Editor's note: Each month, we spotlight the can't-miss shows, anticipated albums, and must-know artists that make Austin the Live Music Capital of the World. And do note, interviews have been edited for clarity and style.
Austin is famous for live music, but navigating the bands, live music venues, and festivals can be a daunting task. To help, we're highlighting a few notable things worth checking out, beginning with homegrown favorites Calliope Musicals.
One of the better albums coming out of Austin this summer is the band's Color/Sweat. Due to drop on June 14, the band’s sophomore effort is a creative, joyous affair that will please both pop and rock fans alike. Be sure to grab a copy at the band’s in-store performance at Waterloo Records on the release date or catch the band at Radio Coffee & Beer on June 15.
Before their anticipated new release, we checked in with frontwoman Carrie Fussell for some extra insight into the band and more.
What’s the main thing that you hope people will glean from Color/Sweat?
I hope it provides a space for adventurous thought. I hope it reminds [listeners] that the world and the beings who live here are precious. I hope it scares them a little — in a fun way.
The sound on Color/Sweat is a lot more adventurous and different than the band’s previous material. Was the goal to flip things around or did it just organically turn out this way?
Thank you! We worked with Frenchie Smith on this record, and he totally encouraged us to lean into our strangeness instead of trying to cover it up or water it down. When we wrote Time Owes You Nothing [the band’s 2016 album], Craig [Finkelstein, Fussell's bandmate] was just getting into synth[s] after playing an acoustic vibraphone for most of the band's existence. Since then, he has completely sold his soul to "Synth Land" and is probably the mayor or something, so the tones available to our sound have expanded by like, infinity. We typically don't marry ourselves to a genre, and instead just try to follow the music and trust our instincts.
What’s your favorite song on Color/Sweat?
They are honestly all super special to me, but I would say that from the start of the writing process to the finished product, "Golden Clouds" is my favorite. I wrote this song while I — somewhat drunkenly — was walking across Manhattan to see the play Sleep No More. I had been walking in the shadows of the buildings, and finally I turned a corner to see the sun bursting through clouds. I felt so much gratitude for where I was and what I was doing, and the song just sorta came out of my mouth. When we got back from New York, I shared the song with everyone, and they brought it to life perfectly. The recorded version totally captures how I felt, running toward magic and buzzing with gratitude in a wild environment, and it kind of reminds me of "Spirit in the Sky."
The Calliope Musicals live experience can often be a wild one. There’s a lot of dancing, props, people in costumes, and more. What’s the method behind the madness here?
[Bandmate] Jerry Sparkman is the mastermind behind a lot of the props and lights and projections, and it's so special how much of himself he puts into it. I love seeing peoples' faces when someone is dancing in an alien suit, or serenading a styrofoam head, or dramatically flailing around to the music. They are seeing something new, and I feel like grown-ups don't get to do that too often. It's obvious that so many people in this world, myself included, are afraid of who they are and what they aren't familiar with, so if you give them a space to explore what they don't know and to explore themselves, I believe it could make a real difference in how people treat themselves and each other.
What does the band have planned for the rest of 2019?
We are going back into [Austin recording studio] The Bubble to record, playing shows, and growing like little weeds!
And more June highlights
Cruiserweight — June 15 at Mohawk
If you’re in need of a shot of nostalgia, alt/pop punk rockers Cruiserweight will be celebrating their 20-year anniversary at the Mohawk on June 15. Should be fun to hear tracks like “To Be Quite Honest” and “Permanent Things” live again. Quiet Company and Lola Tried round out the bill. Tickets are available here.
Bill Ball 4 — June 15 at Cheer Up Charlies
While Cruiserweight may feel nostalgic, the show just next-door spotlights the future of Austin music. Bill Ball 4 at Cheer Up Charlies will feature many of local up-and-coming artists, with a lineup that includes Big Bill, Moving Panoramas, Glaze, Caroline Says, Pelvis Wrestley, and many more. Get details here.
Eric Tessmer — June 21 at Scoot Inn
Eric Tessmer has a new record, EP 2, and on June 21, he’ll be celebrating its release at the Scoot Inn. This one is can’t-miss if you’re a fan of bluesy guitar wizardry. Western Youth will open. Tickets are available here.
Mobley — June 22 at Cheer Up Charlies
Mobley, one of Austin’s most versatile pop artists, has landed himself a record deal — and he's ready to celebrate. On June 22, he’s throwing a party at Cheer Up Charlies, where he’ll not only play, but he’ll sign the actual contract. FIX8, Kae Astra, and DJ Kid Monks will perform as well. Sidenote: This show was originally inside, but sold out so fast it was moved to the outside stage. Get tickets while you still can.
Los Coast — June 27 at Antone's
Psychedelic soul rockers Los Coast have readied a new album, Samsara, that will be out on June 14. That should give you enough time to learn all of the words before the band’s album release party at Antone’s on June 27. Kalu and The Electric Joint and Jason Blum will open the show. Tickets are available here.
Antone’s 44th Anniversary — June 28 through July 20 at Antone's
On June 28, Antone’s kicks off a run of shows in celebration of the legendary club's 44th anniversary. The event, which will stretch until July 20, features The Peterson Brothers, Devin The Dude, Jimmie Vaughn, Reckless Kelly, and lots more. Info and tickets are available here.