Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SXSW 2010 Recap

Well, another SXSW has come and gone. After a full week of drinking, dancing, singing, and catching a whole bunch of great bands, I am making this attempt to put a recap on what I saw. This was kind of a different year for me, as I went badgeless and wristbandless for the first time in five years. I knew I would be too busy coordinating and attending various events I helped out with, plus I had a bunch of non-credentialed friends in town, so I just tried to see what we could all do for free.

I still managed to see 46 bands (47 if you count The Flaming Lips at the Austin Music Hall) and have an incredible experience. I know there is plenty of stuff I missed out on, and I didn't get to see each and every one of the bands I had hoped to, but you can only do so much.

Big thanks to The Independent, Sonic Itch Music, Stephen Fishman, Spectacle Sunglasses, Lone Star Beer, Birds Barbershop, Salvation Pizza, Do512, and all of the artists who performed at the Eastside Get Down.
Bands I saw during SXSW, in order of appearance:
  • Blair
  • Harlem
  • The Strange Boys
  • Mike Relm
  • Cartright
  • Bright Light Social Hour
  • Jakob Dylan + Neko Case
  • All Get Out
  • Ernest Gonzalez
  • Beach Fossils
  • Toro Y Moi
  • Warpaint
  • Small Black
  • Washed Out
  • The Besnard Lakes
  • White Denim
  • Futurebirds
  • Sisters
  • Golden Ages
  • Ringo Deathstarr
  • Ty Segall
  • Twin Tigers
  • GZA
  • Dead Confederate
  • Japandroids
  • Miike Snow
  • Sharon Jones
  • Hole
  • DJ Evil Dee
  • Blue Scholars
  • Kidz In The Hall
  • Pharoahe Monch
  • Smif N Wessun
  • Buckshot
  • WhoMadeWho
  • Royal Bangs
  • Jessica 6
  • Warpaint
  • Dan Black
  • The Hood Internet
  • Holy Fuck
  • Signals
  • Golden Triangle
  • Jeff The Brotherhood
  • Surfer Blood
  • Jessica 6
  • Miike Snow
  • Surfer Blood
  • Japandriods
Best in Show:
The Besnard Lakes - These Canadian rockers brought it so heavy at the Austinist party, my ears were still ringing the next day. I just wish I could have caught them more than once. Multiple sources have tabbed them as one of the best of the fest. I think I listened to their new album three times yesterday. The band will make its TV debut tonight on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Golden Triangle - This band really hits my sweet spot. They play the devil's music, with a trio of sexy sirens and two menacing, dueling guitars. It's fiery garage rock with a psychedelic edge, and it has only gotten better since I had them at the Covert party last year. I made sure to pick up their latest LP Double Jointer. "Recorded over a two week period at Key Club Recording Company with producer Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House, Blonde Redhead), Double Jointer has the speed and catchiness of the current garage / weird-punk / lo-fi movement with some profoundly goth under-currents and some no-wave guitar over-currents."

Warpaint - Saw this band twice and was very impressed with their overall musicianship. The drummer was ferocious at the Do512 party. The bassist never skips a beat, and the dual vocalists manage to get their songs stuck in my head every time. I'm looking forward to hearing what they've been working on for the debut album.

The Hood Internet - I've seen plenty of DJs, and my fair share of mash-up artists, but these guys made it all seem fresh and new. There was never a single lull in their entire set, their transitions and track selections were flawless, and they made the whole crowd forget it was 40 degrees outside. A Hood Internet dance party is hard to beat.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - I've heard plenty about Sharon Jones, but I had never actually seen it for myself until Friday at Stubb's. Outside of James Brown, she has to be the youngest, spunkiest, most dancingest 53 year-old to ever walk the earth. Her performance was full of energy, and The Dap-Kings are the perfect backing band. This is no gimmick, the band sounds like it came right out of 1965.

Washed Out + Small Black - I wasn't sure what to expect from a Washed Out performance, especially after watching a less than thrilling set by Toro Y Moi. I mean, one dude standing up there with a mic and a mixer playing chillwave tunes doesn't typically equate to a good show. But when Washed Out asked Small Black to join him on stage for the second half of his set, the party vibe was ratcheted up exponentially. All the songs sounded great in a live setting.

The Strange Boys - I was able to catch the Strange Boys at the Aquarium Drunkard party at Red Eyed Fly during the interactive portion of SXSW. I don't really think the new band member (saxophonist Jenna Thornhill) adds a whole lot to the equation, but these guys played a super tight set of their high-octane, garage flavored rock 'n roll, and had people dancing a jig by the end of the night. The band's new album is out now.

White Denim - When they first started playing clubs around Austin, a White Denim show was typically hit or miss. Some were dazzling and buzzworthy, while others were unsteady and disorganized. Those shaky performances are now a thing of the past, and the set they cranked out on Wednesday at the Mohawk was on point. I love how they segue between songs, jamming in and out of each one to keep the momentum steady. It is hard not to be impressed by how proficient each band member is at what they do.

Ty Segall - I have been digging Ty Segall's sounds since I heard his self-titled debut album in 2008, but had never actually seen it performed live until this year. Though he was once praised as a one-man band, this San Francisco native has expanded the act to three piece, which really adds some muscle to his reverb-heavy, neo-psych garage creations.

Holy Fuck - I never miss an opportunity to catch a Holy Fuck show, and I've seen them so many at this point that I have lost count. I never fail to be entertained by their electro-dance rock, and we were lucky enough to host them at The Big One on Saturday. A few thousand people braved the bitter cold temperatures to watch these Canadian wizards do their thing, and they didn't disappoint. New Holy Fuck album details are here.

Pharoahe Monch - I didn't recognize him when he walked out onto the stage at The Scoot Inn, but everyone else sure did, because the packed crowd immediately got very loud and enthusiastic. That was before he even grabbed the mic. When he did, it was 20 minutes worth of one of the best hip-hop performances I've ever seen. With his DJ laying down some nasty beats, Pharoahe worked the crowd into a frenzy and left it wanting for more. This was the highest highlight of the Duck Down Records showcase.


Joe said...

disagree on japandroids a disappointment...I thought they rocked!

Mr. Curiosity said...

Different strokes, they say =)