Clap Your Hands & Say “Yeah”

24 Feb

event-poster-2358385“Have you seen any good shows lately?” Friends ask Caitlin and I this question a lot, since we’ve made a name for ourselves as music bloggers. It used to really get me going, telling tales of crashing, stage diving and the last “best” show I saw. In the last couple months, I’ve mostly responded with, “Shows? Well, I’ve seen a lot of movies…” I believe Caitlin feels similarly, feeling that it’s been hard to balance a demanding manager job with pursuing her love of live music and getting out to a lot of shows*. She put on a successful Free Week show last month, but between busy schedules and cold weather, we’ve found it difficult to see as many shows as we’d like. Thankfully, we got to see three bands in two days this weekend, including a wonderful opportunity to see a solo Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show with less than 50 friends around a bonfire, a new Austin band we really got into and our favorite tribute band around. It was a great re-entry back into live music as we gear up for SXSW.

*This has been depressingly true. Especially when it comes to the local scene, which was so long my wheelhouse, I find it far more difficult to gear up after a long day in the office and get myself to head to a venue and stand around for a few hours.

Friday night we biked over to Scoot Inn nice and early, since Caitlin was interviewing one of the opening bands. Since it was just down the road, I biked over with her, got her +1 wristband and biked back to play a couple games of NBA Jam while she conducted her interview*. I biked back with her varsity jacket to warm her up and got us a couple drinks. She told me some fun tidbits about the interview that only lasted six minutes, but yielded some good info. We settled into our spots and were totally wow’d by Holliday Mountain. Caitlin described them as “bright” and compared them to Tune-Yards. I definitely see both comparisons and would note the three-piece has some reggae and dance elements that lead to glow stick twirlers and whipped the crowd into a solid dance party that gave off a smell that reminded me of Bonnaroo**. We’ll be seeing them again during SXSW.

*It was one of the quickest interviews I’ve ever conducted, but the members of Holiday Mountain were super sweet and friendly and interesting. The interview will be posted up on The Horn sometime in the next few weeks.

**A polite way of putting it. It reminded me of some of my roommates in Germany.

1601045_10151997365855095_1391772488_nAfter getting sweaty enough dancing to take off the varsity jacket and reveal her SURFBOARD sweatshirt*, our friends Melissa and Krystal joined us for their first All My Friends experience. They chose a great first show to attend. We’ve seen the LCD Soundsystem tribute band at least a half dozen times and this was easily the best we’ve seen them**. We got up close in the second row behind a few raucous girls and danced ourselves clean. Speaking of which, “Dance Yrself Clean” was as wild as ever, they played some great deep cuts like “Beat Connection”  and “Yeah”. They dedicated “Us vs Them” to the jaywalker who got arrested in Austin, played “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” and covered Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance.***” We certainly did. They ended with “New York, I Love You” which had us slow dancing and sharing a sweaty kiss. Mmm****. We ducked inside to see the Daft Punk DJ, but with the crowd just mulling around, we decided to bike home, cuddle up with an episode of “Daria” and call it a night.

*Which was totally wasted on the hipster crowd. C’MON GUYS! BEYONCE!!

**In part thanks to a killer crowd. We were right behind some “Drunk Girls!” who were totally into it, and who turned around and told Zack and I that we were the cutest couple they’d ever seen when the show was over. D’aww.

***Oh man, I’d almost forgotten about this – but it was an excellent, excellent cover.

****Aaactually, not to be a stinky stickler but I do believe they played one more at the end…I can’t remember which one but I swear they ended on a more upbeat note. All My Friends commented on the FB post to say they ended with “Yeah.” How fitting.


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are generally such a dancy, nerd-party kind of band, so we were curious to see what would happen* when the amps got stripped out and Alec Ounsworth’s yowl was accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. Ounsworth’s label has been doing living room shows with various artists, having them travel around to fan’s homes who have enough space for a small group and an intimate show. Serendipitously, our dear friends the Pulsifers ended up hosting the CYHSY frontman**, so they had posted on Facebook about the event and we snatched up tickets just as soon as we heard about it. When we arrived, Zack and I were tasked with getting the fire pit going. After 30 minutes and untold failed attempts, our resident Boy Scout Heath arrived and was able to get the thing going in about 15 minutes, with the added assistance of a fire starter*** brick. We wandered around the house after that, and found a spot on the couch in the living room, where we believed the show would be. Suddenly, Lisa entered the room to inform us the show was starting outside, where people were already gathered around the fire pit, and Alec had already begun playing. This meant that we went from front-row seats to standing in the back of the circle that formed, but it was so much more magical to essentially have this rock star leading a campfire-song-type experience.

*I’d only seen them at festivals before, but had a good picture of what just Alec and an acoustic would be like. Glad to report it was just how I imagined.

**They did a test run a few weeks before by having Antonio and his imaginary friends play at Bea’s first bea-day party and it went off without a hitch.

***Heath’s the fire starter. The twisted fire starter. I’m not sure we could have done it even with the brick, but I’d like to try again. We had a nice little leaf fire going for a hot minute.

Alec played new songs on an album he said would be coming out in May, if I remember correctly, but he also played a bunch of old favorites:  re-worked versions of “Is This Love*?”,  “Details of the War,” “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood,” and my personal favorite, “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth.” He took one request, which was  “Holy, Holy, Holy Moses”…and he couldn’t remember the first verse of the song, so the person who requested it had to Google the lyrics. As the fan was Googling, Ounsworth was saying that he’s looked up lyrics on A-Z Lyrics before, and laughed at how wrong people will get the words to his songs**. Promptly, the fan said, “I’ve seen rain and fog?” and Ounsworth said, “Oh, it’s rain and fire. See! They never get it right!”

*This has always been my favorite, so I grabbed the 15 second Instagram-length clip above.

**Moments like this made the night so special. Alec said he missed being able to play for the fans and connect with them and clearly relished the opportunity to have an open dialogue with us.

Alec warned us before he played one song, “OK this is gonna be my last song…and then I’m gonna just sit here, and then I’m gonna play another one.” Then, when he finished up his pre-encore set, he actually walked away through the tall bushes and vines that were the backdrop to our fire pit, which was just too perfect, and then he emerged seconds later to sit down and play an encore. It was especially hilarious because we’d watched a number of guys who had participated heartily in the BYOB ethos of the night wander back there to pee in privacy throughout the evening, adding to this sense of odd environments of the entire event. I have nothing to add except that it was endlessly charming and a thrill to be a part of. I tweeted “Walking behind the bushes and then immediately walking back out was the best encore move I’ve ever seen.” and the @cyhsyband account retweeted me.

CYHSY and Lisa and Eric

Ounsworth ended with another favorite of mine, “Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away.” I was feeling a little emotional, because this album represented my life in 2008 in my memory, and this song in particular got me all nostalgic*, when all of a sudden, a loud recording of applause came from a guy’s phone sitting very close to Alec. Alec laughed and said, “Thank you, thank you,” and then we all laughed, and Alec asked the guy if that was his ringtone. The guy said yes, and then his buddy swiftly added, “It’s whenever he gets a text from a girl.” More laughter. Ounsworth then finished up the song, and offered to hang around and chat everyone up at will. Zack and I were exhausted and decided to just head home since Zack had to work early this morning, so we didn’t stay around to chat, but it was still so magical to experience music I’d only ever seen performed live in festival settings under a starry-turned-foggy sky in my friends’ backyard. It put a new spin on the music, made me feel more grown up, and made me feel like a part of something – without delving into my hippie side too much, it really felt like I was on this circular universal track that was bringing me back around to thing in a closer, more meaningful way. All the little moments come together at just the right time, and that is truly something special. It really was one we’ll never forget. And even though so many of our friends were there to enjoy it with us, from now until SX, any time anyone asks “See any good shows lately?” we’ll clap our hands and say, “yeah.”

*Sorry, Monte! “Nostalgia is poison!”


2 Responses to “Clap Your Hands & Say “Yeah””

  1. Greg Ackerman (@g_ack) February 24, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    I knew you guys would be at the All My Friends show but somehow I missed y’all. You hit the nail on the head. That was the best AMF show I’ve seen yet and I may have seen more of their shows than you guys have. In any case, your review is spot on.

    Plus y’all made me wish I had known about the Clap Your Hands campfire show.
    Know those girls were drunk but you two ARE one of the cutest couples I know. Just sayin’.

    • Zack February 24, 2014 at 9:15 am #

      Thanks Greg! It really was a great AMF show. So much energy. Thanks for the cute couple comment as well. Sweet of you to say. See you at a bunch of SXSW shows I’m sure.

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