Well kiddies, SXSW is over. The massive lines, the hipster saturation, the PBR (and, lovingly, the Shiner in a can) are all gone; but sweet, stinky, tired-ass memories we keep.
I asked a handful of friends to answer a most generic set of questions concerning their personal SXSW experience this year. I decided not to edit these responses in any way (truer that way).
Our lovely panel...
Rachel Daily (Bobbi Brown Makeup Artist / Classy Lady)
Dustin Cordell (Financial Planner / Adventurer)
Brad Ivy (Bassist for One Wolf / Bearded Engineer)
Ben Williams (Blog Writer / Pop Culture Analyst / Expert in Hipster Ridicule)
Daniel Markham (Guitar & Vocals - One Wolf; Sexual Healer)
Amanda Shires (Fiddle Player / Song Writer / Exciter)
David Powell (Tattoo Awareness / Screen Printing / Peace Keeper)
Daniel Fluitt (Rhythm Guitar & Vocals - Thrift Store Cowboys / Pendergrass Aficionado)
Bonnie (Cancer Treatment Facilitator / Dog Whisperer)
David Ward (Tone Arm Management / Partisan Records / Knitting Factory)
1. Favorite three bands you saw.
Rachel - Matt Pond PA who, if I may be frank, is just positively dreamy and someone I've loved a nice long time. This show was surprisingly empty and so I got dangerously close to touching his shoe. *sigh*
B. The Walkmen which was the first show I sort of stumbled into my first two hours in Austin. It was pretty cool to look up and be like "Oh well hello opening riffs to In the New Year...hot skippy it's the Walkmen." I would deem that a satisfactory welcome to SXSW.
C. Crystal Antlers. I love when you get to check bands off your must see list. I also love when you're walking to a venue thinking "oh man please don't let me be getting lost right now" and you show up in the right spot. Small victories.
Dustin - It’s difficult to pick the three “favorite” bands because that could mean a lot of things depending on how it’s interpreted. I’m just going to go with three bands I knew about and knew I was going to see.
On Friday we went to the Ramble Creek day party which had an incredible lineup of talented bands and singer-songwriters.
We missed all but two songs from One Wolf but they were instrumental in guiding us to the right location because we could hear them playing from a couple of blocks away. Anyway, one of the three favorite bands I saw (in full) was at this show. On the flyer for the show it was advertised as Monahans with special guest. I can only assume that, since he wasn’t listed anywhere else, Will Johnson of Centro-Matic was the guest. Monahans blew me away as usual but Will Johnson….. I could have gone the entire rest of the weekend without seeing anyone and still have been happy to have gone. He took me by complete surprise. I knew Centro-Matic but my inclination toward laziness when it comes to researching bands resulted in me not even knowing who he was when he got up there.
(Will Johnson / Doug Burr) Photos by Zac Alan - Ramble Creek Day Party
The next two favorite bands came on Saturday night at the Music Gym. The first was Cory Branan. His live show completely blows away his recordings in my opinion. His solo acoustic guitar-playing and his emphasis on select parts of the lyrics really bring out how talented he is as a guitarist and songwriter. We narrowly missed seeing Pearl accompany him as she showed up during the last song of his set.
The third favorite band I saw was Cartright. They didn’t have a particularly outstanding show because it was outdoors and I think their style of music is better with four walls, but they are still one of my favorite bands and put on a good show.
Brad - Monahans, Wallpaper, Will Johnson
Ben - This question is the hardest, so much good shit:
a) Andrew WK - I've waited years to Party Hard with this guy, and it was worth it. Every minute of his half-hour set was exhilarating, exciting, and exhausting. From the moment he stepped on the stage and started doing karate chops and kicks to the intro, "It's Time to Party," my group was pushed, separated, and injured. It was the wildest mosh pit I've ever been in, ever. It was also full of positive vibes; something not often found in pits like that. Andrew's good at sending good vibes to his fans. After all, we were all just there to have a rockin' time. I got booted in the nose by a crowd surfer. And it still hurts so good.
b) Free Energy - Do you like fist-pumping, feel-good 70's rock and roll? Do you like simple bass lines that stick in your head like musical adhesives? Do you like Boston-lifted guitar solos that go on forever while the last chorus is belted from every member in the audience that just learned it? Do you like to have a good fucking time?! Experience this Philly five-piece live, and you will. Guaranteed. F'n A.
c) Japandroids - These guys were so awesome I saw them three times, more than any other this week. Imagine a cockier, more repetitive, more sing-along version of No Age. Japandroids are a LOUD duo with enough sound, effects pedals, humor, and energy to make your skull implode. By the third show, the drummer didn't have a voice. But the crowds knew the words anyway. All their songs seem to be about drinking, partying, and making out with French girls, and these are all topics I think I can endorse. And you will too once you see them. Just bring earplugs.
Honorable Mentions: Magic Kids, Local Natives, and Surfer Blood. All fun shows, all worthy live bands with great albums/EPs/7-inches. Look 'em up, people!
Daniel - monahans, doug burr, psychic flowers
Amanda - I didn't get to see everything I wanted to see because I was playing all over tarnation with Rod Picott, myself, and Cory B, and Thrift Store Cowboys
Chris Scruggs-great musician and great person
Billy Joe Shaver-can't even relate to you in words what seeing him again was like.
a fantastic performer...I wasn't crazy about his new band line-up but maybe it'll grow on me.
I missed See ing sam baker and I really wanted to see him
David - People Under the Stairs, High on Fire, Dr. Dog
Daniel - LUCERO, CENTROMATIC, BILLY JOE SHAVER
Bonnie - Collin Herring, Wallpaper, Reading Rainbow
David - Jonny Corndawg - The guy is hilarious and his songs are fantastic. I've seen him play before but he really laid it down. He could even tell, while on stage saying, "What am I doing, oh, you know, just killin' it". Be on the lookout, he's got a future I tells ya
Morning Benders - I really like their album "Big Echo" and I think that I need to see them again in a club with better sound, but it was still good to see them. The sound at Mrs. Bea's (Now Cheer Up Charlies) was pretty bad, but it was great music to listen to while catching up with all my old Texas buds.
MG&V - I didn't get to see the main show at the CODA showcase, but I caught them playing a few songs for the IFC house. I've heard the new album, which if you didn't know, is the singers of Dawes, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit collaborating, and it's a jammer for sure. They are being touted as a "Super Group", but I just want to tout it as good music. What are you going to do?
(Morning Benders / Fucked Up) Photos by Tim Griffin
Rachel - A. Randomly wandered into the courtyard of Iron Gate in the frigid cold of Saturday right as Brooklyn based Wakey!Wakey! was getting started and was totally smitten after two songs. I love me some chamber pop and concerts turned dancing parties. Michael Grubbs is also, at risk of repeating myself, mighty dreamy and the guy standing next to me totally agreed.
B. The Scissor Sisters will make you dance. I didn't discover them here but I did wander into their show accidentally on Saturday night as well. Stubbs was pretty empty. I think everyone was losing their spirit in the cold around one in the morning on the last night.
C. Efterklang at the Danish Day Party at the Music Gym was a pretty fantastic way to start off Friday. Thank you mister doorman for totally convincing us to go in.
Dustin - The best part about SXSW is stumbling on things you didn’t know but really end up enjoying. I’m not going to narrow it down to three because there are really four that stick out in my head. The first two were from the Ramble Creek day party. Both of these were of the singer-songwriter variety. Doug Burr, who I had heard of and missed in Lubbock because I was out of town, was amazing. Also, Collin Herring, who played with his father (on pedal steel), had a memorable and entrancing performance.
On Saturday we stopped by the Mess With Texas showcase and happened upon a band called Holy Fuck. I was a bit skeptical when they were setting up because of the apparent lack of typical instruments. It looked like they just had a couple of sound boards and an undecipherable mass of wires. When they began playing (and the biker dudes next to us finished smoking from their one-hitter) it turned into an absolute feel good dance party, despite the biting cold.
Later that night we headed to the Music Gym to hear Cory Branan and ran across a band called East Cameron Folkcore. These guys were very impressive. The singer (I think his name was Jesse Moore) has a fierce voice and each song was completely different from the last. I also thought the trombone was a nice touch.
Brad - Reading Rainbow, Voices Voices, some street band that played the heaviest of metal with one acoustic and one djembe. grrr.
Ben - I can't answer this question honestly; nearly all of the bands I saw this year I had already previously heard of (I'm hip like that), and the few remaining were generic shite. So I'll give you the three bands I saw that I was only MILDLY familiar with.
a)Small Black - pretty cool group that I saw twice performing original material, and twice as the backing band for Washed Out. The original music is pretty much in the same vein as the indie-electro movement going around these days, except with few memorable tracks. The guys in the band are really nice guys, though, so bonus points for that.
b) Morning Benders - These boys are typical indie pop, and frankly not that great in terms of providing anything original. It was weird to see them at a Todd P/Cheer Up Charlies show with DIY/lo-fi acts like Best Coast and Rainbow Bridge. They put on a mildly entertaining show, however, so I'll give them a 6. Out of 10. That's pretty good. Better than Ben Gibbard or Courtney Love would've done.
c) Diamond Rings - This guy was unintentionally funny. Sporting the whole Aladdin Sane-era makeup and glitter and wearing tight neon blue pants that showed his junk in grotesque detail, this one-man band proceeded to churn out Of Montreal-lite tracks that got my booty moving while I waited to see what I actually came to the bar for. So, yeah, he wasn't terrible. And I met him at another venue later that day, really nice dude. Just thought his uniform was....um, unique.
Daniel - dolorean, hunx and his punx, seryn
Amanda - I saw a bunch of bands I didn't know and didn't like on purpose and on accident.
I missed out on seeing the bands I wanted to see that were good..I missed out on accidentally seeing the bands that were good, too. Dang it.
David - Treetop Flyers, Local Natives
Daniel - SMOKE FAIRIES, VENICE IS SINKING, TELEGRAPH CANYON
Bonnie - Jaguar Love
David - Jacob Smigel - I had no idea who this guy was, I just knew I had to get him on stage at the right time for the Deer Tick dayparty(By the way, most of my SXSW revolved around Deer Tick, so if you see a common thread, that's why..) but man, this guy was killer! Songs about pillbugs(or as we know them in the south, rollie pollies), a Twin Peaks cover song, a guide through an elderly woman talking about her distaste for hamburgers and the lesbian who runs the place and a rap about chugging coffee through a beer bong. Oh, and he's going to be a doctor.
Fool's Gold - this wasn't really an accident, and I had heard of them before, but I went to the Black Iris showcase on more business terms, but man, Fool's Gold killed it. Will see again, will listen to again, will dance again!
Titus Andronicus - I've heard the album and I wanted to discount it as a Desaparecidos rip off, but the live show was a game changer. Check them out for sure.
(Jaguar Love) Photo by Justin Renney / Smoke Fairies
3. Best experience.
Rachel - (sorry I cheated here's three)
Chasing Bill Murray through the shadows of Shangri La and Mohawk only to wind up minutes after he left. Somehow the Austin people I was staying with along with half of Lubbock, Texas met him.
Watching some actor from Entourage get denied entry to the Lustre Pearl She & Him/Broken Bells show. I had been standing there for two hours! I did however get a free Broken Bells poster from a foreign guy who had no clue who they were and said my excitement deserved it more than him. Thank you sir.
Seeing local bands on larger stages with larger crowds is always awesome and the two I caught (Thrift Store and One Wolf) pretty much killed it.
Dustin - The best experience, by far, was the Ramble Creek day party. Every band we saw was solid and the Lone Star and Tito’s Cocktails (mix your own) made for a heavenly afternoon. All free. The weather was beautiful and the venue was perfect with trees covering most of the yard and what seemed to be a collective attitude of blissful enjoyment from the crowd.
Brad - Getting hammered with the Ramble Creek Family
Ben - The entire Pitchfork/Windish showcase was pretty spectacular. The whole lineup was chock full of bands I was dying to see, and I was right up front for most of them.
Daniel - getting to play with will johnson and meeting bill murray
Amanda - playing tunes with my friends--all sappy like--bird brain
eating creeps at the crepe cafe...
David - Meeting a lovely lady with a radiant smile...
Dan - PLAYING OUR SHOWCASE TO A PACKED CROWD
Bonnie - Getting free booze and hanging out w/ great people at the ramble creek show.
David - Thursday night hanging out with old friends. Being in New York has kept me away from good Texas buds that I have miss for a while, and it seemed that all of them were there on Thursday at Mrs. Bea's. It was actually a fine moment to just hang out with everyone and kick back some beers and reminisce of times long since past.
4. Worst experience.
Rachel - (I cheated again here's three)
I had in my possession a VIP pass to White Denim on Wednesday thanks to a extremely nice Austin friend and couldn't get there in time because of work. Gaaah.
Not getting into She & Him/Broken Bells. I did, however, get 2 free posters that get to hang on my wall and mock me forever.
Walking full speed into a fire hydrant on my mad hunt for a warm building. It didn't move believe it or not.
Dustin - The worst thing that happened was waking up Saturday morning, not only because of the hangover but also because of the weather. As soon as we looked outside there was a shadow of doubt cast that THE show we were there for that day would be canceled. Auditorium Shores was hosting Kimya Dawson, Dawes, Deer Tick, Lucero and She & Him. We headed down there at the prescribed time and it looked abandoned. We decided to wait a while and wandered up and down Congress trying to find a thrift store with warm clothing. When we went back it appeared that they were breaking down some of the tents so we asked. They said there was a slight chance that they’d still put it on if the weather permitted. The weather never changed so we assumed the entire event was canceled. We found out later that they had held it. It felt like I imagine it might feel for someone to cut my balls off. Worst experience.
Austin Eavesdropper (Leslie header)
Brad - Eating Taco cabana 3 times in a row.
Ben - A long-delayed, twenty-minute set from No Age was a huge disappointment. They mostly played new tunes, none of which were that remarkable, in a packed bar called Red Fez - a venue ill-equipped for shows of this nature. The place was small, the sound was terrible, Dean and Randy took forever to set up, and before we knew it, it was all over. Bummer. Still love these guys though. Better luck next time.
Also, traffic. Can we fix this next year, Austin?
Also, I had a huge headache Thursday night from drinking too much free Mike's Hard Lemonade earlier that day. Ah, life, you always give me lessons.
Daniel - cold weather and a sinus infection
Amanda - parking was bad...but I didn't have a worst experience...well,,,,
David - ...Never Calling Her Back
Daniel - FALLING DOWN 2 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS ON TOO MUCH TEQUILA
Bonnie - Paying $3.25 for lone stars at a crappy crowded bar.
David - Trying to hail a fucking cab outside of 6th street. It's near impossible, and I ended up walking a good 2 miles from the One Wolf Ramble Creek show back to the Deer Tick day party. And just trying to get a cab after that is such a hassle. I've become spoiled by the ease of cab services in NYC. That and not eating Taco Cabana. It was one of the things I was looking forward to the most and I never got the chance.
5. Any especially interesting moment or happening.
Rachel - I saw Gwar walking down the street like an hour after their show had ended. The blood covered costumes would constitute as interesting I think.
Also, bumping into a very lost and very confused Frat Daddy who was muttering something about "shoulda gone to Padre" under his breath was pretty interesting to me. I giggled.
Dustin - Seeing Gwar in full costume is definitely what I would describe as interesting. They had huge masks and “accessories” (for lack of a better word) for their upper body and lower extremities but almost nothing in between. I can’t imagine how cold they must have been walking bare-assed around Mess With Texas. Emerson got a picture of one of them signing a violin of all things.
Emerson and I were also fortunate enough to overhear a group of so called “crust punks” lamenting the fact that it was going to be difficult to smuggle their multiple knives in to see Gwar.
Brad - seeing Zack slip into the Dark side
Psychic Flowers @ Lamar Bridge Show
Ben - Apparently GWAR was running around Austin and partying with all the kids, and were supposedly meandering around Emo's while I was there. I would've loved to touch those meaty fake GWAR members (pun), but, alas, I was in another place at another time.
Also, my friend Daniel met Bill Murray. I didn't, but I can only imagine what utter awesomeness that must have been. It was definitely Suntory time up in that bitch. Word.
Daniel - i mean, i freakin' met billy murray! what else do you want from me? haha.
Bill Murray watching Psychic Flowers @ Lamar Bridge Show
Amanda - Cory Branan insisting I go and see" triple cobra " with him ...gotta see it...it's gonna be good...--- we met up at the yard dog party...and eventually met up with Tugboat..Tuggy said he couldn't walk anymore (even though the next venue we were going to was only a few blocks away) so we drove...and got there in time to see a girl jump off a trailer with a guitar and microphone--then begin thrashing around in and on the dirt and leaves.......then, we drank a beer....then, we saw that band Cory was talking about and it was not good....not good at all.....it's funny when you get real interested in something and you just know it's gonna be great --then you walk your happy balloon straight into a sharp object ---or you walk your face right into some butt music...life's like that.
David - Realizing my body can run on nothing but alcohol for damn near a week
Daniel - "CHARIOTS OF FIRE" CAME ON JUST AS A GIRL IN FULL SPRINT FLIPS OVER A CAR HOOD RIGHT NEXT TO THE VAN
Bonnie - Bill Murray was at SXSW too. Little kids air guitaring and dancing with their parents!
David - Hanging out in a hot tub with Damion(Pink Eyes) from Fucked Up. I met with one of my friends on Friday to relax at her hotel hot tub, which I needed after an especially long day of walking around and low and behold, all the Cheeseburger dudes and Pink Eyes were there. Pink Eyes told me they wrote the song "David Comes to Life" about me, but I already knew that in my heart. It's just nice to know the facts about it now.
Well, there you have it. Hope your experience was magical. Please feel free to share your time spent at SXSW 2010. Below is the highlight of my week, as I had to stay in Lubbock to work for my musician friends that were playing. All in all, settling for an intimate set by The Dutchess and the Duke (preceded by The Moondoggies and followed by The Cave Singers) was pretty darn swell. (That's right, they're standing on chairs in the middle of a dive bar commanding a crowd of 80+).