I guess this is a few weeks late, but I thought I should write a blog about my SXSW experience this year. I don’t really know how to explain the entire week,while last year was such a new experience that I had a list of what I had learned. I didn’t learn much this year, other than how to inexplicably sneak a flask of vodka into a bar (alcohol costs tons during SXSW, don’t call me an alcoholic!) Since there is no logical point to start at, and just telling the week from beginning to end would be boring, I decided I’m going to make lists. I saw this on another person’s SXSW blog, and damn if I’m not going to steal it.
BEST OVERALL BAND
The Wrens– I saw the Wrens last year at SXSW and was very disappointed. The sound was horrible, the guys’ mikes kept cutting out, and they were on a stage the size of my bathroom. This year we were close to passing The Wrens up to see Sleater Kinney, but something deep down told me, “Andy, don’t blame the bad show on the guys. They didn’t screw up the mikes, they didn’t pick the stage, they couldn’t help that the venue’s acoustics sucked.” In the end, I thought I would regret passing up Sleater Kinney. Do I? Hell no. I had goose bumps the first 10 minutes of the Wrens set. They put on a dynamic show that sounded incredible. What a difference a venue makes.
WORST OVERALL BAND
Les George Leningrad– Before this show I thought “These guys will rule because they wear masks.” Not just any masks either; these things make them look like giant Sock Puppets. They came out and I was enjoying the show, fast, loud, and grating. Mix in crazy masks and caveman outfits and you’ve got a show! But 10 minutes into the show I was irritated. The girl just screamed as the dude with the biggest sock head played a techo riff on his synth. Not just any riff, these are riffs that any 12 year old kid who has taken a year of lessons could play. Over….and over…I kept thinking “Yeah, but they have masks….but they have masks…..” But I couldn’t convince myself. This was just too damn awful. How they got a slot at SXSW? Probably the masks.
BEST SOLO ARTIST
Lou Barlow– I know Lou Barlow is an indie music god and all, but I was skeptical going into this show. Could he hold up as a solo artist? I just couldn’t imagine hearing Lou alone: no Sebadoh, no Folk Implosion. But I was wrong. He put on an intimate, entertaining show, with songs from his latest album and even old Sebadoh classics. His willingness to play whatever the crowd asked re-exemplified the fact that he is a god. Later that night, after a night of Lonestar beers, we saw him walking down the street with his posse and I yelled as he walked away “Great show Lou!” He turned around and glared at me. Paul was pissed because I angered the gods, but shit, I can’t yell good show in a drunken slur? Oh well, he has the right to look down upon a lush like me.
WORST SOLO ARTIST
Laura Cantrell– Crap, crap, crap. I was thinking “Wow! Matador has a country artist, she must be awesome.” Matodor let us all down. She couldn’t even pull off a good cover of a Yo La Tengo song.
BEST BAND DISCOVERED
Bonk– These crazy Norwegians put on a great show, with their guitar player taking the cake, flailing his ZZ Top beard around as he performed outlandish feats on his guitar. After the show Paul asked them if he could buy a CD, they didn’t want to charge him. Finally they said in their best English accent “By beer then”. So we did.
Pretty Girls Make Graves– I guess their CD lead me to believe they rocked. I was fairly unimpressed with their showing. They just stood around, occasionally striking a rock and roll pose. Maybe I was just in a tired mood, but they didn’t impress me.
FORMER MTV VJ SIGHTING
Last year it was Matt Pinfield pushing a guy in a wheelchair, this year the beloved Dave Holmes watching Mary Lou Lord do a street performance.
BEST CROWD INTERACTION MOMENT
Watchers– During their set Paul yelled at the singer “Act crazier!” This was a sarcastic request, since the singer was nuts, doing splits, humping speakers, etc. He looked right at Paul and said “I’m going to be so crazy you’ll write your mom about it.” We all laughed, and watched as he continued his antics. Then suddenly he jumped off the stage and ran towards Paul. Next thing I see is the singer diving at Paul, landing on his shoulders, and then continuing to shake Paul profusely. He did this for about 15 seconds. Finally he let go and returned to the stage. Needless to say, Paul wrote a letter to his mom.
WORST CROWD INTERACTION MOMENT
The Robot Ate Me– We attended this show at the end of an afternoon show. When we arrived there were only 8 or so people sitting in the back, waiting for The Robot Ate Me to take the stage. There was a guy by us getting his guitar out and warming up. Next thing I know, he’s singing….what the hell? Everyone is looking around. Is this some crazy homeless guy? Then he begins invading our personal space, staring us each in the eyes, and crooning to us…UNCOMFORTABLE…..needless to say, THIS was The Robot Ate Me. Since there was such a small crowd he decided to get intimate. This was TOO intimate. I don’t want people singing IN my ear…just creepy…
Church of the Friendly Ghost– an old church in the ghetto, turned into a venue: genius.
Friends– why does SXSW let their shows be here? It is dinky, has horrible sound, and just plain sucks for live shows.
BEST OVERALL SHOW
Bloc Party, Panthers, Death From Above 1979– Maybe it was because it was St. Patrick’s Day and I was trashed, but I had a blast at this show. It was at a great venue, had great bands that you could go nuts to, and it didn’t hurt that there were beautiful women everywhere. DFA 1979 was definitely the highlight of the night, as I danced away like I was 18 again. Oh what a feeling!