SXSW 2007: My (late) thoughts

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28 apr 2007, 15:37

An amalgamation of several posts relating to this year's SXSW festival.....

My first day at [event=99069]SXSW[/event] got started off a little slow, what with driving from Dallas after seeing a hockey game the night before. I missed most of the day parties that I had hoped to attend, but Wednesday was the "weakest" day in my schedule, anyhow. I'll post links to pictures and video after the festival - I don't feel like mucking around on Youtube or Flickr at this point.

Started off wandering around downtown Austin before dinner, just to check out the scene. Went to Emo's Annex (a small tent set up outside Emo's) and saw a band that the Austin Chronicle recommended - Honeycut, a four piece electronic rock act. The lineup was a keyboardist, bassist, vocalist, and drum synth player (who actually tapped out the beat on some machine or another). Songs were catchy and well executed, and the soul influences of the vocalist were excellent.

After dinner, we headed out to see Simple Kid, an Irish singer-songwriter in the stylings of Beck. Quirky sense of humor and great presentation - he played harmonica and guitar and/or banjo to an accompanying pre-recorded track, which sometimes was mostly rhythm, sometimes full-band sound. Occasionally would play to self-made video. Very funny (without being goofy), clever, and well worth seeing again.

Next, we headed over to the Hideout for Austin instrumental group Low Line Caller and Tokyo's OWKMJ. LLC was a good, tight outfit whose two drummers wove an interesting beat over which the two keyboardists, drummer, and bassist created a pleasant soundscape. I think they've got a lot of potential if they choose to push their relatively tame boundaries. Next up, owkmj, a five piece space-jazz-rock band that my wife correctly called "prog-rock jazz". Dynamic and exciting live show.

The disappointment of the night was the long lines to get in to see Brooklyn's The Big Sleep, so we had to skip it or risk missing everything else from that point on.

Over to "Latitude 30" for Tokyo's mothercoat. This four piece band [edit: there appear to be five of them in some photos, I wonder if the guy at the sound board is included...?] played straightforward, precise, and lively rock & roll. The lead singer knew how to work the crowd, climbing up on the speaker stands, tightroping across ledges and handrails, and at one point essentially climbing out a window to grab the attention of passers by on the street. Awesome show.

One slot left for the night, and it's back to the Hideout for an experimental power-trio from Tokyo (are you catching on to my theme yet?), Muddy World. Complex and shifting time signatures accentuated with razor sharp guitar riffs and solos.

Not a bad first day. Thursday will be much busier, with stops at the New West Records party, a semi-secret event featuring Pete Townshend (if I can manage to get in), and Hydrahead Industry's nighttime showcase.

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My Thursday daytime was spent at the New West Records party, which featured Tim Easton (backed by Two Cow Garage - think what happens when Neil Young gets together with Crazy Horse), Buddy Miller, Rickie Lee Jones, Jason Isbell of Drive-By Truckers, and The Drams. Outstanding party, quite obviously. Next, we high-tailed it over to La Zona Rosa, where Rachel Fuller hosted an evening that featured Pete Townshend, Martha Wainwright, Mika, and others. The only disappointment here was that due to time constraints, Townshend's set was cut very short. My evening was spent at Emo's Annex, where Hydrahead Industries artists showed their stuff. For the most part, I was disappointed in this showcase, particularly since it was one that I was most looking forward to. Oxbow and Daughters did nothing for me, Big Business was interesting, Jesu left me wanting to hear more. Pelican was outstanding, and made the long wait worth it.

After spending literally 13 straight hours on my feet Thursday, I woke up sore on Friday. Dragged myself off to Buffalo Billiards, where The Current was doing a live broadcast (follow the link for the archives). Here, I saw an amazing set by Antibalas, UK electronic trio Fujiya & Miyagi, and an thrilling two-song acoustic set and interview with Tom Morello, aka The Nightwatchman, guitarist of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. Next was a party put at Flamingo Cantina on by Larimer Lounge where I saw two New York trios Oxford Collapse and the excellent The Big Sleep, who I missed on Wednesday night. Glad I was able to see them, they were quite good. Friday night was Japan Nite at Elysium, featuring ORESKABAND, The 50 Kaitenz, Pistol Valve, GO!GO!7188, HY, and The Emeralds. Second to the Hydrahead Industries showcase from the previous night, this was my biggest disappointment of the festival, largely due to high expectations. All bands were good, none were outstanding. I would have to say Oreskaband was the highlight of the evening. I did not make it to the Emeralds set, as I'd seen them the previous year and my feet were telling me to call it a night.

Saturday was outstanding. The 9th annual Fuck By Fuck You party was a blast with amazing bands from around the world. Among those I saw were 50 Kaitenz (again), Shellshag, Asakusa Jinta, Attack Formation, MC Trachiotomy, Gorch Fock, Monotonix (whose singer was reminiscent of G.G. Allen), and Green Milk From The Planet Orange. I also stopped by Todd P.'s party at Mrs. Bea's, where Noxagt, Dynasty Handbag (now I've seen everything), and once again, Green Milk From The Planet Orange. Quickly had to head out to the evening showcases, where I saw Nekomushi and Asakusa Jinta at The Hideout. Headed over to Club Deville for sets by Turn Me On Dead Man, Lions In The Street (outstanding Canadian band that reminds you of Exile-era Stones or the Black Crowes back when they were still good), and Dead Meadow, a good trio from the DC area.

Fuck, I'm tired.

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Final thoughts on SXSW.

I didn't get to see nearly as many bands as I wanted to, especially those recommended by friends. I learned how difficult it is to actually schedule where I want to go and who I want to see. For the most part, I avoided the big-name bands which would draw the largest crowds (and thusly be the hardest to get in to). Additionally, those are the ones who are most likely to return to Austin on future tours, so I can keep them on my to-do list. I saw a lot of bands I'd never heard of, most of which were very very good.

Top five performances that I saw:
1. Pelican
2. Green Milk From the Planet Orange
3. owkmj
4. Mothercoat
5. Lions in the Street

My attendance was heavy on the Japanese bands, and for the most part they were simply outstanding. Japan continues to send its best and brightest to SXSW.

Best showcase:
The Hideout, Wednesday March 14th.

Best daytime party:
Fuck By Fuck You

Biggest remaining question:
Why do so many heavy-metal bands have lead singers who can't?

Kommentarer

  • sharksattack

    [quote]Why do so many heavy-metal bands have lead singers who can't?[/quote] can't what?

    4 maj 2007, 11:08
  • tokyostory

    Cant... do the metal?

    16 maj 2007, 18:53
  • Malamuitten

    Can't sing.

    2 sep 2007, 16:16
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