SXSW 2011: Let the Music Begin
SXSW is madness.
Behind us and below was a skinny tie mod pop band. Across the way a metal band shouted cookie monster vocals as fans flew their devil horns. Inside, we could hear an indie rock guitar band. And a couple doors down, I swear the blues rock band from the Viagra commercial was playing.
I’d tell you the names of these artists if I knew them, but it’s hard to say. There’s a great schedule of official showcases, but those are surrounded by countless other shows, parties and events.
With Sixth Street shut down, every club, restaurant and business hosting music, and makeshift outdoor stages set up everywhere, you can’t really miss great music if you try.
Here’s what I caught on Wednesday.
I had added this panel to my handy dandy SXSW Go (client plug: sponsored by
HP’s Hit Print ) mobile application because I’ve always been intrigued by Daniel Johnston –
the developmentally disabled Texas musician who’s the subject of 50
years of cult adoration and a favorite of Kurt Cobain’s – though I’ve
never really connected with his music.
It turns out that listening to people talk about how awesome Daniel
Johnston is isn’t that interesting, but I noticed on the way in that the
panel advertised a "special appearance from Daniel."
As I grabbed a cup
of water in the hallway I saw him walk by with a handler and a guitar,
clad in characteristic gray sweatpants, and ducked in to hear him sing
two crude acoustic songs in the conference room. His voice immediately
commanded attention. Thanks to the Internet, I can share that
Really good Americana from Oklahoma with a cello, male/female vocals and
some big epic swells, these guys stopped me in my tracks walking by the
Cedar Street Courtyard.
I couldn’t find any video from that set, but
here’s a taste of the band live.
Even at SXSW, where every label, publication and music business
across the globe is competing for the hippest bands, Seattle’s amazing
indie radio station KEXP managed to curate some of the best sets of the
week in a high-end bike shop called Mellow Jimmy’s.
Wild Flag features
Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia, Mary Timony from
Helium, and, not surprisingly, they tear ass. One of my favorite sets of
the week. Here’s a song from it.
See more on KEXP’s blog.
You know you’re at SXSW when you head to a dive bar on the East Side of Austin for free tacos and their free show features a band as good as The
From Long Beach, California, these guys do big, catchy power pop
with tough guitars and multiple vocals. They kind of had a Supergrass
thing going on a couple tracks. Here’s them playing live in 2009.
My memory of Bad Brains was that I liked the idea of them more than
their music. Their set at Emo’s didn’t change this. Great musicians and
it’s still cool and somewhat unique to see some rasta-looking black guys
belt out hardcore punk, but even the classic tracks they played didn’t
move me that much.
There are already three YouTube videos from that performance. Here’s one of them.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hS5apPize_U]
The Black Lips
Heralded live band on my favorite label/zine/production house, VICE ,
these guys are Texas natives who play quick, catchy punk rock. I like
them best when the songs have some 50s garage feel and lots of dual
vocals, like on anthem "Oh Katrina."
This clip isn’t from the set I saw, but looks like it might have taken
place later in the week at the Lustre Pearl, where I saw Phantogram and
heard Devotcha on Thursday.
Elsewhere on day 1, folks raved about British band The Vaccines.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo7xc00Ufz0]
More on SXSW 2011…