Here's two bands that use the same word twice as their name. It's almost a trend piece!
On Django Django's MySpace page under Influences, the band has put up thumbnails of 168 albums including The Beach Boys' Smiley Smile, the first Fun Boy 3 LP, the Blade Runner soundtrack and the Beta Band's Hot Shots II. The latter's influence is pretty hard to miss: the vocals and harmonies are reminiscent of Steve Mason's, there's an air of mystery around the quartet and clearly their sound might best be described as "Funky Cuisinart." But DD are definitely doing their own thing, and are quite good at it. I spent most of a recent morning with the five songs on their MySpace on repeat. Still unsigned, the band did self-release a single last summer — a double-A-side with two fantastic songs. "Storm" is the more Beta-ish one with it's chanty chorus and herky jerky house vibe. But I think I might like the hypnotic clip-cloppy "Love's Dart" more and wish it would go on three times longer than it does.
I first heard Everything Everything's single "My Kz Yr Bf" on BBC 6Music last summer and was so taken by it's bonkers-ness that I wrote it down on a scrap of paper that I promptly lost. Their name a bit hard to google it even if you can remember their name, which I didn't. I came across the song again six months later and made a point to remember it this time. Great story, right? Despite a title that makes me cringe to type, "My Kz Yr Bf" is pretty briliant widescreen pop, that is sort of like a clash of ABC and Muse. I realize that description is sounds like some people's worst nightmare so take it as an invitation or warning. No album yet for these guys but there are a couple singles out, including the not-as-good-but-still-worth-hearing "Photoshop Handsome."
Both Django Django and Everything Everything will be heading to SXSW in Austin next month, and I hear rumors that DD will make a stop in NYC on the way down or way back. After the jump, the video for "My Kz Ur Bf" and another classic double vid.
Following last year's fantastic debutAlight of Night (which nearly topped my Best of 2008 list) Crystal Stilts are back with a brand-new single. They've been playing "Love is a Wave" since last summer at least and is almost always in their set, so it should be familiar to anyone who's seen them play since then. But it does represent the bands first truly new material in a long time, certainly since they became a real band, as the album was supposedly recorded three years ago. Like a lot of their new songs, "Love is a Wave" really zooms along with Frankie's motorik drumming keeping the gas to the floor, and guitarist JB Townsend's Clean-esque lead line bouncing around.
"Love is a Wave," backed with "Sugar Baby" (not sure if I know it or not) is out at the end of the month on the red-hot Slumberland Records. Crystal Stilts headline a pretty stellar bill on Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg that includes Canada's Women and Blank Dogs who I have yet to see. Tickets are still available. It's a busy night, what with A Classic Education, Knight School, My Teenage Stride, We Have Band and Post War Years playing that night at various places, but there's a lot of value for the money. Crystal Stilts and Women are touring together pre-South by Southwest and here are the dates:
Mar-14 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
Mar-15 Washington, DC DC9
Mar-16 Lexington, KY Al's Bar
Mar-17 Jackson, MS 121 Milsaps
Mar-18 Houston, TX Rudyard's
Mar-19 – 21 Austin, TX SXSW
So London's Fanfarlo are just about set to release their debut album which, as you can see from the above cover image, is called Resevoir. The band recorded the album in October and November 2008 at Conneticuit's Tarquin Studios with producer Peter Katis, who has twiddled knobs for The National, Interpol, Frightened Rabbit and more. Actual release date and who, exactly, is releasing it seems to be up in the air at the moment but for those of us who've been waiting a long time for this long-player, these are minor quibbles. Soon.
Fanfarlo were kind enough to send along Resevoir's opening track, "I'm a Pilot," to share with you all. It's an old school album opener, the kind of waltzing, slow-stomper (literally) that builds and builds… leading surely into what will be the (gentle) pop explosion of Track 2. (Back in the days of vinyl dominance, Side One Track 2 and Side Two Track 1 were almost always singles.) And when all you can hear is this one, it's definitely a tease, but a lovely one:
While it's undetermined what Resevoir's first single is going to be, they went ahead and made a very cool video for "Harold T Wilkins":
In other Fanfarlo news: the recording process had a casualty, however, in the way of
guitarist Mark, which is especially sad as he wrote most of the band's
great blog posts on MySpace. Musical Differences really do exist I
guess. On the plus side, Fanfarlo are coming back to the U.S. in March for SXSW (and first shows in this country since CMJ) and will hopefully make a pitstop in NYC for some shows. Tourdates (including UK/Europe) follow after the jump and after a couple more videos:
Norway's Casiokidswere hands-down the best, most fun show I saw at CMJ this year — usually it takes Hot Chip to make me dance in public. And I'm glad to report they're coming back to the U.S. in March for SXSW with a stop in NYC along the way. They're playing The Bell House on March 16 as part of an all-Norwegian showcase being currated by the Øya Festival folks. Also on the bill are fellow Bergen-ites The New Wine. Maybe there will be a third added too. I know it's not till March, but I'm excited. Here's a track from their double-A-side Moshi Moshi single:
Before that, Casiokids' profile is likely to be much higher as they nabbed the opening slot to Of Montreal's European tour. Around the same time as the Bell House show, March 2 to be specific, Casiokids will release their second Moshi Moshi single, "Verdens største land," which was the song that really killed the crowd at Cake Shop during CMJ. Casiokids just added it to their MySpace page so have a listen. I shot video of them doing that song, well until my flash card's memory ran out:
Things started off okay, rolling out of bed around 10am and I made it downtown by 11:30 and after grabbing some breakfast tacos, headed over to the French Legation Museum for a Garden Party day show.
Specifically, I was there to see Emmy the Great who is effortlessly charming even though most of her songs seem to deal with fairly depressing subject matter. I’d seen her in New York the night before I left for Austin but this was a better show I thought, the relatively pastoral setting fit the material. It wasn’t such a good show for Emmy, though, as she was performing right before Noah and the Whale, the bulk of whom used to be her backing band and their defection was acrimonious to say the least. (There may have been some romantic entanglements involved too, I can’t remember the details.) Later that night I ran into Emmy and she confessed that it had been torturous to be on the same bill as them. The punchline: the show was organized by her US publicity company. I knew about all this watching her performance, but you’d never know she’d been upset. Flanked by two Euans (one on guitar [aka Young Husband] and the other on violin), Emmy’s songs are the star, along with her quick wit and clear voice. It goes without saying she’s also very cute.
Despite my allegiances to Emmy, I stuck around to watch Noah and the Whale who’s schtick includes dressing exclusively in various shades of unmatching blue. They looked like a big bunch of hipster dufuses, but musically I must admit they weren’t bad. I didn’t care for the singer’s baritone which kind of made them sound like the Crash Test Dummies, but he was a funny guy: “We played a show yesterday in someone’s yard and there were a bunch of four year-olds dancing around up front. I think we found our audience. They get us.”
Though it seemed a bit inconsiderate, it made sense in other ways. The early part of the day was dedicated to the current neo-folk scene in London, and also included Laura Marling (who might be best know for singing on Mystery Jets’ current great single “Young Love”) and Lightspeed Champion on whose record Emmy sings backup.
I really wished I’d stuck around, but I wanted to see Switches at the Filter party, so I hoofed it over there… only to find that they’d canceled due to illness. Filling in was The Big Sleep, which broke my vow of not seeing any Brooklyn bands during SXSW. (I would break it again later that night…twice.) Odd seeing them in Broad Daylight. I stuck around for a few songs and headed to the Fader Fort, home of neverending free booze.
There I ran into Austin bloggers Colin from Cubik Musik and Lawrence of Covert Curiosity, who both seemed to be there for the same reason as me. (Glug, glug.) They were also there for David Banner, who didn’t play, but stuck around for Lykke Li in what was a much better show than the Brooklyn Vegan one I’d seen two days earlier. Her megaphone was working and she seemed in good spirits, and the crowd was into it. I actually think she’s better live than on record, especially “Breaking it Up” which came off like a lost Madonna song from the Like a Virgin sessions. (The studio version is underwhelming.) In one of those weird SXSW moments, I ran into an old coworker of mine from my Sidewalk.com days who I hadn’t seen since 1999. (Hi, Kerry!) Nice, unexpected moment.
It was around this time, midafternoon, that my regimen of no sleep, junky food and too much beer began to catch up with me. Colin told me “it’s just a wall, keep going” but my wall seemed particularly thick. Yet I soldiered on. I hit the Lucky Lounge for the After the Jump party, where I caught Manchester’s The Answering Machine who are really, really good for such a young band. I stuck around for the rest of it, as Blog Fresh Radio was sponsoring it and many of the ATJers are friends of mine. Not to mention it was a good lineup, with Cloud Cult, Morning State and Lovelikefire. Jinners took this picture of me, Ian of Indie Outlaw and the Music Slut‘s Jen Kellas. I actually look coherent here (though not smiling), which is not how I felt:
Also also: the other half of the Lucky Lounge was home to a different day party where The Soundtrack of Our Lives happened to be playing. The room was *tiny,* and I was so close I could’ve detuned their guitars without reaching. Definitely a thrill. Back at the ATJ side of the party, I ran into onetime Pell Mell-er Steve Fisk who indulged me in talk of The Wedding Present‘s 1993 album, Watusi, which he produced. (He also did 2005’s Take Fountain.) Also there was onetime N’Sync member Chris Kirkpatrick… that’s what I was told at least. Only at SXSW.
Jin convinced us we should all go over and watch Kate Nash at the Filter bash and we did though I only stuck around for a song or two. (I foolishly skipped out on Billy Bragg’s set too, which included Ms. Nash singing on “A New England”) No cookies were baked from what I could see. A nap, however, was calling my name as was my Austin friend Steve who met me there and we went for a burger at some place with sawdust on the floor. I was too tired to speak at this point, and went to the hotel to crash for a while.
And a while turned into about three hours. I slept through a bunch of bands I wanted to see, including Jim Noir, Spiral Beach, Duffy, and others. And felt better for it. I was determined to see Neon Neon (Gryff Rhys and Boom Bip’s colaboration) but a SNAFU in the published schedule had them going on an hour later than they actually did. Annoyed at bit, but I met up with the River to River crew again and we all decided we’d check out Tiger City at the After the Jump official SXSW showcase.
We got there early enough to catch a little of Parisian band Neimo who I don’t remember anything about now. It’s also where I ran into Emmy and Young Husband again, and both were in much better spirits (mentally and liquidly) than when I saw them earlier that day. We chatted for a bit until they realized that the band they were there to see, WHY?, was actually at the upstairs of the place (Lamberts) and not the outdoor patio.
It was my first time seeing Tigercity, despite them gigging every other week here in NYC and me liking their EP a lot. If you like Hall & Oates and classic-era Prince, you’ll probably like Tigercity too. One caveat. Main man Bill Gillim is a decent frontman but, at least this night, his falsetto didn’t quite hold up live and he was entirely eclipsed by bassist Joel Ford, who possesses a honey-sweet voice that sounds uncannily like Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside, and a repertoire of genuinely (white boy) funky dance moves. I’m not sure how the songwriting plays out in the bad, but Gillim might do well to put his ego aside and move the spotlight to his bandmate. But that’s just me.
It was at this point, with only two hours of SXSW to spare, that Steve (from NY not Austin) decided that we were going to see everything we possible could to finish out the fest, sort of like that last night of the Fair (with the grease in the hair) where you cram it all in One Last Time. Anything anyone in our group wanted to see, we were going to do it. So, we dashed off (missing Project Jenny, Project Jan who played after Tigercity) on a mad quest.
First stop: Bourbon Rocks to see The Slits who were way better than I expected and I thought “Typical Girls” sounded particularly good. No “Grapevine,” though, and Ari Up is clearly more eccentric now than ever. And full of herself. She spent a couple minutes between songs reminding us how the Slits were one of “primary” bands in the post-punk movement. Which is true and all, but shouldn’t she let someone who’s not in the band be telling us that?
Next we hit Latitudes to see The Answering Machine who were quite good. Probably the best UK band I saw all week. This time, I got video of their song “Your Father’s Books”:
Sweden’s The Tough Alliance was next and their “performance” was easily the biggest pile of horseshit I saw all week. I can’t locate the link right now, dammit, but I swear I read on the Village Voice somewhere that the Tough Alliance’s performance “redefined the live show.” Which I guess is true if that means just playing the CD, pretending to sing for about 20 seconds and then just jumping around and running in circles and not actually “performing” anything is redefining. I would call it the biggest case of Emperor’s New Clothes I’d ever seen. (Maybe from a Andy Kaufman perspective it makes sense, but from a “hey we paid to see a band” one, no way.) We left in search of something better, but not before one of our group threw a drink at the band. I only wish it had been me.
British Sea Power was to be next, but the line to get in was enormous so we decided to end our Austin experience drinking whiskey and playing foosball and Buck Hunter at Buffalo Billiards. The next morning, my Austin friend Steve (as opposed to New York Steve) picked me up at the hotel and took me out for the one thing I really wanted all week — Migas con Queso with fresh tortillas.
A fitting end, I thought, to a fun exhausting week.
Back before the Day Party became the norm, SXSW attendees were forced to either sleep till a civilized hour, go enjoy a relaxing, delicious lunch somewhere in Austin other than near the convention center or, heaven forbid, attend a Panel Discussion. I know what you're thinking. Panel Discussion, what's that? It's where a handful of people in the industry get free food and are then put in front of an audience of their peers to talk about a particular topic like "Merch Table of Contents," "Fans are Suckers," or "I'm OK, You're OK: The Industry's Still Rockin'!"
Despite what the Fader Fort and the Filter Courtyard might have you believe, these panel discussions are still going on at SXSW and people still attend them. Probably as many people as before the day parties. And they're just as dull as they used to be.* I know, I went to one: "The Blog Factor." On the panel were Amrit of Stereogum, Idolator editor Maura Johnston, Matador major domo Gerard Cosloy, Sean Adams of Drowned in Sound, NPR blogger and onetime Sleater Kinney vocalist Carrie Brownstein.
What could have been a potentially interesting discussion about music blogs — Gerard Cosloy talked briefly about using the extremely unfriendly Web Sheriff to do their dirty work for them –got hijacked by a lot of marketing types in the audience who asked a bunch of questions that all amounted to "So, if I sent you an MP3 what kind of subject line would work best for you to open it?" I did however use the opportunity afterwards to ask Cosloy when the Matablog was going to fully convert to all food content. (It's almost there as it is.)
After that, I headed over to the Village Voice day party, arriving just in time for the last Black Keys song. If someone had told me it was the Black Crowes I woulda believed it. I was there to see Sweden's neo-classic rockers The Soundtrack of Our Lives who played a set almost entirely comprised of new material from their yet-to-be-released fifth album. Skilled musicians and masters of all the great rock moves (windmills, kicks, stick twirls, etc), TSOOL are always good live but the band's material has suffered with the departure of main songwriter Bjorn Olsson shortly after their 2001 breakthrough, Behind the Music. The new stuff wasn't bad, but paled in comparison when the band launched into the stellar "Sister Surround." MP3: The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Sister Surround
From there I headed over to the Fader Fort to catch the debut of UK-Swede combo Fanfarlo (who I've yammered on about before) who have surprisingly little US buzz despite the David Bowie stamp of approval. A lot of these day parties blur the lines as to whether you're attending a show or a commercial, but there's no subtle marketing at the Fader Fort: to get into space you literally have to walk through a Levi's Store specially built just for this. This is what we do for free Stella and SoCo-n-Lime and an excellent lineup of music daily in an admittedly cool space. Fanfarlo are fan-tastic, performing shoeless in the 90-plus degree Friday heat. Again, I've no idea why more people aren't talking about them. Catchy songs that remind me of Belle & Sebastian, though I've read more comparisons to Arcade Fire (they're nowhere near as anthemic). Maybe it's because they're slow to release their debut, trickling out singles instead, like the wonderful "Fire Escape" of which I shot some video:
Did I mention how hot it was Friday? I compared it to friends back in New York as if the McCarren Pool parties in July took over an entire town. Pretty sure it hit 95. Energy-sucking heat. I headed back to the hotel for a while to cool off, sneak in a nap and shower.
The order of things is a bit confused in my head but at some point in the evening I went to some cheesy subterranean club called Prague (that probably only has music during SXSW) to see Fuck Buttons. Two guys, one with a hoodie pulled over his head, were hunched over either end of a long work table filled with makeshift gear, toy microphones, patch bays, etc. The first ten minutes or so were somewhat torturous, about as exciting as watching two dudes work on home electronics kits as a voluminous nonmelodic sludge was sprayed at the crowd from the soundsystem. But then the bearded one picked up drumsticks and began whacking at a floor tom while screaming words into the toy microphone shoved into his mouth, while the hoodied guy jumped into the crowd and began spastically dancing and screaming into a real mike. Fuck Buttons' album, Street Horrrsing, isn't really my cup of tea, but I'd go see them live again. They're currently on tour with Caribou — a double bill that's highly recommended. As are earplugs.
Most of Friday night was spent at the Sub Pop showcase at Bourbon Rocks: two stages, ten or so bands and most of them were good though it started off a bit shaky with New Zealand's Ruby Suns. I actually really like their new album, Sea Lion, but the many-membered band were only three or four strong here and were forced to trade off onto instruments they don't normally play (from what I could tell). The witch doctor hippie stagewear didn't help either. A disappointment. Much better were Seattle's Grand Archives who traffic in late-'60s / early-'70s rock and do it very well. Highlight of the set for me, though, was a medley of covers comprised of the Beegees' "I Started a Joke," the Zombies' "Care of Cell 44" and Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown."
In a similar vein was Kelley Stoltz, though maybe slightly different reference points. I'm a big fan of his, so take this with a grain of salt, but his set was tied with Fanfarlo for best of the fest. Stoltz is a real charmer, very funny and knows how to tell a good story in between songs. His backing band is pretty ace — including one of the coolest cats you've ever seen on bass, and a keyboardist who also rocked the theremin. Most of the set came from his great new album, Circular Sounds, but also "Birdies Singing" from 2005's Between the Branches which you might know from a Volvo commercial. I shot video of my favorite song from Circular Sounds, "To Speak to the Girl":
Sixties Night continued with Fleet Foxes whose impeccable four-part harmonies wowed just about everybody in the room. They were probably one of the most buzzed-about bands of SXSW. Outside, were some of Sub Pop's more raucous acts: Pissed Jeans and No Age, the later of whom provided my favorite quote of the trip.
To cap the night I headed down the street to see indie legends My Dad is Dead. Main (sole) member Mark Edwards has been doing MDID since the mid-80s and their excellent 1989 album The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get (among others) does what Interpol made commercially viable, except he did it 14 years too early. (They're all available to download for free from the MDID website.) I had no idea, before SXSW, that Edwards was still performing under the name so it was kind of a thrill, as much as I liked his records back in the day. The current lineup is a trio, with Edwards on guitar and a tight rhythm section backing him. His setlist was mostly foreign to me, but they didn't really seem too sonically worse for wear. One of the monitors did start smoking three songs in…they've still got heat.
Gerard Cosloy is Co-President of Matador Records, and ran Homestead Records before that. (My cassette of Homestead’s seminal 1988 compilation Human Music still gets play when I visit the parents.) When he’s not busy doing those things, he blogs about baseball. I pulled him aside after the Blog Factor panel at SXSW to talk, ever so briefly, about food. I was a little nervous, as the last time I’d spoken to Cosloy (on the phone as a college radio MD trying to get Matador to send us the Teenage Fanclub record; our station was more mainstream than a lot of college stations) he yelled at me. But it made his Top 10 Highlights of SXSW So Far, apparently, so maybe now would be a good time to hit him up again for A Catholic Education.
Gerard Cosloy: Yeah, well we get hungry. Patrick [Amory, Matador GM] is a wiz in the kitchen. I do think if you look throughout the years, most people who were degenerate record collectors – as they move on in their lives, the only thing left for them is food. I look forward to the day when we move exclusively to food coverage and can stop putting out records altogether. That’s our five year goal.
SB: So what’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?
GC: I’d rather not say — Austin restaurants are overrun this week as it is.
SB: This won’t go up till after SXSW.
GC: Well, in that case, Jonathan from Shearwater to me to a Vietnamese place on East Oltorf called Hai Ky which, for better or worse, is probably my favorite place in town these days. Very cheap, the food’s awesome, the people who work there are great. Sadly they’re closed Sundays, but what can you do?
My Thursday started fairly early (before 11am) with a trip to the convention center where I picked up my official SXSW bag of stuff and immediately went over to the "discard area" and dumped nearly everything out. I kept the pocket show/panel guide, and the new issue of Mint Records‘ fanzine, A Fresh Breath of Mint (featuring Nardwuar vs The Klaxons and Cynthia Plaster Caster), and a band guide. I also kept the canvas bag which features art by Thurston Moore.
With that out of the way, I needed food and headed over to Cosloy-approved Torchy’s Tacos on 6th. (A quick aside: there is almost nowhere good to eat in the Convention Center / 6th St. vacinity.) Torchy’s is probably awesome the rest of the year, but during SXSW they run a streamlined menu that seems designed to get the food out than anything else. Though still amongst the best food during my trip, I’ve eaten many better tacos in NYC. That’s right Texas, you heard me.
From there I headed to the Above the Radar party that Blog Fresh Radio was sponsoring. I made the dumb mistake of assuming the venue would be near everything else and ended up walking a mile or so down South Congress to Trophy’s, a road house style joint where the party was happening. Though sparsely attended (location and lack of free alcohol probably had something to do with it) it was a good time with a nice lineup. The rock acts were inside and the backyard was for the more DJ-oriented stuff, like openers Lady Pterodactyl — two girls (one of whom is still in high school) who were a lot of fun and make serious dance music.
Highlight of the party, for me, had to be The Deathset. Last time I saw them they had no drummer and played with a laptop. They now seem to have two drummers. And they’re just as wild even when there’s not a pile of crowd-surfing kids they’re playing to. Also good: Ume (like the Japanese plum) a local Austin band who are a bit Sonic Youth-ish, and the intense Dead Confederate.
I snuck out of the party for a bit to head downtown where I caught Cardiff, Wales trio Victorian English Gentleman’s Club. at Latitudes which had been transformed for the week into the British Music Embassy. VEGC are one of those bands that I’ve heard of more than I’d actually heard, but they turned out to be one of my favorites of SXSW. Shouty, in a Fall or Gang of Four kind of way, loads of energy, funny, very good looking. I shot video:
Wandering down 6th Street, I happened past Stubbs’ Annex where there was one of Brooklyn Vegan’s day parties. I ran into the man himself on the way in and he kindly informed me the free booze was running out so I best get some now. With bloody mary in hand, I headed up to the front of the stage having no idea who was on next, but saw Abbey Punk Photo and Cameron Disconap there so I knew it must be someone interesting.
Turned out it was Lykke Li, one of the many Scandinavian pop princesses who were in town for the fest. I ended up seeing her play three times, all of which were by accident. Her album is quite good, and I prefer it to other current, similar records by Yelle, Robyn, and the other one’s I can’t remember. She was also one of many acts I saw who employed a megaphone in their show, those hers wasn’t working on this day. Good show, but not great, but she’d get better as the week went on. And "Breaking it Up" is so much better live than on record, total early Madonna fabulousness.
My friend Steve, who lives in Austin and didn’t know I was in town till I texted him, met me at the BV party and we went for a drink at some biker bar and hung out there till we couldn’t hear each other anymore due to the unironic hair metal band playing at the place.
Abusing his kind nature, I got Steve to drive me back to the hotel and then out to eat at Curra’s, a Mexican Place he recommended. We had the requisite chili con queso, and then I had enchiladas. Too much cheese on the latter but very good nonetheless. Steve dropped me off downtown and I started my nighttime batch of shows.
I caught Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip at Wave Rooftop. Most people were there to hear "Thou Shalt Always Kill" with it’s "…Just a Band" shoutalong part but I thought the whole set was great. Scroobius Pip is very smart, very bearded, very funny and he carried some of the parts where the beats could be better. (Mostly not a problem, actually… le Sac v Pip are definitely more than a one joke wonder.) But the showstopper was inded "Thou Shout" and he was handing out stacks of stickers that said "JUST A BAND," encouraging us to paste them on other band’s posters all over town. (Nobody did from what I could tell, but they were probably saving them, as I am, for use at home.
I wonder how people managed before texting. There probably wasn’t ten minutes of show-going time during the trip that I didn’t either send or receive one. "What’s your 8pm?" "Meet me at Wave rftp." "fuck the tough alliance!" etc. An invaluable tool. My friend Chris who works for River to River had texted me about what I was seeing that night… so I hooked up him and his R2R cohorts at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop to see Brooklyn.
Yes, a band called Brooklyn who are actually from Paris (unlike me, Pearis from Brooklyn). My idea to go, and I got made fun of the rest of the night for it. I never claimed they were going to be any good. In fact, I figured they’d suck but it felt compelled to see a band with such a name. They did, in fact, suck but in a highly competent, commercial, poppy Strokesy kind of way. Offensive to Brooklyn, offensive to France, offensive to Rock. Any Brooklynites who want to go throw tomatoes at them — you can do so tonight at Piano’s or Friday at Fontanas. Cute bassist, though. Check out this promo shot of the band if you’re not annoyed enough by this description to be called into vegetable-tossing action. Are they having fun or what?
We left Brooklyn pretty quickly, so to speak, and went to check out a showcase put on by BBC 6Music and hosted by legendary indie loving DJ, Steve Lemacq. The night was mostly British bands, which makes sense, but also MGMT who it turns out aren’t yet the big deal they are in NYC area — we waltz right in as the band was finishing up. Or maybe the rest of the country realizes that, though the album is great, MGMT aren’t a very good live band. The reason for us being there is to see I Was a Cub Scout. Well it’s the reason I’m there. I get the feeling I dragged Chris and his coworker Steve (different from my friend Steve, mentioned earlier) there, or at least they had no better ideas. The band’s single "Pink Squares" is a nice bit of synthpop — all I’d basically heard — so I was a bit surprised that live they were a mainly guitar and drums, with some prerecorded backing… and that they really sounded a lot like Keane. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Necessarily.
These reports might have come during the actual festival if a) my hotel hadn’t been out by the airport meaning I was never there apart from sleeping or dropping off stuff occasionally; b) my hotel’s definition of "high speed internet" seemed to have been written in 1995; and c) I am lazy.
Wednesday night was kind of a bust anyway. Didn’t get into Austin till around 7pm and didn’t get downtown till nearly 9pm. Colin from Cubik Musik was nice enough to pick up me and my cohort Dev at the hotel and took us downtown to the convention center to pick up our badges. Within seconds of entering the convention center I run into Courtney and Benjamin of Kaiser Cartel — which I kind of thought was wild until I later realized almost everyone from my neighborhood was at South by Southwest. (In retrospect, not that surprising considering I live in Williamsburg.)
Heading to SxSW Ground Zero (6th St.) we grabbed a beer and then went to check out electronic musician Eliot Lipp, as recommended by Colin. Not bad at all, though I can never tell if they’re actually doing anything up there or just checking their Facebook page.
Didn’t stay long, as I was heading over to meet friends Liz and Jack at Maggie May’s Gibson Guitar Room to see Pattern is Movement who look kind of like the Jukka Brothers but play that shouty rock that is popular with folks who go to Todd P shows. But they come off as such an anomaly, so genuinely strange it worked.
Could that actually be it for the first night? It would be a long day Thursday and the offer of a free ride back to the airport was for me to call it a day. I know… weak. I made up for it later. Photo above is Pattern is Movement, taken on Wednesday but not at the show I attended — I took my camera with me but forgot the battery.