After a non-stop, action-packed Thursday (and a late late night recounting it for y’all), I took things a bit slower on Friday, conference day four. My baby got into town that morning, and we downshifted to help her settle in and acclimate for her first-ever SXSW experience; plus it was an especially hot day, set times seemed to be delayed everywhere, I was drained from the start anyway, and for some reason the lines for the (generally free) day parties were particularly bad.
It was a good time for a breather, which in this case meant catching merely three bands during the day:
- Old favorite Diamond Rings [@ The Main, 1:30 p.m.], a.k.a. Toronto punk-rocker-turned-electro-pop-cheeseball John Regan, who wears a gnarly spiked leather jacket and a rainbow guitar strap and is a happy happy bouncy man on stage.
- Moody L.A. slow-jam brothers Inc. [@ Club DeVille, 2:30 p.m.] (my second PBR&B show?), just the right speed for a hot, sluggish afternoon, whose decidedly strange visual presentation was faithfully replicated from their album cover and PR photos (makes you wonder just how carefully cultivated the holes are in that ripped t-shirt).
- Jittery NY-via-TX indie-punk goofs Parquet Courts [@ Red 7, 4:30 p.m.]. They were definitely more intense (and just tense) in person, playing with a tightly controlled manic insistence reminiscent of the Feelies or early Devo; stretching their songs out a bit but also making impressively executed sudden stops and zero-second transitions, though sadly their endearingly quirky vocals were somewhat buried.
The evening was low-key and desultory as well. I caught bits of quite a few things here and there, but only a couple of full performances. There were some nice moments though. Maybe the best came at the start — after dinner at Elizabeth Street, my confirmed favorite Austin restaurant (a stylish French-Vietnamese bistro with the most unimaginably perfect grilled octopus), we caught the tail end of local indie chamber orchestra Mother Falcon (I think I counted 19 members) performing OK Computer outside Home Slice Pizza (where we had also seen the earnestly bearded and impassioned local folky-chamber-rock group Seryn earlier). Mother Falcon’s arrangements of Radiohead (the back half of “No Surprises” and a “Lucky”-into-”The Tourist” medley, at least) were utterly gorgeous and inventive, and so were their jazz-inflected original numbers — they played three as an encore — albeit a good deal livelier. Plus the whole concept is just awesome (and the name may or may not be very sneakily dirty).
Sad to hear that Jason Molina, the earnest-voiced leader of Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co., has passed away. Henry from Chunklet — who has written passionately about Molina's alcohol problems before — wrote some heartfelt things about the man.
Deathfix is the current band of Brendan Canty (Fugazi). Also on the bill are Dubpixel with Robin Bell and Wigwams.The video is by Mat Hoffman, the bike dude my old pair of Vans were named after.
Tonight, Fri., March 15, 9 p.m., $10, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 877-435-9849, johnnybrendas.com.
Featuring: Charli XCX, Disclosure, Free Energy, some Zombies, some Muscle Shoals guys, Lianne Le Havas, Mikal Cronin, D E N A , Bernie Worrell, Action Bronson, Rustie and lots more.
Another glorious blur of a day here in Austin. I love whizzing through town, hearing the non-stop aural patchwork of every musical style imaginable pouring out of practically every club in town (which is seemingly at least half of the buildings). This is who I heard (and saw) Thursday, in the spaces between those audio-montage bike rides, together forming their own musical crazy-quilt.
Mount Moriah at The Stage on Sixth Patio, 12:30 p.m.
Solid, tuneful country-rock band recently signed to Merge, which makes more sense when you see what they look like — they’re definitely the indie-hipster sort of country-rockers, though probably to their credit you wouldn’t know it just to hear them. (It also makes sense because they’re from Durham.) They’ve definitely got some Allman Brothers flava in the guitar leads too. They were good! But honestly 12:30 feels like a very long time ago. (BTW: Mount Moriah plays Johnny Brenda’s March 26.)
Blank Tapes at Rusty’s, 1 p.m.
L.A. band playing retro, garage-y rock. I liked the minimalist front-of-stage two-drum kit. Also, one of the four members seemed to only be playing auxiliary percussion (maracas, tambourine), though maybe he does other stuff sometime. Seeing shows at SXSW makes you (well, okay, me) think about the utility economics of band composition — like, what does it really add to have that additional fourth, or fifth, or sixth member? In this case, three out of the four sang in harmony — that’s some good value!
FEATURING: Kitten, Body Parts, Caitlin Rose, Jacco Gardner, FIDLAR, Sky Ferreira, Brooke Waggoner, Autre Ne Veut at lots more.
Kitten at Cheer Up Charlies, 1:10 p.m.
Awesome awesome awesome wake-up surprise. Poppy thrashy glammy punk band from L.A., whose front-lady (Chloe Chaidez) is very obviously the source of their moniker. It suits her in just about every sense — she’s tiny, frisky, young and restless, also damn near feral, a non-stop ball of energy in shiny skin-tight jeggings and bronze glitter eyelashes (plus a complicated multi-layer lacy top scenario). Vamping, gyrating, flailing her hair, sinking to her knees, shaking her ass at the photog, jumping off the Marshall stack. The rest of the band did their darnedest to match her energy too, not that it was any contest. I could try to remember more about what they sounded like, but clearly that wasn’t the point.
Cayucas at Cheer Up Charlies, 1:30 p.m.
This is who I’d actually come to see. Fresh-faced, Vampire Weekend-looking (and -sounding) sunny guitar-pop guys. Some nice polyrhythms in their vaguely tropical-ish self-titled set-opener [self-titled songs: always a good idea], and the other couple they played were nice and bouncy enough, but nothing really stood out like the NPR-endorsed earworm that got me there, the super-catchy “High School Lover.” Which they didn’t play because they ran out of time after three songs (they keep ’em short ‘n’ sweet at Cheer Up). Then again, I have the mp3 so I guess that’s okay.
Body Parts at Cheer Up Charlies, 1:50 p.m.
Another happy discovery. This LA five-piece had everything you’d want from a standard-issue dancy indie-pop outfit, but even more on top of it: nifty three-part harmonies, an extra-tight, extra-funky rhythm section, amusingly deadpan yet friendly banter, thoughtful song structures and maybe most unusually (at least for something to notice upon first blush) smart and intriguing lyrics. Made me think of both of Montreal and Talking Heads at various points. Could get interesting.
“Happiness bleeds,” growls Cleaver.
“All over,” comes in Lisa Walker high and sweet.
“You and me,” returns Chuck, this time with an adlibbed “motherfucker” that signals both the lyric’s specificity and diffuseness. Funny for one, painful for another, real for all, which if you know them is standard Wussy.
The most underappreciated band (say I and all members of the tribe) of our young century is smoothing out the edges, hitting the road with purpose, and noising up as they go. New drummer Joe Klug pushes the pre-Strawberry stuff into a new context, insisting the band’s melodic beauty can rock with abandon. He beats their sonic forms into new shapes, giving their sound a new almost tactile quality. The addition of Klug and old Ass Pony John Erhardt on steel guitar turn the once plaintive “Hairbrained Horse” into a cri de coeur, infuse pretty ditty “Maglite” with punky din, and blow up Strawberry cut “Pizza King” into an explosion of drum and drone.
FEATURING: The Soil and the Sun, Divine Fits, Chelsea Light Moving, Shugo Tokumaru, Marnie Stern, Azari & III, Icona Pop, Nicolas Jaar, an endless ribbon of bats and lots more.
Austin’s blowing up. The city is expanding rapidly — it was the second fastest growing city in the nation last year — and it’s easy to see. (And easy to see why.)
The quick driving tour my buddy gave me after I touched down on Monday offered abundant visible evidence of the town’s growing pains. The plaza where I did some yoga and thrift-shopping last year; the dusty food-truck-filled lot where we’d grubbed at the end of each night; multiple former sites of installations and pop-up venues: all now new, in-construction condo developments.
South by Southwest, the city’s annual orgy of hyperactive media saturation and corporate sponsorship, is bloating, too. For the first time this year, the official music conference stretches across five days instead of four, now taking over Tuesday night, and the unquantifiable slew of attendant goings-on means this thing is practically a full week. (Not even mentioning the film and interactive portions.) My M.O. for this year, in part to ward off the 20 percent increased risk of burnout with that extra day, is to really, really let it be low-key. Pace myself. Enjoy it. Not worry about which of the hundred-squillion bands I might be missing at any given moment. And, overall, not to get — as Hundred Waters’ drummer so aptly quipped this evening (can’t believe I’ve never come up with it before) — South-by-South-Stressed. Also, to focus on bands I’ve never seen before, especially those that are completely new to me.
So far so good. It’s Tuesday night (only Tuesday, it’s felt necessary to keep reminding myself) — and I’ve already had well over 24 busy hours of show-going, despite getting late starts both yesterday and today.
Dancefloor Diplomacy — featuring City Paper writer Jakob Dorof — is back with its second song, and it's a crazy rick-moody, trip-horror, collagit-prop (yeah, I'm making these up) piece of work. You may remember their only other release, last year's "We Are Ready," well this one's even deeper and darker and the "samples" are harder to ID. Zomby did the beats. Fashion label En Noir did the visuals. Vice did an interview with Dancefloor Diplomacy and it's a good one.
Lansdale band Friends with Murder does their song "Dearly Beloved" at good, old Laurel Hill Cemetery, final resting place of people named Wister, Wistar, Furness, Rittenhouse, Pemberton and Peale — not to mention Harry Kalas and Adrian Balboa. This video makes me wonder: Is there anything Laurel Hill would say no to?
- Arts Events
- First Person Fest
- Last Chance
- On the Fringe
- Philly Artists
- The Curator
- Visual Art
- Arts News
- Artist Profile
- Arts Preview
- Street Art
- Been There, Done That
- Big Ups
- LOL With It
- Critical Mass
- Friday Fill-in
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Just Do It
- Just Opened
- Art Phag
- Film Fest
- Movie Review
- On set
- 10 Track Mind
- Album Review
- Concert Review
- Local Support
- Now Hear This
- One Track Mind
- Philly Bands
- Somebody Else Was There
- The Showdown
- concert photos
- DJ Nights Blogged
- Night Watch
- Now See This
- Poetic License
- Printed Matter
- What We Heart
- Idol Hands
- Mad Men
- True Blood
- Useless Lost Recaps
- Couch Potato
- Shore Trash
- Turned ONN
- Video Games
- Free Online Game
- PlayStation 2
- The 1-Upper
- Web Junk
- CAGE MATCH
- Free Online Toy
- Weekend Omnibus