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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Breakfast Taco

posted by on March 19 at 12:25 PM

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Today's ingredients: Elgin sausage (from the city of Elgin, don'tcha know), potato, cheese, and an overdue summary of a zillion bands.

My reason for the delay is a mix of recovery from a Monday flight/bus hellstorm and a sense of futility about SXSW writeups. You pretty much need an 80-strong staff of writers/videographers to get anywhere near covering this thing to an adequate degree, and even then, it's hard for such writeups to not come off as blurry and overenthusiastic--with so much going on, there's no time to rest, soak up the music, and make a coherent statement. I still think the greatest SXSW writeup of all time came from a satire piece my former boss whipped up for The Morning News last year. (Classic line: "I just punch the ever-loving shit out of them.")

But unlike some Line Out posters, I've always done SXSW (relatively) sober; otherwise, I simply can't keep up with the four-days-straight onslaught. And I still thought this year was pretty damn good. Sadly, the era of sleeper acts has been killed thanks to SXSW preview bloggers hyping even the tiniest concerns to unbelievable heights, but I still stumbled upon gems that seem to have been glossed over by the blogging majority.

Akron/Family -- I saw them a few years back at a crummy bar's basement stage, which the group proceeded to manhandle with a nearly two hour set of chant-filled pandemonium. I figured I'd catch a few minutes just for shits before heading to see the haunting Castanets play at the big church in downtown Austin, but this show went too far down the rabbit hole for me to leave. Halfway through their 1.5-hour set, my absolute biggest shock/surprise find of the fest, Slaraffenland, appeared in the back of Emo's clutching horns, flutes and the like. They soon hopped the stage, and the new 10-man band proceeded to play for 45 minutes straight, songs swirling one into the next while the crowd danced, clapped and chanted along to every single one. This ended with a cry of "WE'RE TAKING IT OUTSIDE!" and the stage cleared, band members clutching instruments and drums while walking onto famed 6th Street, and the crowd followed like giddy, willing, hippie minstrels. The street jam lasted for a good five minutes, as curious passers-by snapped cameraphone photos of the shirtless freaks leaping around and chanting "Circle, Triangle, Square! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!" Kind of a "had to be there" thing. I do not look forward to being seen on YouTube as one of the idiots leaping around and buying into this show's pandemonium.

Slaraffenland -- I already wrote them up Wednesday night, didn't I? They're even better than I remember on their record. The members told me before their Akron/Family set that they'll be coming towards Seattle this May. Cannot wait.

Darker My Love -- Rousing psychedelia with a healthy dose of harder rock influences, though the "harder" part was more apparent in concert than in anything on their MySpace page. I caught quite a bit of psychedelic revivalism at this year's fest, but only this band made me feel the same way I felt when I first saw the Dandies or the Black Angels. I liked the variety that came forth from this band's dual songwriters and look forward to seeing them in concert again (SF ain't that far away, guys, and maybe you can bring another SXSW surprise, Citay, along with ya.)

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A Weather -- Totally blown away by this Portland four-piece, if an incredibly quiet/soft act can "blow away" anything. Think if the husband/wife duo of Mates of State divorced, but were forced by a record label to stay together, and as a result, the tunes became slow, deliberate, and bittersweet. The killer boy/girl vocals make the first impression, but what really impresses is how the four-piece strings its arrangements together in a minimalist way yet still sounds full and lush.

Evangelista -- Another set of pandemonium, this one courtesy of ex-Geraldine Fibber Carla Bozulich. This destructive poetry performance was all clamor and hollering, the band layering feedback, broken cymbal clangs and free-form rhythm noise over Carla's hell-bent shrieks. It was heartening to see the woman so revitalized by her latest group, fearlessly skipping and prowling around the stage while preaching the bad word.

Experimental Aircraft -- I'd forgotten about this ancient Austin-based space-rock quartet until shopping at Sonic Boom in Ballard the other day, where store buyer Rick Brooks was blasting the band's long-delayed LP. They'd finally finished the damn thing, he told me, and it was a kitchen-sink record of hazy, over-pedaled rock that became the soundtrack to my flights to and from Austin last week. The showcase was fine, but really, I just brought it up to plug the awesome album.

Since I'm a homer, I'm happy to asterisk the rest of my Texas picks with the fact that I may very well be biased... except in the case of Centro-matic. The decade-plus straight-out rock concern from Denton, TX, managed to sell out its Wednesday night venue, drawing a healthy mix of local pals and European fanatics, and the crowd was well-deserved for the band's shout-along pop-rock that takes the GBV formula in an Americana direction. Other homer highlights included Wilco-leaning Pleasant Grove, post-Sonic Youthers Record Hop, the mariachi/folk songwriting mastery of The Theater Fire, and the absolutely bonkers, Funkadelic-meets-80s-new-wave hip-hop of PPT. Oh, and the chilaquiles at Curra's; those things are spicy and delicious.

Whenever YouTube is friendlier to me, I'll get videos up of great SXSW '08 acts like Phosporescent, Slaraffenland, Bear in Heaven, Ola Podrida, Luke Temple, and more. In the meantime, check out my Flickr pool of SXSW photos with a few other personal faves as well, like J Mascis, Elliott Brood, Dr. Dog, and The Sadies.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

SXSW For The Sober Guy

posted by on March 18 at 1:22 PM

There’s that old joke: “What did the hippie say when he ran out of drugs?”

“This band sucks.”

So maybe it makes sense that in my newfound and temporary booze-free lifestyle, I was sorta underwhelmed by SXSW this year. Damn you, Lent. I managed to catch quite a few bands over the course of three days, and I figured I’d share the highlights for anyone that isn’t completely tired of the hearing about all the shenanigans in Austin this last weekend. To make this a little easier on all of us, I’ll eschew the details of my own sober adventures and just give you the straight-up dirt on some of the more noteable bands I witnessed.

1349 – I was totally psyched to see some legitimate Norwegian black metal at SXSW. I cannot admit to being a die-hard fan of the genre, but I have enough of an interest to know that anytime Frost from Satyricon is playing drums, you’d better take note. Unfortunately, Frost was noticeably absent. In his place was some dumpy dude who didn’t hit hard enough to break a sweat. Black metal often suffers from weak drummers and awful guitar tones. 1349 stands out on record for actually having solid performances and production. Unfortunately, the drumming and bass playing in Austin were pretty mediocre. However, their singer was definitely terrifying. Decked out in full corpse paint, including a hefty amount of white make-up applied to his beard giving him a weirdly disproportionate set of jowls, his prowling stage demeanor was truly unnerving. In addition, it appeared that his eyes were bleeding. Despite the theatrics, I wound up leaving mid-set when I found myself paying less attention to the music and becoming more concerned with wondering how they got those huge spiked gauntlets through U.S. customs.

Chiodos – Okay, to be fair – I didn’t actually hear Chiodos play. I watched them on a monitor at the bar at Emo’s IV while they played the outside stage. And thank god for that, because I think I would’ve started drinking if I had to endure that shit. Watching the band on that monitor reconfirmed what I’ve already come to terms with: Screamo is the new hair metal. Girl jeans, teased hair, annoying choreographed stage moves, teenage girl demographics, compromised aura of safe rebellion… it’s all there. I hate being a musician.

The Night Marchers – John Reis from RFTC/Hot Snakes/Jehu/Pitchfork is back with a new band. It definitely sounds like Reis-fare, only with a bit more of a garage sound and a penchant for rock shuffles. I saw them play outside mid-afternoon. It was good, though it would’ve been way better in a tiny bar at midnight.

Black Mountain – I can’t get enough of In The Future, but as with the Night Marchers, this is the kind of music you need to see in a good, dark venue. Seeing them from a distance on an outdoor stage with the sun still out just wasn’t working for me.

No Age I've got Grandy's back on this one.

This Will Destroy You – Austin’s latest post-rock buzz band is pretty much what I expected. While they sounded great, that was due at least in part to the fact that they sounded a lot like Explosions In The Sky. In fact, almost every band I saw on Sunday sounded either like EITS or Isis. I have never been so sick of digital delay in my entire life.

It wasn’t all disappointing though:

Pissed Jeans –They remind me of Born Against’s sludgier material, minus the political tirades. Singer Matt Korvette steals the show by somehow managing to engage the crowd without pandering to them. He is simultaneously disaffected and likeable. Goofy without being silly. Angry without seeming forced. Teamed up with Bradley Fry’s Greg Ginn-influenced guitar playing, it’s a pretty stellar show.

Coliseum – Missing Friday’s Tragedy show in Seattle was made somewhat easier by catching fellow d-beaters Coliseum on Sunday night. The riffs are fucking mean. The drumming is totally over-the-top. Brutal shit

Tera Melos – Now that Dillinger Escape Plan is playing on Conan and writing songs with hooks, people with an appetite for unhinged fretboard awareness and spastic drumming should look to Sacramento’s Hella disciples, Tera Melos. While certainly not as metal as DEP, this trio certainly out-plays the Jersey tech-metal quintet, and demonstrates a greater array of effects pedal trickery. This is definitely a band for guitar nerds. I caught them twice at SXSW, and was thoroughly impressed on both occasions.

Constantines – I had to make a decision. See Constantines for the roughly twentieth time, or catch Torche’s set. It was a tough call, but I also figured I could catch Torche the next night at the Chunklet party (little did I know that the party was in an art space with a capacity of 50, so I totally missed the Torche boat this year). Constantines were great though. I only caught five songs, none of which were Draw Us Lines or Young Lions, but they did end with Shine a Light. While I know that the Bruce Springsteen-meets-Fugazi description has become quite popular for these Canadians, I was struck by how much their singer reminded me of a pre-electric Bob Dylan, both in look and manner. I eagerly await their new album due out next month.

Harvey Milk – No band with Joe Preston can fail. Thrones, The Whip, Melvins, High on Fire. Need I say more? Slow, immense, misanthropic, and Southern. While I have mixed feelings about their recorded output, I enjoyed their set, and was particularly pleased to see so many people excited about a band that existed in almost complete obscurity throughout the ‘90s.

Helms Alee – Seattle’s own were top-notch at the HydraHead showcase. Well done, folks.

LA Love

posted by on March 18 at 12:14 PM

The LA Times' SXSW Blog:
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But the festival’s biggest surprise was the Blue Scholars, a Seattle group making its first SXSW appearance. They’ve been the toast of Seattle’s burgeoning hip-hop scene for the last few years, and for good reason. Their politically conscious lyricism, delivered smoothly and eloquently by Geologic, features political protesters and soldiers returning home from war. The group recalls the early days of hip-hop with one DJ and one MC. Check them out for yourself here .

The question that confronts local hiphop is this and this alone: Can it save hiphop as a whole? If this is not its mission--to maintain the form's founding political principles, pleasure principles, and aesthetic values without waging a war on the mainstream (the error made by LA's underground scene)--then our scene will crumble and vanish.


Saturday: Belated, Deflated

posted by on March 18 at 10:50 AM

Saturday started at the free, non-SXSW-affiliated Mess with Texas fest, some blocks up from 6th street in a large park, with Night Marchers, the new project from John Reis of Rocket From the Crypt and Hot Snakes took the stage. “We’re Johnny Club Med and the Cabana Boys,” said gracefully aging greaser Reis. “We’re happy to be here entertaining you for the next 23 minutes.” The banter was bullshit, with Reis referring to his band by several fake names throughout the set, but the rock was very real, hard-driving, raw-throated garage in the tradition all Reis’ bands. You get the impression that Reis will probably be cranking this stuff out until the day he dies, whether a crowd’s gathering to watch him or not. As he plays he flashes between a serious scowl on the heavy riffs and a showman’s smile after each successfully completed feat of rock. At the close of the set, he thanked the crowd sincerely, finally saying the band’s name.

Outside the Fader Fort, someone said of Brooklyn trio Telepathe, “I think this band drove out anyone who gives a shit about music, which means they should be letting more people in soon.” Indeed, Telepathe aren’t much of a band—three lanky girls singing echoing mumblecore over listless electro beats and delay, like well-draped mannequins sing chopped and screwed karaoke.

Hype band of the second, BLK JKS, a South African band who had all of one song available online before scoring a Fader cover and a prime slot at their Austin party, didn’t live up to push. If it weren’t for their foreign origins and good style, if, say they were white nerds, nobody would forgive their noodling, aimless jam rock. It’s like a reverse image of Vampire Weekend.

Santogold played a well-executed set, handily correcting Friday’s misstep.

Headlining at the Fader Fort were Spank Rock followed by 2 Live Crew (apparently minus Luke). Given Spank Rock’s recent 2 Live send-up, Bangers & Cash, it seemed likely that the two might share the stage for a few songs, but nothing of the sort ever went down. Although both groups make raunchy party rap, Spank Rock’s modern version benefits from a sense of playfulness, possibly irony, that 2 Live Crew’s set lacks. Both groups get girls up on stage, but Spank Rock’s is Amanda Blank, rapping along with the guys, spitting as filthy as any of them, whereas 2 Live Crew’s are mere props, punch lines. Also, Spank Rock’s set is much more of a party, with MC Naeem Juwan backed up by Devling & Darko on the decks, Pase Rock on hype, and a live drummer on bongos and cymbal.

The rest of the night is more or less a blur: Flosstradamus and Kid Sister rapping with A Trak; Digitalism destroying it at the DFA party, flanked by the bottle-service nightclub’s go-go dancers; John from Iron Lung, Judd from Sex Vid, and Richmond, Va crusties Municipal Waste trying to sneak into the Vice afterparty, a party in some historically fancy old hotel room.


Monday, March 17, 2008

SXSW - Punk Rock Sunday

posted by on March 17 at 12:17 PM

I think I like SXSW after most everyone goes home. By Sunday afternoon, the streets are mostly empty, no more long lines, and everyone's much much more relaxed. It's just the locals and diehards. I saw some of my favorite shows on Sunday... in a deliriously tired and brilliantly beer-soaked haze.

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Continue reading "SXSW - Punk Rock Sunday" »

SXSW - The Saturday Night After Parties

posted by on March 17 at 12:16 PM

Diplo was climbing the walls and hanging from the ceiling at the VICE afterparty...

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Continue reading "SXSW - The Saturday Night After Parties" »

SXSW: The Locals

posted by on March 17 at 12:15 PM

Seattle's Mamma Casserole and DJ Scorpio (former Seattle, now Austin) put together a daytime showcase near the University of Texas campus - at a compound of two venues known as Spider House and The United States Art Authority (a McCleod Residence style gallery and rock club)...

DJ Mamma Casserole and front man of SF glam band Apache...

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And San Francisco heavy rock outfit Dzjenghis Khan

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Both photos by Victoria Renard

And from the Subpop Showcase... local heroes Fleet Foxes

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and Grand Archives

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Photos by Kelly O

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blue Scholars Rock Fresh, South by South West

posted by on March 16 at 12:43 AM

Before I go babbling about any other SXSW stuff, I think it's important that I make one thing clear--Blue Scholars killed it. Killed the mike, killed the floor, killed the room, killed a small percentage of Austin. A near-capacity crowd at a smallish dance club at 4th and Congress went absolutely wild over the duo's set, and for good reason; Geologic was totally on point, keeping the crowd pumped without overdoing any "wave your hands" junk. To be fair, he gave credit where it was due--"Give it up for Sabzi! He sure makes my job easy." A new song was debuted as well, a track that was mostly a capella because the guys hadn't quite figured out a beat for it yet, let alone a title. Also, if you didn't know, apparently a lot of people in Austin get their education on the Ave. Huh.

I'll admit, I didn't get to many Seattle acts this week--some because of annoying schedule conflicts, others because I could not get in to see the acts in overcrowded venues. Though I suppose the latter is a good sign, no?

I will regurgitate the rest soon, including a story about an Akron/Familiy concert that went more bonkers than anything I'd ever seen the band do--and for Akron/Family, that's really saying something.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Happening Right Now at SXSW: Monotonix is Doing What Monotonix Does

posted by on March 15 at 7:14 PM

I just got a text from my friend Alicia, who's in Austin.

Holy shit! I just got drenched in beer @ Monotonix!

She elaborated:

Totally incredible - I got smashed in the arm with a guitar. It was nuts!

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Ah, the magic of SXSW.

SXSW Day Three: Santogold and Pissed Off Boys

posted by on March 15 at 1:13 PM

I have to say, this place is kind of a sausage fest. I know it's supposed to be a taco-fest, but there sure is a lot sausage. One chicka, though, blew everyone away with her live set. I hadn't previously heard of Santogold. But wow, wow, wowee. Watch this one, to be sure. Sharp, sassy, pure gold...

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Another new love, not previously heard, the Pissed Jeans.

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Their choice in band name, um, appropo...

Also, really really great, was No Age...

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... who introduced themselves as Vampire Weekend, the biggest hyped band here, it seems. And Austin's own...

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White Denim.

Ok - Day Four. I'm off to chase Monotonix, Mika Miko, Clock Cleaner, Spank Rock, and 2 Live Crew. What a weird combination. This place is surreal.

Friday, pt 2: Pissed Jeans, Passed Out

posted by on March 15 at 12:55 PM

I started Friday at the iheartcomix party, which was on the upper deck of a parking garage a few blocks west of the SXSW strip proper. There was a line to get in, not so much because it was over crowded, but because they were letting people up one crammed elevator at a time. Up on the roof, Flosstradamus were DJing a set of big, dumb, fun party jams—Michael Jackson re-edits, their Matt & Kim remix, Ed Banger, "Satisfaction," "Better Off Alone." "Yo, we're just freestyling up here, playing our favorite songs," they said over the opening synth strains of Benny Benassi. Then: "This wind is killing us up here. It's blowing our needles all over the place. Fuck it." Then, later: "Spring break!" And it really felt like spring break.

The high wind wasn't the only snag at the iheartcomix party, though. There was free beer, but they stopped serving for three hours at 6pm. They were out of water by then, too, although they did have tiny, branded squirt-guns, and I saw one guy walking around with a squirt-gun stuck in his mouth, killing himself for some water.

Santogold had a rough time, too. Santi White came out in a neon pink and green clashing jumpsuit and big wrapped shades, flanked by two stone-faced dancers in white blouses and sunglasses (whichever critic first compared these girls to Public Enemy's S1-Ws deserves a medal). So, obviously, Santogold is drawing a lot of M.I.A. comparisons—there's the aforementioned outfit, the fact that Santogold's electrp-pop is made with some of the same producers, and having Diplo as your live DJ definitely isn't going to help matters. The most striking difference, besides White's more trained singing voice, is that whereas M.I.A. samples from a grab-bag of global urban music, Santogold mashes mostly Jamaican influences, notably rocksteady and ska, into '08 club music (the bright, 8-bit crunk of "Creator" is an exception).

Diplo, for whatever reason (maybe he was still reeling from that pool party), kind of bombed at backing up Santogold. After the first song, there was a long, drawn out silence, while Diplo worked out some apparent technical issue. White's S1-Ws stayed totally still and expressionless for the duration like total pros, while Santogold asked if anyone knew any jokes. A friend wondered if she was lip-synching, and, after finally doing her next song, White admitted, "I don't know if I should tell you this, but that was the CD version of the track," so she had been singing over her own recorded vocals. Later, her voice was thinner but still impressively elastic. One song started playing backwards part way through, and another one just cut off completely maybe a minute in, causing White to snap, "I don't even need to say anything. I'm looking for a new DJ." Then, amicably, "Just kidding. You all know Diplo's the shit." It's a forgiving, forgetful party, though, and White thanks the audience for being so nice.

Another long line, and it's up to a rooftop pool and patio, where they were serving wine. The sun was setting, all pink and orange behind the DJ booth, girls were dangling their legs in the pool, a trance riff was playing on the soundsystem—it was like walking up the stairs from SXSW and winding up in at WMC in Miami. Definitely the best looking crowd of the weekend so far (music critics aside). Team Robespierre played half a song, blew a fuse, paused in the dark, and then did a short but spirited set for a handful of fans and a lot of disinterested onlookers. Talked to Khaela Maricich from the Blow for a minute, mostly about Why?'s lyrics and whether or not they were offensively bad. I'm obviously a big fan, she's not so much. We both agree that his morbid neuroses suggest that Yoni Wolf could be bad boyfriend material. About an hour later, I get the weird feeling that I had that exact same conversation before.

Back down on the parking garage floor, after dark, Cut Copy absolutely light the party up. Their new songs have a serious New Order vibe—soft, mopey singing over shimmering synth arpeggios, dreamy pop shoegaze guitars, and electronic kick thump. They have neon, kaleidoscopic videos playing behind them. Like New Order, the lyrics are frequently secondary to the songs' pulse. "This is a pretty cool party, here's some more party music," said their singer before introducing another simultaneously joyous and melancholic song. They played "Girl and the Sea" and "Lights and Music," and both sounded fantastic. Later, during an instrumental lull: "It's time for everyone to go nuts, not just the people in front but all through the place." When the beat kicked back in, the crowd obediently went apeshit, jumping up and down, dancing all over, clapping along.

At the Sub Pop showcase, Pissed Jeans were playing out on a patio stage and fucking killing it. The gravel pit the stage was set up in front of wasn't great footing for moshing, but a few dudes gave it a shot. The lead singer of Pissed Jeans is a great front-man, part Iggy Pop, part David Yow, part Will Ferrell (Ferrell hat tip: Brandon Ivers), alternately shuddering, sneering, leering, and cringing, leaning on his mic stand, then hunching down to the stage, howling, then screaming into the nearly eye-level stage lights, his thrusting and writhing at once sexual and self-deprecating. Plus he's funny: "You guys need more pebbles? There's more pebbles back there." The band was heavy—drums pounding hard, rumbling, and rolling; bass vibrating below audible frequencies; guitar droning feedback. They swerved from ranting drones to bursts of thrash to sludgy headbanging snarl, brutally executing each. Of all the bands on the Sub Pop showcase, Pissed Jeans stood out as what you might call a classic Sub Pop band. Grunge. Flannel. Hanging on the flippety flop. All that good shit. Plus, they've got that whole Allentown-depressed-rust-belt-Springsteen lyric-mystique. "I'm Sick" and "Don't Need Smoke to Make Myself Disappear" were particularly brutal.

Grand Archives sounded good in the main room, their newer, more rootsy songs sounding more at home here than in Seattle, although the more subdued songs from their demo EP are still my favorite.

Across the street, Old Time Relijun were an ecstatic, mad freak-out, free jazz skronk mixing with swamp boogie mixing with mutant disco grooves mixing with shamanic throat singing. Stand up bass and dual saxophone (two reeds, one mouth) and Arrington de Dionyso looking a little less impish than usual but still summoning some apocalyptic fire and brimstone. I swear I heard an interpolation of "Contort Yourself" in one song. When his guitar came unplugged, he said, "I feel like a guitar shouldn't come unplugged during such ecstatic, raucous song. Is it embarrassing?" Some guy shouted out, "No big deal," and Dionyso replied, "I agree with this guy, it's no big deal." Saw the drunkest, douchiest dude of the weekend so far, shouting and shoving people incoherently, sporting a shiny baseball cap. Saw a guy fall ass backwards, passing out, head thunking hard on the ground. Good show.

HEALTH sounded much better than their second-most recent show at Chop Suey. Their drummer pounded while the other guys hunched on the floor and humped the stage, screaming into their pedals, jumping up and down, echoing vocals soaring, guitar bursts interlocking and falling apart, feedback braying like a donkey. I wonder, is the impact of noise music lessened when pretty people are making it? Is an ugly band like Wolf Eyes more legit than these guys?

I caught a minute of Blitzen Trapper, including "Wild Mountain Nation," and it occurs to me that the whole rootsy rock resurgence that's happening right now, especially in Seattle and on Sub Pop, leaves me kind of lukewarm. I don't get it. I don't dig rural seventies Southern soft rock. I appreciate the musicianship and the craft and all that, but, like Moz says, it says nothing to me about my life.

Rode to a couple massive, expensive-looking, but ultimately bunk afterparties with a couple of photographers who were taking flash photos in the front seat while driving buzzed. I don't want to die driving to see fucking Squirrel Nut Zippers or whatever play at some energy drink sales pitch, but fuck it, if that's how I go out, so be it. Spring break!


Friday, March 14, 2008

SXSW Day Two: The Headbangers Ball

posted by on March 14 at 2:05 PM

I can't tell you how mad I was when I realized I missed Napalm Death and Motörhead. They were at noon and three o'clock, and at that point I was somehow just leaving the assisted elderly home were I slept a fairly weird six hours on a half-inflated blow-up mattress. But that's another story. After some random taco-like foodstuffs, I went and got a beer from The Amazing Mr. Lifto. Remember Lifto? That guy from Jim Rose Circus Sideshow who could lift cinder blocks with his penis? Seems he's a bartender in Austin now. And a good one at that. Shortly after, I ran into The Amazing Jennifer Maerz. She suggested we head over to the VICE magazine showcase to bang our heads to some punk rock... some new punk rock. Just like old times.

First up, MixHell. At first it sounded like just dance music, but then dude starts pounding on the drums while the girl DJs. Turns out the MixHell is Igor Cavalera from Sepultura, and the girl is wifey. Dance Music marries Thrash Metal. Weird. I like it.

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Next this guy comes out. With Fucked Up - VICE'S "favorite hardcore band in the world".

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The singer instantly loses his shirt somewhere, and starts brutalizing the venue...

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and the audience, in a good, only slightly dangerous way...

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He kept trying to trying to do cartwheels and somersaults. Kept failing. He pretty much trashed his own audience. Who in turn, placed him at the bottom of a serious and sizable dog pile at the end of the last song. I saw him after the show, cleaning blood from his forehead, not from the audience, but from his own repeated smacks to the head with his microphone. Is this hardcore? I'm not going to argue.

After Fucked Up, Jay Reatard hit the stage. Reatard killed it, and simultaneously head-banged through the entire set. I saw the leader singer of Spoon in the audience. He tried to head bang a little too, but you could tell he was too self-conscious.

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Lastly, was new band Dark Meat. Picture a weirder Polyphonic Spree...

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who live together in a cult and eat acid for breakfast...

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People in the audience were throwing streamers, rubber balls, and screaming. Someone also had a shit-ton of confetti...

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They killed it too. My favorite new band of the day.

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I never dreamed never hippies could headbang. I guess there's a first for everything.

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Friday, pt 1: "All Circuits Are Busy Now"

posted by on March 14 at 1:42 PM

Austin seems to be experiencing slightly more cell phone traffic than usual today. Also, the Internets:

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Thursday, pt. 2: Drunk Canadians and Pool Parties

posted by on March 14 at 1:19 PM

Hey! My first hangover of SXSW, and it's like 90 degrees out, not my preferred hangover weather. Guess I'll stay in and blog. Here's how I got so hungover, in chronological order:

The Fader Fort. The Fader Fort is pretty fucking cool, a big courtyard stage behind a Levi's store, with cool shit happening all weekend, free booze, and a nice, cool indoor lounge with laptops setup for blogging and whatnot, courtesy of mp3 blog/label RCRD LBL. Outside a couple of older guys with placards were protesting Levi's for using Chinese labor, but the long lines of kids waiting outside were more worried about getting in to the party (not an easy task).

Saul Williams played with a three-piece backing band, much more of a rock performance than I had expected. Williams had bright blue streaks under his eyes and wore a green jacket with neon feathers sticking out of the breast pocket, kind of an Aboriginal dandy look. At one point between songs, he said, "Race is a social construct. We are each other, and the music is here to authorize that." Later, he played his cover of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2. Talked to my buddy Josh from Urb who had just been to Kuwait to cover "Operation: Myspace" concert held there for the troops. He had flown from there straight to SXSW. He still seemed a little shaken up. Overheard back in the RCRD LBL lounge: "Someone just tried to sell me coke." "Huh, too bad you're broke."

Fluokids were DJing in a corner outside, attracting a crowd made up mostly of varying degrees of DJs: Pretty Titty, FourColorZack, My!Gay!Husband!, Rezound, myself. Floukids is a great blog for staying up on your French electro and odd American hip hop, and the kids' set was a good mix of all the stuff they usually post, only, you know, without all the girls. Cadence Weapon tried to get in the back door, and the security guys weren't having it, but a minute later, someone let him in.

There was a long tribute to Lou Reed, featuring performances from My Morning Jacket, Mark Kozelek, Thurston Moore, and others, culminating with Moby and Reed performing "Walk on the Wild Side." Weird. Reed: "I love punk rock; I was the first one." Immediately after Reed and Moby, Fluokids dropped the new Justice single, "DVNO," which was altogether a pretty jarring transition. Despite twice having been close enough to Pharrell to touch him (he walked by me while I was in the bathroom line; he had huge diamond-stud earings), skipped NERD to get some much needed tacos.

Over at Barcelona, a DJ who I think was DJ Pubez (nice) was playing a mellow, groovy mix—I caught a re-edit of Chicago's "I'm a Man" into Don Armando's rework of "I'm an Indian Too."

Fucked Up played at a bar called Vice. I was expecting them to be more of a brutal hardcore band, but it was more like one brutal hardcore screamer (and total bear) fronting a kind of straightforward punk rock band. It was a six piece that sound like a three piece. But, then, if they were a three-piece, their giant singer wouldn't be able to charge through the crowd and climb the walls. Throughout the show, the singer kept pounding himself in the forehead with his mic, but at one point, the mic came unplugged, he flashed a goofy smile while fixing it, and it totally cracked the band's tough facade. Still a totally fun band, and well worth watching. Also, good stage banter: "This is a 21+ show, so I know we're all adults here. So how come one of you peed all over the seat in the bathroom?"

Caught a couple Throw Me the Statue songs over at Mohawk's, notably "Take it or Leave It" and the rousing "About to Walk." They sounded great, playing in a small back room while Bodies of Water played the big outdoor patio.

Headed over to Beauty Bar for the iheartcomix showcase. Saw Franki Chan as well as Gabe and Dylan Roadie. Indoors was HEARTSREVOLUTION, a live soundsystem with drums and electronics, blasting crunched, neon electro rock while a girl with pink Zorro/Fisherspooner eye makeup shouting through a red rhinestone megaphone. They blew a fuse at one point, pausing, lights down, until the power came back on. One of their lyrics was about anarchy, but it was hard to make out.

Outside, Totally Michael was like a foul-mouthed, one man Matt & Kim, only with rapping. He had one song about cheerleaders vs the drill team, for which he divided the crowd in half and encouraged some reenactment of that primal rivalry. His last song bounced to a boy/girl chorus of "You make my dick erect / You make my pussy wet." It was every bit as romantic as it sounds. (It makes some sense that he takes his inspiration from Soophie Nun Squad, although his act is so far removed from their Little Rock scene that I couldn't spot the influence until seeing it mentioned in his bio afterwards.)

Shout Out Out Out Out by Kelly O

Next up was Shout Out Out Out Out, a band I've been dying to see ever since they killed Club Pop last year. SOOOO's electro-funk draws not-unfair comparisons to !!! (maybe the repetitive name has something to do with it too), but SOOOO are way more electro than !!!, with two drummers, two keyboardists, and live bass. And their vocoded lyrics are slightly socialist compared to !!!'s "no fucking rules" attitude—one of SOOOO's songs is about the tension between competition and collectivity; another is about consumerism and credit card debt. Like !!!, they also rock the funny song titles, with gems like "Your Shitty Record Won't Mix Itself." Anyways, super stoked for the show.

Shout Out Out Out Out w/ Cadence Weapon by Kelly O

Bummer then that at least one dude from SOOOO, the guy in the red shirt with the fake mustache, was SOOOOOOO fucking wasted that he couldn't stand up, let alone play keys. He spent the most of the set hitting the keys with his hands, mashing several keys at a time, but at one point, he hit too hard, and fell forward onto his keyboard and towards the crowd. It took a few minutes to get things righted, and in the meantime, the drummers kept their beat, and Cadence Weapon jumped onstage to MC. Cadence Weapon saves the day, and the band recovers, although dude keeps mashing his keys, and they only get in one more song, a middling take on the aforementioned "Your Shitty Record Won't Mix Itself," with it's closing refrain of "You need to simplify." It was a drunk disaster, but it's understandable, given their introduction of, "Who's drunk? (cheers) Who's been eating nothing but tacos for three days? (more cheers) Damn, it's like you're in my head...and stomach...and liver." Fuck it, I still love these guys.

MGMT (maybe?) by Kelly O

Next stop: the Playboy Party. To see Justice (and for the articles). Not really my scene, but here are some highlights/observations: It's a big, multi-room warehouse, with a stage in one room, a bar and some acid-paisley projections on the walls in the next. There's lots of uncomfortable shoving in the (admittedly free) drink line, where I hear my first big Texas accents of the weekend from some big dudes in baseball caps (a friend points out that most of the people here probably knew the names of playmates on the invite but not the names of the bands). There's some middling, bluesy rock band onstage with two playmates in blue bunny getups dancing along. Every woman in a bunny suit is followed by an attendant burly dude in a decidedly non-bunny suits, the models' fake smiles backed up by very real scowls. There's Aziz Ansari. I'm handed about a dozen sets of 3-D glasses with which to view a not-terribly eye-popping video projection. There's some barbeque. Some people are playing "Say it Ain't So" on a Guitar Hero rig set up in the back of a car. I hear someone snorting something in the porta-pottie next to me (btw, at some parties, though not at this one, SXSW has gender specific porta-potties—pink for girls, blue for boys). MGMT may or may have played while I was there, it was hard to tell, but we definitely left before Justice came on to go catch a house party across town.

The house party was definitely more my scene. The "house" was actually some kind of complex, with a pool in the center, some kind of treehouse/crows nest, an outdoor DJ booth, housing in two corners, and at least three big yards. Diplo was DJing. A few brave people were jumping in the pool, fully clothed. James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco was there, as was Cadence Weapon, Shout Out Out Out Out, dude from Extreme Animals, and no doubt tons of other people I should've recognized. The one problem was that it was kind of a BYOB affair, and we were empty handed and after hours. A guy from Division Day was nice enough to give me my one last beer of the night, and for that I vow to give their album, Beartrap Island a more thorough listen when I get home.

I walked back across town to the hotel at 4 in the morning. Austin was dark and sleeping quiet, trucks rolling down the highway, crickets buzzing, pre-dawn light just threatening to creep up on the horizon. So, yeah, that's how I got hungover.

The After-Hour Tecate (SXSW, Day Two)

posted by on March 14 at 1:32 AM

My buddy had an extra one in his car. I drank it while he drove through a broken guard-rail in the parking garage that we were supposed to pay $5 to leave. I've got your EXTREME right here, Eric.

So as it turns out, all attempts at getting media off my camera have proved awful, which means you'll have to settle for words instead of video. Let's regurgitate a second day...

J Mascis--It appears that Eric left the French Legation Museum today just in time to miss J. Mascis kick all kinds of ass with a solo set. Not sure whether his acoustic guitar has a killer electric pickup, or whether he simply has the greatest pedal layout in the world, but the guy started each of his few songs with quaint, meandering acoustic picking, only to switch over for some of the most epic rock solos I've heard by a guy sitting in a chair.

Eugene Mirman, Todd Barry--Emo's had the brief "A Bunch of Comedians" showcase today during its day shows. To answer your question from the other day, Eric, Todd Barry did not incorporate his recent airline mishap into his routine. However, he did heckle a sound guy who interrupted his set by taking three minutes to remove a cymbal from the stage. Barry responded by asking what band the guy was working for so that he could reproduce the equivalent asshole moves during their set later in the day. Mirman, meanwhile, made fun of MySpace ads which ask questions that make no sense. ("'Should Hillary Run For President?' She's running, so, you know, that's insulting.") He printed out a few samples of his own that he thought would be better--"Are these giraffes gay?" stood out. As a bonus, the friend whose couch I'm crashing on found himself the butt of a zillion jokes when he yelled out mid-set to make fun of a joke about Aerosmith. Did my friend deserve it? I'll answer that once I've left Austin. By the way, during this set, there was a shout-out to Sonic Boom Records courtesy of the T-shirt that clung to Mirman's belly.

Earthless--Holy ass pants. These guys played at a record store a good 15 minute drive away from downtown Austin, which meant about 12 people witnessed the most intense 44-minute song I've ever heard. Earthless would be done a great disservice to be labeled as stoner rock; I once heard them on a Vancouver radio station while waiting for a ferry and made it a personal mission to finally see this band that played epic blues/speed-metal/kraut/glam/rock of the 20-minute-plus variety. (It was a long wait for the ferry.) This trio did not disappoint, complete with a metal drummer who--whoa--understood the concepts of restraint and reduced cymbals, and a bassist who sounded schooled in jazz the way he dictated the band's rhythm and harmony. After their 8-minute opener made me wonder what kind of insanity I was in for, they tore into a 44-minute ass-peeler, filled with chunks of their latest record but also augmented with new, well-refined sections--early Metallica speed-riffing that collided with the kind of blistering solos that would make Stevie Ray Vaughan puke his white guts out. I'm not necessarily a metal guy, but I can appreciate it, and I'd never heard a metal band with so many points of entry. Thank you, Earthless.

Phosphorescent--Matthew Houck is on an utter roll these days; his semi-solo project is anchored by its best band ever, and it's hard not to have your heart broken by both his original tunes ("My Dove, My Lamb," emboldened by many a suspiciously cheery piano section) and his covers (here, Leonard Cohen's "Memories," done so well that it might finally convince people to lay off the fucking "Hallelujah"). I cannot wait to post videos of his stuff from the past two days.

Bodies of Water--I'm sad that Eric wasn't moved nearly as much by their daytime set as the Mohawk crowd was by what was laid bare this evening. The male-female harmonies and erratic songwriting reminded me of BC's Shapes and Sizes, if they were overtaken by the perky-yet-militant Polyphonic Spree. Eric's right about the frontwoman, but the excitement I felt from their frequent four-part vocal explosions--often broken into male/female parts before coming together at opportune moments--reminded me of the time I saw a little known band called The Arcade Fire open for The Unicorns back in late '04. Song after song proved anthemic with this massive crowd.

Luke Temple--The perfect fit for the Central Presbyterian Church's daunting size and reverb-loving acoustics. This Brooklyn crooner's high pitch and minimalist songs wound up sounding so much huger in the cathedral, its empty spaces filling the air and making the chirping keyboards and spare bass drum thumps that much more powerful beneath his fragile voice. A set that requires video to explain. Can't wait to upload it.

Bon Iver--His voice was blown, though you might not've heard so--four out of five people in attendance were too busy talking loudly to actually pay attention to one of the fest's most hyped acts. Guess you folks spent so much money on your laminated SXSW badges that you forgot to spare a dime or two to pay some respect. Anyway, the band was still able to command a rousing singalong midway through, so I doubt they're hurting.

Citay--I hate to knock an article by Jon Zwickel about a band from San Fran, his old abode, but I think he got this Stranger piece on Citay pretty wrong. Not that he'll agree with my take on them, but I heard a bunch of Grateful Dead lovers--you know, from the earliest days, like Aoxomoxoa--making music that was equally inspired by modern instrumentalists who build with walls of noise, such as Mogwai. There are a lot more inspirations in that mess, certainly--some hair metal, some really pretty sections of folk music mixing with dueling guitar solos and swooping keyboard lines... but the final word was that Citay (and, Jesus, what an awful name) was the first band I've seen all fest that I wanted to keep seeing. Whose steam didn't run out right when its abbreviated showcase set time was up. It's a factor that's easy to forget when your musical attention span is forcibly shrunken by sets that average out to 25 minutes--"Hey! These weirdos from Denmark with matching raindrop T-shirts must be the next big thing!" Sometimes it takes more than half an album's worth of material to prove that you've got the brass. I will try to see Citay once more--purely for such research reasons, I assure you.

Times New Viking--I figured the band would sound less like they'd been recorded off a tape deck when playing live...not the case. My buddy and I agreed that they sounded at least five times shittier in concert. Their eye-bulger of an intensely (and intentionally) sloppy set ended with a few guys in the front screaming "THANK YOU SO MUCH!" I wish I had more insight to offer about this set, but the way the crowd was swirling around and the way the band's noise kinda melted into itself, I lost track.

Bedtime.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Happening Right Now at SXSW: Pharell Hands out Rock the Vote T-Shirts

posted by on March 13 at 4:10 PM

Just in from Grandy: "Now Pharell is handing out Rock the Vote T-shirts from a tiny sewing room at the Levi's Store Fader party. I was close enough to touch him, but I didn't."

Well, I hope you at least got a free t-shirt.

Happening Right Now at SXSW: Saul Williams Pays Tribute to U2

posted by on March 13 at 3:58 PM

Eric Grandy's currently watching Saul Williams perform in Austin and he just text messaged to say that the poetic hiphop performer just covered U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

Crazy!

Watch Bay Area Takeover Live at SXSW

posted by on March 13 at 3:13 PM

If you're longing to be in Austin right now, you can at least pretend you are via justin.tv's live stream of the Bay Area Takeover's stage.

Film School just wrapped up on the outside stage, and according to the schedule, Scissors for Lefty is up next in a few minutes. They're doing soundcheck right now. Check it out.

(Thanks for the tip, Donte.)

Thursday, pt. 1: Mr Natural and Twee Melisma

posted by on March 13 at 2:00 PM

Breakfast today courtesy of Mr Natural, a weird Mexican Health Food Store/Cafe/Yoga Studio across the highway from downtown. This is what my greezy, yummy soy chorizo tacos looked like:

DSC03060.JPGSoy grease is good for you, right, Mr Natural?

Our cabbie was a fan of Mr Natural, so he stayed and ate, and then drove us to our next stop, the All Roads Lead to SXSW Party at the French something-something museum, a big lawned estate dotted with a couple old, colonial buildings.

Bodies of Water was playing. The band is a five piece—guitarist, bassist, two drummers, and a keyboardist—and all but one of the drummers sing, although their keyboardist is clearly the frontwoman. Tall, bird-thin, with bobbed red-brown hair, her high voice and dramatically exaggerated expressions (big grins, wide mock-shocked eyes, hair whipped in front of her face over and over) gave her a certain child-like quality. All their songs rode galloping beats and climaxed with wordlessly melismatic group choruses. One song had her singing about a color palette for sweatshirts—gold, tan, something, and gray. Purple maybe? Pink? Anyway, you could imagine her gathering swatches from American Apparel.

Next up was Vancouver BC's chamber pop/r&b trio No Kids, whom I've already gushed about at some length, at the Emo's IV Tent. It was kind of the perfect place to see them—Austin was slightly overcast and breezy this morning, making it feel a little more like the NW, and the tent was as sparsely-attended and roomy as No Kid's songs. They played "For Halloween" and "Listen for It/Courtyard Music." It wasn't an acoustic set—they had live drums, electric piano, and another keyboard—but without their little production flourishes, the songs sounded stripped-down and bare; "Listen For It," for instance, lacked the awesome T-Pain style autotune, but singer Nick Krgovich nailed its vocal run well enough without. Krgovich, by the way, is the very definition of a nerd—not some phony Rivers Coumo-look-I'm-wearing-glasses way, but like straight up Aspbergers syndrome (so hot right now). He's a hell of a musician, though.

Missed Jens Lekman due to some bad schedule info. Joked about how the massive line-up on 6th street had to be for Vampire Weekend, before realizing that, yes, of course, it was. Honestly, I'd forgotten they were playing this afternoon.

DSC03062.JPGWhy? being swallowed up by the (blurry) existential dread

Best set of the day so far belongs to Why?, who played back at the tent, where the weather had warmed up and the crowd had swelled in size. After a ponderously long set-up, the band played some songs from their stellar new album Alopecia as well as a few from Elephant Eyelash, with Yoni sing/rapping and drumming, backed by drums, electric keys, and bass. Lots of skin-tingling good moments: the "Billy the Kid" refrain of "Song of the Sad Assasin," the double-time rap of "The Fall of Mr Fifths," the shouted refrain of "your face never forgets a cry" from "Waterfalls." But by far the best was the closing rendition of "Gemini (Birthday Song)." That's just a stunning song, deep and resonant, minutely personal yet universal, simultaneously anthemic and subtle. Off topic: Why? has some really cute fans.

Wednesday: Extreme

posted by on March 13 at 9:24 AM

Thanks, Megan, for posting up my first great SXSW moment, Extreme Animals' barely recognizable rendition of Archers of Loaf's "Web in Front." EXTREME! The duo's set was only three, or maybe three-and-a-half, songs long, but it was a treat. Extreme Animals were my first exposure to the 20-sided neon world of Paper Rad, via a cantankerous noise-aficionado roommate (hey, Justin Pogue), and they will forever hold an eye-soring place in my heart. The duo consists of one mustachioed long-hair on drums and one on circuit bent Roland TR-707, casio, and feedback knobs, along with one laptop doing some vital sequencing. Believe it, Extreme Animals can pull of a feedback knob solo, even if "knob solo" sounds a little, well, wanky. They played on the floor in front of the stage at Emo's JR, a kind-of-divey bar attached to the impressive outdoor complex that is Emo's, but Mustache #2 got up on stage a couple times to do "metal claw" when he wasn't dancing through the audience (breaking that fourth wall and running into the crowd would prove a theme at Emo's Jr tonight). Their final song featured a "magic flute" solo; the two dudes pantomimed playing flutes while it played out. After their set, one of them said they had made a children's show, and if we had children we should check it out. I don't have kids, but maybe watching their show would encourage me to get someone pregnant.

Over in the Emo's main room, Longwave were pretty but forgettable.

Back in Emo's Jr, Free Blood, were awesome. Free Blood are a duo comprised of the tall, lanky, stage-stalking falsetto singer from !!! (John Pugh, who's apparently done with !!! now) along with a girl named Madeline. They both sing over a thumping pre-recorded backing track that sounds a lot like the funkier electro moments of !!! or Out Hud; the vocals are reverbed no-wave soul. The girl slo-mo dances and rubs her face in a way that suggests mushrooms or ecstasy. Pugh meanders down into the crowd. One song has a brutal, synced-electirc (guitar?) solo; another has Pugh shouting out (his? her? Mike Jones'?) phone number. For another song, Pugh plays guitar, and asks an audience member to come be his mic stand; a guy named "Pickle" volunteers to great cheers and does a commendable job as a mic stand. He gets a hi-five out of Pugh afterwards ("That's the first time a mic stand's ever given me a hi-five). For the last song, Pugh and Madeline did a little slow dance while their beat played out. It was sweet.

Jeffrey Lewis showed up at Emo's, just in time for Meneguar. Kirby and Seling may disagree with me here, but Meneguar strike me as a very middling rock band. I can see what they're going for—pop choruses buried under gyroscopic guitars and vocal reverb, Juno-esque instrumental buildups and breaks, occasional feedback rock bombast—but it just doesn't seem to come together, and their sound was muddled, with the reverb sucking all the energy from their would-be sing-along vocals.The noise bits between songs were fine, but the songs themselves? Meh. Meh-neguar.

In the main room, a band called Delta Spirit played some perfectly festival-friendly roots rock. Also, if you've never been, the "main room" at Emo's isn't really a room; it's an open air courtyard with some awnings here, some bleachers there, and a bar in the middle. It's awesome. It's also 70 degrees here in March, so it works.

The first big disappointment of the night: Japanther have mysteriously disappeared from the bill at Emo's Jr, to be replaced by fellow Brooklynites Team Robespierre. Bummer. Team Robespierre, it turns out, are a kind-of okay replacement, in fact, if I'd seen them under any circumstances other than expecting to see Japanther, I'd probably have nothing but good things to say. Their show combines a little Japanther, a little Matt & Kim, a little youth crew Hardcore, and a little Atom & His Package. There are dual keyboardists and dual vocalists. There is some dancing into the crowd. Also, Team Robespierre summon up the best/only mosh pit of the night, with kids crowd surfing on a crowd not quite big enough to support it, some dude loses the lens of his glasses, and lots of kids slamming into each other, opening huge holes in the crowd. Pretty fucking fun.

In the main room, Be Your Own Pet offered a much simpler version of punk, one built on frenetic three-chord thrash and cracked southern belle Jemima Pearl's wailing. The band was much better than when I saw them last in Seattle, the instruments tighter, and Pearl's stage presence more confident, oscillating between skinny spaz flailing and faux sexy snarl more convincingly than before.

Down the street, at the Thirsty Nickel, Diskjokke is playing in entirely the wrong bar. The Nickel is a wooden-walled saloon, long and narrow, with the stage right by the door, flanked by windows. Diskjokke is playing a laptop with a couple MIDI controllers, pumping out chill but grooving disco, but the crowd, packed up into the front, isn't dancing. They're watching. Watching a guy play a laptop. This is something I'll just never understand—if you're going to see someone make dance music, and if there's not really any kind of a live show to speak of, why would you standing there staring instead of dancing? Pushing through the crowd, it turns out that it's not so packed; the Nickel is huge, and there's plenty of space further back, although the sound doesn't carry. Oh yeah, did I mention that the sound system seems to consist of two PA speakers. Not really the kind of thump you want in your discotheque. I've been told that this is often how it is at SXSW—rock bands end up playing dance clubs and sounding like shit, electronic act wind up at a honky tonk that doesn't know what to do with them, etc. Oh well. I check back later for Kim Hiorthoy Lindstrøm, who's rocking an awesome V∞redoms t-shirt (Dave Segal tells me Boredoms' EYE did a great remix for Kim Hiorthoy Lindstrøm [all those Norsemen look alike to me]), and the crowd has thinned out a bit and started dancing a little, but even just halfway back in the crowd, the sound is weak. It's disappointing, as this line-up was one I was really looking forward to.

In other disappointment: Cut Copy at Karma was so crowded after I waited in line to get in (gasp!), that it was impossible to see or hear much of anything. The crowd was bouncing and clapping along up front though, and one guy's head was visible above them, lit in neon green against the club's dark. I was curious to see the Tough Alliance's lip-synch power violence act, but not that curious.

Over at Barcelona, Pandemonium Jones of Caps & Jones was DJing a mellow warm-up set, climaxing with the Black Kids' "I won't Teach Your Boyfriend how to Dance." Remember Black Kids? That's a fine song. Barcelona is the venue that Lindstrom, Hiorthoy, and Diskjokke should've been playing at, a cool, neon-lit underground club, also long and narrow, but with a much better vibe for dancing. Next up were Ninjasonik, a trio of Bronx kids (and literal Black Kids), of whom my friend Jamie said, "You'll hear them say 'nigger' a lot, and that's kind of the whole point." One of them has a pretty sweet Shock G/Humpty look going on. They sound-checked to Peter Bjorn & John's "Young Folks," played their DJ back in the booth. The transition from sound-check to actual set is murky, though, with their next numbers consisting of only various repeated iterations of their name ("Ninja fucking sonic / Sonic fucking ninjas") and then the choruses from ODB's "Yeah Baby I Like it Raw" and M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," for which they've made paper planes to throw from the stage at the handful of people gathered around. They never got around to dropping the N-bomb before I left.

SXSW - Day, er, Night One

posted by on March 13 at 2:50 AM

SXSW is confusing. I got off the plane at 11:00-something... Went to Whattaburger, then hit Red River (or, per, locals Lead Liver Street). Twas 12:37 am. First time at SXSW - first time in Austin. Virgin. You can't throw a rock without hitting a hundred bands. Right? But where are they? More spectators than action. People EVERYWHERE. They're all drunk. And more confused than me. They have cell phones, schedules, text messages, and laminates. I'm sure tomorrow, this will all make more sense. For now, here's what I've learned:

FASHION: anything goes. Leather is key:

6949.jpg

dick.jpg

Forget heels...

leggies.jpg

Lone Star? Better than Pabst

lone-star.jpg

and most things really are bigger in Texas.

bigger.jpg

Actual music photos, here tomorrow...

The After-Hour Slice of Pizza

posted by on March 13 at 1:27 AM

Nope, not a breakfast taco...it's 3 a.m., and the onion cheeseburger pizza I just had was perfect.

I cannot find the SD adapter at my friend's desk, which means I can't yet post the low-res videos I shot today--of The Acorn, of Phosphorescent, of....Slaraffenland? Yes, the best band I've ever seen out of Denmark was my utterly random surprise hit of the night. Imagine a German military choir gone twee, taking up horns and synthesizers and clarinets as they shout their way into melodic bliss. Even if their videos didn't turn out, I at least have photos of the quintet in matching, star-covered T-shirts (and one guy smattered those stars on his guitar, as well). And to think, I saw them only to pass time between two other bands. Bands like that are the whole point of the fest, really; while shlubs stop to see REM and The Lemonheads and whoever else has some new album to promote, I'm far more interested by the fact that this broken music industry can still convince bands from all over the world to come to one city for four days. All the talk I heard today from people revolved around this question: if the industry's promotional money continues going downhill, who knows what relevance industry-heavy SXSW will have in two or three years? Good to see people who are enjoying press passes and zillions of bands can keep their minds on the fucking positives...

Other highlights--Leatherbag, an Austin trio with a lead singer who's a dead ringer for Lou Reed in all of the right ways; White Williams, a Cure & The Bunnymen kind of dance-rock group, steeped in mainstream '80s Brit-pop but with enough thump and life of their own; Bear in Heaven, a Brooklyn noise-rock group whose broken-apart songwriting is held together by a lead singer who looks like a Jesus imitator and shrieks with a crazed voice similar to the guy from Ghostland Observatory. Also was really impressed by WHY?--particularly the guy's incredible live band, which he contributes to by banging around on drums while rolling out his nasal-yet-smooth flow. And I actually liked Sunburned Hand of the Man--not that I hate noise-jazz, necessarily, but they hit on all cylinders today.

A coupl'a disappointments--Autolux was awful, though the sound at their venue was the main reason. Worse, at my final 1 a.m. show destination, I was cockblocked by five dudes in suits who were standing guard in front of the No Depression party. I repeat--an alt-country magazine's showcase was guarded by five large men in matching, snappy suits. They said that I couldn't go inside their show at nightclub-turned-venue Panagea if I was wearing a backpack. Never mind that a person can't function at the walk-all-over-town SXSW without a big bag of some kind filled with bottled water/food/guides/etc...What did they think I' was hiding inside of the bag? A sixth suit?

Will try and get photos/vids up tomorrow. G'night, Eric!

Day One: Portland Style

posted by on March 13 at 1:03 AM

posted by Ezra Careff at the Portland Mercury's End Hits:

sxsw-taco1.jpg

Day One - SXSW 2008
Total Number of Bands Seen:

Six. Jeffrey Lewis, Kimya Dawson (on accident, I swear), Be Your Own Pet, The Kills, Bon Iver, Tough Alliance.
Total Number of Tacos Consumed:
Two.
Notable Shows That I Was Unable to See:
Three. R.E.M., Van Morrison, Okkervil River & Roky Erickson.
Number of hand stamps and wrist bands:
Four.
Celebrity Sightings:
None, unless you count Jens Lekman at the Tough Alliance show. He was dancing. Poorly. While holding a tote bag.

Not a bad first day, especially when you consider that we rolled into Austin in the early evening, and before we saw any bands we needed to check-in to our hotel, register for the conference, and, most importantly, eat some tacos. I chose the stomach-turning "deep friend avocado, with avocado(!)" taco (pictured above), which was wasn't as bizarre as the name sounds. The avocado was nugget-thick with batter, but cool and soft inside, plus it went well with a dollop of the habanero hot sauce.

Onto the music...

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Jeffrey Lewis
, much like his performance a few weeks back opening for the Mountain Goats, was fantastic—a charming blur of hyperactive kiddie songs, run through the neurotic filter of a tortured (comic book) artist, and militant Crass fan. Our plan was to catch the bouncy pop of Saturday Looks Good to Me next, but instead we stumbled right into a Kimya Dawson performance (my hatred for Juno is well documented).

PANIC!

No time to consult the guidebook, so we just fled into the sea of people, took a random left and were staring at the hyperactive Be Your Own Pet.

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It's like pop-punk for kids who wouldn't dare admit to listening to pop-punk. Honestly, it's hard to see where Be Your Own Pet stops and a band like Paramore starts. Or even Tilt or Discount, for that matter. Still enjoyable, though.

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Speaking of pop-punk (specifically Discount), it was time to cut across town to catch The Kills. I adore their latest, Midnight Boom, and haven't caught the band since their early days from back when they were still (I assume) a couple. They do have the same intense, faux-junkie back and forth, as before, but that are-they-going-to-fuck-each-other-on-the-stage? vibe was long gone.

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Despite my best efforts to catch Cut Copy, I arrived too late, so I reversed direction and sought out the ghostly voice of Bon Iver, the band behind my favorite record of the year (so far, it's still quite early), For Emma, Forever Ago. Problem was, the show was at a terrible venue that booked a very loud Buckcherry cover band a few yards away from the delicate sounds of Bon Iver. At the same time.

Worse, was this douche nozzle bouncer who refused to let anyone upstairs to see Bon Iver, despite the show not being sold out.

Ha, beer for breakfast, you silly fucking frat boy, I will turn your bones to fucking dust and murder your fucking family.

Um, anyway, I got in. Bon Iver's set was gorgeous, despite my seething rage for a certain bouncer getting the best of me. I needed to mellow out. I needed something fun. I needed something Swedish and gay.

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Oh, hello Tough Alliance. The Swedish duo was just what I needed, as their ridiculous techno-pop (Lip syncing and fog machines, yay!) sounded better as the evening progressed, even if it made me feel like I was at a sweaty gay bar in Göteborg. It was a little hokey at times, but not a bad way to end my first night here at SXSW.

Tomorrow's Goals:
Eat more tacos. Two is not enough.
That is all.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Happening Right Now at SXSW: Extreme Animals Cover Archers of Loaf

posted by on March 12 at 6:57 PM

Eric's going to be running all over Austin and blogging as much as he can, but there's a lot to see. A lot. So he's also keeping in touch via text message too. And according to him, Extreme Animals just did a cover of "Web in Front" by Archers of Loaf!

He'll be there until Sunday. A few other Stranger folks are down there too. Plenty more updates to come, keep checking back.

For those who might not be clear...

Here's Archers of Loaf's "Web in Front":

Here are Extreme Animals live (from like, 2003):

Now mash 'em together. Man. I can only imagine how rad that might've been...

Wednesday: Pre Funk

posted by on March 12 at 2:40 PM

Observations from my trip to (and first 30 minutes in) Austin:

-In Houston's GW Bush airport, a young man in low-end designer jeans and a button-up short-sleeve shirt is spouting motivational speaker talk into his cell phone: "how old are you? 24? That's great. You can start at any age and achieve big results in only a short amount of time!" I don't pay for wireless to check my email, but this guy at least makes me less homesick for the spam.

-A plump, possibly teenage girl with a baby strapped to her chest says to a group of friends, "Houston, we have a problem!" In Houston. I'm sure she's right.

-Todd Barry is on my connecting flight from Houston to Austin. He gets trapped between two beverage service carts trying to get to the bathroom. Hilarious. Maybe that'll make it into his act!

-I run into the Coconut Coolouts at the airport. Pete is already/still hungover from last night's practice session. We split a cab downtown. Our cab-driver, a 59 year old Latino with a black leather brimmed hat, calls himself "the Scorpion" and lets us know—among other things—that he just broke up with his 26 year old Puerto Rican girlfriend and that "all the drug dealers and hookers love to ride in this cab." He gives Pete some advice on getting the ladies (like Pete needs it). He blasts the Doors and CCR. He swerves, flips off drivers, and shouts "shake it, don't break it" at cars. If anything, you would say that this cab was rare, etc...

-I need a coke.

-Update: Had that coke. There's Be Your Own Pet walking through the convention center, looking like the youngest people in the room. I may have been too hard on those kids the first time they came through Seattle.

-Saw my first "more cowbell" t-shirt of the weekend. Good one, Cool Dad!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Be Gentle, SXSW

posted by on March 11 at 12:25 PM

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2008 will be my first time at SXSW, and I couldn't be more excited and overwhelmed. As dedicated readers/anti-Grandy stencilers will recall, I'm just two months into my new job here as music editor of the Stranger, so leaving town for a marathon four-day weekend of drinking and blog hyping is both a welcome music-crit spring break and a serious, anxiety-inducing assignment. Luckily, there will be anxiety-relieving substances. Like Norwegian Disco!

Like Sam, I've also hit up sched.org to work on my SXSW itinerary, and while there are still a lot of conflicts, I know for certain that my first night in Austin will be lit up by the nu-disco stylings of Diskjokke, Kim Hiorthøy, and Lindstrøm. I'm stoked.

Other acts on my impossible list: Islands, who will hopefully be debuting material from their forthcoming sophomore album; Why? (see previous post); Australian synth popsters Cut Copy; Pennsylvania drone ranters Pissed Jeans; Edmonton electro commies Shout Out Out Out Out, who killed when they played Club Pop here last year; so many more: Boys Noize, Ponytail, Santogold, BLK JKS, Sightings, Vampire Weekend, NERD, No Kids, No Age, Age Kids, No is the New Wolf, etc, etc, etc.

Also: Doomsday 1999's Zack Carlson has promised to show me a taco that will "curl your eybones." He also will probably be the only person I see for several days that could honestly ask me, "What the fuck is a Vampire Weekend?"

The Breakfast Taco

posted by on March 11 at 11:37 AM

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This morning's taco contains...well, hell, I don't have time to make anything fancy. Beans, cheese, and a bubble machine.

My planning for this year's fest has been broken up thanks to last-minute work on other crap, but conveniently, SXSW has an automated calendar system so you can scroll through band names, then click your faves to create a personalized schedule (at least for the nighttime sets). This is how I happened upon Evangelista, the latest group starring Geraldine Fibber Carla Bozulich, and this morning, I realized they will perform at a venue called Spiro's. NOOOO.

Spiro's is best known as the lame dance club with a bubble machine on its roof--typically in Austin, you just walk past it on the way to Emo's, making fun of the lineup of dudes in shiny shirts. This is the thing about SXSW that still catches out-of-towners off-guard; over half of the venues for SXSW are used solely for that week. Then they go back to their original state--pubs, unused buildings, and worst of all, badly designed dance clubs that were never meant for live music. On the flipside, of course, are venues like the Central Presbyterian Church. Yeah, it's really a church, and its incomparable acoustics began hosting the devil's music at SXSW only a coupl'a years ago. Last year, Shearwater took incredible advantage of the space and its grand piano; this year sees my fave SXSW sleeper from last year, Ola Podrida, take its stage Wednesday night, followed by the haunting sonic concern Castanets on Friday. As a bonus for those of you attending, this venue is easy peasy to get into, even if you don't have a badge or wristband. Keep it highlighted.

Anyway, blah blah blah, Sean Nelson, blah blah blah. Those of you who are attending just want band picks, so here's my preliminary list of sleepers and recommendations. For the sake of those who aren't attending, I'll bury the info in the jump (though you'll miss out on a story about Sub Pop's Baptist Generals, whose lead singer was foolish enough to send me new album info via Gmail chat the other day).

Continue reading "The Breakfast Taco" »


Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Breakfast Taco

posted by on March 6 at 11:45 AM

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Today's ingredients--not sure, but they've all been rushed into the taco at the last minute.

SXSW starts in six days, and I'm assuming that Grandy and I will be posting about it like mad next week (though my posting ability will be hampered--I lent Jonathan Golob my busted laptop to see if he could fix it, and it died while in his care, so I will have to improvise). Don't know how well Grandy's been preparing, but if he's been anything like me, he ain't done much. Poor guy.

For the few who read Line Out and are attending SXSW for the first time--what would that be, six people, tops?--it's similar to CMJ's New Music Fest in NYC. For the four nights of official showcases, every bar and music venue in a central chunk of Austin, TX, hosts about 5-6 bands a night. Most of these venues are within walking distance, though this means that non-music bars get converted to host lesser-known acts with awful sound and worse sightlines. Either way, you gotta pay up (wristbands are over $140, badges are waaaay more, or you can pay about $10-25 per door) for the night shows. Meanwhile, the daytime hours are filled with music panels--conferences about the industry that, quite frankly, I've never bothered attending. That's because a billion unofficial, free shows flood Austin during the day hours--the hell do I wanna hear about the impact of iTunes on quarterly sales when Clipse is playing a surprise, RSVP-only show on a Thursday afternoon? These shows are more crowded, and if you have a pet band you wanna see, you might have to show up at noon and stand in a sweaty, ironic, moustache-filled crowd to see 'em play at 5, but, hey, some of 'em serve free beer.

Anyway, right now is "crap, crap, holy damned crap" time, as I'm running out of minutes to dig through a never-ending list of bands--and that's just to prep an iPod mix for the Tuesday plane ride so that I can further narrow it down. And even then, what if I land, only to find out that Matthew Mcconaughey has announced a surprise bongo-off that conflicts with Friday's Jens Lekman show? Or Autolux cancels its Wednesday night showcase because of food poisoning from Rudy's BBQ? Of course, there's nothing stupider than complaining about SXSW and schedule conflicts. "Oh, you'll only get to see 55 awesome bands instead of 56 while I read about it on Line Out at work. Twerp."

Doesn't mean I won't spaz about it--this is my Spring Break, after all, my version of Daytona Beach. Tan, athletic dudes have beaches and Bud Light. My pale ass has bands and bands and bands, and freaking out is my way of reveling in it. Thankfully, technology has finally caught up to years of overwhelming SXSW schedules. Head to sched.org if you want to plan your daytime frenzies, or even if you're not going and simply like to read the names of hundreds of bands you've never heard of. I'll try to get on either tomorrow or Monday to post my own SXSW picks, but in the meantime, Texas blog Gorilla Vs. Bear and Ohio blog Done Waiting have been good sources of surprise and sleeper picks as of late. I generally don't trust blogs to pick good SXSW shows--a good four-tracked MP3 generally translates to a boring-ass showcase--but I visit these two every year, as they've been through the SXSW wringer enough to balance hype with reasonable expectations.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Holy Fuck Confirmed for Rachel Ray SXSW Showcase, Also: "Pedro"

posted by on February 28 at 9:35 AM

As Idolator reports today, Toronto electro-prog quartet Holy Fuck, who I gushed about here yesterday, have confirmed for Rachel "All your Kraft food boxes are belong to me" Ray's SXSW showcase. They're billed as "Holy *&%$" in the announcement.

I'm new to SXSW this year, so I'm not sure if this sort of thing is the norm, or if this represents a new level of co-branded absurdity or what, but I'm guessing there will be free snacks at least. The rest of the line-up includes Autovaughn, The Ravonettes, The Cringe (apparently Ray's husbands band), Scissors For Lefty, The Stills, Holy *&%$, and DJ Efren 'Pedro' Ramirez from Napoleon Dynamite, who, as Idolator notes, is a pretty sad celebrity DJ (I mean, his dad doesn't even own a restaurant chain or anything).


Friday, February 8, 2008

I Wasn't Jealous that Everyone Else is Going to SXSW and I'm Not Until...

posted by on February 8 at 8:45 AM

Hot Water Music announced that they'll be performing (via punknews.org).

Here's what I'll be missing, while being left in Seattle:

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck. I would LOVE to see that band. Play that song. One more time.

Of course, this appearance follows a few other reunion shows the "defunct" band played earlier this year, so it wouldn't be unheard of them to play more. Closer to Seattle. Right?

Cross your fingers and say it with me: "Reunion tour, reunion tour, reunion tour, reunion tour..."


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Re: The Breakfast Taco

posted by on February 7 at 11:36 AM

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This will be my first year at SXSW (hence the n00b breakfast taco above). Here are some acts in addition to the ones Sam posted below that I'm excited about seeing in Austin (and yes, I know one of these acts is a French mp3 blog; i'm still excited about seeing them—maybe they'll play blog house!):

Annie (Bergen NORWAY)
The Big Sleep (Brooklyn NY)
The Bloody Beetroots (Bassano del Grappa ITALY)
Cadence Weapon (Edmonton AB)
Chrome Hoof (London UK)
Cut Copy (Melbourne AUSTRALIA)
Dalek (Newark NJ)
Does It Offend You, Yeah? (Reading UK)
Duchess Says (Montreal QC)
Ecstatic Sunshine (Baltimore MD)
El-P (Brooklyn NY)
Fluokids (Paris FRANCE)
Fucked Up (Toronto ON)
Genghis Tron (New York NY) 

Ghislain Poirier (Montreal QC)
Kim Hiorthoy (Oslo NORWAY)
The Hood Internet (Chicago IL)
How's Your News (Boston MA)
Joan of Arc (Chicago IL)
Juiceboxxx (Detroit MI)
The Kills (London UK)
Le Loup (Washington DC)
Lindstrom (Oslo NORWAY)
Mahjongg (Chicago IL)
Peter Moren (Stockholm SWEDEN)
N.E.R.D. (Virginia Beach VA)
No Kids (Vancouver BC)
Old Time Relijun (Portland OR)
Parts & Labor (Brooklyn NY)
Pissed Jeans (Allentown PA)
Sightings (Brooklyn NY)
Simian Mobile Disco (London UK)
The Slits (London UK)
Thee Oh Sees (San Francisco CA)
White Mice (Providence RI)
WHY? (Oakland CA)

Also: is "Kevin Shields (Midcity CA)" the Kevin Shields, from MBV, and if so what is he doing in Midcity CA? And, did you know there's already a band called "You and Me and Everyone We Know"? We can only hope they're better than The Devil Wears Prada.

The Breakfast Taco

posted by on February 7 at 10:33 AM

Where are the Lemonheads in there?

Today's ingredients: 1,594 bands, Tapatio sauce.

SXSW's first official lineup has been posted, and lest you wonder why the hell an outlet all the way up here is bothering to post about a fest in Texas, this unending list of bands may help.

Lots of previously unannounced national/international treats on here...here's what stands out in my first run-through of the list: Akron/Family, Astronautilus, Castanets, Billy Bragg, Elliott Brood, The Concretes, Dr. Dog, El-P, Evangelista / Carla Bozulich, Jana Hunter, Legendary Shack Shakers, The Lemonheads, Lucero, Madlib, The Meatmen (whoa, really? the '80s punks who wrote the song "Crippled Children Suck?" holy shit.), Tift Merritt, Thurston Moore, The Octopus Project, Ola Podrida, Peter & The Wolf, Phosphorescent, The Sadies, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Tokyo Police Club, Two Gallants, The Weakerthans, White Denim, Yo La Tengo, and motherfuckin' HANSON. In bad news: Oates still hasn't signed on to play with Daryl Hall. Shit.

Of more interest to y'all might be Seattle's official contributions, many of which were previously unannounced:

David Bazan
The Blakes
Blue Scholars
The Boss Martians
Sera Cahoone
Cave Singers
Choklate
Coconut Coolouts
The Fall-Outs
Femurs
Fleet Foxes
Fourcolorzack & Pretty Titty
Grand Archives
Grayskul
Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden
The Lonely H
Ian Moore
Mark Pickerel
Presidents of the USA
The Saturday Knights
Say Hi
Search/Rescue
Steve E Nix & the Cute Lepers
Supersuckers
Throw Me The Statue
J. Tillman
Trespassers William
Unnatural Helpers

Other WA haunts...ABERDEEN: Black Top Demon. ANACORTES: Karl Blau. TACOMA: Lozen. From the list above, it looks like Seattle hip-hop and soul will represent in Texas come mid-March, no? If you dare peruse the thousands of bands, lemme know what names stick out.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Breakfast Taco - Go-Getter Edition

posted by on January 29 at 10:19 AM

Mmmmm... bacon

This particular pre-SXSW breakfast taco should be eaten in a stolen car--one with a cell phone left in its passenger seat, which Zooey Deschanel calls to identify her car's thief, only to endear herself to said thief and fall in love. Conveniently, that's the plot of last year's festival-only The Go-Getter, a coming-of-age flick that, at the very least, sticks Deschanel (Elf, Almost Famous) in the role of quite possibly the most likeable character of all time. Unless, of course, you don't fantasize about stealing a cute girl's car and having her call you over and over until she eventually makes out with you. Bonus: check out that hat.

Mmmmm... Zooey

The soundtrack to The Go-Getter was solid as well--helps that it was written and recorded entirely by M. Ward--and, as many an outlet reported last year, the M and the Z bonded thanks to the film. The fruits of their musical friendship will see release in March on Merge Records under the moniker She & Him. This, as many an outlet joked last year, should soon lead to a singing starlet showdown between Deschanel and Scarlett Johansson.

Back to the "taco" part...here's a SXSW rule of thumb: March album release + Merge Records = showcase appearance, and sure enough, their set at this year's fest was confirmed yesterday. But will the She & Him concert be good for reasons beyond my Deschanel crush? In trying to figure this out, I did some Googling, and between hundreds of photos, I stumbled upon this convenient MP3ization of the duo's live appearance earlier this month on KCRW's Open Road program.

Truth be told, she comes off a little flat in her leading role in most of these songs, but you can't deny the duet on that linked site, "Magic Trick." Songs like that, and cute cowboy hats, should result in a pretty good showcase, and since M. Ward generally has his pick of the roots/country spectrum's best performers and singers in guest spots on his records, I can't help but trust the guy. Too bad about as many people will get into the showcase as have seen the freakin' Go-Getter, thanks to SXSW's propensity to put big sets in undersized rooms. My prediction? She & Him will wind up booked at Austin's criminally tiny Momo's, a not-quite-venue where I've had to push and shove in years past to see breakout sets by Broken Social Scene, Midlake, Holy Fuck, and many, many more. Mark my words--my SXSW soothsaying is impeccable. See you at Momo's!


Friday, January 18, 2008

The Breakfast Taco

posted by on January 18 at 10:18 AM

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If a post is in the morning and has anything to do with South by Southwest, then it should be called a breakfast taco. If you've done the four-day fest before, you understand that the above taco doesn't look gross--it looks like hangover heaven. And I don't just mean booze recovery; the only way to overcome each of the full days and nights of music (day parties, house parties, official 6th Street showcases, post-showcase warehouse parties way out on the east side) is by way of chorizo, egg, cheese, hot sauce, lard-filled flour tortilla, and foil wrapper.

So let's pop an Aspirin and unwrap the first breakfast taco of the year. What's hiding in it? Looks like sausage...potato... and holy hot tits, it's Dolly Parton!

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This announcement, of course, forces me to wonder why it is I never bothered going to see her at a megadome or stadium before. Maybe I needed a few years to get past the cosmo-country material and 9 to 5; maybe I was too busy looking at her chest to look into her eyes. Whatever, redemption is coming my way in March.

Dolly's among the 250+ acts semi-confirmed in the first big SXSW band list posted yesterday by the Austinist. The site picks a few highlights as well (X, Constantines, Q-Tip, David Banner?), but do take the time to flip through the rest. A few thoughts: Portland's in full effect (Blitzen Trapper, YACHT, and so on). Jandek's in full effect for the second year in a row, and the person who approved the famed recluse's return must've seen a different set last year than I did. Daryl Hall's in full effect, but Oates is not--WHA??? And though this Texas boy apologizes in advance for missing any other local names [EDIT: like Fleet Foxes, see above, slap forehead, Sam], congrats to Feral Children and The Lonely H on their SXSW invites--hope they don't stick you guys in Spyro's at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday. That place has a goddamned bubble machine on its roof. I noticed the lack of Cave Singers, but it just seems like Matador's held off on announcing its acts altogether (and with upcoming albums from Malkmus and Cat Power, ya gotta wonder).

Anybody gonna bother driving/flying down for this? Anybody wonder what the hubbub is about? I'd like to know; as a SXSW addict of nearly eight years now, I'll address both of those in posts to come.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Being There

posted by on March 21 at 10:42 AM

After a couple days recovery time, the photographs from SXSW are pouring in. Here are some great shots of Seattle bands and other notables (Iggy at the KEXP broadcast from the Austic City Limits soundstage? YES!) taken by the fabulous Victoria Renard.

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Iggy and the Stooges, KEXP broadcast

Continue reading "Being There" »


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Irony Overload

posted by on March 18 at 10:12 AM

The culmination of SXSW insider hipster hoopla came when the Vice magazine late night party literally tore the roof of the sucka. After being moved from its initial location to an Elk's Lodge in a South Austin residential neighborhood, the annual throwdown was the hottest ticket in Austin on a very rowdy, drunken Saturday/St. Pat's night. I arrived with a carload of Rhapsody peeps to walk up onto a pile of concrete rubble outside the building, the remains of a second-floor balcony that had collapsed in the midst of the party. Naturally the plug got pulled on the music--Les Savvy Fav--and the throng of would-be revelers were turned outside into the night. Nothing like milling around with hundreds of hipsters looking like deer caught in the headlights with no backup plan in mind.

I was told that there were no injuries by a few folks but I snuck inside the back door to get a look at the scene and talked to a drunk Irish dude (On St. Pat's! How authentic!) who said someone was hurt. Cop cars immediately pulled into the long driveway and a fire engine showed up too, but I saw nobody in crisis/trauma mode and no broken bodies, so I think people were more crushed that they didn't get to rub shoulders with David Cross.

More importantly: yesterday's musical rundown. Caught woefully underappriciated singer/songwriter David Dondero in the afternoon, smart and saccharine and singing "South of the South," a tune that namechecks the town of Jupiter, Florida, where my high school girlfriend lived.

Ran across the river to the Town Lake Stage, the biggest venue at SXSW, an outdoor amphiteather with great sight lines. There Mastodon layed waste to an attentive, Slayer-throwing crowd with one of the most passionate sets I saw all weekend. I'm not a huge metal guy by any means but the Atlanta fourpiece really won me over.

If you like Fleetwood Mac, Midlake is the early-80s soft rock outfit for you. Really nice songs, nice harmonies, mellow mood. Which translated perfectly to camp metal heroes Turbonegro at Emo's right afterwards. That kind of transition is one of my favorite things at SXSW.

Time for lunch. Look out for a wrapup on the whole event tomorrow and in next week's paper.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Home Stretch

posted by on March 17 at 1:24 PM

Couple sets I caught last night that didn't make the late-night wrap-up:

Satellite, Perry Farrell's new project, which was remarkable purely because of how unremarkable it was. Woulda loved to love it but just couldn't. Somewhere in the last 10 years, Farrell's oversexed psychedelic carnival barker charisma turned into loopy, mystical hippy-dippyisms. His backing band was hardly there, doing some alt-rock thing that couldn't have sounded more nondescript.

Before that I caught one song by Andrew Bird, the phenomenal "Nervous Tick Motion of the Head to the Left." Bird is certainly the best whistling violinist on the scene right now.

NYC buzz band Earl Greyhound played a fantastic set of bluesy garage rock. The trio was hard and soulful and sloppily dramatic, playing the kind of music I could've listened to all night.

It's 4 pm and I'm just getting my Saturday started. St. Patrick's Day is bound to bring the college kids to 6th Street tonight, for better or worse (at least they dilute the scenester quotient). I'm off to check out English post-rockers 65daysofstatic and then Mastodon at the big outdoor amphitheater by the river.

Blogitty blog blog

posted by on March 17 at 2:39 AM

Here's all I have to say at this hour, and to those of you really paying attention you'll know that this is a classic moment: Dennis Coffey into Archie Bell. That's "Scorpio" into "Tighten Up." Somehow I caught these two cratedigger favorites way down 6th Street at a happening little offbeat spot, and it was great. Totally opposite all the young buck buzz bands I've been seeing. Coffey, clipped and greay-bearded, played this weird atonal filtered guitar with a great local backing band. Archie Bell came out and fronted the same band and ruled the crowd. Dude's gotta be in his 60s, and he did his three songs and of course the PdR, "TIghten Up" -- this is an oldschool, protofunk jam from back in the mid-60s with a spectacular bassline. If you don't know, look it up.

We wandered to Apples in Stereo after that, and the music sorta blended into a haze. They played a dense, intricate type of quintessential indie rock, Weezer style, with upper register vocal harmonies. And they sounded like another classic indie rock band, one known for their intricately measured prog-rock suites: Phish, who in 15 years people will recognize for the influence that they were.

It's late and I'm gonna pass out.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Alrighty Then

posted by on March 16 at 6:40 PM

Here's something I didn't report from last night: Under Byen, Sweden's latest export, at Emo's. Lead singer is a beautiful Scandinavian blonde with cheekbones that could cut glass. With her and another female vocalist, violin, cello, two drummers, a shaggy-haired marimba player, and bass and guitar, these guys played industrial lullabyes that dipped into nightmarish noise without warning. They come to Chop Suey on March 21.

First set of today was at Stubb's at the Spin magazine party. Mew's last few songs were heavy and moody. They gave up the stage to Galactic, a band that's never taken the place of true Nawleans funk for me. They had in their favor a special weapon--actually a few: Blackalicious MC Gift of Gab, Lyrics Born, and Boots Riley of the Coup. The band hit way harder than I've seen them before, and each MC worked their vocal magic over a pair of tracks before moving on. All Bay Area MCs for this all-Nawleans funk'n'jam band was a good look all around.

For Eric Grandy I moved on to Simian Mobile Disco, a UK-based electro-rock outfit who was unfortunately only doing a DJ set at Emo's Jr. The crowd was thin and I figured it was a little early for a dance party, but outside in Emo's main room, Girl Talk went on to a packed house and played a seriously entertaining set. I've been skeptical of Greg Gillis for a while, not being impressed by his album (I'll take Jason Forrest and Donna Summer any day), but I gotta give it up: Girl Talk launched into an ecstatic, hilarious set, mixing Clipse into Boston into Tag Team into Nirvana into Justin Timberlake. Gillis' set might've been the most SXSW-appropriate music I've heard, a sort of short attention span theater mashup full of half-cut songs blended into other half-cut songs blended into a contiguous dance party for in-the-know hipsters. It was actually much more fun than that sounds.

Superduper buzz band Deer Hunter played immediately afterwards, sounding more interesting than their already interesting debut album sounds. Beat-heavy, vocal-heavy, and noisy as hell, this young band from Atlanta had a singular sound that was experimental and accessible at the same time. Even though I cringe at the Pitchfork stamp of approval, I could see really getting into these guys.

And then it was off to Central Austin for the Ballard party. The spot was 15 minutes outside of downtown, an outdoor studio type of joint with a nice stage and sound system. I caught the tail end of Rachel Flotard doing an acoustic set with a slide guitarist. What a voice! The place wasn't packed but it was pleasantly peopled and I talked to a few Austin locals who were at the show simply because of its proximity to their houses. Flotard sang an excellent rendition of an old '50s chestnut, "You Belong To Me," warm and sentimental in the late afternoon sun, with her baby boy hanging on her arm.

The Trucks came on next and somehow got the beer-goggled crowd to finger-snap along to a song with the refrain "There's a perv in the bushes." Their set was short, sweet, and full of energy. Beautiful blond singers in fishnets never hurts a band.

Dan from the Tractor, Jason of the Presidents, several Stranger/Mercury folks, and Hannah and Brian from Seattle Weekly were all on hand. It was a nice homecoming feeling for a place I've only lived in for five weeks. There were kegs of Fat Tire flowing and I helped myself to a few cups; hence the drinkin' n bloggin'.

Which brings me to my next move: electro-breaks maestro Elliot Lipp at Zero. Man this is a tough job.


Damn

posted by on March 16 at 11:47 AM

Missed the Stooges, but Courtneyfrom KEXP reports that they played four songs from their new album to a packed studio in the communications building on the UT campus. Woulda been cool just to see the band in such tight confines, but the early bird catches the leathery punk-rock icon, I guess. Time to stop blogging and head out.