Click here for the podcast mix, featuring 2+ hours of SXSW-y goodness!
Tune-Yards, Tahiti 80, Dirty Ghosts, Bear Hands, Suuns, Dax Riggs, Little Dragon, Baths, Rainbow Arabia, Dirty Beaches, Tennis, Spoek Mathambo, Sun Airway, The Dead Milkmen, and the riot of '79
- TUESDAY NIGHT -
No Joy - Girls with ripped tights and faces lost in falling hair. Strains of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. Two song survey suggests: capable of bringing it.
Jamie Woon - a German (actually British? maybe?) goth doing r&b? Very live and pretty worthwhile!
Pictureplane - I like his recordings because he treats his sample sources cruelly. That was less evident live, but at least he had cutoff sleeves and sang.
Surfer Blood - whoa, look who blew up! Seemed less magical than last year, but still proof that Kevin Arnold really would have grown up hot.
- WEDNESDAY -
Cloud Nothings - a too fast power pop punk kinda thing reminiscent of The Thermals only more fresh and nerdy.
Violens - just your average light hearted twangy goth surf pop band with a live drum machine player.
Pictureplane - okay so on round 2 more of his destructive magic came through. Big sexy dance stuff.
Braids - I don't know if Glasser and Austra started it, but there is a whole modern female pretty art rock thing going on this year, and Braids hold their own, perform expertly, and write fantastic songs.
Rainbow Arabia - live this is more like The Knife (with all the attendant awesomeness) than I ever anticipated. The recordings are great conceptually, but they sound like a heaping scoop of oatmeal somehow.
Generationals - They might have written my most-listened song of last year, but I don't actually like the 50's retro thing all that much. They are extremely capable, but WTF there isn't *really* a chick in the band. Sausage party.
Nite Jewel - such a fucking awesome 80's easy groove post yacht rock light pop thing, done with a fully live band. Super cheesy. Needed way way way more smoke machine though. Plus maybe some stage presense.
Weekend - that one song seemed okay.
The Death Set - is somehow NOT japanther. Everyone parties to it, though. The kids.
Toro Y Moi - the old stuff is all smeary, but this new stuff is .. I don't know. It kind of reminds me of The Outfield, actually. But with more chillwave. But sad. Those are terrible descriptions. It's great.
Tune-Yards - the perfect chemical mixture of infectious rhythm, raw sound, unfiltered honest emotion, and unashamed power. I was stoked so many people love them. Fantastic live.
Lexicon - cheesy trashy party band from LA/Paris (gratuitiously self-promotionaly so) that is part dance rock, part white guy hip hop. They were so fucking in it and really competent, but seemed confused about why the girls kept their tops on. I think Zach Galifianakis is in this band.
Lia Ices - an exquisite arty pop girl type thing with touches of Mazzy Star maybe or again, Glasser. It seemed really careful, but good.
The Luyas - They had a cool creepy theatrical rock thing going on but with uneven songwriting and a dangerously high level of Montreal affectations, especially the punk violin girl.
Gayngs - white stoner jams hip hop soul collective. I was dismissive and didn't stick around through the first song, but then later I heard the dude from Bon Iver was in the band, so now I'm totally on their tip, my favorite band ever.
Little Scream - more stomping art anthems with violinists. Did I wind up in a Montreal showcase? Oh, there's that gorgeous bittersweet lullaby I remember from the mp3, yum.
Sun Airways - he has a breezy voice like Vampire Weekend, but the band's music is some uncategorizable synth pop: sweet, dreamy, shifty, bright. An out of focus childhood memory of summer. I love that they are doing something different, and well.
Tahiti 80 - I overlooked these guys back in my college radio days when I was more focused on the 90's indie rock deep in their ancestry, but now I recognize their music as slick French indie pop disco stuff. Their performance and image were effortless, their presense unpretentious and enthusiastic, like some dream of pre-hipster utopia, and I found myself wondering why they weren't even more popular, how they could release such a perfectly-timed new album, and then I realized: oh right. Phoenix. I basically just saw Phoenix on a tiny rooftop. Or at least the band Phoenix clearly had the biggest boner for.
Dax Riggs - A local hero who has been largely overlooked only because of the metal stigma, I imagine. But it's not really metal, it's far too poetic, hip, and groovey for that; there's nothing quite like it. The drummer owns hound dogs and drives a pickup, the bassist is a sensitive artist, and Dax himself has an angry cherub face, pouty lips, and a savage and sexy voice of god.
- THURSDAY -
Baths - definitely would have won the AMODA laptop battle. Super active on the controller, very live, chopped up, punchy idm. And sexy weird singing! Does what experimental music does best: present some unexpected alternate ideas about what music is. Teddy bear look like that dude from Knocked Up (or Surfer Blood).
Dum-Dum Girls - I was a huge fan of indie girl rock like Cub and The Raincoats and Go Sailor, but these ladies seem so serious and the music seems sanitized so it never quite works as well as I want it to.
Dirty Ghosts - here's a formula I love: hip hop beats played on live drums with an added layer of alternate percussion. Plus some naked bass. Plus a super hot chick with a rugged Luscious Jackson sort of soul/rock voice playing sections of careening guitar noise. This is sort of like that. In a perfect world, they'd be playing stadiums and iPod commercials. Maybe once they release any recordings?
Ear Pwr - stoned kindergartener outsider music duo, she has off key helium-pitched vocals, he plays sometimes-on-time live drums to their synthy backing tracks. Seizure = dance. Lots of crowd hugs. Self affacing and hilarious. Crowd winning. Actually pretty good music. Sorta. Maybe more like performance art about being in a band. You want them for best friends.
Afrojack - YAWN
Calvin Harris - dj set indeed. Fucking Beatport tricked me. I rearranged my schedule around this bullshit. Sorry, Suuns!
Superhumanoids - LA bands always seem like they polish up every idea in hopes of getting radio play. It probably works. Some of these songs are good, but I can't imagine needing to listen to them twice.
Bear Hands - Very rhythmic indie rock with lots of texture from percussion and guitar noises, distinct male vocals, angular fresh songs. Strains of Modest Mouse, Dischord records, maybe even Janes Addiction and Talking Heads. Awesome show. Sometimes buzz bands deserve the buzz.
Computer Magic - I feel like this band could have been in Napoleon Dynamite, but before you think that's an insult, remember that awesome dance scene at the end. They may have picked up where Euromotion left off. Guileless and uplifting.
- FRIDAY -
The Soft Moon - Kraut / gothy. Perpetual drum machine loops. Emo hair. Droning saw synths. Chanty yelps. Uneventful. Kinda hip.
Yuck - I remember watching them on 120 Minutes in 1993, except they came out last year. I was a little bored on both occasions.
Dirty Beaches - hey, I like Suicide too, but I didn't make a tribute band and give it my own name. Oh wait, is this officially a Suicide tribute band?? ... No. Well. I liked it a ton anyway. There should be a pseudo Suicide tribute band in every city. Someone should get the petition started on Facebook. Thats how we get shit DONE nowadays.
Clock Opera - these guys are so creepy and weird. Shifty thick rock with piles of chimey sounds. I think they must be Scottish, because they seem long-suffering and his vocals remind me of that dude in Always.
Suuns - enormous sinister beat driven jams of Ratatat synth and guitar slag, structured around tense moments of blonde redhead dude vocals. Unhinged but still tight!
Grimes - mp3's are dry, spooky, vulnerable, and lofi. Live it sounds a bit more like an indie Kylie Minogue. She does have the makings of a pop diva, even if she was charmingly flustered by her equipment.
Twin Tigers - Wow, they are so hip. NEXT.
Times New Viking - powerful, fast, dissonant, and emotional indie rock. Quirky kinda like the Vaselines or Beat Happening, but only a little. Really good.
David Dondero - I finally gave this dude a chance, and he didn't show up for his showcase.
Oberhofer - i guess they are one of those clean electric fast punky bands like The Futureheads and all the bands from Leeds.
Lanterns On The Lake - building, soft, pretty, acoustic music for all the appropriately stirring bits of made-for-tv movies. Sometimes I like to sit for a spell.
Screeching Weasel - my 21 year old self sent a message into the future demanding I not miss this show on threat of past auto-dismemberment. Everything went well.
Black Lips - boring people dance to this like punks dance to Screeching Weasel. Thrown drinks and all. It's bizarre to see a garage band in such a large venue.
So. I was all grumpy, but then I was totally sold when the two guitarist dudes made out. It was naughty.
Little Dragon - When god was handing out things to countries, Sweden was in line for 45 minutes longer than they were supposed to and were all "plus we want to have the most millionaires but also the lowest have/have-not discrepency, and.... I dunno, we want to make pop music that is really fun but also really smart." Everything is done live in this band, bass and drums triggering samples and synths, plus reserved smatterings of interesting keyboard sounds, but it's all light and danceable, pulling from pop, rock, and techno. This is a shitty description, but I tried.
- SATURDAY -
Tennis - if you don't already know Tennis, you should listen to them. If you do know them, they were exactly how you think they would be, except significantly better. Everything they do is compact and perfect. I bet their sailboat is the size of a Volkswagen.
Austra - Katie Stelmanis has gone through a lot of changes. She quit the junk, dyed her hair blonde, and got a full band. It mostly sounds like the same udpated super good Kate Bush type stuff, the new songs are promising, and she still hurls witch spells into the crowd. Just kidding about heroin. She's still on it.
Malajube - Party rock, sorta, but dark and ornate. But still fun, loud, and exciting. Hot dudes. They sound like they want to wrestle your horse.
Suuns - again, because it was just that good.
Owen Pallett - aka Final Fantasy, aka the Arcade Fire violinist, who is no slouch on the violin. He has a beautiful voice and makes elaborate but approachable violin live sample driven pretty art songs. He's like the youthful, gay Ted Nugent of violin. Violin. Violin.
!!! - his cocky, angry, pervy performance is pretty much the only way I find myself dancing in front of the mirror to their shit, so that was affirming; I haven't been doing it wrong this whole time. This is a fantastic dance rock concert, but songs on their recent albums only blend together more when it's live. The Prince cover was glorious for a bit of variety. I should really listen to more Prince.
The Dead Milkmen - I saw them 18 years ago, and it was pretty much the same, except this time !!! opened for them, and they played to X0,000 fans, and I didn't have to sneak in my underage friends. It was surreally like being transported into the past. Their thing hadn't aged at all. Maybe they've been in cryo.
Jonquil - the comparisons to Tanlines are probably inescapable, but hey this is great light danceable gratifying pop rock with some possibly bastardized island rhythm going on. Or maybe a little of that Men At Work thing? I only decided that after they said they were from Australia. That band was pretty rad if you think about it.
Duzheknew - Indie rock gets dangerously tedious at sxsw, even the good stuff. These guys overtly break the mold: weird songs, unusual instrumentation, crazy technique, short shorts. Refreshingly unique! I don't know if they know it, though, because they are from Nova Scotia. It's most like quirky math rock, a la Maps And Atlases.
Spoek Mathambo - leave it to south Africans to come up with the PHRESHEST BEATS. There's melody and everything, but pretty much it's based around radly complex ployrhythms. If you like dance music and want to stay current, I advise you to check this out.
DFA1979 - You come for the music. You stay for the violence.