Sunday, 21 March 2010

SXSW Report: Friday


H-T-A is lucky enough to be receiving the inside scoop on the Austin shenanigans courtesy of music lover/writer/glutton for chaos Darci Spiker

 
Be it industry showcase week or weekend summer event, the third day of any music extravaganza is often when fatigue starts to set in. However, with the aid of some big names, social media, and, of course, a spiffy new pair of keks, anything is possible. Yes. We. Can.......

Day 3 of SXSW started…well…actually, in the afternoon.  The 4am bedtime of Wednesday and Thursday took a bit of a toll, causing me to sleep in and then move with the speed of honey in winter for my first few waking hours.  Let it be said that Twitter was my Great Motivator for this festival.  As soon as I peeled myself out of bed and began the teapot for my French press, I tuned in on Tweetie for the ‘what’s up’.  Within seconds of reading that people were already downtown “about to see ‘so and so’ hit the stage”, I had both a heartbeat and a pen with which to make a list of plans, presumably so that I’d later have something from which to stray.

First on my list: the Spin day party at Stubb’s. As luck often has it with me, Mr. Paul Sprangers, the lead singer of Free Energy, was gracious enough to ensure that I had a pass to the Spin party, featuring Free Energy, Harlem, Rogue Wave, F*cked Up, Miike Snow, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and HOLE, among others.  After chatting with Free Energy’s (very nice) management for a while, I was able to catch their show, as well as Hole’s first U.S. performance in quite some time.  The fist-pumping crowd loved Free Energy (who are aptly named, by the way), and I’m sure their new record, Stuck On Nothing, will find its way to the ears of many summer revelers.  These guys have such a good time on stage, one can’t help but be sucked in by their adorable excitement.

Check out Free Energy's Insound Session+ snag a free MP3 here

Hole was Hole.  I’m not even going there, because if you’ve had your finger on the pulse of SXSW 2010, you’ve read all the hype you care to about this band.  Until they come up with more words in English, I don’t think I can add anything new.

Before both Free Energy and Hole, I had the sheer pleasure of watching Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings take hold of the crowd with funk and fusion that made me want to ease on down the road and back again.  Not a soul was standing still as Sharon Jones shook her yellow dress hither and fro and sold us on her ability to do the mashed potato in .0002 milliseconds.  If you ever have the opportunity to see them, I say get your moneymaker in gear and go for it.

Friday night had me sans plans, due to a technical error: I left my wadded up schedule in the wrong pants.  Oh! Speaking of pants, ladies, here’s a tip:  run, don’t walk, to Forever 21 and buy a pair of shredded camo pants, but only if you want people to compliment you on your fashion prowess ALL NIGHT.  Look, I’m not really one to pat myself on the back (ok, I am), but these pants are the best $16.99 I’ve spent (maybe ever), and I’m going to wear them every day until the end of time.  In fact, they may soon have their own blog. Stay tuned.

As my pants and I began to hunt bands on 6th street without a beacon/schedule, I remembered the Great Motivator: Twitter! Of course!  Within seconds, I saw @popcandy write that YACHT (the ‘A’ in their name is replaced by a triangle in their logo – FYI) was about to go on in the Billboard.com Bungalow. If you like synchronized swimming, but have always wanted to see it performed OUT of the water, this is the band for you.  I ran!  For a $10 cover, I saw one of the most enjoyable, guilty-pleasure-esque shows of SXSW. My perch was on the back stairs, where I had a PERFECT view of the band, which with YACHT, is absolutely crucial.  In addition to a grand view, I had a whole space to myself in which to dance like what’s-her-name in Flashdance, and so I did.  I was awesome!  Um. I mean THEY were awesome, and I loved it!  


The choreography and costuming alone made YACHT’s show worth seeing, but with Claire Evans IN the costume, EXECUTING the choreography, the show goes from “worth seeing” to “you’re crazy if you don’t at least once witness this damn sexy display”.  Oh yes, there was music as well, which was tight, unique and, though not laden with deep lyrics or intensely technical chord progressions, provided a completely triumphant entry into Friday night at SX.

After YACHT, I remembered one of the main things that I have learned at SX - aside from the fact that one really can survive on coffee, water, booze and adrenaline for a few days - which is that finding one venue featuring several good bands is more fruitful than running around like a Wildman.  Thus, my zone for the night was The Galaxy Room and Galaxy Backyard, where I saw The Antlers and Jupiter One, thankfully in that order, or I may have experienced a mood-killing downward spiral.  That’s not to say The Antlers weren’t great.  In fact, their live show was wonderfully in alliance with their highly acclaimed record, Hospice.  

With intense synths, strong guitar and calling vocals, The Antlers produced an ethereal sound which was cathartic and somehow hopeful, kind of like when you’re throwing up at the end of a night of drinking and though it sucks, you know you’re going to feel much better for it in the morning. I jest. That was an inappropriate analogy to use with this band.  I’m sorry. Actually, listening caused me to recall a wintery night in Missouri, driving through a snowstorm where car headlights provided just enough hope to keep me moving forward, though branches and monsters clutched at my ankles and ripped my nerves to shreds.  True to character, The Antlers played a heavy, gorgeous show.

A perfect way to end my night was with Jupiter One in the Galaxy Room, where the crowd, including some of the band members from Midlake, was out of the snowstorm and in to the sun, dancing (not just head-bobbing!) to the expertly woven, sophisticated pop-rock tunes of four painfully hot men.  The show was filled with tight harmonies, interesting instrumentation (read: neither boring, nor cliché), ass-shaking rhythms and infectious melodies, which are perfectly represented on their latest record, SunshowerOwn it.

And so, with a nice plate of music in my tummy, I poured myself out on to 6th street, be-decked with one more little secret that I’ve learned at SX:  if you walk to the corner of 8th and Red River and try your best not to act like a jack-ass, you will get a cab in less time than it takes Milli Vanilli to perform sound check. I was in bed by 3:30am, ready for a few hours of rest before my last day of SXSW when my phone chimed with a text message:  “Those pants were hot. See you tomorrow?”  Mm –nope.

1 comment:

mac said...

Wow. Wish I'd been there (...to see the pants, at least).