SXSW recap

March 25, 2009

So, I’m home again. Back from the Austin dead, still nursing a three-day old hangover and thinking of dropping out of school (sike). I spent a lot of time with friends—some old, some new, all amazing people—and if I could relive any four days of my life (even the poor drinking decisions), it would definitely be these. I didn’t have work or school or domestic life or any responsibility except to listen to new music and surround myself with a Los Angeles music scene that had transported itself 1500 miles away. I caught up on two years of missed local shows and fell in love with live music all over again. There were a ton of adventures had, but basically, my days at LASXSW2009 saw the following music:

THURSDAY

LA.Record Official SXSW Showcase @ The Independent

  • Castle Door—I missed most of it, but there were a lot of pretty girls in skirts on stage?
  • Blank Blue—Niki’s voice soared (as usual) while Elvin shredded for 30 minutes without looking up once.
  • Henry Clay People—Mmm straight-forward happy rock that made all of their friends climb on stage to dance (plus an Operation Ivy cover!)
  • Very Be Careful—Traditional cumbia with an untraditional lineup of old punk rockers that make sounds like an East Los Saturday afternoon. It made me want to take giant dance steps where my knees come up past my waist and then go to King Taco real bad.
  • Busdriver—Busta Rhymes meets Travis McCoy with loafers and polyester thrift store pants, Bus is backed by the formidable DJ duo of Nosaj Thing and Antimc and spills out so many songs that the SXSW crew has to drag his sweaty ass offstage.
  • Exile (and two songs from Blu)—Exile freestyled beats like he was high in his bedroom and all three drunk frat guys in the audience were loving it!

FRIDAY

Trailer Space Records

  • Spider Problem—Singer Shayne screams and writhes on the floor with ripped tights and her hair in her face like a twacked out Olsen twin throwing a temper tamtrum, but walks around after the set as if it were her sweet 16.
  • Non+—I didn’t know they let Jews play drums shirtless!

Fader/Levi’s Fort

  • Tinted Windows—The rumors flowing from the free Southern Comfort bar were true and James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Taylor Hanson (MmmBop), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), and Bun E. Carlos (your drumming dreams/Cheap Trick) got on the same stage and played the power-iest pop that’s ever been called power pop. What Velvet revolver is for 80s metal, Tinted Windows is for 90s rock. I got grossed out at the middle Hanson’s crotch sock (and his attempt to dress like Jack White) after two songs and left to vomit under the I-35.

Touch and Go Showcase @ Flamingo Cantina

  • All the Saints—Always a sucker for a Southern drawl and buzz like “if Radiohead were a hard-rock band with a metal edge” the guys live up to their drone rock reputation and take me back to when music sounded like it was coming out of a drive thru speaker and that’s the way we liked it.
  • Crystal Antlers—Long Beach friends and SXSW vets kick their usual amount of ass, this time putting Sexual Chocolate back with the other percussion to make room for the return of former member Errol Davis. Silly string was flung and the monitors were pounded by front row fans as their now-two guitar-sound played into the night.
  • Sad speech from Touch and Go A&R guy—“There’s a lot of talent in this room and I’m sorry I won’t be around to help it anymore.” Group photo, tears.

Lamar Blvd. Pedestrian Bridge

  • Annihilation Time (SF)—By the time we schlepped two vanloads of after party-ers to the peder bridge, the metal outfit was almost done, but I could hear the sick shredding of guitars as it moved the long hairs of many at the annual impromtu party. Finding lost shoes and making fun of local fixie kids until the cops silently walk through the crowd is the best way to end a great day of music.

SATURDAY

Teepee Records and L.A. Record day party @ Club 1808

  • Tweak Bird—A drum and a guitar twosome that thrashes so melodically, you’ll thank them for not ruining it with other, pansy, instruments. Unless, of course, it’s a gong or a theremin, because then you can set those up and play them with the head of your guitar whenever you want (oh wait, they just did)!
  • Night Horse—Blues-heavy Southern-ish rock played by guys from LA.
  • Warlocks—Wasn’t really interested in watching them and after they started, I wasn’t really interested in standing outside any longer so we left.

Parking lot BBQ @ Owl Tree Roasting

  • Non+—This time, Matzah kept his shirt on, but one of the guys from Audacity came up to play guitar and a guy that told me he’s moving all his crap to LA on Amtrak stood on the side dance-laughing. I’m mad that at this point, the only band I’ve seen more than once is this one.
  • Tweak Bird—Hot damn, they made it to the next venue fast and without four walls to box them in, the sound this time is cleaner than a speed freak’s apartment. I can hear every note coming from the guitar (instead of garbled rock juice) and swoon along with the theremin until it’s time to leave.

Mess With Texas @ Waterloo Park

  • Soft Pack—A Hilo Hatties-clad frontman wearing Ray Bans looks more fit for a Beach Boys cover band than a group formerly called The Muslims, but as the sun started to set over the free Coachella-esque extravaganza the sounds of surf rock (that leans more towards the rock) was the perfect accompaniment to my growing need for alcohol.
  • Circle Jerks—Free Sailor Jerrys and Jones cream soda fueled my moderate interest in pushing through the crowd for the Circle Jerks and aside from an Altamont-worthy plea for peace in the crowd, we were treated to the same Circle Jerks set they’ve been playing since I was in high school.

Lamar Blvd. Bridge (3am)

  • Dirt Dress—With amps hooked up to a standard car battery (via a converter), they jammed three intense songs that I don’t remember much because I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that they were playing an impromptu show under a fucking bridge.
  • AM [Alma Mater]—First battery died during their second song, but you can’t argue with a chick drummer that loves American Apparel and an album pressed on cassette tape like it was 1995 again!
  • Audacity—I have a weak spot for North Orange County punk (with a touch of Thee Makeout Party) from kids barely out of high school who love alcohol. If I had a little brother, I hope he’d be in Audacity.

SUNDAY

Texas BBQ @ House behind the CVS on I-35

  • Strange Boys–Twangy Austin locals play in the carport of an artist’s house of jealousy to 20 mid-day hot dog eaters. Rattling screws in the Zildjans and an around-the-neck harmonica get-up make their southern sound even more appealing (or maybe it was the bloody marys).

Room 710

  • Annihilation Time—Same shredding as the bridge but with more sweaty dreadlocks, headbanging people with gauged ears and outside alcohol that caused us to get booted out while screaming “these guys are on stage and you’re kicking me out?!”

And then I came home and was confronted with reality, which always sucks.

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2 Responses to “SXSW recap”

  1. matzah said

    non+ hearts fakebadtaste.

  2. […] There was no late-night secret show on the Lamar Avenue pedestrian bridge and definitely no bands playing off of car batteries underneath it. Smaller bands that ordinarily would have played these unofficial events seemed to have been […]

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