We land around 11:15 pm, Texas time, and our cab driver is an older chap of West African descent. Before we see any fun, we have to infiltrate the heart of the mess—7th and Red River—in order to get a key to a half-empty apartment that's pretty far uptown (the owner is moving out and gracious enough to let us stay there). While idling illegally across the street from Red 7 as my compatriot runs out to get the key, the cab driver, who despite being rather charming and jovial, is not a very good listener, complains that the police “don’t play around down here.” He worries about getting a ticket. The friend gets back with the key and we have to inch through throngs of people to get back to open road. Drunkards—mostly young, Caucasian, slovenly men—curse at our cabbie even though he’s inching along with what seems like the utmost care. Just out of the thick, we pass by three scrawny young women, and he leans out the window. “If you hit me, I will marry you,” he says with a grin and dense accent. “Fuck you, nigger!” one yells back. Welcome to South by Southwest.
I'm down here in Austin on another alt weekly's dime, but I'll try and chime in here when I have a sec. Here are three things that stood out for me amid yesterday's insanity:
-The traffic is godawful. I hitched a ride downtown with Beat Connection, and it literally took them two hours to travel seven miles. I understand that tourists and journos can and should bus or bike in and out of downtown, but for visiting musicians with gear to unload, the sitch seems to be pretty fucking dreadful.
-I had the best quesadilla/wrap/whatever of my life last night. A toasted tortilla filled with one fried egg, two strips of bacon, guacamole, cheese, and hellishly hot "vicious sauce." It was exactly the kind of artery-clogging awesomeness I was hoping to consume during this visit. I think the vendor who cooked it for me was called "Pig Vicious," and it was on the East Side. I would have taken a photo, but I was too eager to wolf that motherfucker down.
-I saw a dude on 6th St. wearing a homemade t-shirt with the slogan "Smoke meth and eat your kids."
(Also: Droop-E deserved a way bigger crowd for his set at Fuze. Next year, maybe).
Didn't arrive downtown until almost 11:30 pm. Beeline for Emo's to catch rasta-punks Bad Brains. Somehow got to sneak in the side door entrance, and promptly tripped on a set of stairs in front of several members of the band. I never realized Bad Brains were tall, handsome black men. It was embarrassing, but worth it, 'cause they played a killer set. The Black Lips followed the Brains with one of the most raucous and rowdiest sets I've seen in forever. Jared screamed the lyrics to 'O, Katrina'. That song sounds better that way, if you ask me.
Today hopefully includes Davila 666, Thee Oh Sees, Duran Duran, Yelawolf, Ritchie Hawtin, Black Milk, Big Freedia, and The Wu-Tang Clan. There are 9,789,538,812,693 people here. The Kansas airport sucks whitetail deer balls. Lots more to come. Happy St. Patricks Day from Kelly O'Neil, from Ireland's own Kelly O'Neils.
Has a million canned jokes, and they're all stale! I just paid $19.25 for some microwaved slop and a pint of beer. Airport = 1; Grant = 0.
Hello, people. My name's Toby Crittenden, and for the next handful of days, I'm going to be writing semi-regular reports on the state of affairs down here at South By Southwest. It's my first time to Austin, Texas, and in the quick post-midnight spin through the infamous 6th Street, it appears that this smorgasbord of a festival is going to live up to its hype. I will attempt to survive it.
You may be asking yourself, self, who is this person, and why is he writing about SXSW for my reading enjoyment? Fair question. To whit, a little about me, for you: I work at the Washington Bus, your favorite cultural organization that makes sure you're registered to vote, educated, and turning out (because you are a young person, I'm assuming, and I'm glad you're going to vote this November). One of my roles there is helming Hella Bus, the Bus's official Blog Of Record, which doubles as your one-stop shop for all things political and interesting... at the same time.
More to the point, I'm also a member of the shady cartel that manages, writes for, and generally modulates Last Night's Mixtape, a Seattle-based, globally connected (shady, right?), and unapologetically bass-loving music blog. It's basically a collection of writers with connections from Detroit to Argentina to Florida to the UK and beyond, and who use those connections to get music from the bleeding edge of quality direct to you.
So, keep your eyes peeled; I'll be here all week. Tip somebody who deserves it.
This event is happening in the lot behind Cheer Up Charlie's on 6th Ave, and Yelp says a "vegan yacht" is at that spot as well. This specific showcase just got picked up by Scion, and this leads me to wonder if there is a Scion-made Limo yet. What would that look like? Would it be the most authentic party car to date? Would it offer as many amenities as the Hummer Limo? These are questions you've got to ask, friends.
Limo tangent aside, I've been trying to keep an ear out for other Seattle/Washington based parties down there, but it's only just "rolling along." This one seems to be a good showing of a lot of our rain-tinged talent. I also just got word about K Records' showcase that's happening right 'round the corner, featuring Kimya Dawson and Generifus. But, if you happen to know of more showcases or bands, feel free to let me know in the comements. Some of my friends are putting together a couple 'zines about our city's musical denizens making the trip down there, and you know the rules of this kind of thing: the more, the merrier.
Seattle's flex of its garage/punk/metal muscle is below:
Strong Killings, Thunder Buffalo, Detective Agency, Butts, Unnatural Helpers, Prison, and Grave Babies.
And these next two bands don't actually reside here. One of them had to do the "college thing" in Portland, and the other just reeeally likes our state's capitol, but they are still count as an integral part of our Seattle sound:
Hausu and Christmas
The official line up came out late yesterday, and the rest of the bands playing this two-day onslaught below. I REALLY hope this thing is survivable, cause I feel like it's going to be one of those situations where you're in the minority if there isn't a beer in your hand.
"Your not drinkin'? Here, take this."
"Uhhhhh... It's 9 in the morning."
"Well, then throw some tomato juice it, pussy."
Feel free to now move on if you don't like looking at a bunch of random words that compromise what we call "band names."
Mother of Gut
Shannon & The Clams
Personal & The Pizzas
Hunx & His Punx
Women in Prison
Thee Oh Sees
Bolded are bands that make me jizz, of course.
Here's the list of participating artists:
Campfire OK (with a KISSING BOOTH—"tongue is extra"!)
Wild Orchid Children
The Young Evils
The Redwood Plan (with copies of their SXSW exclusive single and drawings done by members of the band!)
Tea Cozies (with all kinds of handmade trinkets including pillow cases, scrabble magnets, beer cozies, booksmarks, and more!)
Fatal Lucciauno (with Sportin' Life's six-album discography!)
State of the Artists (with signed/framed posters and photos and custom rap songs performed just for you!)
and more to be added soon!
Tickets are just $8 and you can buy them here.
This morning, Pitchfork announced their mouth-watering slate of South by Southwest showcase performers. Among them: local rap giants and certified geniuses Shabazz Palaces. There's no way in hell I'm gonna miss their set at the East Side Drive-In. I've seen them four out of the past five times they've played Seattle, and I'm not going to start slacking off now just because it's a different part of the country. I wish all you guys that won't be down in Austin for the fest could be able to watch, too, but Pitchfork is only going to webcast all of Friday's performances and none of Thursday's (for shame, dudes!).
Will Southby's rabble of boozed-up journos be gushing over 206's finest again? Stay posted.
A week after SXSW, what are people calling the worst show of the whole festival?
No, not Fat Mike's audience-baiting, piss-taking stunt as Cokie the Clown.
SALEM. A gothic, blurry electronic act from the fringes of "chillwave" and responsible for multiple remixes of Gucci Mane—and by many, many accounts one of the very worst performances of the whole SXSW festival.
For many folks at SXSW, the Fader Fort, a daily SXSW counter-party hosted by the Fader and Levi's, provided their first exposure to the band. Jessica Hopper, for the Chicago Reader, called the set "like watching my rural Indiana cousins' Oxycontin-dealer buddies having a cipher, too high to do anything wittier than rhyme "bitch" with "bitch."
They were reportedly booed off the stage. Here's a clip:
I did get to see Salem play once during SXSW, at our space. They were booed off stage. That is, because, unfortunately, honestly, they were not good. But that “good” needs so many asterisks and quotation marks that it barely exists as a measure of worth. The show was outside, during the day. The smoke machine suffered because of the wind, its effects blown backwards behind the tented stage. The sound was crisp and when Jack rapped, you could hear it clearly, which is not a good thing. There was no slowing down the speed, no frying the smooth edges, no haze from which to emerge. Salem’s ingenuity comes in the invention of its own creation myth. Played clean, there is no mystery. Even if they feel no partiality to a hidden agenda, their music deserves a shrouding daylight does not deliver. Turns out the truth is a detriment to their story.
All of which is to say, don't always believe everything you see in "credible music and lifestyle-focused properties that speak to a combined audience of 1,718,000 influential young adults."
In my column this week, I ask Why SXSW?:
Last week, I spent my third year in a row at SXSW. The Austin, Texas, music festival/conference was, as always, a fucking outstanding time—a nonstop party, a music-industry family reunion/spring break, an endless array of shows good, bad, and surprising—but, increasingly, I come home wondering: Is this all it is?
Today, guitarist Mike Haliechuk of thinking man's hardcore band Fucked Up poses the question, SXSW Why?:
For most people, and most bands, sxsw is a lot of fun. Even though we play 2 or 3 shows a day during the festival, and only get a few hours of sleep a night, our general attitude towards going is that it's like a holiday from our usual touring life. It's sunny, lots of our friends are there, we sometimes get free jeans and sunglasses, and generally it's one of the most chill(wave) times of the year. If your band has the right attitude, sxsw is a lot of fun.
It's also a great way to move forward with your artistic career, because it puts a lot of people together in one intense burst of activity over a few days. You might go down there a no one and come back signed to Mexican Summer Records. For a lot of bands, it can be the opposite. 2010 was our third time playing the festival, but the first time it didn't cost us $3000 of our own money to do. The expense is high, and is rightly seen by most bands as a sensible gamble, weighed either against a week of good times, or at a chance at moving forward with the business of being a band - money well spent to meet managers, agents or record labels. But it's still an expense, and while bands from all over the world are spending thousands of dollars to get to Austin, there are a lot of companies already there and with massive economic power (a whole bunch of those units I was talking about earlier) who are using these bands to varying degrees to get even more powerful.
Haliechuk's take is quite good. Read the whole thing here.
Now, here's Why? (get it?) and Themselves on much the same subject:
In further "what does it all mean, man?" SXSW news, website The Next Big Sound has compiled a pair of lists charting the social networking activity (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) about different bands at SXSW; the first list shows the "fastest rising" bands at SXSW, those bands with the highest percentage increase in activity (so a band that went from no fans to 2,000 might do better than a band than that went from 100,000 fans to 200,000), while the second shows the acts with the greatest overall increases in activity in terms of raw numbers.
1. Fang Island
2. Neon Trees
5. Jonna Lee
6. Matthew Mayfield
7. Evergreen Terrace
8. The Antlers
(Perhaps unsurprisingly for this method, most of the high-ranking acts are relatively small/obscure; the presence of the Antlers, new Barsuk band Phantogram, and Wu Tang Clansman the GZA toward the bottom ten is more interesting, and could indicate a rash of newly won over fans or possibly old fans who just hadn't thought about the acts for a while until SXSW reminded them.)
2. The xx
4. Broken Bells
5. Sum 41
7. The Temper Trap
8. Miike Snow
9. Local Natives
10. We are Scientists
(Here you have some critically lauded up-and-comers like the xx, Wale and Local Natives mixed in with established popular acts like [ugh] Sum 41 and the Shins-meets-Dangermouse project Broken Bells; and then there's terrible major label mall-emo haircut NeverShoutNever, who presumably has a hell of a street team behind him.)
The Stranger was at Austin, Texas music industry mess SXSW all weekend long—and it was a long-ass weekend. You can catch up on everything we caught—from Hole to Who Made Who, Truckasaurs to Cheap Trick—right here.
Best Show: YACHT—I think the last time I saw the new-age-meets-new wave pop duo was just after they'd officially become a duo and just before they'd released the act's first great album, See Mystery Lights. They were playing some of those songs—"It's Boring/You Can Live Anywhere You Want," for instance—and what they lacked in premeditated dance moves they made up for with enthusiasm at being onstage together. But last night was the first time I got to see them do a set full of the Mystery Lights songs I knew and loved, backed up by a live rhythm section (the Straight Gays?), dressed up in sharp black and white suits, stage routines solidified by time spent on the road—and it was just fantastic. They walked on to Giorgio Moroder's "The Chase," then slowed the track down and launched into "Ring the Bell" then "It's Boring/You Can Live Anywhere You Want," which became a crowd-pleasing, pogo-inducing sing-along. "Summer Song" and "Psychic City (Voodoo City)" were obvious highlights, the latter a little premature for the oddly chilly weather but still breezy and bouncy and fun, the latter that undeniable bass groove and chant alternating with Claire L. Evans' sweet verses. Towards the end of the set, they announced that since this was their last show at SXSW, there would need to be a ceremonial cutting of the wristbands—what would a YACHT show be without a ritual, after all?
Runner Up: Les Savy Fav at the Vice afterparty—I wasn't feeling their show last night, but like I said, still one of my favorite bands, and still one I'd go way out of my way to see again. And glad I did, because this set was fucking rad, perfectly balanced between Tim Harrington's infamous antics and he and the band playing the shit out of their songs. They did "What Would Wolves Do," "The Equestrian," and a screaming good rendition of "Patty Lee." Harrington got into the crowd and down on his hands and knees and then gave an audience member a brief shoulder ride. They played a new song, Harrington almost rapping, something about "show us your teeth/show us your tits" then Harrington declaring "I love you to the max," the song all one long riff without any big finish. They played "Pills," its apocalyptic burning bush freak-outs going down easy and out of control. They played "Yawn Yawn Yawn," and then another new one that had Harrington singing about "I want you," "let's get out of here," and other sweet enough if not exactly stunner lyrics. They played a rousing version of "The Sweat Descends," Harrington wearing an evil-grinning rabbit mask, which, he explained, belonged to the US government and had been given to him by a guy from NASA who was interviewing rock bands about the moon. They played a total blow-out version of "Who Rocks the Party," the crowd a total dancing shouting mess at this point, Neumos booker/drummer Jason Lajeunesse up on stage banging along on the drums, Harrington losing the mic after the first verse, then dragging a table into the crowd and singing from atop it. At the end of the song he started rapping his way into "One Way Window," the crowd hoisting the table up with him on top of it and then pallbearing him up to the stage. Killer.
Worst Show: Memory Tapes—buzzy chillwave band just sounds like a cut-rate Cut Copy copy; I gave up after a few songs and just watched the rest of the set from the bar. Runners up: Major Lazer, who went on after YACHT and just sounded like a hectic mess in comparison, the beats all bussy, the MC shouting, us departing for the Vice party; also the first band at said Vice party, yet another boring blown-out bluesy rock band, possibly Cheeseburger but could be just as adequately named Credence Clearchannel Revival. (The soul 45s DJ at that party, Mr. Jonatahn Toubin, was great, though.)
Biggest Surprise: Tobias Thomas—just a DJ from Cologne, Germany, spinning selections in the style of that city’s Kompakt records—gentle, minimal yet poppy techno and the like-minded remixes of Phoenix and Hercules and Love Affair. He played a little air bass guitar whenever a particularly if mutedly funky bassline dropped into the mix. Nothing mind-blowing, but just a super pleasant set that had a courtyard full of people schaeffling and dancing at 9:30pm—not a bad way to beat back the cold. Runner up: Dominique Leone—the joke with this guy is that he’s “the hot French chick who writes for Pitchfork,” and that when folks see him in person (say, at the EMP Pop Conference), they’re bummed to find out he’s actually just a sort of bearish dude. They might be stoked to find out he’s a ridiculously gifted musician, an agile pianist and oddball arranger of weird jazz fusion and proggy pop. He played keys—nimble melodies, odd jazzy chords—backed by a drummer and bassist the kept and a marimba player; they were the kind of band that just impressed with pure, geeky musicianship, which was actually kind of a rare thing to see at SXSW. For one song, he sang a kind of high, open throated, “fee fi fo fum” scale, recalling the fractured vocal melodies of Dirty Projecters; for another he did a little deadpan cod-rap, sounding a little like the Dismemberment Plan. On one song, he got a little Broadway in his upper register emoting and demonstrative lyrical sentiments (“I’m sad, angry, and mad…”); for another, he sang rising vocals through some fuzzy delay, creating a kind of aggressive, disorienting glissando. A weird, wonderful show.
Shows I Wish I Could’ve Been Two Places at Once to See: I missed Gun Outfit again, and although I saw Memory Tapes, I really wish I’d caught more of the many, many “chillwave”-type acts that played this year, as they were about the only really discernable trend happening. (Although, if SXSW still had the power to create trends rather than just reflect them, all these guys would have played and been “discovered” here last year; instead, they “blew up” on the blogs and just hit Austin for spring break like everyone else. These days, eh?
Local Interest: The Seattle Party—so, a few more thoughts on the big Seattle showcase: it’s great to see everyone from the Town coming together Saturday afternoon and catching up on how everyone’s been doing at the festival, it’s just a real homey scene. It was also the single weed-skunkiest show I went to all weekend, so nice work. The Maldives kind of make a ton more sense down in Austin than they do in Seattle, as does kind of a lot of the rootsy, twangy stuff that was on display here—Dutchess & the Duke, the Cave Singers. I suppose Rocky Votolato’s originally from Texas, so there’s that. Thee Satisfaction owned the rap showcase early, although Dark Time Sunshine’s melancholy mood was engaging as well. Macklemore remains a consummate showman, fond of donning a wig and doing a joke rap (this time a kind of Euro-trash party rap number), doing a St. Patrick’s Day drinking song for all his fellow Irish over a beat that sampled Beirut’s “Scenic World” (or whatever traditional melody that song stole), addressing his own newfound sobriety handily: “I don’t drink anymore/I couldn’t drink like a gentleman/that doesn’t mean I can’t make a drinking song for the rest of them.” I sometimes find his style a little too motivational-speaker preachy, but even at his most heavy-handed, he really has a powerful delivery and lands a lot of great couplets. Mash Hall was a ridiculous, rocked-out spectacle as always, although the vocals got a little lost in the mix, BlesOne sometimes smearing his words more than annunciating them, Larry Mizell Jr. shouting breathlessly. Still, a fine, fun show. Also caught Hey Marseilles playing at a church, where the setting and the acoustics were excellent. I’m still kind of on the fence about a lot of their stuff on record, but when they swing into those big orchestral crescendos of trumpet and strings live it’s easy enough to get swept up in.
-The big joke of the day: The Seattle Party even brought the Seattle weather! Wocka wocka where's my fucking parka.
-If you went by the line-up, you'd think Seattle was nothing but rap and twang (and a tiny bit of orch-pop courtesy of Grand Hallway). Where's the metal, the noise, the techno? Where's Book of Black Earth on this bill? Or AFCGT? Or Throw Me the Statue? Or Truckasauras? No disrespect to today's acts, but Seattle has a lot more to offer than what was on display here today
-One big difference between "Austin: Live Music Capitol of the World" and "Seattle: City of Music" is just Washington State liquor law (shout out, WSLCB!)—oh, look, bands can drink onstage here in Ausin; oh, look, bars can legally serve free drinks for a party. That we can't makes Seattle look weirder than Austin, but not in the good way.
Best Show: Who Made Who—a Danish dance rock trio who aren’t merely the rockingest dance band or danciest rock band but both the danciest dance band and the rockingest rock band I’ve seen all festival. Three dudes in dress shirts and suspenders, on drums and keys and bass and guitar, who may have just played the single best set I’ve seen so far. The band’s disco jams are simultaneously Abba-precise and hard rocking enough to earn them their AC/DC namesake (if you’re going to name yourself after an AC/DC song, you better be about to rock). Frankly, my notes suffer here a little bit for the dancing I was doing, but here’s what I know: They started off with a rather mellow, melancholy pop number, something off of their sadly disappointing sophomore album (their self-titled debut and preceding 12” singles are all fantastic). But things picked up quickly, first with the strutting, bouncing bass and falsetto choruses of “Space for Rent,” with an almost a capella breakdown delivered in a Euro-accented Sprockets deadpan. Next, they did their muscular funk take on Mr. Oizo’s classic “Flat Beat,” drums rock steady, guitar twitching, the bassline agile and dirty and popping (a girl in the crowd: “they sound like Primus”), at one point the guitarist grabbing a beer from an audience member and using it to play a slick little slide guitar lead. They played “Keep Me in My Plane,” and I decided I prefer the DJ Koze dub version of that one. They played a new song with a thick, chunky guitar riff and another falsetto chorus. Things reached a peak, crowd dancing and shouting along, with the band’s cover of Benny Benasi’s “Satisfaction”; it started with just one guy singing the vocal hook (“push me/and then just touch me/so I can get my/satisfaction”) through a grainy vocoder, then the drums and that relentless circling guitar hook kicked in, and the band proceeded to build it up and break it down and lead the crowd in chanting the hook and just blow it all the fuck out. They closed with upbeat stomper “The Loop,” all big, rolling drum fills and cascading, sustained guitar chords. “This is our first time here, and we are very delighted to be here,” they said. Sometimes at SXSW you go see a band because you can’t imagine they’re ever going to make it out to your town, and Who Made Who were definitely on such act—but I still sincerely hope someone tries to bring them through Seattle.
Runner Up: Superchunk at the Village Voice Media party (for a company that may be defaulting on big loans, they sure put on a good face at SXSW). These guys are unfuckwithable veterans at this point, indie rock royalty, and for good reason. They set out a particular template for indie rock that’s just classic—kind of charmingly wussy in demeanor but still screaming and fast with ballsy guitar solos and big drum fills—basically, smart but not ashamed of being a rock band. It doesn’t hurt that they also happen to write pretty much perfect pop songs. They played old charger “Why Do You Have to Put a Date on Everything,” new song “Learned to Surf,” Here’s Where the Strings Come In burner “Detroit Has a Skyline Too” (swoon!), and “Hello Hawk.” They “rolled on a new one” called “Digging for Something” (I think), and if anything’s changed in the band’s largely un-aged sound, it’s maybe just that they have kind of a sunnier disposition these days—they’re brighter, less angry, all grown up and happy and well-adjusted and shit—but they wear it perfectly well. They played the careening “Punch Me Harder”; they played “Like a Fool,” warning that “this is gonna sound like a new one but it’s an old one”—it didn’t, although I guess, as above, the new ones happily don’t sound that new either; they played “Everything at Once” and “The First Part” and (I think) “Precision Auto,” all in all a selection that nicely spanned their long career. They closed with “Slack Motherfucker,” and I started thinking about how it’s maybe not the straight-faced slacker drop-out anthem I’d always taken it for; Mac and company are an industrious bunch, founding Merge and all that, and the song’s as much a declaration of ‘90s DIY independence as it is a paean to unemployment—not working for you per se, but, crucially, still working (indie rock youngsters take note, and get your games up).
Worst Show: Les Savy Fav at one am on some gravelly back-alley patio—although, this might have been a case of it’s not them, it’s me. It was late, I was feeling washed out all around, the sound was kind of thin in the back, and I wasn’t trying to fight my way up front (where, to the show’s credit, it looked like people were raging). For the first time of many times I’ve seen and madly loved this band live, I felt like Tim Harrington’s (here relatively restrained) antics—scaling and screwing with some gel lights, for instance—weren’t enough to make up for the vocals he was dropping to do them. Maybe later he did something hilarious with a hot dog; I don’t know, because I took off after hearing a still fine but not freak-out inspiring take on “Peggy Lee” and the sentimental howler “What Would Wolves Do.” They said they were about to play a Silver Jews cover, but I couldn’t tell you if that was a gag or not. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still go out of my way to see these guys again next chance I get—it’d take a lot of merely lackluster shows for them to burn off all the good will they’ve accrued.
Biggest Surprise: TV Carnage (aka Derrick Beckles) opening up for Tobacco at the anticon. showcase—okay, this one may only have been a surprise if, like me, you were getting a little overwhelmed making sense of your schedule, but it was still a welcome treat. TV Carnage’s montage compilations of terrible television are simply the finest example of the form (fuck yourselves, Everything is Terrible)—clips juxtaposed for maximum comic impact and “deep thoughts”, and Beckles is just a riotously funny, sharp dude (I didn’t get down any of his banter, but I enjoyed the way he shushed folks every time some backpack stan in the crowd bood him and demanded Tobacco go on already). Beckles played a sneak preview of his next TV Carnage compilation, a mix made up entirely of exercise videos he said, which he’d been working on for a year and a half—time well spent. Tobacco finally went on, enduring some technical difficulties and false starts, with more junk video playing behind their three-person laptop+analog setup—Tobacco + TV Carnage = soul brothers with Seattle’s own audio/video nerds Truckasauras; they should hook it up sometime.
Runner Up: The (motherfucking) Death Set, who I tried but failed to see here last year and who I missed their last time through Seattle due to some other show being the same night. Anyway, the surprise here is that I didn’t expect to be in anything this close to a slam dance circle/mosh pit at SXSW. But damn am I glad I was! The Death Set are less a punk band than they are a machine that steals sunglasses, throws cans, spits beer, and wrecks gear. All their songs are short, snotty bursts of poppy, sing-along pogo-punk thrash; in between, they play clips of Baltimore club and rap music and dance around like drunk Australian goofballs (they are). The singer kept jumping into the crowd and missing the dismount getting back onstage, twice knocking a monitor the few feet to the concrete ground. The crowd was a weird mix of total raging bros, punk co-eds, and specky indie kids, but folks started mixing it up pretty hard once the band really got going. They wnet out with “Negative Thinking and “Moving Forward,” two of their best jams, and they were going to play just one more (wish they’d gotten around to “Selective Memories”) when the sound guy cut them off—demanding “can we get another mic up here—how hard is it,” when there’s actually already a spare mic onstage, as the band had done earlier, maybe didn’t endear them to the soundguy all that much.
Shows I Wish I Could’ve Been Two Places at Once to See: Fuck, at 10pm and 1am last night there were some serious pile-ups of too much to possibly see: instrumentalist Dosh, primal rhythmists Aa, new age art poppers YACHT, anticon. superheroes Themselves, Olympia shrug punks Gun Outfit, celebrity trainwreck Hole, a capella funkateer Matias Aguayo, Providence disco punk noisemakers the Chinese Stars, LA sample-mangler Daedelus, Ed Banger punchline Uffie, electro rock crew Shout Out Out Out Out (who I’d tried and failed to see at an earlier scheduled set for which I think they may not have ever shown up), and indie pop dreamboats the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. All happening simultaneously at either 10pm or 1am—damn.
Local Interest: Um…so, turns out I didn’t catch a single local act yesterday, but it’s okay, because today is the big Seattle day party and it’s fucking overcast and windy and raining down here today—SXSeatttle in effect.