Posts tagged "sxsw2008"

No Bathroom Line For Old Men

looooo.jpgAdding to the “I’m missing everything” feeling provided by the fact that during SXSW every bar with 10 square feet of space turns itself into a temporary music venue is the ever-growing number of day parties, which are hosted by PR companies, blogs, hair products, and anyone else who wants to promote themselves along with the music they love. In the photos below, Andy Beta takes us through his final days at the festival, where he navigates long bathroom lines, celebrity spottings, and the strangely muffling racks of spangly cotton at American Apparel.

The Last Day: When The Questions Posed Six Months Ago Still Linger

AP080315038283.jpgJudging by some of my RSS mainstays, SXSW backlash coverage is the new SXSW coverage, and part of me can see why; the sameness of the posts, the “OMG WISH YOU WERE HERE”-ness that permeates the live-blogging of each margarita downed, the fact that most of the really interesting stuff that’s going on is stuff that is either a surprise or much more interesting in the moment than it is hours after the fact. I thought about this a lot during my last 48 hours in Austin, because while I think going to SXSW is a pretty worthwhile endeavor, the obsessive coverage can be, frankly, boring if it isn’t done right; Ben Sisario’s four-word reviews for the NYT were a refreshing counterexample. I’m navigating between the gaping maw that is Idolator’s content hole and the fact that going to Austin every year is useful from a (shock!) reporting standpoint, if only to sorta-gauge the industry’s current mood; it’s something that I hope to figure out better for next year, because while the whole feeling of missing 99.9% of everything going on was rip-the-hair-out stressful at times, the sunshine overall did wonders for the seasonally affected blues.)

DEPARTURE FROM HOTEL ROOM: Saturday, 12:12 p.m. CT.
RETURN TO HOTEL ROOM: Sunday, 12:14 a.m. CT.
WEATHER REPORT: Not as hot as Friday, but still sunny enough that waiting in line was a really dumb option.
BANDS SEEN*: Nine: High Places, Jealous Girlfriends, Film School, Kimya Dawson, Grand Old Party, Darker My Love, Sea Wolf, Kate Nash, Robyn. Final SXSW total: 33.
ARTIST WHO WAS A LOT LESS CLOYING THAN ON RECORD/IN THE PRESS: Kate Nash.
ARTIST WHO CONTINUED TO TEST MY PATIENCE AFTER THE TWO-SONG MARK: Kimya Dawson.
BLOG-SPONSORED PARTIES ATTENDED: Two. Final SXSW total: Four.
PANELS ATTENDED: Zero. Final SXSW total: One.
NUMBER OF TACOS CONSUMED: Three (one green chile pork, one “trailer park”–which was stuffed with fried chicken–and one mahi mahi.).
SHORTEST WAIT TIME FOR THE LINE TO GET INTO THE RACHAEL RAY PARTY: 25 minutes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this wait was shorter when her husband’s band was on stage.
BEST AMENITIES, NON-OPEN BAR VARIETY: This is where I give credit where it’s due: the Stereogum/Paste shindig distributed water guns, which helped burn off the tensions that had built up throughout the week even when empty.
HOT AMENITY: Hairdos, which were available at both the Mess With Texas park bash and Perez Hilton’s party. The accompanying free product was limited to the “packet that is really only good for half a use” variety.
TOP “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN AND WHY ARE WE HERE” MOMENT: Perez Hilton’s party–which was held in a white-walled raw space that made it seem like Perezzers was putting on an old-timey barn-raiser–was allegedly the SXSW hot ticket. (A friend told me that the RSVP list bulged with 9,000 names, and the top-shelf sponsors certainly outshone the middling-save-Robyn announced lineup.) But were people really queuing outside because they wanted to champion the artists that the gossip blogger loves, or did they want to just get some of his hair dye fairy dust on their trip? It wasn’t really clear.

Idolator’s complete SXSW coverage
[Photo: AP]

* Where “seen” = “caught two or more songs by.”

Seeing The {{{Sunset}}} From The East Side

P1000058.JPGAdding to the “I’m missing everything” feeling provided by the fact that during SXSW every bar with 10 square feet of space turns itself into a temporary music venue is the ever-growing number of day parties, which are hosted by PR companies, blogs, hair products, and anyone else who wants to promote themselves along with the music they love. In this installment, we follow former Austin resident Andy Beta to a Daytrotter session and a visit from the Ice Cream Man.

The afternoon finds me back on the east side, where wider spaces and better parking abound. I take in a Daytrotter session over at Big Orange Recording Studio off East Fourth Street. (In the interests of full disclosure, I made some ambient noise in that studio space two years back with a fellow from Voxtrot as well as one of the fellows in the band currently playing out in the neighboring tin-lined shed.)

{{{Sunset}}} is a six-piece plying some ramshackle country rock rendered on twelve-string, Vox organ, and homemade tape loop that runs across the ceiling’s two-by-four. The Vox comes in handy when these locals cover yet another local legend’s tune, Sir Douglas Quintet’s “Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day.” Considering I presented a paper last year on SDQ and am obsessed with Doug Sahm, I’m particularly smitten. Perhaps the Daytrotter session brings that out, as the following band, with the unfortunate name The Physics of Meaning, unfortunately covers Joanna Newsom with its most ragged Palace Brothers impression. I stay as the Ice Cream Man has finally shown up, meaning a healthy lunch of cookies and ice cream sandwiches.

I then catch wind of free Vitamin Waters being handed out next door at the Scoot Inn, and walk on over to chug some dragonfruit-flavored water. The cleverly named Scoot Inn is not some recent arrival on the gentrifying wave that is inundating East Austin. In fact, it is the exact opposite–it’s the oldest bar in Austin, dating back to the days of the Texas Republic. It looks it, too, all ancient wood and corrugated tin. Their outdoor stage has red cedar walls and banners from sponsors like Barefoot and Redwood Creek wines.

You’d think that their stage set-up would feature some snap-button jean shirts and local alt-country or something that your stepdad would dig, but instead, Parisian electroclash trio Thieves Like Us were there with their electric drums and darkwave synths. It’s hard to imagine a worse context for these guys, since they shouldn’t be allowed out in their Alan Vega costumes until nighttime. Don’t they know how sweaty you get under your Michael Jackson leather jackets in the Texas afternoon sun? How you shouldn’t mix scag with wine you can buy at Trader Joe’s? But perhaps I’m not in the proper mindset; rather than follow the suggestion of their single “Drugs in My Body,” I instead have B-12 flowing through mine.

Day Three: In Which It Is Safe To Enter The Convention Center Once Again

The 2008 installment of the South By Southwest Music conference passed the halfway mark, and yesterday’s torrid temperatures and ever-growing lines–thanks in part to the descending spring-break hordes–were only escapable in one place: the Austin Convention Center, which seems to have solved its rabies problem for now. (At least, I hope it did.) A rundown of the day after the jump.

DEPARTURE FROM HOTEL ROOM: Friday, 11:50 a.m. CT.
RETURN TO HOTEL ROOM: Saturday, 1:14 a.m. CT.
WEATHER REPORT: Gorgeous, hot, and cloud-free.
BANDS SEEN*: Eight: Yeasayer, the Whigs, Chris Mills, Wye Oak, the Radar Bros., Takka Takka, Sleepercar, Limbeck. Running SXSW total: 24.
BAND THAT WASN’T AS BAD AS I PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT: Takka Takka.
BAND THAT WOULD PROBABLY BE DESCRIBED BY THE ALSO-APPROPRIATE-FOR-WINE ADJECTIVE “JAMMY”: Yeasayer. (Seriously, between them and Vampire Weekend, I’m starting to wonder if we aren’t living in a new age of “college rock.”
BLOG-SPONSORED PARTIES ATTENDED: One. Running SXSW total: Two.
PANELS ATTENDED: One. (Important clarifying note: I was on said panel, which probably helped encourage my attendance.) Running SXSW total: One.
NUMBER OF TACOS CONSUMED: Zero. Insert frowny face here.
BEST BAR DECORATION: The sign at Friends, which looks just enough like the logo for the super-annoying televised bellwehter of the ’90s to make me wonder if the two used the same font at different kerning.
BEST CELEB SPOTTING: Robyn, who seemed to be everywhere I was. Alas, she was not wearing gigantic boxing gloves.
BEST AMENITIES, NON-OPEN BAR VARIETY: Apparently if I fill out a form I’ll get a free pair of shoes from some hippie kicks manufacturer? Hmmm.
BEST DISCOVERY, NON-MUSIC: Not getting sunburned despite standing in the sun for four hours. Thanks, shady patio at Emo’s!
TOP “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN AND WHY ARE WE HERE” MOMENT: I was too hungry to have any major existential-crisis moments, although looking at the pageviews for our other SXSW dispatches hasn’t been all that inspiring, to say the least. But whatever, today’s totally the Rachael Ray showcase! Woooooooo!

Idolator’s complete SXSW coverage

* Where “seen” = “caught two or more songs by.”

No Age’s Balancing Act

P1000062.JPGAdding to the “I’m missing everything” feeling provided by the fact that during SXSW every bar with 10 square feet of space turns itself into a temporary music venue is the ever-growing number of day parties, which are hosted by PR companies, blogs, hair products, and anyone else who wants to promote themselves along with the music they love. We gave a schedule to former Austin resident Andy Beta and let him go to town; here he watches as No Age plays one of its many scheduled sets around Austin.

This morning’s balanced breakfast, courtesy of Rhapsody, includes a plate of stewed chicken and black beans, balanced precariously atop a can of Coors (while courtesy of CVS is some Advil and generic brand allergy medicine). Equally balanced is No Age guitarist Randy Randall atop his stack of amps, his head pressed against the white canvas of the tent as he bludgeons out a riff, while drummer Dean Spunt tattoos the Rhapsody banner behind the stage at the Mohawk.

No Age’s singles collection Weirdo Rippers was one of the more invigorating sets of 2007, deftly bridging a nostalgic love I didn’t know I had for early nineties for lo-fi, fuzzy-sock indie rock with more intense outbursts of raw underground punk. In fact, I could easily imagine this band being similarly buzzed about back in ’94. When friends today ask me what No Age sound like, I say “Slanted and Enchanted if Pavement were a hardcore band.”

I realize today that (as opposed to yesterday’s Raveonettes set) No Age have but one song, but it has two splendid, never tiresome parts. The first part offers swells of noise and oceanic feedback for one to two minutes, occasionally with loops of Randall’s slowly finger-picked lines and sound manipulation from Spunt, all of it slowly building up to the breaking point. A switch gets flipped and suddenly No Age bursts into the second part, an intense blast of mosh-pit godhead.

Well, in ideal circumstances, there would be a mosh pit. Perhaps the crowd is still too stuffed with Mexican food to move.

AP080202039477.jpgBrangelina makes its perhaps-inevitable SXSW appearance, and yet even the combined starpower of its two members can’t get an entourage into Wednesday night’s R.E.M. show at Stubb’s. That sound you hear is the wailing of a bunch of “lifestyle marketers” who are crushed, crushed that they couldn’t book R.E.M. for their own fake-VIP lounges, because could you imagine what the Google hits would look like if Brad was photographed holding an Eastport backpack? [Hollywood Insider / Photo: AP]

Mussels Make Us Happy As A Clam

mussels.jpgYesterday’s travels around Austin took me to the back patio of a pizza parlor that was putting on a three-day popfest, and I stuck around long enough to hear a set by the Brooklyn band Mussels, whose chiming, revved-up rock and roll bounced off the baking concrete and made the slowly-heating-up afternoon all the more pleasant. It probably says something about New York’s music “scene” that I had to go all the way down to Austin to find a band that wasn’t hyped to the gills by the city’s blog-equipped cognoscenti that also happened to be actually pretty decent, but I’ll save all that cranky thinkpiece-styled stuff for my return to the drizzly early-spring weather of the East Coast. [MySpace]

Day Two: Straying Far From Sixth Street

travels.pngSince I knew I wasn’t getting into the big car-sponsored Motorhead gig after being tipped off by a friend that the line had stretched around the block two hours prior to the show, my experience yesterday at SXSW was all about finding some day parties that were off the way-too-beaten path downtown–travels which took me first to a patio-rich pizza party in South Austin, then to a beer-and-pool bar east of the Sixth Street strip that’s become the Austin home of promoter Todd P, and finally to a carousel-themed bar northeast of downtown where I instantly felt at home, and where I’d probably spend the rest of the week were I not beholden to things like trying to see more bands than I did last year. I spent about 50 bucks on cabs, but given that I crashed out immediately upon my return to my hotel room, I’m going to think of that cash as an investment against eating too many late-night tacos further on in the evening.

DEPARTURE FROM HOTEL ROOM: Thursday, 11:48 a.m. CT.
RETURN TO HOTEL ROOM: Thursday, 7:40 p.m. CT.
WEATHER REPORT: Gray in the morning; broiling in the afternoon.
BANDS SEEN*: Six: Chris Mills, Mussels, Ponytail, Gowns, The Black, Air Traffic Controllers. Running SXSW total: 16.
DISTANCE BETWEEN THREE VENUES I ATTENDED: ~5.7 miles.
BLOG-SPONSORED PARTIES ATTENDED: One. Running SXSW total: One.
PANELS ATTENDED: Zero. Running SXSW total: Zero.
NUMBER OF TACOS CONSUMED: Three (one al pastor, two chicken al carbon).
BEST BAR DECORATION: The giant wooden elephant at the Carousel Lounge..
BEST AMENITIES, NON-OPEN BAR VARIETY: The Carousel Lounge had a pretty nice jukebox, too. Did I mention that I really liked this place?
BEST DISCOVERY, NON-MUSIC: Hey Cupcake!, an Airstream trailer that doubles as a cupcake vendor.
SECOND-BEST DISCOVERY, NON-MUSIC: In Austin, a “setup” is when you go to a liquor store and buy booze and a mixer for imbibing at a beer-only bar nearby. And people think New York nightlife is on the cutting edge.
LONGEST LINE: The Scion-sponsored Motorhead/High On Fire/Napalm Death show, the impossibility of which bummed out every friend I ran into during the day.
TOP “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN AND WHY ARE WE HERE” MOMENT: Watching Don’t Forget The Lyrics as I ate dinner. But I think that show inspires those feelings in me no matter where I am.

Idolator’s complete SXSW coverage

* Where “seen” = “caught two or more songs by.”

holy_fuck.jpgWhile looking for blog posts for people who actually got into yesterday’s Scion-sponsored Motorhead show–which proved once and for all that those RSVP forms you fill out in a submit-button-pushing frenzy before SXSW don’t mean diddly–I found this post, which shows that the New York Times‘ policy of not spelling out bands’ names if they have swear words in them, and then getting all huffily explanatory about it, extends to its blogs. Any way to hang on to that vestigial prestige, I guess. [ArtsBeat]

Day One: Bad Flags And Even Worse Pick-Up Lines

photo.jpgWednesday was the first official day of South By Southwest’s music conference, and overall, it seemed pretty low-key, with the day’s biggest names coming from rock’s various old guards (R.E.M., Van Morrison, Naked Raygun) and the day’s biggest sounds coming, as one might expect, from the pedaled-to-the-metal Raveonettes. After the jump, I break down the day, from tacos to temperatures.

DEPARTURE FROM HOTEL ROOM: Wednesday, 12:28 p.m. CT.
RETURN TO HOTEL ROOM: Thursday, 12:10 a.m. CT.
WEATHER REPORT: Pleasant in the morning; sorta-broiling by midafternoon; chilly once the clock struck midnight.
BANDS SEEN*: Ten: YACHT, Raveonettes, Mae Shi, The Death Set, Yellow Fever, Soiled Mattress & The Springs, Air Waves, Kirsten Ketsjer The Rock Band, Delorean, Peel. Running SXSW total: Ten.
BLOGGER PARTIES ATTENDED: Zero. Running SXSW total: Zero.
PANELS ATTENDED: Zero. Running SXSW total: Zero.
NUMBER OF TACOS CONSUMED: Five (two al pastor, two hard shell ground beef, one chicken fajita)
MOST USELESS ADMONITION TO AN AUDIENCE MADE UP OF MUSIC FANS: Above, the sign inside Emo’s.
BAND MOST FITTING ITS ENVIRONMENT: The Raveonettes, who played the back patio at Emo’s just as the weather was getting really warm, which only made their distorted-like-crazy guitars shimmer even more.
BEST REASON TO AVOID THE CONVENTION CENTER: The possibility of getting rabies.
AM I UPSET THAT AVOIDING THE CONVENTION CENTER MEANS I HAVEN’T PICKED UP MY BAG YET: Not really, if only because this way I’m putting off the inevitable regret that comes from throwing out 87 sheets of brightly colored, useless paper and some U.S. Army propaganda.
BEST AMENITIES, NON-OPEN BAR VARIETY: Perhaps this is where we’ll be seeing the “downshifting” in the ever-contracting music industry this year, as there wasn’t much free stuff that wasn’t consumable to be had anywhere that I went. Or maybe I haven’t been invited to the right parties!
BEST DISCOVERY, NON-MUSIC: The Bad Flags Blog, which is pretty much what it says it is.
WORST PICK-UP LINE FROM A BARBIE TWIN: “You’re drinking the wrong beer,” uttered by a Miller Lite-shilling blonde woman who was trying to get a table of Lone Star drinkers to switch to her brew.
TOP “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN AND WHY ARE WE HERE” MOMENT: Reading other writers’ impassioned SXSW coverage, then clicking over to Google Trends and finding out that the No. 1 music-related search (non-”Eliot Spitzer’s call girl” division) wasn’t even the misspelled “catherine mcphee,” who was on American Idol last night–it was “david foster,” who accompanied “catherine” on piano.

Idolator’s complete SXSW coverage

* Where “seen” = “caught two or more songs by.”