don't you tell me how i feel.

SxSWhaaat by v
March 16, 2013, 2:13 pm
Filed under: hype, New music, Shows, sxsw



After years of being jealous of the hordes who descend on sunny Austin every March to watch a billion bands, I finally found myself at SxSW last week. Although I wasn’t actually there for the music portion, I did get to experience one glorious day of shows.

First, though, some overall impressions: It was basically impossible for Austin to live up to the craploads of hype piled upon it by my regular SXSW-goer friends. But the weather is great, the people are friendly, and the food trucks are abundant — though I have to wonder what it’s like without the festival hubbub.

I spent most of Tuesday at Mohawk, an indoor/outdoor venue populated by a decent-sized crowd in abbreviated clothing — after a week of 30-degree weather, the sun came out and the masses rejoiced. According to SXSW lore, this always seems to happen at the end of the festival, when the music folks arrive. Tuesday’s lineup included:

photo(21) Beach Fossils: Their fast-paced rock inspired more crowd-surfing than I would expect from a small crowd at 1:30 p.m. on a weekday.

photo(20) Chelsea Light Moving: Thurston Moore’s new project is jubilantly raucous. Props to them for the noisiest, most overwrought sound check I’ve probably ever witnessed.

photo(19) Indians: The brainchild of Søren Løkke Juul, this is electronic music from Copenhagen that merges ethereal vocals with piano and guitar. Definitely want to dig deeper into this.

photo(18) I/O Echo: These guys were certainly the most theatrical of the bunch — their stage setup included folding screens and a fog machine, and frontwoman Ioanna Gika (who moonlights as a model) made a dramatic entrance in a geisha-esque robe…over cutoffs, of course — this is Austin. At various points they reminded me of Portishead and Austra — a high, intense vocal, lots of quiet-loud contrast, kind of industrial in places.

Blue Hawaii: I mentioned this eerie Canadian duo during my CMJ review last fall, and though I tried my damndest to catch part of their set, the back room at Mohawk was so stupidly packed I couldn’t get in to actually see the show (though they sounded good from just outside the door). I eventually gave up, much to my chagrin, since Hundred Waters was up next on the indoor stage. BUT when I went back outside,

photo(17) Marnie Stern was playing. I’ve wanted to see her for some time, not because I love her music (she’s a bit on the shrill side for my taste), but because she’s reputedly such a guitar badass. Her Eddie Van Halen moves were effortless, but all the onstage banter about her vagina got old fast. Next!

photo(16) DIIV: Loved these guys when I saw them last summer, loved them again in Austin. Shortly after this performance, frontman Z. Cole Smith dissed the whole SXSW thing as a “glorified corporate networking party,” which, um, it is.

photo(22)Blurry vampire Nick Cave

ALSO: Earlier that same day, I witnessed the most atrocious interview ever with Nick Cave at the Austin Convention Center. His interviewer clearly decided to wing it, walking agonizingly through Cave’s life from childhood to present using questions that required yes or no answers…or worse, statements like, “So then you moved to Berlin.” I walked out. Nick Cave, to his credit, was as amazingly articulate and clever as you would expect, despite this. But I was embarrassed for everyone involved.


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