With all the official ACL After Parties going on during the festival, it was easy to overlook the other great bands that were in town to play that weekend. It was even easier to overlook that Grand Ole Party was doing a rock star move by playing two shows in one night on that Saturday. The first being an opening spot for Sunset Rubdown at Mohawk, and the second was a late nighter at Beauty Bar.
The three-piece band from San Diego is riding the wave from their 2007 debut album Humanimals, which was produced by Rilo Kiley’s Blake Sennett and helped them win “Best Alternative Band” at the San Diego Music Awards. Having visited a year ago while on tour with Rilo Kiley and playing several shows during SXSW '08, they are no strangers to Austin.
The unique band construction puts Kristen Gundred on lead vocals and drums, resulting in a rarely seen setup on stage. Gundred’s drums are placed front and center with guitarist John Paul Labno and bassist Michael Krechnyak to each of her sides. They were immediately able to grab the Mohawk crowd with their funk-punk style. However, the appeal of the group undoubtedly sits with Gundred. Yes her pinup Dita Von Teese-like beauty garners a lot of attention, but it’s her distinct vocal sound that truly wins over audiences. She sings like Karen O injected with the power of Janis Joplin, all the while controlling the band by playing drums at the same time.
The crowd was treated to the best songs off Humanimals– like “Look Out Young Son,” “INSANE,” and “Nasty Habits”–and even got the rarity “Next Day Nightmare” which can be found on their Daytrotter Session. Unfortunately their set was short, as they had to pass the stage off to Sunset Rubdown and rush off to Beauty Bar for gig #2 of the night. Hopefully Grand Ole Party will return to Austin in the near future; with an expanding fan-base and growing media attention, they are definitely one to keep your eye on.