Hannah Smothers

Robert Starr, a Life&Arts writer since fall 2011, has been writing the Science Scene column since spring 2012.
Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing senior staffers to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (–30–) to denote the end of a line.

I walked into The Daily Texan basement in fall 2011 with the intention of writing a weekly science column. That column became Science Scene, and I couldn’t be more proud of it.

Throughout the process, I’ve worked with two amazing co-writers — Paepin Goff and Ellen Airhart — who, in addition to directly contributing to Science Scene, have provided uncredited research, feedback and inspiration for articles with my name on them.

I’ve also had unbelievable editors who supported me even when I pitched ridiculous ideas. 

Kelsey McKinney didn’t flinch when I turned in a pro-marijuana Science Scene. She was also the one who encouraged me to write a piece on how to avoid hangovers.

Hannah Smothers didn’t alter a single word of my headline “Decision to circumcise is far from clear cut,” nor did she bat an eye when I sent her a Science Scene describing an experiment where researchers had subjects watch a pornographic film and reach into a container full of used condoms.

And nobody made me work harder than Kat Sampson, the current Life&Arts editor, who has zero tolerance for lazy writing. She kept me in the basement every week demanding rewrites until whatever complex topic I addressed was clear enough for all of our readers to understand. 

I’ve had many arguments with Kat — which have provided endless entertainment for the rest of The Daily Texan staff — but she’s also one of my favorite people on the planet and makes me laugh harder than anybody else I’ve ever known.

This is just a small fraction of the people that helped shape Science Scene into the column that I’m proud to have written. Part of me wants to continue, but, at some point, you need to let your baby grow up and walk on its own. 

After four years at the Texan, it’s time to completely turn my baby over to Ellen, who has a great eye for finding interesting stories and an imagination that I envy. Her Science Scene articles this semester — covering running injuries, listeria in ice cream and the not-so-albino squirrel, among other topics — give me confidence that the column is in very good hands.

I’m really going to miss recording the Science Scene videos with her.

I’ll still be around campus continuing to work toward my Ph.D. in physics, but I don’t know what the future holds for me after that. I do have a few hopes, though. One of them is to visit UT-Austin some day many years from now, pick up a copy of The Daily Texan and see that Science Scene is still going strong.

A man can dream, can’t he?

–30–

The Daily Texan wins TAPMEā€™s Newspaper of the Year award

WACO — The Daily Texan won “Newspaper of the Year” in the college and university daily category at the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors meeting this weekend.

TAPME awards recognize “outstanding journalism as practiced by the state’s daily newspapers.”

On Saturday, the Texan also received regional recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists, which gave top honors to the newspaper’s coverage of the one-year anniversary of the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion.

Former senior reporter Madlin Mekelburg and former Life&Arts editor Hannah Smothers, who wrote the anniversary package together, won best feature writing in the large college category.

Judges complimented the package’s wide variety of sources and the level of detail in the reporting. In the week before the anniversary, Texan reporters and photographers spent three consecutive days in West, interviewing families in the frames of their newly constructed homes and exploring the properties surrounding the former plant.

To read Mekelburg’s coverage of West’s rebuilding efforts, click here. To read Smothers’ story about West High School’s annual prom, held despite the fact that a new school has not been constructed, click here.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

The only way to begin this properly is by thanking the three women who gave me the outlet to write about music here for the past year. 

First, I have to thank Sarah-Grace Sweeney, who hired me and provided me with the opportunity in the first place. She took a chance on me and introduced me to this world of wonderful people, and then she took the time to edit my, at times, illegible writing and make it coherent. 

Secondly, I need to thank Hannah Smothers, who pushed me outside of my comfort zone by encouraging me to write reported stories instead of just reviews and interviews. I was able to learn so much about Austin by seeking out and talking to people, and I also was able to get real experience being a journalist. She helped me through my edits and taught me so much that, I would like to think, my writing became stronger from when I started.

Lastly, I would like to thank Lauren L’aime, who helped edit my pieces and assisted me with questions over the past semester. She, along with the others, is one of the nicest and most helpful individuals I’ve ever met, and she is going to do an incredible job editing the section in the fall. 

If I have any good advice worth listening to, it’s to find a way to do what you love. I made the mistake of waiting until my last year in school to start writing for the paper. In the past year alone, I’ve met so many people at The Daily Texan and KVRX, and I wish I had been able to start that earlier. I hope you enjoyed the pieces I wrote over the year and, hopefully, discovered some new music you liked. I know the person who will be covering music for The Daily Texan next year, and I can guarantee he will do a much better job at this than I ever did. 

If writing is something you enjoy, I highly encourage you to try out for The Daily Texan. In the past year, I got to have so many amazing experiences meet many of my musical heroes through this. 

I got to talk to members of Phoenix, Savages, Superchunk, Bikini Kill, Future Islands, Fucked Up, Perfect Pussy, The Range, Sleigh Bells, Parquet Courts, Loop, Angel Olsen, Mutual Benefit, Mikal Cronin, Potty Mouth, White Lung, Bleached and many more. I even had an email conversation with Lil B in which he gave me his number. 

It’s been a dream come true, and I’m really grateful for everyone that gave me the chance to do this job.

-30-

 

FRIDAY

Underrated band: Savages

Stage: Honda

Time: 1 p.m.

This young all-female post-punk quartet from London might be the most talented and electrifying act of the weekend.

 

Local band: Okkervil River

Stage: Honda

Time: 5 p.m.

It is easily one of the most accomplished folk groups of the last 10 years.

 

Headliner: Depeche Mode

Stage: AMD

Time: 8 p.m.

Why: Every popular indie band now sounds like them, and the chance to see them play all the hits cannot be missed.

 

Band to skip: fun.

Stage: AMD

Time: 4 p.m.

Does anyone really need to force themselves to listen to “Some Nights” again? 

 

SATURDAY

Underrated band: Parquet Courts

Stage: Bud Light

Time: 11:30 a.m.

This punk band is explosive and awesome live. 

 

Local band: The Bright Light Social Hour

Stage: Austin Ventures

Time: 7 p.m.

They’re highly energetic local favorites who have been consistently great for years.

 

Headliner: The Cure

Stage: AMD

Time: 8 p.m.

The Cure is one of the greatest bands of all time with a reputation for playing nearly all of their hits live. It would be foolish to miss this.

 

Band to skip: Kings of Leon

Stage: Samsung Galaxy

Time: 8 p.m.

They haven’t released a good album in at least 5 years and are playing at the same time as The Cure.

 

SUNDAY

Underrated band: Shuggie Otis

Stage: Zilker Tent

Time: 7:30 p.m.

This often forgotten legend put out some of the best psychedelic soul of the ‘60s. 

 

Local band: White Denim

Stage: Austin Ventures

Time: 5 p.m.

White Denim is one of the best psych bands around. 

 

Headliner: Phoenix

Stage: Bud Light

Time: 7 p.m.

Not technically a headliner, but this set should be more fun than either of the two acts closing out the night.

 

Band to skip: Eric Church

Stage: Samsung Galaxy

Time: 6 p.m.

He doesn’t really fit in with the lineup and plays the same time as both The National and Tame Impala, two of the best bands playing all weekend.

 

Hannah Smothers, associate editor

@hannahsmothers_

 

FRIDAY

Underrated band: Jimmy Eat World

Stage: Samsung Galaxy

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Maybe Jimmy Eat World isn’t really underrated, but the 17-year-old inside of me thinks this band deserves a much better time slot than the early afternoon. OK, the current 20-year-old also thinks this band deserves a much better time slot.

 

Local band: Asleep at the Wheel        

Stage: AMD

Time: 12 p.m.

Asleep at the Wheel has been the first band to open ACL every year since the festival began in 2002. Even for people who aren’t huge Texas swing fans, this is an unmissable tradition.

 

Headliner: Arctic Monkeys                

Stage: Samsung Galaxy

Time: 6:30 p.m.

The latest Arctic Monkeys album is fantastic, and front man Alex Turner is an absolute rock ’n’ roll sex god. 

 

SATURDAY

Underrated band: Lissie

Stage: Austin Ventures

Time: 3:15 p.m.

Lissie not only has a beautiful voice, but she has also been known to rap Kid Cudi covers during live performances. 

 

Local band: Max Frost

Stage: Austin Ventures    

Time: 12 p.m.

In a few years, Frost will be back at ACL on a bigger stage and the crowd of people who remember seeing him in 2013 in an early time slot on a small stage will have eternal bragging rights.

 

Band to skip: Portugal. The Man

Stage: AMD

Time: 4 p.m.

Portugal. The Man’s band name is a nightmare for grammar nerds and their music is the same blend of indie-alt-folk-rock-whatever that shows up at every single music festival. 

 

SUNDAY

Underrated band: Noah and the Whale

Stage: Honda    

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Just for the chance that the band plays “Blue Skies” or “The First Days of Spring.” If there’s an appropriate time to get emotional at ACL, it is at Noah and the Whale’s set.

 

Headliner: The National

Stage: AMD    

Time: 5:30 p.m.

The National is awesome. Matt Berninger’s baritone vocals sometimes dip so low I’m pretty sure only animals can hear them — and I mean that as a compliment. 

 

 

Kris Ohlendorf, staff writer

@krisohlendorf

 

FRIDAY

Underrated band: Purity Ring

Stage: Austin Ventures

Time: 7:45 p.m.

The band’s music is really trippy and addictive, lots of bass and synths everywhere. Seeing it at night will be an unmissable experience. Wub wub.

 

Headliner: Vampire Weekend

Stage: AMD

Time: 6:00 p.m.

It’s amazing to see the fame and exposure the group is starting to get with its newest album, which is also the best album the group has put out. 

 

Band to skip: Muse

Stage: Samsung Galaxy

Time: 8:30 p.m.

Just listen to OK Computer on the ride home instead.

 

 

SATURDAY

Underrated band: Grimes

Stage: Honda

Time: 5:00 p.m.

She came all the way down from Canada to grace us with her presence, and is pretty much the most awesome person not named Kanye West.

 

Local band: The Warrior Gospel Band

Stage: Zilker Tent

Time: 11:30 a.m.

A talented local group that does pre-Civil War era gospel tunes.

 

Headliner: Kendrick Lamar

Stage: Honda

Time: 7:00 p.m.

good kid, m.A.A.d city was the best album to come out last year. I’ve gone through it probably 50 times; it never gets old.

 

SUNDAY

Underrated band: Tame Impala

Stage: Honda

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Its last album Lonerism is amazing, and should be heard by everyone. 

 

Local band: Peterson Brothers Band

Stage: BMI

Time: 4:00 p.m.

A duo of talented brothers, one shreds guitar and the other slaps a bass. Their live shows are bluesy and full of energy; they seem like cool guys too.

 

Headliner: Atoms for Peace

Stage: AMD

Time: 7:40 p.m.

It’s 2+2=5 of Radiohead. Amok was good, but my hope is they’ll play something from Kid A just for me.

 

Band to skip: The Mowgli’s

Stage: Bud Light

Time: 1:00 p.m.

There are eight band members, and they aren’t named Arcade Fire.

 

Sarah-Grace Sweeney, editor

@sarahgrace317

 

FRIDAY

Underrated band: Smith Westerns

Stage: Honda Stage

Time: 3 p.m.

This dreamy indie pop is the way to ease into a busy ACL weekend.  

 

Local band: Dana Falconberry

Stage: Austin Ventures

Time: 12:20 p.m.

It’s early, but Dana Falconberry’s music sounds like a fairy fantasy land.

 

SATURDAY

Underrated band: Hundred Waters

Stage: Honda Stage

Time: 11:30 a.m.

This folky electronica from Florida is for indie kid head-bopping and dancing. 

 

Headliner: Wilco

Stage: Samsung Galaxy Stage

Time:  6 p.m.

Wilco just happen to be my folk heroes — and probably everyone’s dad’s folk heroes too. 

 

Band to skip: Passion Pit

Stage: AMD Stage

Time: 6 p.m.

Aren’t people tired of all these over produced songs that sound exactly the same, yet?  

 

SUNDAY

Underrated band: Foxygen

Stage: Samsung Galaxy Stage

Time: 12 a.m.

Foxygen is a perfect combination of classic rock and indie pop.  

 

Headliner: Neko Case

Stage: Austin Ventures Stage

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Neko Case just released a stellar album and this is a great chance to hear the songs live. 

 

Band to skip: Atoms for Peace

Stage: AMD Stage

Time: 7:40 p.m.

Why would anyone see Thom Yorke if it wasn’t with Radiohead? 

 

by Shane Miller

@shanearthurmill

 

FRIDAY

Underrated band: Pinback

Stage: Bud Light

Time: 3:30 p.m. 

Ever since 1999’s This is a Pinback CD, Pinback’s indie rock has been mellow, progressive and impressive enough to put it in its own category. 

 

Headliner: Local Natives

Stage: Samsung Galaxy

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Local Natives is the best indie band out there to eat, pray and love to.  

 

SATURDAY

Local band: Shakey Graves

Stage: BMI

Time: 4:30 p.m. 

This one-man band is easily one of Austin’s most talented musicians, so support him and hopefully be able to say “I saw Shakey Graves at ACL before he was cool.” 

 

Band to skip: Silversun Pickups 

Stage: Samsung Galaxy

Time: 4 p.m. 

“Lazy Eye” is the only one worth listening to.

 

SUNDAY

Underrated band: Toro Y Moi

Stage: Bud Light

Time: 5 p.m. 

This dude, Chaz, is a fantastic producer and perfect for hipsters, and wannabe hipsters like myself, to steal fashion ideas from. 

 

Band to skip: Grouplove

Stage: AMD

Time: 3:30 p.m.

I’d rather be at your best friend’s house.  

    

Sam Hays, staff writer

@samingtonhays

 

FRIDAY 

Local band: The Black Angels    

Stage: Honda    

Time: 5 p.m.

Why: The Black Angels’ psychadelic rock sound sounds like a polished rendition of the Austin garage bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s. 

 

Headliner: Muse

Stage: Samsung Galaxy

Time: 8:30 p.m.

Why: Though the later half of their discography is forgettable, they haven’t forgotten how to put on a brilliant show full of lasers, lights and high energy.

 

SATURDAY

Band to Skip: Kendrick Lamar

Stage: Honda

Time: 7 p.m.

Why: Kendrick is always in town. Why would you pass up an opportunity to see Justin Vernon for a rapper who will probably be here in the next few months anyway.

 

SUNDAY

Local band: Divine Fits

Stage: Honda

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Why: Divine Fits is the side-project for Britt Daniels, the lead singer of Spoon. The two bands are very similar in sound, but Divine Fits is definitely less refined and more festival appropriate.