So I decided to take off work on Friday to check out some afternoon free shows at SXSW. I didn't get a wristband or badge so my options were pretty much limited to the daylight hours.
Started off by going to see Billy Bragg on the corner of 7th and Red River. Looked like they just put up a chain link fence around a parking lot or maybe it was Emo's VII or some shit. Bragg wasn't in sight, and it was hot. The energy drink sponsor had run out of Douche Juice or whatever so there was nothing to drink. Friends at Volume called us and told us there were some good bands there.
I think Volume is normally a dance club, but Dell was sponsoring the day party and even had laptops set up in case you wanted to liveblog. I obviously did not. The first band was Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin or as I now call them Someone Now Fucking Hates Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin. Maybe I was partially distracted by all the dudes in the crowd wearing headbands, but I thought these guys were mediocre. Hollow indie pop.
'Wanna go to Volume?'
Next up was Liam Finn. I had heard good things about him, and his dad is Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House so he's got the genes going for him. He didn't disappoint. He switched back and forth between playing the guitar and playing the drums while using an effects pedal. Also has a woman with him who sings harmony. It sounds gimmicky, but it worked great. Would definitely have liked to see him at his showcase. He rocks live.
Next up was the Mohawk to see British Sea Power on the outside stage. The place was overrun with hipsters. I think they just scooped up the lunch crowd at El Chilito and transported them to the club.
We laid siege. I started building a large wooden trucker's cap but abandoned my plans when the band started playing and we were still outside. We were about 20 feet from the band so we stayed where we were and listened while looking through the fence. I liked them. Sounded like the Psychedelic Furs sped up a bit. Whispery English singing style with a violin and horn.
A giant condo is being built across from the Mohawk and Club De Ville on Red River. Ugh. I hope both of those clubs push the downtown noise ordinance to the limit. Paraphrasing Harry Truman, if we see that the hipsters are winning, we ought to help the condo dwellers, and if the condo dwellers are winning, we ought to help the hipsters.
A friend's band was playing at the Hole In the Wall so we headed there about an hour after they were supposed to go on, but they are notoriously late. As expected, they had only played a couple of songs when we arrived. Their lead singer was drunk, insisted on playing covers or songs they hadn't played in months and caused the crowd to become antagonistic. Like Axl Rose with .0001% of his talent. As we were leaving, a dude in an Australian band was playing a keytar on stage.
Next day we decided to head over to the day party at the French Legation in East Austin. It really is a great location for a day party. The first band was Sons and Daughters from Glasgow. Thought they were great. Their lead singer is a tiny chick, but she had great stage presence. Played a bunch of stuff off their new album. Punk folk/folk punk or however you want to categorize it.
Got in the beer line. Pabst Blue Ribbon was sponsoring the party so they were charging a dollar for PBR and four dollars for everything else. F them for trying to subsidize hipster conversions. I ordered a Tecate.
Thurston Moore was up next, and I don't think most people in attendance knew who he was. But he was in Sonic Youth so he should be used to it. I understand what Moore was doing, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. While sitting in the grass listening to his show, three soccer moms who looked like they were lost sat down behind me and started talking during the entire set. Seriously, go pick up Kaitlyn/Nevaeh/Haley from soccer/gymnastics/cheerleading practice and then go watch a fucking Miley Cyrus concert.
Next up was She and Him, the She being actress Zooey Deschanel and the Him being indie folk musician M. Ward. They were backed by a really good session drummer and bass player. Now I'm always skeptical about actors trying to sing, but Deschanel has a good bluesy voice. It's not a strong voice though so she had trouble on up tempo numbers. I wasn't close enough to see her, but my girlfriend ran into her before the set. Said she was 'skinny and beautiful.'
The crowd was clearly here to see the next act, Austin's own Okerrvil River. They've been around for about a decade and fall into the indie rock/alt country like most of Austin's bands. The audience clearly dug them, and the did put on a good show.
At least three fourths of the audience left after the show despite there still being one more act. Kimya Dawson, the chick who did the 'Juno' soundrack, somehow had to follow Okkervil River. She should shoot her manager. Or vice versa. Total meh. Kind of like listening to children's songs with profanity. Totally plausible that the audience left because they had heard her sing before. I know we will in the future.
So now I'll make some overgeneralizations based on my limited experience.
First, there are too many badges and wristbands being sold. You used to pay a premium for those two items to get admitted to shows. Now a badge will probably get you a line to stand in, and a wristband isn't going to guarantee you anything.
Second, there are no more word of mouth surprises. Because every band has a MySpace page or has their music online, you can hear them all before you see them in person. I can certainly understand how some people would like this. I don't.
Finally, Perez Hilton hosted his own party. The record labels decided what artists got heard in the past. The internet changed that. Now people are being influenced by this fat cunt. This is why the terrorists hate us.
Now turn down that music and get off my lawn.