sxsw2008: Music Reviews

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This years SXSW was so overwhelming, even moreso than the first year.  I didn't see as much music this year, choosing instead to spend quality time with various friends and just go with the flow. Still, did see some great stuff, learned about some new bands, and just hung out with friends.

I wish I could say I did a good job keeping up with my sched.org, but mainly, each day I'd pick a bunch of stuff and see if I could make it all.

Here's some of the things that I noticed this year. A lot of the bands were genuinely grateful that audience was there. Often times you get the "thanks for coming out, woo [insert name of city]" but the tonality of the thanks just felt warmer and more real. Perhaps the competition and time slots made artists just feel happy that folks showed up to their show rather than someone else.

The other things that seemed in the ether to me were bands that didn't look like the genre they played in. This is me using every stereotype in the book and subscribing to it. But still, when I saw Grand Archives, I would have *sworn* they should have been a metal band. Cut Copy were just guys in jeans in t-shirts, no matchy matchy club clothes. This happened at least five-six times. Either I'm aging, or bands have finally decided they don't need to look a certain way to fit into parameters.

And it seems that long hair is making a resurgence. Not just any long hair. It's got to be an above the shoulder bob-type hair cut. With curly/wavy hair. Like the guys in Longwave.

Last year I was able to come up with a ranked order of shows, which proved impossible this year. Mainly due to Liam Finn. He was so incredible that everyone else paled in comparison. Shows were frenetic, with him playing both guitar and drums, within a single song. His partner for the shows had at her disposal a tambourine, cowbell and cymbal, not to mention a rocking voice. Both used a variety of looping devices, but the energy was unbelievable. Blew everything else away.

Other great shows

The A-Sides
British Sea Power
Cut Copy
Helio Sequence
Grand Archives
Longwave
Matt & Kim
Rufus Cappadocia
The Weakerthans
Tigercity
What Laura Says Thinks & Feels

Full Schedule with my in-the-moment notes

Wednesday

Aleigh/ poet like an acrobat @ the hideout
Full rich vocals, needs more originals though loved the johnny cash covers
+ A fellow consumator!

The Wedding Present @ emo's annex
Old faves in a two piece set up miss the drums

[went do dinner & a movie, so missed some tunes…]

Simian Mobile Disco at La Zona Rosa – so that's where all the lasers
from the 70s went. Good! Not chemically prepared.

Thursday

British Sea Power @ the Mohawk my new favorite – 3guitars drums
keyboard & violin. Buy

No Age @ the Mohawk – loud for a guitarist and drummer with a
bedazzled audience. Short songs punny banter.

Cut Copy @ the Mohawk – bring back the 80s vocals & sensibilities
filtered through the indie rock lens. Made me want to dance. Buy love
watching a band enjoy their own set as much as you do

Martha Wainwright @ Austin conventpn center – daniel lanois jumped on stage too! Just okay – she can sing but not familiar enough to fit in with all the fans who were there

Rufus Cappadocia – the 18th floor of the Hilton Garden inn – plays the cello as a guitar. Not the most dynamic performer but music is more interesting than that. Buy. Went "far out" – almost like metal violin

Noah & the Whale at Friends- great investigate further – A day for strings

The Whigs – Austin music hall – just a few songs not my thing

Yo La Tengo – austin music hall – warmed up to falsetto harmonies & multi-instrumentalism, great catalog miners but drawn out instrumentals get boring

The Weakerthans at Cedar Street Courtyard love them! Just solid indie rock

Devotchka – one song, which seemed to be my relationship with them all week – just one song. but not enough to compel me to stay or to listen.

The Octopus Project – emo's – excellent showmanship

Friday

Liam Finn @ dirty dog – in love with the next gen of the Finn family.
Amazing set. Buy

Los Campesinos – cedar street courtyard – great sound, perhaps biased
by beers in the sun. Energetic. Check it out

Cut Copy @ SESAC day stage at ACC – excellent repeat

Random foray to I <3 comix party

Superchunk @ Parish – mac solo

Crystal Castles @ emo's – I'm a poor judge of electronica, indiscriminate at best. This was a quick, crazy show but definitely enjoyable.

Aloha @ Habenero Annex Patio – arrived and the show just felt dry and uncompelling. Made me wonder if this would be better recorded than live, having liked the few songs I had heard before this.

Grand Archives @ Bourbon Rocks – I heard one song and wished I'd been here instead of at Aloha – so much so I took efforts to see them the following day. My notes from this say "CHECK OUT LATER"

Helio Sequence @ Bourbon Rocks Patio – front row standing for this show brought me up close so I could see how psyched the drummer was to play. Every time he smiled, I did too. These guys were great.

Saturday

Longwave @ Cedar Street Courtyard: Excellent. And when did big hair come so back into vogue?

Liam Finn @ ACC: Yes, AGAIN!!! I must own everything he has done.

Tokyo Police Club (Acoustic) @ YR Day Stage: just ok

Grand Archives @ Cedar Street Courtyard: Love the harmonies, their aesthetic/looks don't match the sound, buy

What Laura Says Thinks & Feels @ EMC Hilton Garden Inn: Despite the shittiest band name ever, we totally unexpectedly caught this band and they were great! Can't say no to a band with keyboards attuned to organ-intensity. Mellow, cool & great harmonies. Brushes on drum – a sucker for that. Fucking awesome keyboards, lots of "ooh aahhs" – feels like the prom music I never had.

The A-Sides @ EMC Hilton Garden Inn: another act that had us leaping out of our front row seats to dance along. There's a coolness to a concert in a conference in a hotel, but this group got everyone on their feet and rocking out. Straight ahead rock-n-roll. Buy!

Tigercity @ Lambert's Patio: how fun were thes guys? How can you not love a band that looks nothing ike what they sound? How can you not love a band where one guitarist is wearing a pink shirt with a moose and the star a multi-colored boa. Passionate fans and fun.

The Autumns @ Maggie Mae's: a little rough – where indie bands

Matt & Kim @ Mohawk – started with a cover of Europe's the Final Countdown – a perfect end to the week. Great tunes while we sat on the patio, drinking and talk.

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