Live Review: Hootenanny! 2010 A SXSW Sendoff @ Neumo’s 3/5

review by Willie Matthewson | photos provided by the lovely Lori Paulson

Hootenanny! 2010 SXSW Sendoff – 3 Imaginary Girls

It was only appropriate that as we were queued up outside of Neumos before the ddors opened, that a local artist was walking the sidewalk hawking his latest CD.  Appropriate because tonight’s show was not only about listening to 4 local bands.  It was also a night to show support for those bands (buying merch means gas money) before they set off for the South By Southwest Music Festival.  Most of the people that I talked to in the line were coming to see one act – Visqueen – but were interested in finding new music.  I wasn’t initially interested in Visqueen, so I hyped up the 2 bands that I was most interested in – FENCES and Hey Marseilles.

Tonight’s opening act was FENCES – the moody atmospheric project led by Chris Mansfield.  The 5 piece touring band had the usual instrument line-up AND a harp!  This should be good.

The house was about half full when FENCES started which actually accentuated the airy open acoustic song structure. FENCES started with My Girl The Horse and immediately reminded me of the late Elliot Smith.  That brooding vibe was cemented by the next tune Sadie, but then disrupted by the harp-infused Boys Around Here.  Which was a light shuffling tune about young love in a small town.

About half of tonight’s songs are on the band’s current release The Ultimate Puke EP , but my favorite song of the set was Native American Print – a more upbeat pop vocal song reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie.  Hopefully this will be on their album slated for release this summer.  This band will be bringing raw emotional singer/songwriting to the music scene.  Don’t miss a chance to get wrapped up in their spell.

The floor was almost full by the end of the FENCES’ set.

FENCES Setlist:

My Girl The Horse


Boys Around Here

Native American Print

Girls With Accents

The Same Tattoos

Dusty Beds


Up next was the local hip-hop project Mash Hall.  Mash Hall was formerly known as They Live, but had to drop that name because of some Midwestern band that isn’t near as vibrant as these guys.  Mash Hall’s show included a dancing, poppin’ n’ lockin’ methhead (Chase Eldridge) an Olympian torch bearer, and a local radio personality (KEXP Street Sounds’ Larry Mizell Jr).

Right from the moment this ensemble took stage, the shoegazing crowd took heed and pressed toward the stage.  I was on the balcony overlooking the stage and the railing filled 3 bodies deep by the time the second 80’s beat-laden song started to spin.  The beat-heavy sounds produced by djblesOne are designed to be super-dancable, but the troupe was plagued by a problem typical to live rap shows – harmonizing and timing was missed.  I am not sure if this was because the monitors are not loud enough for the band to hear each other or some other feedback issue.  But by the 4th song Mash Hall had coalesced into a show worthy of opening for Snoop Dogg at the Showbox as they are scheduled to do Saturday March 6th.

After I the show I caught up with Chase and got the scoop on the band.  I asked him for the setlist and he said I didn’t need that, “Just go get it all free from our website”.  I did and I’m listening now.  These guys are going to blow up the Seattle hip-hop scene with their danceable tracks.  Go see for yourselves –  Free Mash Hall music.

Following that act it was no surprise that the floor was packed for Hey Marseilles

And eager not to disappoint, Hey Marseilles packed the stage with 14 people for their intro – 9 of which were on percussion.  This is how pop folk brings the beats! This multi-instrumented band did in fact continue to wow the house playing a large compliment of songs from their debut independent release To Travel & Trunks and sprinkling in new material.

Hey Marseilles playful wispy sound lent well to crowd sing-alongs and buoyant dancing.  Trumpeter, Patrick Brannon, was a crowd favorite, but the whole band was amazing at filling the soundscape with cello, mandolin, violin, and accordion without diminishing from the vocals.  Matt Bishop, lead vocalist, engaged the audience with Hold the Morning, a love song embossed with imagery.  Comparisons with the Decemberists, Conor Oberst, and The Builders and Butchers are not surprising. as these bands interweave musical tapestries with an expert balance of space and orchestration.

Just as the Intro was a raucous foreshadowing of the Hey Marseille’s set, the ending song, Rio was the perfect bookend for this set with the crowd clapping festively sending the band on for more travels and tales.  Look for a re-mix album of To Travels & Trunk and a album of new material later this year –  Hey Marseilles online.

Hey Marseilles Setlist:


Café Lights

To Tavels & Trunks

Hold the Morning *(simply awesome live!)



From A Terrace

True Love



After talking to the folks around me in the line waiting to get into Neumos, I was a little bit embarrassed that I did not know Visqueen.  Is it possible that I am resistant to hype from independent music outlets?  Tonight was my first (knowing) exposure to the sounds of the band Visqueen.

So Long stated the set and instantly I recognized a familiar voice.  Rachel Flotard has lent vocals to albums from another brazen, strong vocalist – Neko Case.  The introductory serenade was followed by the rocking Hand Me Down and Summer Snow, though drummer Ben Hooker had to help the band get on track with the latest setlist sequence.  Otherwise, the feverish pace of the show was appreciated throughout the venue.  The last time I was so excited by a guitar end driven show was 50 Foot Wave at the old Crocodile.

The bluesy Ward and Janitor’s Waltz, showed that Visqueen’s musical roots reach back to the rock of the sultriness of Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and the pop rock of Cheap Trick.  I am sure that Rachel Flotard could layer in some soul to accentuate her blues rock similar to Jan Osborne or Joss Stone.

Visqueen’s set was packed with songs from Message to Garcia, an album dedicated to the singer’s late father who was an inspiration and constant supporter.  The encore was a 4-song sampling of songs from Visqueen’s earlier releases King Me and Sunset On Dateland. The song Houston most reflected the work that Rachel Flotard has done with Neko Case.

I am glad that I walked into this show without pre-conceived notions and expectations because I walked out with a new favorite band.

Visqueen setlist:

So Long

Hand Me Down

Summer Snow

The Capitol

Fight For Love

Beautiful Amnesia *


Janitor’s Watlz

Forgive Me

Tall Grass



Mrs. Elder

Crush On Radio


Jimmy vs. James


~ by clickdagger on March 8, 2010.

3 Responses to “Live Review: Hootenanny! 2010 A SXSW Sendoff @ Neumo’s 3/5”

  1. I captured some OK video of Visqueen from last Friday night. Enjoy! – “So Long” – “Beautiful Amnesia”

  2. Wow!
    A friend in VIRGINIA just sent this to me. Thank you so much for staying to see us. Means a lot.

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