Our Favorite Musical Moments of 2023

Maile Carballo / KUTX

This year, we decided to poll our staff on their favorite music moment of 2023. As you can tell by the varied choices, we didn’t impose a lot of parameters. Just something, anything related to music; an unforgettable moment that stopped you dead in your tracks. 

Maile Carballo, intern

Meeting Jack Black

Meeting Jack Black after the closing show of Tenacious D’s Spicy Meatball Tour wasn’t just my favorite music moment of 2023, this has to be my favorite moment from my life so far! He was more hilarious and spicier in person than I had ever imagined. And, to top it all off, the dude was just backstage eating a hotdog in true Jack Black fashion. I also got the chance to meet one of my favorite photographers, Jackie Lee Young, that night. Childhood dream come true. I’ll never forget it. The power of radio, man. 

Rene Chavez, engineer

Son Rompe Pera / La Perla, Far Out Lounge

Too many great music experiences this year, so I’ll pick the first comes to mind. Son Rompe Pera (CDMX) played the Far Out Lounge as part of KUTX’s 10th birthday concert series. They have this distinct brand of punk-ska infused cumbia that features marimba hooks and melodies. They were excellent…but who really blew my mind was La Perla, a three-piece woman ensemble that does roots Caribbean/Columbian using traditional instruments and 3-part harmonies. It was dynamic and moving – one of those sets that was like fire: rhythmic, feminist, and just beautiful. All without the use of loud guitar amps, buzzing synths, or swinging-dick lead singers. It ruled, and will stick with me for a while. 

Jody Denberg, host

The Black Pumas, C-boys

The band’s first full show in 18 months…hosting the live broadcast on KUTX...the video livestream carried by NPR…the teamwork it took to pull it all off seamlessly…and, mostly, THE BLACK PUMAS!!

Jacquie Fuller, assistant program director

Andrew Cashen, Antones

I saw Andrew Cashen do his sexy-southern-evangelist schtick when we booked him at Rock the Park last year, but – since then – both the schtick and the band have gelled into something even tighter. I caught him at Antone’s in August and it was nothing short of a revival. 

Andrew Cashen performs at the Mueller Lake Park amphitheater in Austin, TX for the KUTX Rock the Park concert series in partnership with Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child on Mar. 25, 2022. Gabriel C. Pérez/KUTX

Laurie Gallardo, host

Sparks, ACL Live at the Moody Theater 

I never thought I would see Sparks in my lifetime, let alone get to interview Russ Mael. Their delivery, distinctive style, and evocative humor crafted into every song, made the night a nerdy fan’s dream come true. It went beyond the audience singing along. We were all witnessing the latest chapter in Sparks’ incredible musical history.

Ezra Gomez, intern

“Not Strong Enough”

Even though I spent far, far too much money on concert tickets, my favorite musical moment happened at home. After saving up all my money for three long years, I was able to afford top surgery this summer. After the surgery, and the 12-hour post-surgery nap, I was cognizant enough to ask my mom for my headphones, and the first song that came on was “Not Strong Enough”. I remember laughing really hard because I felt like I had just become strong enough to be someone’s man.

Art Levy, producer

Flying Nun Records, New Zealand

My wife, my 6 month old baby, and I took a pilgrimage to Flying Nun Records in Wellington, New Zealand in the spring. Flying Nun supplied the world with New Zealand’s scrappy, tuneful take on punk rock in the ‘80s, going on to influence Nirvana, Yo La Tengo, Pavement, and many more. The space is now a record shop mixed with a museum, featuring original zines, photos, and ephemera from the little scene that practically invented indie rock. I bought a Flying Nun t-shirt, and when I approached the store employee, she turned around, revealing her SXSW shirt. Turns out she’s a Kiwi via Philadelphia who routinely tours through Austin with her own band. A few doors down at another record shop, I found an impressive country section stocked with Willie, Asleep At The Wheel, and Townes Van Zandt. It’s nice to know there’s a little bit of Austin 10,000 miles and a hemisphere away.

Jeff McCord, music editor, host, “What’s Next”

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Roxy, Hollywood

One of the more impulsive moves I have ever made – flying to Los Angeles and back to see a single show – also proved to be one of the most memorable. The venerable Roxy, a tiny Sunset Strip venue (think of a slightly larger Continental Club with its stage on the side), has hosted some amazing shows over its first half-century. Celebrating their 50th anniversary, Neil Young (who famously opened the club in 1973) agreed to appear for a pair of impossibly sold-out shows. Because of weird ticket rules and Young’s last-minute COVID rules, we weren’t even sure we were getting in. But we did, and inside, right up against the stage, we saw that Young had re-created the setup of the 1973 shows down to the last detail. Joined by Crazy Horse, early collaborator Nils Lofgren and Willie’s son Micah, Young was upbeat and in rare form. Playing Tonight’s The Night and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere in their entirety, the band was locked-in (well, for Crazy Horse), creating a night of pure time-shifting magic. 

Rick McNulty, music director, host, “Left of the Dial”

Black Pumas, C-Boys

Seeing Black Pumas at C-Boy’s Heart & Soul. It was awesome to witness the journey from their first gig there in 2018.

Jake Perlman, engineer

Wilco, Studio 1A

I’m lucky to work with so many talented artists and production folks, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like if a really big band came into our studio. That happened with Wilco this September. Their team couldn’t have been more cool, fun, and professional. We were prepared (big thanks, as always, to Rene Chavez) and the band was very gracious and appreciated our work. We even caught Jeff Tweedy saying that “This is the best-sounding room we’ve played in a while”. Mixing them, it was interesting to pull apart “the forest” and better understand how their sound is put together. I’ve been a Wilco fan from the beginning and getting to work with them was very gratifying and my best musical experience this year.

Trina Quinn, host

KUTX Winning Best Radio Station

My 2023 was full of awesome musical moments, but the highlight was being with KUTX as we collected the Best Radio Station award at the Austin Music Awards! Bonus: I got to watch my co-workers collect their winnings too! That same night, I saw Die Spitz for the first time, and they sparked me. Plus, I finally met Britt Daniel. A great frickin’ night!

Juliana Rios, intern

Working at KUTX

My favorite musical experience of 2023 was gaining my work-study position at KUTX. Since I started working here in September, I’ve had the pleasure of gaining many new musical experiences. I’ve heard so many new songs, discovered new artists, and helped set up for ACL Fest. I’ve been able to become more in touch with Austin’s music scene and I can say that it’s been the highlight of my year!

Soundfounder, host, “Soundfounder”

Playing & Attending Levitation, Far Out Lounge

I was lucky enough to be added to the bill with my good friend Butcher Bear. Sharing a bill with Magna Carda, Houston legend Fat Tony, Armand Hammer, Badabadnotgood and my personal hero DJ Shadow was absolutely amazing. Even with the rain and cold, a huge crowd came out and we had an amazing time. A night I will always remember. 

Jay Trachtenberg, host, “Sunday Morning Jazz”

Meeting Sly Dunbar

Meeting, hanging around, and listening to legendary reggae drummer Sly Dunbar, along with a slew of the island’s top studio musicians at famed Anchor Recording Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, was an amazing opportunity. Yeah, mon! 

Taylor Wallace, host

Beak> and Faust, Oblivion Access Fest

I  went into this show blind. I was vaguely familiar with Faust, but couldn’t have told you the name of a single Beak> song, much less their ties to Portishead. I’m not sure what I expected, but the deluge I experienced certainly wasn’t it. Faust has their blend of improvisation and dissonance down to a transfixing science. And both groups commanded my full attention; I left a changed person.

Patricia Lim Faust performing at Empire on June 17, 2023 during Oblivoin Access Festival. Patricia Lim/KUTX

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