Sunday, March 19, 2006

SXSW


(the top picture is from the Flaming Lips show, and the bottom is Hot Chip. Both are blurry and a little bit crappy, but we did warn you that the We Shot Jr SXSW trip was going to be a little "low rent.")

Austin is full of a lot of things during SXSW, but it is mostly full of shit. The place is flocking with has-beens, never-weres and never-will bes, as well as industry jerkoffs, fan jerkoffs, scenester jerkoffs and people that seem to base their entire existence on Last Night's Party.com. The common thread that ties these arguments for abortion together is lying. Everyone is putting on a show, and no one is paying any attention because they're all putting one on too. Don't worry, we're not about to go on some long winded tirade about "keeping it real" or anything like that, its just that the atmosphere of SXSW can be really draining and a little bit alienating at times, even though we somehow managed to eat up just about every second of it without too much hassle. That is what free Red Bull and vodkas will do for you.

And really, the fact that anything is fun at SXSW is pretty amazing when you think about it. Long lines for everything (which often include badge wearers and members of My Chemical Romance trying to cut...twice), absolutely horrible opening bands, a lot of middle aged industry guys in Arctic Monkeys t-shirts, and one too many Keep Austin Weird shirts can really take the spring out of your step to say the least. Despite all of this, however, scattered moments of insane fun were had throughout the week, convincing us that yes, there is still a point to all of the bullshit. Our experience at the Midlake/Flaming Lips show is a pretty good example.... all the aforementioned annoyances were in full effect, but it really didn't matter too much when the Flaming Lips unleashed about 50 huge bouncing balls on our drunken heads and opened their set with a cover of "Bohemain Rhapsody," that drove everyone in the audience crazy with excitement. It was also great to hear some of Midlake's terrific new material, even if we weren't completely blown away with it like we expected to be (same goes for the new Flaming Lips stuff too.) Another amazing showcase we caught was Sound Team, who appear to have the same kind of rabid following in Austin that Undoing of David Wright has in Denton, except a little older and about ten times bigger. They put on a fantastic show, and you can be sure that we won't miss them the next time they come to town, because it will be really nice to see them play a show somewhere that isn't Buffalo Billiards.

The day shows provided a little break from the industry-related annoyances, but many replaced them with corporate sponsorship annoyances (no, I'm not going to sign up for Toyota's Mp3 of the month club... now gimme my free Shiner bitch!) Yet again however, many of the extrinsic problems faded away during great day show sets by the likes of Serena Maneesh, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Black Angels and Lady Sovereign. And the free beer at places like Club De Ville certainly helped pass the time between sets.

We should also note that a few of the bands that we really like didn't quite seem to be on top of their shit in Austin this week. Some played lackluster sets (Ariel Pink, Xiu Xiu) and some didn't even show up at all (Brian Jonestown Massacre, Beastie Boys). However, there were a couple of bands that were not only in the right place at the right time, but also took advantage of their luck by playing absolutely amazing sets. The best example we can think of is Hot Chip's performance at the Parish on Saturday. They killed with a couple of the better songs off their debut album, but what really got the crowd going was their new (and obviously DFA influenced) material. The line to get in was long, the place was packed, and the beer was overpriced, but I'll be goddamned if everyone in the audience wasn't dancing their asses off during the set and having a fantastic time. It was so good that it almost made the aforementioned issues a kind of bonus, like we had earned our spot at a show that was exciting and important enough to warrant such logistical confusion. Closer "Over and Over" (which we have posted on here before) absolutely brought the house down, bringing to an end a set that probably just about guaranteed Hot Chip "next big thing" status this year. Just wait until their new album comes out this summer.

The Hot Chip show seemed to be the perfect example of why SXSW can be such an exciting and sometimes important event. Yes, there was a lot to complain about, and yes there were more horrible Interpol rip-off bands than you could possibly count, but at certain moments the elements mixed together in just the right way to make it all (almost) worth it. The week was taxing (much of it due to self imposed hangovers), but the bottom line is that for what it is worth, there is no other event in the United States that provides equal access to pop rock's pulse, and there is certainly no other event in this state that provides access to great bands that might not otherwise cross the Texas border under any other circumstances. Even if you can think of a million better things to do than waiting in line to see the next-next-next Franz Ferdinand, SXSW is probably worth going to just for the stories.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Beastie Boys played at Stubbs Thursday night.
I heard it was great.

1:30 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

yeah, I just meant that they didn't play the Flaming Lips show on Wed., and since that is the one I went to it is the only one I care about.

Also, I heard that BJM played once or twice too, but they missed the show I went to, and I apply the same logic.

1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw BJM play Sat. night. They were awful!

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone get a chance to see any of our kids play (dallas/denton bands)?

i'd love to hear how the Strange Boys stuff went... as well as any other band that played in austin and gets constant mention on here.... though i'm sure a lot of people who went didn't bother w/ those bands

...and are the undoing gonna get their shit ready in time to play next years SXSW?

10:54 AM  
Blogger wakka-wakka said...

Yeah, SXSW is mostly bullshit, but totally worth going to. Besides, what else were you going to do this weekend?

I love being in Dallas the week before SXSW because you get to see full length sets of most of the hot shit bands, and at less packed venues. And you don't have to be subjected to all those creepy hipster moustaches that seem to run amok at SXSW (unless you're in Denton). But SXSW can be fun for different reasons. Trying to find secret shows, free shows, free beer. It's all part of the fun. I drank for free through most of Friday afternoon at the Sub Pop/Merge party and got to see Bob Pollard, Camera Obscura, Band of Horses, Kelly Stoltz and a little bit of Patton Oswald. That night, I listened to Ariel Pink and Animal Collective from a cushy and free patio spot at the Gingerman. The next night, I passed on the free Billy Bragg show only to find out that Tom Waites showed up and did a set. And that "one that got away" has got me excited for next year.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous H. Hauk said...

Enjoyed your wrap-upski. I saw Strange Boys at a day party at some too-hip-for-me vintage clothing store. They were their usual badass selves.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Scissor Socket Shocker Zine said...

I only want to see BJM out of the morbid fascination with Anton's possible freaky antics. Is that wrong?

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

serena maneesh sounded good.

4:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home