Category Archives: Features

SXSW 2010: Summary Report

So I’ve had a few days back in Seattle and looking back through the posts, thought it’d be nice to put together a quick summary of some stats, highlights, lowlights and what I wish I saw.

If you went to SXSW, share your experience as well in the comments.

Summary
4 nights
28+ venues
35+ bands

Highlights
Titus Andronicus
Rival Schools
Thurston Moore

Lowlights
Joan of Arc
Javelin
Cold Weather on Saturday

Wish I Saw
Demolished Thoughts
Bang Bang Eche
Zorch
The rest of the bands to accomplish “SXSW 2010 Tiger Quest” – Miniature Tigers, Tigercity, Tigersapien, Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger!

SXSW 2010: Day 4 Recap

Saturday started with a bit of a rude weather awakening. The alarm went off with the sound of sideways rain hitting the windows. A quick check of the weather revealed that Austin had a projected high of 46 degrees with lows dipping into the 30s. If you’re wondering if anything could take the party out of Austin during SXSW, this was definitely it.

We had big plans for the day though and headed out bundled up as a best we could with the limited—and mostly non-existent—warm clothing available.

Empty Lot

Our original plan was to stop by Do512′s The Big One and take advantage of their free drinks to get the day started, but a few swings by revealed an empty lot and later searching Twitter revealed the party was delayed.

Packway Handle Band
The Packway Handle Band

With The Big One delayed, we made our way to our planned next stop New Granada Records and Team Clermont‘s day party. Originally we were just going to check out Capybara, but arriving earlier than planned gave us the chance to check out The Packway Handle Band which was a great treat. The alt-bluegrass band was fun to watch on stage and boy can they play and sing.

Capybara
Capybara
Listen: Soft

Following The Packway Handle Band, Capybara warmed the room up some more with great music and it became clear how to best judge bands: children dancing. If children are dancing happily, I think you’ve got something.

Friend Island

After a quick stop back at The Big One to try out sweet tea infused vodka and get some Shiner we were off to Friend Island. The Home Tapes event was a definite highlight of our SXSW 2009 experience and with it being closer to the main action this year, was a must. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to catch the great Danish group Slaraffenland, but catching Pattern Is Movement was great.

40 Watt Club

The 40 Watt Club party was action-packed with three stages and a bunch of bands. We arrived to Camper Van Beethoven performing “Take the Skinheads Bowling” and checked out performances from several other groups (view full list of performers).

Ruby Isle
Ruby Isle

Our experience at the 40 Watt Club party was capped off by Ruby Isle. The electro-cover group worked on a complete track-by-track reinterpretation of Guns n’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction and we got to hear a few of the songs during this set: “Mr. Brownstone”, “It’s So Easy”, and “My Michelle”. It took some effort to recognize the songs pre-chorus and G n’ R fans with no sense of humor would likely be offended, but it was a lot of fun.

Watson Twins
The Watson Twins
Listen

Although we didn’t manage to catch Band of Horses at the Central Presbyterian Church on day 3, we did manage to catch The Watson Twins there on day 4. Church performances are always kind of interesting and benefit from being clean, seated and warm. The Watson Twins were accompanied by a talented band and highlights included their cover of Sade’s “The Sweetest Taboo”.

Rival Schools
Rival Schools

We effectively ended our SXSW 2010 experience by catching Rival Schools perform the second of three straight days of performances at Red 7. It was great to be able to see them live and singer/guitarist Walter Schreifels obviously loves performing in front of an audience. The band should be having a new album out this summer.

I hope you enjoyed reading the recaps of our experience. We’ll be doing at least one additional SXSW 2010 post later to summarize things and cover what we missed/wish we saw as well as to share some additional photos.

SXSW 2010: Day 3 Recap

I think day three might get categorized as a day of recovery, at least when it comes to the afternoon. We didn’t stress about getting an “early” pre-noon start and once we got downtown, we walked over to Juan in a Million where I got way too much breakfast taco. Just finishing one threw me into a bit of a food coma so we planned to take it easy, checking out what was going on at various east of the freeway locations we ran across. The highlight of this was definitely a random skateboard contest with some hilarious commentary.

Skateboarders

Eventually the time did come to commit to a show so we decided to continue our “SXSW 2010 Tiger Quest” by checking out Minature Tigers. Unfortunately, they seem to have been removed from the lineup so with a bit of further deliberation we finally got the music started with:

Frightened Rabbit
Frightened Rabbit
Listen: Old Old Fashioned | Modern Leper

It was good to get the music started and particularly with an international band that I had never seen before. Opportunities to check groups out from all over the place is one of the great things about SXSW. Frightened Rabbit are actually going to be kicking off a US tour this April with a performance at Coachella so if you didn’t make it to SXSW, but want to check out Frightened Rabbit live, here’s your chance.

Thurston Moore
Thurston Moore
Listen: Fri/End

After Frightened Rabbit, it was back to the east to see Thurston Moore at the French Legation Museum. This place is one of the best to chill out at with two stages and a nice lawn. Thurston Moore opted to perform at the smaller stage which was great as it is set up at the bottom of a slight hill which provided great viewing/listening. It was a mellow, intimate performance and afterward he stopped for photos with a few people including who I am pretty sure was Eddie Steeples (Darnell aka The Crab Man from My Name Is Earl).

Mariachi

On our way out, we heard music coming from what I thought was the other stage, but it turned out to be a random mariachi band that appeared on the scene. They surrounded a couple folks that were still sitting down and got quite an enthusiastic response.

YACHT Crowd
YACHT
Listen: So Post All ‘Em | See a Penny (Pick It Up)

YACHT drew quite the crowd at their Mess With Texas performance. There were as many people in front of me as there were behind me in the photo above. When they first started playing, I was quite surprised as they were fully decked out in tuxedos and had a full band. This was my first encounter with YACHT that included the Straight Gaze and I must say, they make the full band thing work for them.

Twin Tigers
Twin Tigers

Following YACHT and a failed attempt to see Band of Horses play at the Central Presbyterian Church, SXSW 2010 Tiger Quest continued with Athens, GA’s Twin Tigers. The group provided further proof that all bands with “Tiger” in their name are awesome.

Dosh
Dosh

Dosh is one of those artists that I’ve wanted to see live for a long time; something about things being samples and layered live really fascinates me and it is pretty incredible to see it happen. Unfortunately, the sound system at Barbarella was not incredible and although we were able to see a master at his craft, we weren’t really able to listen and enjoy it.

Les Savy Fav
Les Savy Fav
Listen: Patty Lee

No disrespect to Suckers or The Antlers, both of which had great sets prior to Les Savy Fav, but I’m going to jump straight to Les Savy Fav. It was a laid back afternoon and now I’m going to try and make it a laid back “evening” by wrapping this sucker up and getting to bed before 6 am.

After seeing Les Savy Fav perform at Seattle’s Capitol Hill Block Party back in 2008, I told myself that I’d see them perform whenever I had the chance. Singer Tim Harrington’s presence at that performance was awesome and it continued tonight with various antics including unplugging stage lights, pouring glowstick chemicals on himself, jumping into the crowd and, last but not least, singing his head off. The sound wasn’t all that great with the microphones seeming to drop left and right, but the crowd was singing right along the whole time and Harrington does not lack in the volume department. Closing out the set as part of the “encore” – in quotes because the sound man didn’t turn anything back on – he screamed a capella. Les Savy Fav live show = awesome.

One more day and then it is back to reality.

SXSW 2010: Day 2 Recap

If it seemed like day one was full of tough decisions, day two really put my prioritization skills to the test. I had marked up to five or six options for several time slots, but in the end cheap beer and proximity probably played a larger role in decision making than I should admit. There was still plenty of great music and here’s the rundown for the day.

Venice Is Sinking
Venice Is Sinking
Listen: Ryan’s Song | Pulaski Heights

Having woken up too late to catch a free brunch we had been planning to hit up, our schedule was free to head directly to the Team Clermont and MBV Music Official SXSW College Party. Kicking the party off was Venice Is Sinking, a band we’ve featured plenty here on The PhiLL(er), but I’ve never had the good fortune to see live.

As part of the festivities there were vinyl/tote giveaways and our previous coverage of Venice Is Sinking’s third album paid off in helping me answer a trivia question to win one. Hooray for winning and the day was off to a great start!

Following Venice Is Sinking, we took a brief break from the music so that I could finally meet Jasper Borgman (@JasperPlanNine) in person. Also met Michael Butler (@rnrgeek) who Jasper does the Good Clean Fun show with. Then, it was off to the east side of the IH-35.

Ume
Ume
Listen: The Conductor | Pendulum

Last year, some of the best times we had were east of IH-35 and our first adventure east of the interstate this year was to check out Ume. This short trek was certainly worth it as they absolutely rocked. We ended up with some great photos and video which we’ll be sure to post on The PhiLL(er) Facebook page later. If you want an idea of Ume, think Kim Gordon leading a power trio and going more rock and less art.

While enjoying Ume, we were reminded via Twitter that Liars were performing at the Insound day party. This led to the tough decision of skipping both Dosh and Danielson (which would have furthered our east side adventure) to head over to the party and take advantage of their unlimited drinks for $3.

Small Black
Small Black

I have to admit that I wasn’t really focused on the set while Small Black were performing due to a number of other things including water pistols and a lack of the “unlimited” drinks. Only after their set did I learn that a guy I went to college with was in the group when I noticed someone that looked quite familiar outside. Small Black still have a few SXSW performances left in them and are touring through early April (see tour dates on their MySpace page) so I plan to take advantage of one of those occasions to focus.

The same basic story above (with the exception of having gone to college with them) applies to Vivian Girls as well. I think at this point it is worth mentioning that staying up all day, watching bands and staying focused is hard work!

Liars
Liars
Listen: The Overachievers

By the time Liars took the stage, the lack of unlimited drinks issue had been resolved and we were all set to enjoy the set which closed out the Insound day party. Really got to thank Penner (@someboredkiddo) for the reminder Tweet about this.

So Many Dynamos
So Many Dynamos

So Many Dynamos is another band that we’ve featured in the past on The PhiLL(er), but just now got the chance to check out live. Plus, it took care of the obligatory visit to Emo’s during SXSW. The venue has a special place in my heart since my first SXSW trip ten years ago when it was one of the few all ages places I could find. The band’s performance (their only one at SXSW) was great and the energy had the crowd moving like crazy.

Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus put on one hell of a performance an great intensity throughout. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to hear the complete set as their last song ran quite a bit over their allotted time (I think this occurred somewhere past the 10-minute mark) and they pulled the plug on it with 45 seconds left. They’re touring through late April so be sure to check them out if you have the chance.

Man Man
Man Man

With they’re varied instrumentation which included saxophones, baritones, trumpets, bells and keyboards at different points throughout the set, Man Man can certainly keep a crowd engaged and wondering what is going to happen next.

Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Listen: Explain Yourselves #2

We decided to close our day out with Joan of Arc and if I could do it again, I’d pick another way to close the day out. Despite a very enthusiastic Bobby Burg on bass, the performance (and between song banter) was rather flat and they lost the crowd as the set progressed. The highlight might have been the comments regarding Kinsella’s ex-wife’s ex-boyfriend at the end of the set as he was covering what other times they’d be performing at SXSW.

SXSW 2010: Day 1 Recap

Maybe it is just a result of lack of preparation on my part, but if there’s one thing that seems to have become clear based on experience this year and last year is that even if you really want to dive head first into SXSW when you land in Austin, you sort of end up having to ease your way into day 1.

We had every intention of getting things started right away, but with shuttle delays due to ridiculous traffic on I-35 and the necessary tasks of obtaining our wristbands and getting dinner, it took us a while to get on track (our first few stops just saw us catching the end of sets) and settle in.

Tonight was definitely one of tough choices as I seemed to have at least three bands during each time slot that I equally wanted to see, but below is where we ended up.

The Low Lows
The Low Lows
Listen: Sparrows

Heading over to The Beauty Bar, we began our initial string of just barely catching the bands on our itinerary. Although we just caught a few songs, it was easy to remember why The Low Lows were one of the standouts for us from last year’s SXSW. The large group of musicians – which includes a full brass section – were in full control and the dynamics swelled to a dramatic finish fully enveloping us in sound.

Nice Nice
Nice Nice
Listen: Chrome | See Waves

It has been a really, really long time since we’ve featured Nice Nice on the site (all the way back to a review of Chrome), but ever since then, I’ve been wanting to catch them live to see how the duo manages to work its magic. Seeing them perform in person, I continue to be impressed by the amount of coordination and skill it takes for the duo to pull it off.

Yukon Blonde
Yukon Blonde
Listen: Wind Blows | Blood Cops

I’m really quite disappointed to not have caught more of Yukon Blonde’s set. We featured their song “Wind Blows” on the New Song Daily a couple months ago and it would have been great to see it performed live (assuming it was included earlier in their set). They do have another performance scheduled for this Saturday, however, so I might just get another chance.

Following Yukon Blonde, we had a choice to make – continue on our current path of trying to cram in as many bands as possible even if it meant just catching a few songs, or committing to getting on track and actually catching some full sets. We opted to go with the latter.

Papier Tigre
Papier Tigre

Our first full set of the night was to hear France’s Papier Tigre. A listen through a bunch of bands while putting together our preliminary schedule revealed that pretty much all “tiger” bands were worth checking out and Papier Tigre performed as any good “tiger” band should – I’m almost tempted to say that they roared. With a guitarist occasionally doubling on snare drum duties, the two-guitar and drum trio balanced rhythmic power with more angular guitar work.

Javelin

Having read Doug Cowie’s review of Javelin, I was a bit disappointed thinking that Javelin was going to be another one of the bands we weren’t going to get to see so I was pleasantly surprised to find they were still performing when we arrived at the next venue. Despite the great review, the live performance was a bit lacking for my taste.


Japanther
Listen: Bumpin’ Rap Tapes | Gravy

Prior to Japanther taking the stage, I heard a guy in a funny shirt state, “It’s about to get rowdy” and rowdy it did get. The most active crowd of the shows thus far, folks were jumping and bumping around to Japanther and all in all it was a good time. Not the most remarkable stuff, but fun.


Andrew WK

It took Andrew WK a ridiculous amount of time to have his set actually start. So long that 1. there was no longer a chance of seeing Bang Bang Eche and 2. that we considered leaving so that we actually could see Bang Bang Eche instead. Once the set started, however, all was forgiven for Andrew WK. The set was fun – which is the least you could expect from the guy made famous by “Party Hard” – and included multiple people getting on stage throughout before closing out with a stage full of people dancing, singing along and having an all around good time.