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Outbanders Enter Statosphere with Debut EP 'Emergent Patterns'

 

 Local musicians, Zak Angelle and Brandon Valosek of the Austin duo, Outbanders, have aimed for a distant universe on their new 3-song EP, Emergent Patterns. A deep pulsating bass serves as the backbone for a symphony of synths, soundbytes, and soundscapes. While retro-dance on the whole may be hackneyed and overdone, the funk rhythms and futuristic signature of Outbanders begs listeners to give this duo a serious listen.

Slow builds coalesce into interstellar supernovas on these three tracks, but its the nuance of atmospheric effects and the bleeps and bloops that fortify the quality. While Outbanders might not have much material to dig into just yet, Emergent Patterns has set a precedent that has stirred the curiosity of its listeners to want more.


 

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Levitation Fest Returns With A Triumphant Weekend of Shows

 

If you are a music fan in Austin, it’s a near impossibility that you have gone these last couple years without being exposed to the rumor mill of the tortured/triumphant saga of Levitation Fest. Cancelled because of weather in 2016, less than 24 hours before gates were to open, the festival took a year off in 2017 with many thinking it would never return.  The beginning of the comeback story began when 2018’s lineup was released, and it became evident that the festival was aiming for a complete return to former glory, not some spurious money-grab.  The redemptive arc was completed this weekend, when thousands of psych rock fans descended on a handful of downtown venues for a truly mesmerizing and immersive festival experience.

 

Headliners

 

While it may seem cliché when describing an event as having ‘something for everyone’, Levitation verifiably checked all the boxes on different music genres and music tastes.  From the spacey shoegaze of Slowdive, to the industrial metal of Ministry, attendees were not forced into a homogenized lineup.  While hipster-god, Ty Segall, and eternally touring, Thee Oh Sees, were somewhat ‘expected’, surprise bookings like Electric Wizard, Panda Bear, and Dan Deacon gave the festival a distinct edge.  The best performances of the weekend could be found in the sets of Ariel Pink, Windhand, and Chelsea Wolfe. The festival owners, The Black Angels, put on a riveting Sunday night show at Stubbs to close out their resurgent pet project.

 

Local Acts

 

Major music festivals can sometimes only include local bands as slot-fillers, but Levitation makes sure to highlight a slew of Austin bands. Christian Bland, a local Austinite himself, has a good grasp on which groups to include in the festival, and he did not disappoint this year. A Giant Dog, Golden Dawn Arkestra, and Holy Wave all had epic showcases that brought out their local fan-base. However it was the music veterans in the Octopus Project and SURVIVE that proved to host the most exhilarating showcases for the local contingent. Levitation continues to serve as a pedestal for Austin bands to increase their national exposure.

 

Culture

 

Levitation, previously called Psych Fest, had to adapt from the weather-vulnerable Carson Creek Ranch to a location with less liability.  The solution would lie within eight music venues that would host their own individual showcases under the umbrella of the Levitation festival.  While the bohemian vibe of Carson Creek Ranch was certainly missed, the individual micro-cultures within each venue brought a different backdrop of its own unique appeal. Mobility was limited and individual tickets had to be bought, but you also didn’t need to drive twenty minutes or deal with sound bleeding over from other stages.  At the end of the day, it’s the people who make the atmosphere, and while the physical location may have changed, the same crowd that had been showing up for the last ten years continued to attend, guaranteeing a vibe that continues to thrive through Levitation’s different permutations.

 

 

 

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Tribe Mafia Drops New EP "For You"

 A chorus of different flows and personalities comprise Tribe Mafia, an Austin-based hip-hop outfit that is pushing the envelope with their latest EP, For You. Tribe Mafia consists of Trelle, Chinasty, Davon Green, and Dashawn Daniels who have known each other since 2012. The four artists experimented on their own before beginning to collaborate together under the banner of Tribe Mafia. Hot off of a busy SXSW in which they played a variety of showcases, Tribe Mafia is starting to pick up momentum as their profile begins to grow.

 

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Moontower Comedy Festival Provides Star-Studded Laughs

 

Moontower Comedy Fest Review

 

It seems like every weekend Austin has some major feature or festival planned. Whether it’s a 5k race or SXSW, it is easy for Austinites to become jaded to the parade of festivities that our city regularly hosts. While ACL, SXSW, and Formula 1 are weekends that jut out of the collective consciousness as major calendar events, there are a slew of quality festivals that don’t get nearly as much recognition. Moontower Comedy Festival is, in my opinion, the most criminally underrated festival on the annual Austin calendar. On a trajectory of steady growth and improvement, Moontower Comedy Fest continues to attract major comedian headliners,  but simultaneously puts in the groundwork to fill out it’s undercard with a plethora of talented yet lesser-known comics. 

 

This year Moontower outdid itself with featured comics like Mike Birbiglia, Judah Friedlander, Maria Bamford, Janeane Garofalo, David Cross, Weird Al, and the red-hot Tiffany Haddish all playing at the prestigious and classic Paramount and Stateside theaters. Moontower revolves around 12 venues that host a variety of shows, screenings, and panels – so while there may be a healthy dose of walking involved, there is always something to attend, leaving little down time.  While the festival lasts from Wednesday-Saturday night, there are countless events and themes that will leave many attendees having to prioritize which event to see. 

 

With a variety of comics and events jammed into a whirlwind of a weekend, it is an arduous process of selecting the shows that stood a head above the rest, but here three that turned a few heads.

 

Mike Birbiglia @ Paramount Theater on Thursday Night

 

Birbiglia seems to be everywhere these days.  Appearances on tv shows, standup specials, and feature films are all under Mike’s belt.  His standup didn’t seem to get pidgeon-holed into any one category, he dabbled in politics, sex, and married life which all coalesced into an incredible show. (His take on the Boston Marathon bombing, while morbid, almost gave me a cracked rib)

 

The Comedy Resistance @ Paramount Theater on Friday Night

 

 A group of comics, musicians, and polticians came together to rally against Trump with anecdotes of the election and twisted theories on what’s next.  David Cross, Maria Bamford, Judah Friedlander, Julio Torres, Janelle James and many other performers took the stage for a hodgepodge of political insight and humor.  Friedlander and Cross stole the show with a deluge of crass but hilarious political  bits.  Politician, Gina Ortiz Jones, and musician, Ted Leo, offered some variety but the comics dominated the liberal and willing audience.

Tiffany Haddish @ Paramount Theater on Saturday Night

 

Still unknown to large swaths of the American public, Tiffany Haddish is quickly becoming a national treasure.  Her appearances in popular film comedies, hosting Saturday Night Live, and her close friendship with Beyonce have established Tiffany as an undebiable talent  that we want to know more about.  Closer to a rock star than comedian, Haddish’s performance was electric, provocative, and viscerally hilarious.  Admitting that she had to scrap what she had written, because the audience is almost all-white, Haddish improvised and riffed on a variety of subjects. While Tiffany shines brightest when talking about sex, it was a bit about stealing a man’s soul that sent many in the crowd falling into the aisles.

 

While Moontower Comedy Festival doesn’t assume the same gravity that some of the other events in town have, it does offer a perfect triumvirate of affordable prices, professional staff and logistics, and quality talent that returns with consistency.  The festival is a truly unique Austin experience that appeals to an eclectic mix of demographics but all boils down to  the simple fact that it has succeeded in making thousands of people laugh.

 

 Moontower Festival Photos

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Interview: Penguin Prison in Austin

 

Chris Glover, who performs under the name Penguin Prison has been making music in New York Citty for over a decade now. While Chris has kept a steady stream of infectious eletropop hits flowing throughout the years, his latest EP, Turn It Up, signals an epoch for the native New Yorker. Hard-hitting dance beats light up in each new song with a vocal flare that exudes Chris’s signature style and his aloof nonchalance. On tour across the country for the new EP, Chris has proved himself an efficient tour machine that delivers a soul-freeing experience each night. We interviewed Chris in Austin and he would go on to talk about life on the road, potential remix collaborators, and his dog Maple’s instagram account.

 

 

 

You are a remix connoisseur.  Are there some artists that are on your remix wishlist?

 

There are so many people I would love to remix! Haim, Lykke Li, Hot Chip, Chromeo the list goes on and on. 

 

The newly released Turn It Up is a great EP. How long has this been in the making?

 

I worked on some of these songs with my friend Ben who plays guitar in my band and we would just go crazy in my studio and scream until we came up with something. That’s how the chorus of Turn It Up came about. Then I wrote and produced the rest of the song around that idea. 

 

You are coming to Austin, a city you've played a lot.  Are there any places or routines you have when you come to Austin?

 

Austin is one of my favorite places! We went to Taco Deli last time we were there which was good. Food trucks are always great and the weather is a nice contrast after coming from New York!

 

What are some jobs you had prior to doing music full-time?

 

I worked in a nursery school for the professor’s kids at my college, an after school running program teaching kids about running and a company that made music for Sesame Street and boxing matches!

 

Staying financially independent is tough for artists today, what is some advice you have for up and coming artists to make a buck?

 

Don’t spend money you don’t have to. Find deals and think outside the box. 

 

 

Have you ever/or did you ever have moments of self-doubt about doing music?  Did you ever have a 'plan B' in case it didnt work out?

 

Yeah I think a lot of people have self doubt in all industries. I am not sure I would be able to have a “normal” job if I wanted to. I’m a little too weird. 

 

 

Is NYC still a great city for artists to develop? How has it changed since you started?

 

There are still a lot of creative people who live in nyc and therefore it’s still a good place to be to be an artist. However it does seem to get harder to live in financially but it seems like people said that to me about Austin when I was there last!

 

 

What is the song "Dont Fuck With My Money" specifically about?

 

That song just came to me all at once one day and I was very surprised by it! I asked my friends advice and people said I shouldn’t make that song. But I did it anyway. 

 

What is your favorite country to play in outside of the US and why?

 

I love to play in Mexico! I’ve been there many times and I just love all the people there and the vibe and the food. 

 

What is your ideal day, from wake-up to sleep?

 

Wake up go for a long walk / run with my dog maple (mapledoodlegram on instagram), eat breakfast, work on music, exercise, see a movie, go to a good restaurant with my wife and friends, go home and play with my dog and go to sleep!

 

How do you handle your touring life to stay sane? Do you have a routine when on the road?

 

I like to travel so it’s not a question of staying sane but it can be hard to not get sick or lose my voice. Sometime I don’t speak all day and to communicate I have to type something and show it to my band mates. 

 

Do you have a moment in  your career where you realized you were going to be able to do music full-time?

 

 

I’m not sure if I ever had a moment like that. I think every day I am still just trying my best so that I can make a living making music and it just keeps being true somehow. 

 

What is your goal as an artist? Is it # of listeners? Playing a certain-sized venue? Cultural influence? Describe what you would consider a successful career in your own context?

 

I think it’s a combination of things. It would be nice to play certain size venues when I tour as well as have a certain amount of listeners. I also want to expand into producing and writing for other artists as well so I hope to be active doing that also. 

 

Do you think Trump's presidency is fostering a creative golden-era amongst musicians?

 

When he first won the election I had a feeling that art was over in away. But that only lasted for one day and then I realized it was the opposite of course. Life is just telling us all that we have to always remain vigilant because the obstacles will never ever stop. 

 

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