Photographs by Matthew Browning
If there’s one thing I’ve learned by speaking with musicians in Austin it’s that The Parish is generally considered to be one of the best sounding rooms in the area. As one of the few venues on dirty 6th specifically outfitted to host bands, The Parish is an anomaly, but a welcome one. The few shows that I’ve seen there have always been memorable, whether it was the final show of Austin metal act Blackholicus back in 2010, Marmalakes during SXSW this past year, or last Saturday’s show featuring Mobley, The Sour Notes, and Zlam Dunk. As anyone who has read my past reviews here can attest to, I’m a bit of a fan when it comes to both Zlam Dunk and The Sour Notes. This year alone I believe I’ve seen both acts a combined total of at least 12 times. When I heard that they were going to be playing a show together I knew it would be a night that I couldn’t afford to miss.
Before I continue, it would be negligent of me not to mention comedians Jon Tole, Jon Stringer, Michael Monsour, Pat Sirois, and Stefany Wood when writing about this show. Why, you ask? These comedians made up a decent portion of the evening’s festivities along with the three aforementioned bands is why. You see, the show was put on by Bring Your Friends, a group out of San Marcos known for putting on combination comedy and music shows in the area. Last Saturday’s outing at The Parish marked the first (hopefully of many) Austin shows for them. The format is pretty straight forward: comedian, band, comedian, band, comedian, band. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather listen to some comedy while bands are breaking down and setting up than just standing around and listening to mic checks. It’s an interesting set up that works remarkably well and if you get the chance to see another show put on by Bring Your Friends in the future, I highly recommend it.
The first music segment of the evening started out with a group I hadn’t yet heard of called Mobley. North Carolina transplants, Mobley play a lively brand of synth-laden pop that manages to cast a wide net, incorporating elements of rock, country, R&B, and soul to create a head-nodding, hip-swaying musical mélange. I’m really glad that I got the chance to hear Mobley live before hearing them recorded. When it comes to live music, some bands are clearly live acts first and recording artists second and Mobley definitely fall into this category. Mobley instantly won me over, not just due to their music or the portable LED light show they brought with them, but also due to the exuberant stage antics of front man Anthony Watkins II. Talk about showmanship! This guy knows how to work a crowd, and when it comes to making music look fun, he’s obviously done his homework. There was a point early in the show where he was playing the piano in a position that had him slightly crouched over the seat in front of the keyboard and I thought to myself, “If he doesn’t stand up and knock that seat over ‘Jerry Lewis style,’ I’m going to be very disappointed.” I’m here to tell you that Anthony Watkins II did not disappoint and neither did the rest of Mobley as they were setting a very high bar for the evening.
The second musical act of the night was none other than The Sour Notes. As usual the band put on a hell of a show, opting for a set featuring some of their more rocking tunes, including some of my personal favorites such as: “DO-ERS & SAY-ERS”, “It’s The Hair That Makes The Dress Chic!”, and “Two Hands Wait”. Mobley had already set the bar high, but The Sour Notes raised it a notch. If I were the guys in Zlam Dunk, I would have been worried, but as a live powerhouse in their own right, those boys were poised to drive hard in the paint and score a win for the evening. Singer and back-up percussionist Charlie Day is a whirlwind of activity during a show, whether he’s beating the living shit out of a tambourine, frantically dancing to the band’s beats in a manner approaching Guy Picciotto proportions, dangling the mic out over the crowd, or jumping off stage with a cowbell during the breakdown of “Ghostwoman.” Last Saturday’s show was easily the best I’ve ever seen them and I came away from the front of that stage exhausted and content after 40 minutes of hardcore rocking out.
All told, Bring Your Friends’ event at The Parish last weekend was one of the best total package shows I’ve seen in a long time and I hope their next lineup manages to be just as good. All three of these bands can be seen around Austin fairly regularly and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t gotten out to one of their shows yet. In the end I’m ecstatic that I was able to see them all in one night and to the members of Mobley, The Sour Notes, Zlam Dunk, and to Bring Your Friends, I offer my sincerest thanks for an excellent evening.