Luminous Orange/Noahlewis’ Mahlon Taits/… Trail of Dead, SXSW XX, March 15, 2006, Austin, TX

The flag was raised when I was paying more attention to the muscular hottie in the tight t-shirt off the side of the stage than to Luminous Orange.

(Very much straight, but the way he was dressed, he probably shouldn’t step into a gay bar if he doesn’t want to get hit on.)

It’s been a few years since I listened to Luminous Orange’s Drop You Vivid Colors, and it’s the only album of Takeuchi Rie’s band I’ve heard. So most of the set list at Luminous Orange’s Wednesday night showcase at Habana Calle 6 was lost on me.

Takeuchi herself epitomized the shoegazer stereotype, focusing on singing and playing, eyes concentrated on the ground. Given the complexities of her music, it would require a single-minded focus.

It still didn’t really make her a very engaging frontperson.

Takeuchi writes music that always confounds expectations. Just when you think it’s going one place, she’ll add an extra beat or an extra phrase to mislead you.

As a result, vocals seemed to take a backburner to those red herrings. It’s cool on recording. I’m not sure it really worked live.

I will never understand drunk ass bitches who insist on standing in front of a SXSW stage, then absolutely ignore the band and talk loudly.

Said bitch at Noahlewis’ Mahlon Taits’ showcase at Oslo got some strange looks from the violinist who was probably thinking the same thing.

Noahlewis’ Mahlon Taits has an interesting premise — a seven-piece acoustic Japanese band led by a musical saw. The band performs a style of deeply mellow, achingly slow music with lots of open spaces and only slight momentum.

Interesting, but not exactly engaging.

The first song of the band’s set took after Maurice Ravel’s Bolero — repetitive and slowly building. And tiring.

Noahlewis’ Mahlon Taits is a mix of Dirty Three and Asylum Street Spankers without either group’s fiery charisma.

I had three hours to kill between Noahlewis’ Mahlon Taits and … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.

I missed out on the Flaming Lips because I was stuck in a line to see a friend at Blender Bar, where Peelander-Z was playing. If I wanted to be anywhere, it wasn’t where Peelander-Z was.

I stopped by Carribean Lights to see if Laura Viers had any appeal for me. Not that night. Can’t say I was in the mood for female singer-songwriter stuff, although I recognized I could probably listen to her on recording.

I went next door to Emo’s after three songs and chilled on the benches. Until … Trail of Dead started.

Of Montreal went on 15 minutes overtime, so it was 1:30 a.m. by the time … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead hit the stage.

(I tried to stand through Of Montreal’s set, but once I heard the New Wave drum machines and saw the glam rock set-up, I went back to the benches, where I actually managed to rest my eyes for 20 minutes. It was the best nap I had all day.)

A woman next to me tapped on the arm and asked me who the band was. I told her … Trail of Dead. She looked at me dubiously and said, "They’re holding back a lot, aren’t they?" And I nodded.

I’m not sure if Statesperson writer Jeff McCrary ever saw … Trail of Dead before. The band certainly pounded the hell out of their instruments, but the one time I saw … Trail of Dead previously, the energy they exuded — which the audience picked up — made the place electric.

I think people were ditching because the band started late and toned down their set.

Singer/guitarist/keyboardist/drummer Conrad Keeley warned the audience the band hadn’t really rehearsed since they were in the middle of recording a new album (not a live album, as McCrary reports). Could’ve fooled me, but the set list that night didn’t really showcase the band as the tempest of sound they usually are.