South By SF

March 25, 2009

Dakin’s SXSW Diary, Part One

Dakin gets chummy with Marnie Stern

Dakin gets chummy with Marnie Stern

SXSW thoughts before the memories fade away…

So, I made the trek to Austin, TX for the South By Southwest Festival for the 2nd year in a row. I am pretty sure that I will be heading down there every year I can for the foreseeable future. I’m going to try to hit up a few words about everything with out looking at notes, but that might prove to be a futile operation.
Tuesday: Flew in and found myself to be very hungry. The good news was that the rest of my entourage was in need of food, too… So we checked in to our hotel, and decided to eat at the nearest establishment.

El Michoacano Restaurant: Located a few feet away from our hotel, and might be the best mexican food I have ever eaten. I ordered mole.. flautas and they were spicy & sweet, just like mole should be. The food was cheap, the service was quick and friendly, and like any good mexican restaurant, the jukebox was loud and came on randomly.

We returned to the hotel to take a nap, then change clothes and hit the town…

To eat again.

Ironworks BBQ: This place is good. It may be my favorite place BBQ joint next to The Salt Lick (which is too far out of the way for us this year) Super efficient service, and also priced well. I had the turkey breast, which was tender and flavorful, and the sauce was so good I brought a jar home with me.

On to the music.

The Fresh & Onlys: An SF band that I have never heard of before. I really liked them while they played, which was a slightly punky/psychadelic sound with male/female harominies. It was a nice way to start, but the next band nearly destroyed every memory of them right away.

Maushaus: SO GOOD!!!! Kind of like what would have happened if Danny Elfman helped do arrangements for Kraftwerk, and added real human vocals, horns and woodwinds. (Playing Cafe du Nord April 3rd!)

That was Tuesday. I know it seems short, but we have a lot of work ahead of us, and I felt that we should pace ourselves.

Spaceland Party:

Saw a few bands for a few moments, none of them affected me much, though, so we hung out in the backroom named after Les Paul to enjoy free energy drinks, then we popped out to enjoy

Marnie Stern: I love this woman. Her sound is a fusion of Primus, Sleater-Kinney, and Van Halen, with a touch of Hella for good measure. She had a tight rhythm section, and played a solid but brief set. Her bass player gets extra credit for being prettier than Marnie, which is something that few people can be.

Vivian Girls: Great record. Boring live set. I was really excited about this band, I just wasn’t feeling it. It might have been a side effect of playing after Marnie Stern, which is impossible to do.

Watched some Harlem Shakes, they were ok. Then headed back upstairs to find the room packed solid. Got a little closer to hear what the commotion was, only to find my 2nd new favorite band of my SXSW experience.

Yelle: French Dance Pop. The best french dance pop that I have ever heard. People were dancing in the doorways, and it was the best crowd yet. I only wish I could actually see them. (More on my struggle to see them later)

Cut Of Your Hands: These guys were also quite good. On one level, the were an intense hard core band, only they had some of the best singing I have heard in years. They are the kind of band that would get thrown on to Warped Tour because they are good looking and played punk-influenced music, and if could end up being the biggest band from New Zealand since Crowded House.

Next we head down to the Fader Fort for my first attempt at seeing a big rock star in a weird place.

Abe Vigoda: I actually cut out of the Spaceland party early to see this band. Skeletons is one of my favorite records of 2008, and I have been trying to see them for a few months now, so I am pretty stoked about this. Only to be let down, again. Skeletons still holds up, but their live set seemed to lack a lot of the nuance of the record. The songs were faster and harder, but also lacking the warmth of the band on record. The vocals were also buried in the mix, and the drummer seemed ready to leave after every song.

Graham Coxon: Lead guitarist for Blur doing some solo acoustic stuff before returning to the fold. I liked what he was doing, which was all new songs. Really new. He still his notebook that wrote the lyrics in with him. I was a little annoyed by the crowd, which was more interested in trying to talk louder than Graham.

That’s it for my Wednesday in the sunlight. To Be Continued…

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