2015 was my first full year here in Austin- and the first year I began to take advantage of all the excellent shows happening in my backyard (or, okay- a few minutes on the Rapid and like 7 blocks’ walk over to Red River away). Much has been said about the changing face of this city’s music scene- how our favorite venues are disappearing, how musicians are being forced out by the stupidly high rent we pay, and how Red River itself is increasingly threatened by downtown development.
It’s a bit of a bummer to think that I will never know an Austin music scene that is not moderately awful. I can’t go to a show downtown without seeing hordes of tech bros, corporate logos slapped all over the place, and a new yuppie condo development on every corner.
It would also be a huge bummer if I added my own lame voice to the doubly lame chorus of people bitching about how much Austin sucks. Relax, dudes. We’re still a mainstay tour stop for every dope musician ever, not to mention the fact that we’re home to a fantastic lineup of local artists (that’s not to say that our support for local acts is adequate- but there’s an issue for another day) and some very talented, creative people bringing new vibrancy to the table and keeping our music scene as homegrown as possible.
Full disclosure, though: I think that Vice article is hilarious.
This is getting tangential. Point is, I was lucky enough to experience some wonderful shows this year. ‘Twas difficult narrowing down to 5, but I didn’t want to spend my entire day off on this post so that’s exactly what I did.
A note: I didn’t include house shows or free shows I attended on a whim. For better or worse, this qualifier actually excludes quite a lot of excellent music (and some moderately terrible shit too). However, a) it’s hard to compare the garbage sound at Pearl Street to the beautiful and heavenly acoustics of a place like the Moody Theater and b) there are honestly so many band names I just don’t remember.
In no particular order, here are my five favorite shows of 2015.
Mac Demarco @ Stubb’s
I’d been waiting to see Mac for ages (because I didn’t move here quickly enough to hang out with him at co-op parties, apparently) and he did not disappoint. Touching his gloriously sweaty arm as he crowdsurfed and nearly going home with a black eye after his encore made my Mac experience one to remember.
Wilco @ Stubb’s
The War on Drugs @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater
ACL Live shows are always relaxed, intimate, and lovely. The War on Drugs’ sound translated perfectly to this environment.
Girl in a Coma @ Mohawk
When bf and I realized that we didn’t have a single show on our agenda for the month of December, we knew that wasn’t gonna fly. So, we made up this super sick game in which we go through a showlist, find some band names that sound interesting, listen to the first minute or so of exactly two songs by each artist, and pick one based on initial impressions and ticket cheapness. We chose Girl in a Coma and couldn’t be more satisfied with this outcome. These San Antonio-based boss-ass babes put on an incredible show that made the night well-worth freezing our asses off on Austin’s first truly cold night of the year.
Fuzz @ Fun Fun Fun Fest
See my FFFF recap. This set was exactly what a rock show should be and I loved every second.
Juanes @ Música en Grande, Santander, España
Because I fell in love with Juanes that night and never looked back.
Modest Mouse @ ACL
Because it was great to finally see one of the few bands I’ve been listening to since middle school and still like. Also, I was super not sober for this set.
Shamir @ FFFF
Because Shamir is my everything.
Courtney Barnett @ Mohawk
Because Courtney is who I want to be when I grow up.
The Decemberists @ The Moody Theater
Because these dudes put on a wonderful, theatrical show that you just can’t help but love, even when you’ve been day drinking at Oktoberfest since 11am and really just want to go to bed.
The London Souls @ ACL
Because this duo kept me from losing my shit at the horribleness of ACL.
And just for kicks, I thought I’d add a show wishlist for 2016. Here’s hoping!
TY SEGALL!!!!!!!!! I bought tickets like four months in advance for a reason, y’all.
Hinds. My fantasy girl gang played like sixteen thousand shows at SXSW last year, so maybe they’ll come back into town for an encore?
LCD Soundsystem. I mean, for them to get back together. They recorded an excellent sad Christmas song this year, so I don’t think that an actual reunion is totally off the table.
Grimes, in a much smaller venue than the stage she played at Fun Fun Fun. A girl can dream, right?
Devendra Banhart. I might love him more than Juanes.
Blood Orange. Dev Hynes is so fucking cool and as far as I can see he hasn’t played in Austin since 2013. Let’s fix that in the new year, yeah?
Sylvan Esso. Kicking myself for missing these dudes at ACL (but fully certain that they’d sound a trillion times better at a small club show anyway).
Gary Clark Jr. We’re more or less neighbors, so it’s high time.
Mourn. I’ll lose my shit if they come to the States this year.
More local bands. Local shows are fun, cheap, and essential for anyone who wants to support her city’s music scene. In 2016, I resolve to nix my deadly coffee/Thai food habits and divert those funds to local shows and beer. Alright, mostly beer (drink local too, right? says the horrible hipster asshole this disgusting city is turning me into).
Happy new year, y’all.