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Sprawling Toward Spunk

Weeping at the Metropolis, hiding in the Abyss

Sprawl may have played their last Houston show on the 15th, but the long strange

trip wasn't over till the band had filled an obligation at the Metropolis in Lafayette, Louisiana the next night. If Sprawl's Fitzgerald's swan song had all the earmarks of a triumphant departure, the Lafayette gig looked more like a final disintegration.

By the time the interminable soundcheck was over -- or, more likely, abandoned -- Sprawl had time for little more than a 40-minute set. Singer Matt Kelly introduced the band to the neophyte Louisiana audience with a touchingly brief eulogy, and otherwise didn't waste any precious time with patter. When it was all over, three things stuck in my mind: the hollow finality of Kelly's parting "We've been Sprawl," the unlikely sight of Kelly kicking over drummer Nick Cooper's kit (Cooper later took a swipe at Kelly's keyboard), and guitarist Joey Salinas' unrestrained glee in punching holes through his amplifier with the butt end of his ax. There was probably more, but by that time I was a bit drunk and weepy over the demise of one of my local faves. If it weren't for the Keenlies, I think I'd cry.

Then again, Cooper tells me to expect yet another Sprawl album in the foreseeable future, so we'll see...

Follow-ups... Last week's Press profile of director Joseph Kahn's Prodigal Commercial Company made passing reference to Kahn's vid clip for the German band Die Krupps' "To the Hilt," which is presently in Top Three rotation on MTV Europe. What we didn't know until after deadline is that the very same video, filmed in the bathroom of the now-defunct Catal Huyuk, has been nominated for Best Video honors in the MTV Europe Awards -- the continental equivalent of our MTV Awards. Kahn and Prodigal producer Greg Tharpe are flying to Hamburg, Germany for the April 30 ceremony, to be broadcast to an estimated 120 million viewers. Which means, of course, that 120 million unsuspecting folks will get an up-close-and-personal view of that fondly remembered hometown piss tank -- at least, oh, say, twice as many folk as ever threw up there.

Likely Next Big Thing dead horse and manager Richard Cagle, who also handles Dive and Carolyn Wonderland, have parted ways. Cagle says he just wasn't able to deliver a long-desired deal with the Interscope label quickly enough. Enter concert promoter and Butthole Surfers manager Tom Bunch, who reportedly arrived at the horse's SXSW showcase with Interscope honchos in tow. Seems that Bunch, whose management led Dallas' Toadies to an Interscope deal ten months back, offered to attempt same for the best band in Houston, and dead horse switched ponies midstream. Neither dead horse nor Bunch could be reached for comment, but Cagle says he continues to wish the band all future success -- as do we all. I'd hate to jinx it, but it looks like the pieces of the horse's future superstardom may finally all be in place.

Brush with fame... Toy Subs drummer Darwin Keys figured he didn't have anything to lose when his fave band, Crowded House, played at Bayou City Theatre on the 18th. House drummer Paul Hester had quit the group less than a week before, and Keys, a solid drummer and singer who claims to know all the band's material by heart, approached Crowded House personnel at soundcheck to ask if he could, you know, audition. House leader Neil Finn led Keys through a soundcheck version of the hit "Something So Strong" and then invited Keys to play the song onstage with the band as an encore. "It was just incredible," Keys says. He hung out with the band after the show and ended up following them to Austin, where he sold guitarist/keyboardist Mark Hart an accordion. In Austin, Crowded House began auditioning name-brand drummers in earnest. Says Keys: "I think I was the last no-name that got to try out. I guess I just threw them off, some guy off the street strolling in and asking to play."

And what about Toy Subs?
"That's my thing. We're at Sam's Place tonight, so it's sort of humbling. But I didn't have anything to lose, and I got to play with my favorite band."

Local Stuff: Friday night, the Flamin' Hellcats do Rudyard's, and Monster Soup and 30 Foot Fall share a bill at Fitz. All I know about 30 Foot Fall so far is a cut called "Stolen" on a sampler tape handed over by producer David Rice, and it's a pretty convincing slice of upbeat punky rock. You might want to find out more. Dive opens for Austin's Ugly Americans at the Abyss, and Eardrum plays at Dan Electro's. Banana Blender Surprise has the dream gig of the week, opening for NRBQ and the Sun Ra Horns at Rockefeller's, also on Friday, and Blowtorch Repair's at the European Tavern and Gardens.

Saturday night, D.R.U.M. takes over Rudz with music from their recent release, Ancient Sounds of the Future. Beef Masters, Vice Grip, Man or God and Xeno Causm join forces at Fitz (check out Beef Masters' Secret Place of Wonderment if you haven't already), and Eardrum makes its second appearance in as many days, this time at Dan Electro's. The Rounders are at the European. I'm guessing that Spunk's Tod Waters didn't much like my review of his band's CD a few weeks back, cuz I'm told he had my name scrawled in magic marker across his groin at Spunk's most recent Abyss show. Spunk takes the Abyss stage again Saturday, with Pervis opening, so go backstage after the show and tell him you're me. Maybe you'll get beat up.

 
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