Bands I Saw Last Week


Burnside Distribution Party at SxSw
  • Courtesy of—Photo by Lynn Cowan
  • Burnside Distribution Party at SxSw
Hillstomp at The Bouquet

The Bouquet can be a tough room. It's big enough that it still feels empty even with a good sized crowd. The stage and dance floor is walled off from the bar and the people. Add to that the Bouquet's old-timey feel and sometimes shows there are just plain odd.

That wasn't the case on Saturday night, when Hillstomp, a two-piece from Portland. Ore., got 20 or so people screaming and dancing in a wholly cathartic fashion with viciously rhythmic blues somewhere between R.L. Burnside and punk rock.

The beauty of Hillstomp is in their deception. When you see their drummer playing buckets and barbecue lids, you're so amazed he can make sound come out of them at all, that it passes by almost wholly unnoticed how tight and how well-constructed the drumming is, though it's impossible to be anything but mesmerized. Metal from a car's wheel rings out like a bell in just the right spots. Washboards, tambourines and buckets, all synchronized perfectly. The tones coming from the variety of guitars and banjos used in the show are so percussive, so primal, that it's easy not to notice how technical they are, the level of skill it takes to play that smooth that fast.

Music is the same as drama in that it requires a certain suspension of disbelief. A listener must be fully lured in by the sounds to release the critical mind and experience them as emotional discourse, the way music is intended. Hillstomp is the rare act that accomplishes this right out of the gate with their live show, tearing through song after song so good, you can't remember any of them; just a sound, a feeling, a desire to f#$%ing stomp, that takes you over. Even if you're at The Bouquet.

Don't miss em' next time they come through town.

Flux Capacitor, backyard show

Caught this acoustic duo at a backyard show in Hyde Park. Didn't change my life, but made for great atmosphere and good potential.