A punk band from Arizona in an East Austin record store? But of course. Usually when I trek out to see bands, I’m on my own. But tonight I dragged a couple of friends along with me. It was great too because, as it turned out, this wasn’t a real music venue with a bar and all that you’d expect from a venue, but it WAS a real record store. It definitely made me smile as I walked in there. There were the standard record store accoutrements: scruffy looking locals, crazy wall hangings and band posters, a seating area you might find in a lived in band practice space, and of course tons of records. It’s just the kind of place I could spend a long time in, browsing. But tonight, I was here to see The Hunger Artists. I got there at around 8:30 and it seems I arrived right on time. They’re a three-piece with a guitarist who also steps in on vocals, a drummer (who was not the band’s drummer, but the drummer of the band touring with them????), and the most casually outfitted lead singer I’ve ever seen. Yeah, he had on sweatpants. I’m not sure how punk that actually is, but he did look comfortable. They were a standard punk band in every other way save for a few minor exceptions. They did have some hand claps thrown into their first song. Not very punk, but I liked it. THEN, really the best part for me, was their cover of Coolio’s rap song “Gangsta’s Paradise”. It took me until the chorus before I realized it was that song, but I got a huge grin on my face once I recognized it. My friends got there a bit closer to the end of the set. They kinda laughed about the location. I had to laugh when my friend asked me where the bar was. HA!! He missed the sign on the door that invited patrons to “bring your own beer”. I did enjoy this band, but I felt like I didn’t get a real sense of their live show just because it was in such a low-level setting. And by that I mean, there was no real audience (minus my friends and I and the band’s friends), not a real stage, no real sound & lighting, just not a real live music venue experience. It was nice to be back in an old-school record store though, even if it was a little stinky. After the band finished, my friends and I decided to stay on the East side and we headed over to Frontier Bar where they DO have alcohol and a real live music venue setting. We entertained ourselves for quite a while with pool. We stayed until the first band, Wildcat, went on at close to 11. They’re a four-piece: guitar/vocals, bassist, keyboard and drummer/lead vocals. This band really confused me. I loved their first three songs. They gave off a real rockin’ vibe with a bit of dreamy keyboard thrown in. It was really great. And my friends agreed; they were into it too. But then, all of a sudden, they morphed into a Texas country band. Now, on their Reverbnation page they claim their music to be indie rock/southern rock. Well, honestly I feel like they need to claim an identity because it wasn’t clear to me at all. If the first three songs are representative of where they’re headed, then GREAT I’m with ‘em. I get it. But the rest of the set didn’t do it for me. They just lost me. I guess time will tell what direction they’ll take, if they continue making music together. I will say I did enjoy hanging out at Frontier Bar again. It’s a chill spot and who can beat free pool all night??