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.