Posted by at 3:57 pm  No Responses »
Mar 212011

I’m sitting in the Austin Airport about to board my flight to Atlanta and then onto Columbus.  Generally I could conclude my week with this common conversation I had with quite a few SXSW attendees:

Guy: Are you from Austin?
Me: No, I’m…
Guy: Oh, New York then!
Me: Um…
Guy: Ah, LA.
Me: Um… actually I’m from Ohio.  Columbus.
Guy: Ohio?
Me: Yeah, Columbus, Ohio.
Guy: Oh… go Bucks I guess.
Me: Yep.


Goodbye, Austin!

Mar 202011

I’ve spent my Sunday catching up on some much needed sleep and resting my tired legs.  This was a whirlwind week of seeing great bands and meeting amazing people.  Saturday was no exception.

My day began at Beauty Bar for the Minnesota showcase and another Jeremy Messersmith show where he was actually able to play his planned setlist and not be cut off!  From then I went over to Waterloo Records for a J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. in store performance.  Though trufully I didn’t stay long because with the amount of people, it was hotter and muggier inside than out.

Then I went back down town for a rooftop performance by …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead where it wasn’t much cooler but at least this show was outside! Then I indulged my teenage self by seeing Bright Eyes at a busy show at the Auditorium Shores Stage.  Last time I saw Conor Oberst perform I was shooting with a 35mm point and shoot at the Newport where they cut off his power and he played half his set sitting on the edge of the stage with an acoustic guitar.  I’ll let you decide how long ago that was. </memories>

Next, Sean Lennon, of John Lennon fame, was playing a show at Elysium.  My main stalking plan was to snap a few pics then go onto my next venue but his band Consortium Musicum played an amazing combination of experimental and psychedelic rock straight for a half hour.  Lennon had different types of guitars on the floor of the stage and would run from one to the other across the stage.

Later I caught some of the Red House showcase at the Victorian Room at the Driskill with local folk singer Eliza Gilkyson and later (after the showcase) old-school country rock outfits Hurray for the Riff Raff.  Finishing the night were indie-electro Starfucker at the Parish.

Because I didn’t feel like spending twelve hours in line like some, I didn’t even approach the free Kanye West show which people were still reporting from at four a.m.  Completely glad I didn’t as I saw so many great acts on this last day of South By.

Jeremy, “I can tell you’re all from Minnesota because of the sunburns” Messersmith at the Minnesota showcase:


















Waterloo Records in-store performance by J Mascis:



…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead play on Blind Pig’s roof:
















Dancing robot on 6th st?
















A fraction of the bicycles at Auditorium Shores:


Bright Eyes played at least an hour and a half for his outdoor show.  I was one of thirty photogs in the pit:


Caesar Chavez BLVD:


This is a “Supermoon” apparently:

Sean Lennon’s with Consortium Musicum plays one of this many floor guitars:


Eliza Gilkyson performs at the Driskill:


















Hurray for the Riff Raff:

Starfucker play at the Parish:


Goodbye South by Southwest! It’s been fun!  And thanks to the Agit Reader for having me photoblog for them!  Now back to the real world.

Mar 202011

So that’s it, day 4 in the bag, it’s over, done, finished, at least until next year. It was a particularly hard day for me, at once dealing with the disappointment following the Kanye debacle (and hearing how easy it was to sneak in) and subsequently getting turned down at a number of clubs I was interested in attending. Young Turks at the Barcelona Club, Billboard’s hip-hop showcase and Mad Decent at Friends were all not happening, my under-21 self apparently too dangerous to handle.

I know I’m not in the majority of the music journalism world when it comes to age, but I do think it’s important to get some sort of deal to us. We’re a small, tight-knit and ambitious group, and when our coverage gets hamstrung with things out of our power it can be pretty irritating. At least let us talk to the band.

So instead I wandered over to the Mohawk for some rawk. When I got inside Prince Rama were mid-freakout on the musty indoor stage – the two sisters, covered in glitter, were hypnotized by their ensorcelled songs. They would trance out, envelop the room in the deepest psychedelia you’re going to hear in 2011 and then politely say ‘thank you’ before gearing up for the next song. It was a little unexpected, given the intensity of their music you’d expect these girls to be aloof, pagan witches – but they are in a record-releasing rock band at the end of the day.

Outside local-heroes The Srange Boys were rocking through a usual jaunty set, setting the Austinites in the audience off with their rootsy swagger. The explorative garage-folk of the music seems like it could catch on with a wide-enough exposure, I mean, as long as people maintain their decades-long interest in meat-and-potatoes rock.

But my attention was mainly drawn to Fergus & Geronimo, a Denton by-way-of Austin of ramshackle youth playing effortlessly catchy lo-fi pop. They had 2 (maybe 3) needless members onstage, including one friend whose entire musical contribution was a set of shakers at his feet. Which is something that’s clearly sourced in the “hey dude, wanna be in a band? It’d be fun” school of musician recruiting. Their songs, rather unpredictably, blew out the all-too-cluttered week-long barrage of guitar bands. Delightful melodies, off-kilter hooks, and a general swagger, I think Fergus & Geronimo might be a lot more important than we might be giving them credit for.

It was then I made the odyssey all the way across the city to La Zona Rosa, mainly because of Trentemøller’s headlining set and partially because of my tertiary interest in whatever Shit Robot was going to do. And what Shit Robot did was at least superficially exciting, putting a giant paper cut-out  around his station, providing the surface for spaced-out imagery and occasionally James Murphy’s haggard, projected mug. Shit Robot’s music was still the pulsing, DFA-ist electro, but that doesn’t make it any less easy to dance to, just don’t expect us to buy your record.

Trentemøller had a full band, which isn’t exactly expected from a Danish producer with two albums under his name. Live drums, live vocal samples, guitars, bass, and Trentemøller’s own army of electronic instruments – it transcended from being a strictly dance-music affair to something a lot more performance minded. Personally I would’ve rather just watched him mix his already great songs, but I’m sure most were enthused with his dedication.

So yeah, that was SXSW 2011, I’m so behind on sleep it’s not even funny, but I’ll have my overall impressions and anything I might’ve forgotten on the blog tomorrow morning. Here’s a preview: it was pretty fun.


Mar 192011

So Kanye West is a strictly 21+ event. I tried fooling myself for a while, but no amount of press-badge waving could convince anyone otherwise. I was 15th in line, had a bag of granola bars at the ready—I was totally alright with making the 10-hour wait to see Kanye West. Unfortunately my date-of-birth got in the way. This hasn’t been the first time: last night I was struck down at the Parish and this no-name club that somehow managed to book Kurt Vile. I don’t care who you are or how old you might be, I think we can all agree that the restrictiveness of rock clubs isn’t a very healthy thing for music. Enthusiasm and idealism scales upwards the younger a demographic gets, and hanging the kids out to dry while they’re favorite bands play to a seen-it-all batch of twenty-somethings doesn’t sit right with me. Rock & roll is for the kids, and the strangling business practices that rely more an alcohol sales than bringing in good bands is the opposite of what the world needs.

But I did manage to make it over to the Red 7 last night, probably the closest thing Austin has to a youth-minded venue.

Papercuts are not a band I should like. Their flighty yellow-bellied indie pop isn’t the sort of thing that ought to get much attention, but Jason Robert Quever’s voice soared, and the shimmering intersperse guitar sounds can send me back before I knew too well to get excited about this music. I don’t think I’ll be singing un-asterisked praises anytime soon, but I will continue to spin their records.

After that was Dum Dum Girls, a band that doesn’t seem to get the lashing resentment you’d expect a fuzzy, girl-group-loving rock band to get after the explosion of that aesthetic a couple years ago. Maybe it’s because I Will Be sort of snuck up on us, maybe it’s because Dee Dee is so likable, or maybe it’s because they’re just a lot better than the bulk. Whatever the case, Dee Dee’s snarled tuff-chick demeanor worked quite well in a punked-up setting. Her voice was draped in a heavy vibrato, giving old favorites like “Jail La La” an almost vaudevillian aesthetic, while beating the occasional sound issue with brute force.

My attachment to Kanye sort of sabotaged my attempts to make it to the MOG party, which is scheduled to end at 6:00, so no TV on the Radio for me. But still, the Billboard Bungalow has some good hip-hop tonight, and WME has Trentemøller, which is someone I’d probably never get the chance to see otherwise. Jamie XX is playing at the Barcelona club, which could also be pretty interesting. I’ll just play it by ear, as usual.

Mar 192011

Busy day!  Not just for me, Austin was packed!  To begin I was able to squeeze myself into the Under the Radar shindig at Flamingo Cantina for the last few songs of Owen Pallet‘s set. Surfer Blood and Telekenesis played later for the sweaty room.

After their set and a break in the air conditioned Convention Center, I trudged out to the Gypsy Lounge east of downtown.  Not being from Austin, I had no idea this awesome neighborhood was over here! Passing underneath the bridge offers a completely different scene. And I was finally able to find some vegetarian food.

Out here I saw Heligoats from Washington state and Slothpop from Indianapolis, Indiana, my reason for leaving the main drag.  Think Regina Spektor vocals with a pop backing, throwing in violin every once in awhile.  Once back down town I saw Columbus’ own Times New Viking at the Parish to a sizable crowd and then over to the Victorian Room at the Driskill to camp out for Civil Wars next show.  They’ve converted me.  While waiting for them to play I saw through an awful Andrew something singer songwriter who I wish not to remember and then Dan Wilson who I was later reminded was in Semisonic (Mom, the Closing Time song when I was in middle school.)  I enjoyed his show and was was surprised when he called Marty Maguire from the Dixie Chicks to accompany him on violin!  Later Jeremy Messersmith, a new favorite of mine, played guitar in his band as well.  Finally The Civil Wars played an amazing set including a cover of Disarm by the Smashing Pumpkins which finalized the night for me as the Pumpkins have long been my favorite band (a 19 year old neardy self meeting Billy Corgan for the first time.)

Basically thinking this night couldn’t get better I considered going back to the hotel but it was only 11pm!  I later saw shows by The Airborne Toxic Event with a much better organized photo pit at Stubbs and Viva Voce at the Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room.  So far my favorite night here at South By.


Owen Pallett from the back of a packed house:

Surfer Blood at Flamingo Cantina:


A Silent Film at the Texas Tornado party at Red Eyed Fly:

On my way to the Gypsy Room I found out that kids like to hang out under dirty bridges.  This band was called Cunto and weren’t half bad.  But maybe I’m just a fan of the accordion:


Heligoats play in the blinding Texas sun:


















A member of the Slothpop posse.  So people in Indiana get this tattoo too!  Ohio’s is better.



















Times New Viking at the Parish:


















Martie Maguire and Jeremy Messersmith play with Dan Wilson:


The Civil Wars:



The Airborne Toxic Event at Stubbs:




















Anna Bulbrook with her quartet:

There’s barely any room to put bikes anymore:


Bellrays at Rusty Spurs.  I was originally here to see a cancelled Raveonettes show but she was very good:

















I’m confused as how this would taste:


Viva Voce finish the night at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room: