Currently, I'm down in Austin, TX for SXSW. As I have for the past few years or so, I'll be giving a daily roundup of what bands I'm seeing, what I'm doing, etc. Live vicariously through me, and I mean that in a non-egotistical way. You can follow me on twitter if you want to be a stalker.
Not sleeping the night before heading out to SXSW is probably not the best way to start things off, but when you have a 6:30 AM flight and you have to wake up at 3 to catch a shuttle to the airport, it can get awfully hard to fall asleep when you know you have so much stuff to do the next day. I was able to sleep all three hours on the plane from LA to Austin but that's the basic minimum I probably need to keep from turning into a zombie, much less give me the rest needed to walk around a city all day and all night seeing bands. Everyone else I know is pretty much in town already and I feel like I'm one of the last people here (in reality, I think I'm pretty early, I just have a lot of really on-the-ball friends).
The trip to grab the prerequisite passes that I want to grab isn't so bad: SXSW badge line goes really quickly, I'm able to skip the line at FADER Fort to go to the front (hellooo press credentials), and the only real problem there is Purevolume House (the line when I go by is super long and I don't know anyone there so I'm not going to be "that guy" and try and get to the front). Once that's taken care of though, it's about 2:30 or so and it's time to start checking out the music. I ran into my friends in The Mae Shi walking over a party as well; these guys are LA natives (I suppose they could be described as some combo of crazy art-punk with electronic vibes) who are playing a crazy schedule of 15 shows over the next four days, which isn't as bad as schedule of 19 shows last SXSW - I told you they were kind of crazy.
Anyway, the Throw Down at Maggie Mae's is my first stop - it's got a pretty crazy line-up, and the act that is playing when I walk up is Vivian Girls, but I'm really there to see French sensation Yelle. More than half an hour after she's supposed to go on, she plays possibly the most energetic set I've seen at 3:30 in the afternoon before, complete with the kind of overexuberant dancing that would label her a cheesy '80s synth babe if it weren't for the fact that she were French and thusly can get away with all things like this because, well, she's got an awesome accent and says "Austin" like "Austeeen." Starting a crazy dance club that early in the day is an impressive feat and although I wasn't a huge fan of her recorded material, I've been converted. I stick around to watch most of Cut Off Your Hands's set; these are the new Zealand indie rockers who recently released their debut full-length in America and despite playing to much bigger crowds than when I first saw them ("way back when" for the cool points), still play with the same punk-inspired energy than if they were playing a drunken house party.
I tried to hop over to the Paste Magazine party right after in order to see M. Ward - showing up half an hour early didn't make any difference, as the line was still so ridiculously long that 15 minutes later, I was nowhere near the entrance. I skipped out (unfortunately, since I love M. Ward) and went to media reception get-together with the mayor of Austin, oddly enough. There's also shots of tequila for free but it's only 5:30 and I'm not that hardcore yet. I have to mention though, that on the way to the reception, I walked by the oddest metal show where there were about three people in the crowd and the bassist looked like Comic Book Guy from Simpsons; I wish I knew who they were. After some food and rest for a couple minutes, I headed over to grab a coffee and was humorously assaulted by one of the guys in Norwegian prog-rock band Ungdomskulen, who insisted on taking pictures of me for his scrapbook. I've never met him before, but he was so insistent that I figured I might as well let him.
Post-coffee adventures were mainly the FADER Fort. B.o.B. was on, who is supposed to be one of those "the future of hip-hop" acts, and the typical hip-hop posse is converted into a part-time band, complete with drumming, guitars, etc. I wasn't entirely convinced yet but my friends who were big fans and friends with B.o.B. insisted that they are still working on their live show, and their recorded material is catchy, so I'll reserve judgment for now. After B.o.B. was UK's Little Boots, who is hailed by the BBC, NME and just about every other press outlet as the future of pop music. I've seen her live plenty of times (full disclosure: my day job involved putting out her first EP in America, so I'm biased), and this was probably her biggest American show to date, with probably at least a thousand or more people crammed under a mini-Coachella-style tent. Obviously nervous for the first half, by the second half came around she hit her stride and got it going. It's pop music - what else can I say besides that it was fun?
I headed to a NY Noise party afterwards to catch Telepathe's set (Brooklyn duo of experimental electronica); I'd say more but I'l be seeing them plenty of times this week (repeat that previous full disclosure here, except replace EP with album) so I'll save space here and instead discuss the fact that after the NY Noise party, I took the longest walk to the Moshi Moshi party (one of the coolest indie labels in the UK) where a crazy guy walked by and said "Hey guess what...I'm fixin' to kill someone! I'm fixin' to murder someone" and then kept on walking. Thoroughly creeped out as it was a dark and empty street (I was only with one other person), I hurried to the Moshi Moshi party where I was able to catch the end of The Mae Shi's set as well as Suckers, a band from Brooklyn (include in the Telepathe and Little Boots full disclosure bit as well). Both bands I'll be writing about tomorrow as they are playing a day party I'm involved with at SXSW, so I'll save myself the time and energy and just say that I give a thumbs up to both shows. It being 8:30 AM as I'm writing and needing to start getting ready for said day party, I can say my night ended at the Moshi party and I'm done for now.
woo sounds really crowded for wednesday.
seems like every year sxsw gets more and more crowded and harder and harder to actually get in and enjoy any shows.
im not going until saturday this year.. for better and for worse