten use Ticketfly for their ticketing services. All three venues had their ticketing services temporarily disrupted last week.

“We became aware of the issue on Thursday morning, and our online ticket selling services were mostly back up on Saturday morning,” a representative from ACL Live told the Statesman on Monday. The website for the club’s sister venue, 3Ten, was powered by Ticketfly and it was temporarily taken offline. The Antone’s website was also temporarily disabled last week.

Ticketfly is not reporting the number of users affected by the data breach, and according to the web page, it is unable to identify individual users affected at this point “because our investigation into the incident is ongoing, and it’s critical that the information we share with you is accurate.”

The Washington Post reports that “the breach occurred Thursday, when a hacker using the handle IsHaKdZ replaced the website’s homepage with an image of the character V from the 2005 film ‘V for Vendetta.'”

The hacker also left a message with the image: “Your Security Down im Not Sorry. Next time I will publish database ‘backstage.’”

The independent website Have I Been Pwned, which tracks data breaches, says the Ticketfly breach affected over 26 million users. But Troy Hunt, who runs the website, said this breach was not as damaging as some because no passwords were stolen, according to the Post,



16 years later: Austin’s … Trail of Dead on that defining record

Released in 2002 on Interscope Records to immediate and overwhelming critical acclaim, “Source Tags & Codes” became the defining album for Austin art punks …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead before anyone in the band could really process what was happening to them.

Austin band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead performs June 1 at Beerland. Katherine Fan for American-Statesman

Marked by constantly shifting soundscapes – languid and introspective one moment, aggressive and violently loud the next – it was an album that embraced a feeling of ambition and reach, and succeeded. It’s a record that felt capital-I important right from the drop. Although it hasn’t exactly overshadowed the rest of the band’s quality recorded output in the 16 years since, it’s the creative work they’ll be most quickly associated with for however long they remain an active unit.

Prepping for a string of international tour dates that start next week, the band called upon friends booking Beerland to throw a quickie tour prep show on Friday and used the occasion to perform their defining album in its entirety.

It’s an occasion that could have felt overly serious and grandiose, but with a mix of between-song levity from founding members Conrad Keely and Jason Reece throughout the night – lots of “Thanks for coming to our first show,” and “Here’s a new one”-type jokes – it instead felt like a celebration of a very specific time in Austin music.

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The live presentation of the album’s 10 core songs – interstitial “connective tissue” passages don’t translate live – reinforced how sturdy and well-composed a piece of work it is. This reviewer has long felt that the opening in leadoff track “It Was There That I Saw You” – a slowly building guitar figure interrupted by a single gigantic bass note, followed by an immediate cyclone of distorted guitars and thunderous drums – is pretty much the band’s best base components captured in just 20 seconds.

That was born out on Friday, with band friend and longtime Austin music compatriot Aaron Blount filling in on second guitar and fitting in seamlessly. More aggressive songs like “Homage” and “Days Of Being Wild” galloped even faster and louder than on record, but the restraint and tension of tracks like “Baudelaire” and “Heart In The Hand Of The Matter” were also on display throughout the nearly hour-long set.

In all it was verification that … Trail Of Dead circa 2018 is comfortable with their master work and more than capable of keeping the material fresh and vital for listeners old and new.
After the performance Reece and Keely sat down to talk about the album’s legacy and inspiration, and where they’re headed.

Austin band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead performs June 1 at Beerland. Katherine Fan for American-Statesman

Austin360: How does it feel to kind of live in those songs 16 years after the record was released?
Jason Reece: For us it’s like going back in time. At the time we were very ambitious and thinking bigger picture. Not in a mainstream way, but we wanted to make an impression with an album that would go in a direction almost like what Public Enemy did with “Fear Of A Black Planet” or Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon.” The mentality was “Let’s make an album that is connected.” Tonight was weird because we didn’t have the segues between songs that were the connective tissue for the album that link everything together conceptually, like albums did often in the ’70s.

Revisiting the album this week, it struck how cinematic it felt, creating these vivid scenes and landscapes lyrically and with the music. Is that what you were trying for?
Reece: Of course. For us film is very important. Everybody in the band at that time was super into movies. The guitar player, Kevin Allen, worked at a video store before we got the “big money” from Interscope. Neil Busch was turning me onto these movies by (Rainer) Werner Fassbinder and we were weird arty punk rockers who were into film. Film was our common language and where we flourished. Lots of the songs were written off of inspiration from film and paintings.

The lyrics are absent any proper nouns or specific people and situations. Were you trying to make things more general and open?
Reece: We were trying to be egalitarian. At the same time we were in the Austin scene looked at as kind of a bunch of (expletive). At that time there was the Stevie Ray Vaughan blues rock, then a bunch of noisy experimental music, and then you had us and we were friends with lots of arty college students along with crusty punks. We didn’t fit in any of that stuff at the time. We were too arty for the punks, and too punk for the art people.

Conrad Keely: We played the “Source Tags” material for the first time at a house party opening for (blues punks) the Crack Pipes. We were still writing the songs at that point.

A-LIST PHOTOS: See more from Friday’s Trail of Dead show at Beerland

When the record came out it had such a huge reception. Was there pressure from that?
Keely: The kiss of death. There was never outside pressure because we always demanded more of ourselves. We wanted to make it ambitious. Sometimes when you do that you fall on your face, but that was the only pressure we felt. When we were writing it we were part of the rock scene here but I personally was part of the rave scene, before they passed the law that closed all the parties. I would go to raves because no one I knew would be there. I had my secret place with rave friends. That’s what I was into, with lots of house music. There’s actually references to that in the album. “It Was There…” is actually about a rave and one of the original lyrics is “I saw you at the rave,” but I changed it. So there were influences on the record from all over.

It’s such a product of where you all were at a specific time. It’s kind of a lightning in a bottle thing, isn’t it?
Keely: Definitely. We’d been touring Europe and met the band Mogwai and that got in there. I’d have to say most of our influences were our friends’ bands here in Austin. I was friends with the Prima Donnas and I thought we were in direct competition with that band, and others like Knife In The Water. I loved the eclecticness of that time in Austin. I wasn’t listening to what was going on nationally because I was so focused on the music from around here.

This many years on, how do you feel about how the album represents you as a band?
Keely: At first I disliked that. I would say at times that it was my least favorite of our records. When we were first asked to perform an album version of it about five years ago, I fought over it. But when we performed it, it felt really cool and felt good about the songs. I gained an appreciation for it that I’d lost.

What’s going on with the band creatively now?
Keely: We’re working on our 10th album, doing it a little bit differently since I’ve got a home base studio and I’m working out at Mosaic Sound Collective and we’re doing it there. It’s coming together more in bits and pieces, which is sort of how we wrote (2005’s) “Worlds Apart.” I’m curious to see how it all comes together.

Kendrick is king, Sza is queen, but where were ‘All the Stars’?

I only have one complaint with the Top Dawg Entertainment’s Championship Tour, which rocked the Austin360 Amphitheater on Friday night, but it’s a big one. So let’s get it out of the way up front: Kendrick Lamar and Sza performed on the same stage on the same night, roughly three months after “Black Panther” became a definitive cultural touchstone for this moment in time and they did not play the film’s hit single, “All the Stars.”

According to the fine folks at setlist.fm, they have been playing the song on this tour. They’ve been placing it where it belongs, near the end, as part of Kendrick’s climactic closer. But for whatever reason, they didn’t play the song on this date.

Now I get that sometimes artists change up their playlists. Sometimes you don’t get to hear your favorite song. But this is a serious omission. Like if Prince came to town on the “Purple Rain” tour and didn’t play “Purple Rain.”  I felt legitimately cheated of my experience of swaying to the soaring chorus on a beautiful spring night in Texas, which, let’s be honest, is the closest we mere mortals are going to get to Wakandan royalty.

So that was a drag.

Other than that the show was phenomenal — further proof, in case we needed any, that Kendrick Lamar is the most important hip-hop artist of his generation right now and Sza is one of the most exciting new R&B singers.

The striking visuals of a glaring red line that morphed into a menacing whir of red and blue police lights that gave way to the bold graffiti scrawl “Pulitzer Kenny” underlined the potent statement of self in set opener “DNA.” The live band in the wings put a wall of funk at his back for a neck-breaking version of “King Kunta.” We need the uprise anthem “Alright” more than ever these days, and when he brought out Zacari to guest on “Love” it was simply divine.

He dug into his back catalog to indulge his day one fans with “Swimming Pools,” “Backseat Freestyle” and “Money Trees.” Then he reminded us that “M.A.A.D. City” is easily one of the best hip-hop songs of the last decade with a ferocious live version.

The climax was “Humble.” He led the crowd into the song then dropped out and allowed a crowd of thousands of people in unison to take over. They rapped every word, capturing every breath, every nuance, a capella for several verses. It was particularly stunning when you consider that the song is only a year old. Seeing the way it’s already seeped into so many people’s lives in such a profound way made it all the more moving when he followed up with his own version. 

Sza was wonderful in her own way, too. The power in her music comes from a perfect balance of sexy swagger and raw vulnerability. Songs like “Supermodel” and “Normal Girl” ache as much as they posture. She introduced the latter by shouting out the awkward girls, saying, “If that awkward (expletive) is real, you just have to live it.”

She’s so charming and genuine, it’s a joy to watch her inhabit her work.  And she was effusive in her love for Austin, a city she credits with launching her career, saying she was signed by Top Dawg Entertainment after performing at South by Southwest.

“Thank you for having me and thank you for being my birthplace,” she said after closing her set with a steamy version of “Weekend.”

Overall, it was a beautiful night. Undoubtedly, we witnessed the current generation of hip-hop greats. We just wish there had been a few more stars.  



Weekend music picks: Finding Euphoria releases club schedule, plus a Huey Lewis tribute

Friday-Saturday: Finding Euphoria club shows in the Red River District. After the EDM Festival scheduled to take place at Carson Creek Ranch failed to secure the proper permits, the local music community rallied to rehouse one of  Austin’s few remaining indie music festivals in Red River clubs. Noticeably missing from the lineup is Slovenian DJ and Producer Gramatik, but you can catch Boogie T at Empire Garage Friday. On Saturday, Hippie Sabotage takes over the Garage, Blackgummy plays the Mohawk and a special guest headlines at Barracuda. Friday $15; Saturday  $54 euphoriafest.com — D.S.S.


Friday: Huey Lewis tribute & benefit at Nutty Brown Amphitheatre. This was supposed to be a concert by Bay Area great Lewis and his band the News, but he called off all future dates last month because of significant hearing loss resulting from Meniere’s Disease, a serious inner ear condition. To help promote awareness and raise money, this tribute show was put together featuring local musician George Devore’s humorously dubbed outfit “Chewy Spewis & the Screws.” Proceeds go to the American Hearing Research Foundation. $10-$70. 6 p.m. 12225 Highway 290. nuttybrown.com. — P.B.



Primus, Mastodon, All Them Witches at Austin360 Amphitheater

Blood, Sweat & Tears at One World Theatre

Todrick Hall at Emo’s

Travis Greene at Scoot Inn

Dweezil Zappa at Mohawk outdoor

Shemekia Copeland, Soul Man Sam at Antone’s

Peterson Brothers, Tje Austin, Aaron Stephens, Junior Brown at Continental Club

Skizzy Mars, Oliver Tree at Empire

Dumptruck, Evan & the White Trash at Sam’s Town Point

Emily Wolfe, Sam Pace at Stubb’s indoor

Fea, Go Fever, Shy Beast, Lola Tried at Barracuda

Elias Haslanger Quintet, Sharon Bourbonnais at Elephant Room

Oz Noy, Denny Freeman at Saxon Pub

Jason Roberts at Broken Spoke

Carson McHone at Geraldine’s

Mulligan Brothers at Cactus Cafe

Minor Mishap Marching Band, Seu Jacinto at Sahara Lounge

Little Mazarn, Long River at Radio Coffee & Beer

Warm Sugar at ABGB


Dr. Dog, Son Little at ACL Live

Gipsy Kings at Paramount Theatre

Webb Wilder at Cactus Cafe

Shinyribs, Jaimee Harris at Scoot Inn

Two Hoots & Holler 35th anniversary at Continental Club

Johnny Nicholas 70th birthday bash, Bobby Whitlock & CoCo Carmel at Saxon Pub

Balmorhea at Parish

Tomar & the FCs, Bayou City Funk record release at C-Boy’s

Tameca Jones, Aaron Stephens, Lou Ann Barton, Tommy Shannon Blues Band at Antone’s

Party Thieves at Empire

Danny Malone, Katie Scullin at Townsend

Tyrone Wells, Gabe Dixon at Stubb’s indoor

Peelander-Z, OMGWTFBBQ, Mean Jolene at Barracuda

Tje Austin at Geraldine’s

Folk Uke at One-2-One Bar

Emily Gimble, Lost Counts at Continental Gallery

Kid Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville Floor Kids Edition at 3Ten

Damn Torpedoes at Threadgill’s


Charlie Parr, Possessed By Paul James at Mohawk indoor

Wilderado, Foxtrax, Whitacre at Stubb’s indoor

Lo Jinx Orchestra at El Mercado Backstage

Willie Pipkin & Friends, Heybale, Marshall Hood at Continental Club

Savage Poor at One-2-One Bar

Soul of a Musician series with James Stevens at Threadgill’s North

Lavelle White, Birdlegg at Antone’s

Hilary York, Imperial Starlighters, Dale Watson at C-Boy’s

Peterson Brothers at Hilton Cannon & Belle

Little Mazarn, Ethan Azarian at Lamberts

Mike Stinson at ABGB

J. Cole schools mumble rappers and trap stars alike at Jmblya

This weekend marks the sixth year of Jmblya, the hip-hop festival launched by local promoter Scoremore that visits Dallas, Austin and Houston over three days. Last year, the festival graduated from the Statesman’s parking lot to the Circuit of the Americas parking lot, expanding to two stages and welcoming top-dollar headliners like Chance the Rapper, Migos and Gucci Mane. This year’s outing corrected some of last year’s growing pains, such as a perilous lack of water, but it still had its hiccups.

J. Cole performs Saturday, May 5, at Jmblya at Circuit of the Americas. Robert Hein/For American-Statesman

Young Thug was a last-minute sub for a pregnant Cardi B, which stings a little extra because her fall itinerary opening for Bruno Mars doesn’t include Austin. (Mars will perform alongside Britney Spears at Formula 1 weekend in October.) But Thugger proved a worthy alternative, whipping the crowd into a fine frenzy despite his nearly inaudible microphone and a disconcerting craaaaack that emanated from the stage’s speakers during every bass drop. The crowd erupted nonetheless, hurling food and drinks into the air and literally blotting out the stage with smoke from various apparatuses.

Thug also proved a much better fit than Jmblya’s other last-minute replacement: T.I., who took Kevin Gates’ late afternoon slot with a day’s notice. (Gates’ name still appeared on the lineup cards handed out to attendees.) To his credit, the 37-year-old trap progenitor barreled through his slew of hits, including “Bring Em Out” and “Whatever You Like,” with verve and precision. Still, there was no ignoring the fact that he hasn’t had a proper hit in almost a decade (or since half the audience was in elementary school), and attendees seemed to be saving their energy for the new-school trap kings, Migos.

RELATED: Scoremore’s Jmblya taps into youth movement 

Migos perform Saturday, May 5, at Jmblya at Circuit of the Americas. Robert Hein/For American-Statesman

Lucky for fans, the superstar Atlanta trio delivered big-time during their second consecutive Jmblya visit. Quavo, Offset and Takeoff seemed to barely break a sweat as they sauntered across a stage adorned with strobe lights and bursts of fog, unloading the staggering treasure trove of hits they’ve amassed in just a few years. “Hannah Montana” and “Fight Night” gave way to “T-Shirt” and the chart-topping “Bad and Boujee,” mapping the group’s ascension from internet sensations to rap elites and reinforcing their steadfast refusal to tweak their sound in the slightest. Their iconic triplet flow showed signs of strain on their eighth-best single, “MotorSport,” which exists solely to showcase Nicki Minaj and Cardi B and becomes literally pointless in their absence. Thankfully the group ended their hit-filled set just as they risked outwearing their welcome, proving their mettle as bonafide headliners.

After the mass exodus that followed Migos’ set (the only biblical thing about the day’s proceedings), one could have reasonably suspected the crowd to look considerably thinner during J. Cole’s headlining performance. But one would have been dead wrong. The impenetrable throng stretched nearly to the food vendors in the back of the parking lot—roughly twice the size of Migos’ crowd—all awaiting what would easily be the best set of the day.

Cole wasted no time warning up, throttling his microphone stand and leaping into the air as he rapped his first song with vicious determination. It only takes a cursory glance at Twitter to see the split opinions on Cole’s music: Fans consider him an intellectual and top-tier MC, while detractors find him lyrically corny and musically boring, the most damning insult of all for a rapper. And while his new album, “KOD,” drags and sputters in places, Cole spat fire and fury throughout his entire hour-plus performance.

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The Fayetteville, North Carolina, native’s lyrical dexterity offered a reprieve from the sound issues and marble-mouthed rapping that characterized the rest of the day. He barked the chorus to “Motiv8” and spat the dizzying flows of “ATM” until his voice grew hoarse. A masterful backing band lent an urgency to some of his drearier compositions, and the audience answered Cole’s call-and-response chants with gusto. Couples cozied up to each other during “Kevin’s Heart,” either oblivious or indifferent to the fact that the song is a candid reflection on the consequences of infidelity, inspired by Cole’s friend, Kevin Hart.

J. Cole performs Saturday, May 5, at Jmblya at Circuit of the Americas. Robert Hein/For American-Statesman

Even with five chart-topping albums under his belt, Cole remains an anomaly in the rap game. Sporting baggy t-shirts and shoulder-length dreads, he eschews the flashiness of his peers, and he only makes headlines when he drops new music. The singular success of his last two albums, “2014 Forest Hills Drive” and 2016’s “4 Your Eyez Only,” turned the phrase “platinum with no features” into a proper boast and evergreen meme. Appropriately, Cole dazzled on his own at Jmblya, the most poignant moment of his set coming during “1985 – Intro to ‘The Fall Off’,” which listeners have interpreted as an admonishment of young SoundCloud mumble rappers Smokepurpp and Lil Pump.

“I love these little dudes, I really do,” Cole insisted before spitting the second half of the song a cappella. He resisted the urge to punch downward at rappers barely half his age, instead dropping the knowledge he’s earned from over a decade in the business—while also talking himself up.

“I must say, by your songs I’m unimpressed, hey / But I love to see a Black man get paid / And plus, you havin’ fun and I respect that / But have you ever thought about your impact?” Cole asked a spellbound audience. And then: “I’ll be around forever ‘cause my skills is tip-top.”

In that moment, nobody doubted him for a second.

Jack White shreds — his guitar and his songs — in show that’s basically all over the place

Maybe there’s something to be said for zigging when everyone wants you to zag.

Case in point: Jack White’s third solo album “Boarding House Reach” easily has been the most critically derided of his career, delivering musical and lyrical “What is he thinking?” moments every few minutes in what could be interpreted as a willing attempt to challenge as many fans as possible.

Jack White performs Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, at the Austin Music Hall. Matthew Danser/For American-Statesman 2015

And yet, the Detroit native is at probably the most commercially successful point in his career, playing to packed arenas and amphitheaters around the country on a tour that looked close to selling out Austin360 Amphitheater on Wednesday night. Rather than turning away, White’s fans appear to be embracing his “We’ll try anything” approach, which has grown unchecked since retiring the White Stripes and saying farewell to his once-promising side projects.

If White’s fans were seeking a musical mystery tour he comfortably wore his captain’s hat on Wednesday, letting the material from his three solo albums squeal and sprawl all over the place and dramatically reworking material from the White Stripes’ catalog with a four-piece backing band that at times rendered the songs unrecognizable.

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The degree to which White was willing to bend and reshape old material was teased early, with a medley that featured snippets of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” the Raconteurs’ “Broken Boy Soldier” and early White Stripes favorite “Astro” swirled in noise, feedback and a cloud of other effects from his two keyboard players.

That those came after two new cuts – “Over And Over And Over” and “Corporation,” which itself is more a musical idea than a full song – provided a contrast that would remain for the bulk of White’s 100 minutes: The new stuff is pretty far out there and won’t get messed with too much, but everything else is getting chopped and shredded.

It’s worth saying that as adventurous as White was on “Boarding House Reach,” it contains a flat-out great rock song (“Connected By Love”) and a synthy thought experiment that was a somber highlight Wednesday (“Why Walk A Dog?”) that should keep their places in the meaty upper middle of his songbook. If they have to share a set with the rapping misfire of “Ice Station Zebra” and complete mess that is “Hypermisophoniac,” well, sometimes we’ve just gotta pay that freight as an audience.

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It helps that White was able to regularly follow the curiosities with moments of delight, such when the instrumental guitar shredding of “Battle Cry” gave way to a honky tonk reimagining of “Hotel Yorba” that chugged atop a new upright piano feature, with a mostly straight playing of the easy pop nugget “My Doorbell” providing a welcome 1-2 punch of familiar but not rote material.

By the time the send-‘em-home-happy riff of “Seven Nation Army” rang out, with the audience overhead clapping to the tribal stomp of White’s most defining song, both artist and fans celebrated the moment and the journey. A Jack White show is certain to be chock full of moments unexpected, with enough of the familiar favorites to keep both coming back again and again.

Set list:

Over And Over And Over
I Wanna Be Your Dog/Broken Boy Soldiers/Astro (medley)
Battle Cry
Hotel Yorba
My Doorbell
Missing Pieces
I Think I Smell A Rat
Why Walk A Dog?
Astro (reprise)
Trash Tongue Talker
Love Interruption
Little Bird
Connected By Love
Slowly Turning Into You


Sixteen Saltines
Ice Station Zebra
We Are Gonna Be Friends
Seven Nation Army

Waxahatchee makes us feel — a lot — on final night of Levitation Fest

You can’t call it a disconnect. But it was certainly an odd juxtaposition to watch couples embraced and swaying back and forth in reverie Sunday night at Mohawk while Waxahatchee front woman Katie Crutchfield spent a good chunk of her hour on stage reliving the tales of romance crashed on the rocks that fueled her latest album, “Out In The Storm.”

Waxahatchee. Photo contributed by Michael Rubenstein

It says a lot about the power of Crutchfield as both a singer and live performer that she’s able to connect with her audience and stir their own emotions so deeply. And it helps that she seems to have put some emotional distance – or maybe just time – between herself and the parties on the other end of her “What went wrong?” lyrics. Her songs aren’t open wounds so much as scars that provide character and memories of things best left in the past.

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Sunday’s concert – the band’s last of a tour with Hurray for the Riff Raff – came on the final night of this year’s reconfigured Levitation Fest, which put a few dozen shows in clubs all over downtown over four days.

With the festival’s expanded scope in recent years after its start roughly a decade ago as Austin Psych Fest, hosting distinct shows in different venues made it possible for a night of female-fronted pop-rock bands to seem of a piece with other Levitation attractions like industrial legends Ministry or Austin’s Black Angels.

Starting the night alone on stage with her acoustic guitar, it didn’t take long for Crutchfield’s versatile and arresting vocals to take the spotlight. Whether in a solo and sparse setting or cutting through the swirl of melodies provided by her bandmates for the majority of the show, the singer has one of the most distinct and impressive vocal instruments in music right now and she puts it to maximum use.

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New songs like “Recite Remorse” and “Sparks Fly” seemed to shine the best – Waxahatchee’s latest 2017 is its most sturdily produced, feeling at times like the best possible marriage of Neil Young songwriting heft with Sheryl Crow’s pop ear – but there wasn’t a duff note on the evening.

Over the course of 60 minutes the band showed a strong, fluid control of the material and framed Crutchfield as a performer who should be regarded as among the best of her peers. And it didn’t hurt that she closed the night as she began; solo and acoustic, with a kinda raw run through “Fade” giving the lovebirds in the crowd one more chance to hold tight, to their partners and the moment they were sharing.