South By SF

March 25, 2009

Dakin’s SXSW Diary, Part Two


Dakin saw the Decemberists and more on Wednesday night

Dakin saw the Decemberists and more on Wednesday night

On to the more of my SXSW thoughts…


Back to Wednesday Night!


H.R. Band– H.R. is the lead singer of the highly influential DC hardcore band Bad Brains, but solo he does an aggressive form of reggae music. His set was pleasant, but a little bit to 311-lite at times. The crowd was calm, but respectful of him. At the end of the set, he thanked the crowd, and then led the band through one final song, which led to pure chaos for the next minute and a half. I have no idea what song he played, I just knew that I was holding on for dear life. My work keys did not survive the attack, nor did one of my friends’ sandals.


In fact, the last song if his set was so brutal, that I felt I was a little bit punk-rocked out, so I needed a pallet cleanser. Time to go down the street to Elsyium! (Red Bull On Tap! Whoo-Hoo!)


Boys Noize– On record, Boys Noize is an awesome noisy-house project. Live, Boys Noize is a guy that DJ’s house music. After about 20 minutes, we left to see about getting in to the Avett Brothers/Decemeberists show at Stubb’s.


The line at Stubb’s is long, but not horrible. We get to the end of the line, and after some time in line, one of the friendly SXSW volunteers informs us that it is unlikely that we will be in to see the Avett Brothers, we will get to enjoy the Decemberists. Inevitably, we miss the first half our or so of the Decemberists set, but I do see enough to get a feel for what the do live.


The DecemeberistsI feel a little funny getting in to this show, because I am not a huge fan of the band. I enjoy The Tain and a good chunk of The Crane Wife, but have never followed them like most people seem to. That said, I am pleasantly surprised by what is played on stage. They are fleshed out by 2 additional female vocalists, one that seems to handle the more delicate vocals, while the other singer is much more intense. There is also a new aggression found in the band, as if Grace Slick joined Deep Purple. It was great, and even though I don’t see myself joining the throngs of people that follow Colin Meloy & Co.’s every move, at least I have a new found respect for the band.


This should explain it:



And that brought us to bedtime. Long day coming!


Had a bit of a late start this day, and went to the party at the Urban Outfitters by U of T.


Titus Andronicus- New Jersey punk band that every blogger on earth has been writing about for the better part of the year so far. They played well, had a lot of energy, but I really can’t say any more than everyone has already said about them.


Ponytail– This is my 2nd SXSW, as well as my 2nd time seeing this band. Last year, they were supporting a band call Yeasayer. When we showed up to the gig, I was super tired and just wanted to hold fort until Yeasayer came on. On stage, I noticed a band set up. I went to the bar to buy a drink, then scope out for a place to sit. The band started up, and I felt compelled to dance frantically. It’s the kind of music that overtakes soul, and you have no choice but to do as you are told. Forward a year later, I am now a card carrying fan, listening to both full length records habitually. This time, they are closing up this showcase, and they brought the rock in ways that I have never seen any band do. The tent is crowded, and by the end of the set, not a soul isn’t moving.



Next, we headed back downtown to see Nellie McKay at a church.


Nellie McKay- Early press releases dubbed her Doris Day meets Eminem, which I have always considered to be the worst description EVER! What we have with her is a quirky singer-songwriter, whose style is reminiscent of the jazzy female singers of the 40’s, only with a bit more humor, and a chunk of leftist politics. She is great at working a room, she tells funny anecdotes between songs, and is all-around a great entertainer. She also ranks very high on my popstar crush scale. Nellie, if you are reading this, feel free to call me sometime. Next time you are in my town, we’ll go out.



At this point, I jumped ship to check out the world music showcase at MoMo’s, which is another venue off the beaten path.


Playing For Change- Playing For Change is a project put together by a promoter in LA, attempting to give musicians from third world countries an opportunity to play music in US. It’s an intriguing idea, but was just sort of boring and a little silly in actuality. They had a guy on harmonica named Mr. Grandpa, who added a bit of color to what was a set of bland reggae tunes, mostly covers of songs by Bob Marley and Bill Withers.


Ximena Sarinana- I really enjoy her record, Mediocore. It’s a wonderful collection of Spanish-language songs that blend elements of folk, rock, jazz, and pure pop that sound like they’ve been written by a veteran. I was expecting to see a singer that looked like she was in her 30’s. And when she appeared on stage, the woman front and center looked like she was no older than 15. (Upon my research, I learned that she is 23) My expectations are completely thrown, and we get a singer & band that are playing a tiny room as if it were Wembley. Her backing band is tight, and her vocals are spot on. There was the right amount of showboating by her impressive guitar player, and it seemed the crowd was eating right out of her hand. She also was a rare performer at the festival to be forced back on the stage by the crowd for an encore.



On to the Cedar Door, which had the most expensive drinks in town outside of the convention center. Also the only venue to get shut down because of capacity reasons…


Von Bondies- Only watched about 4 songs from this group, best known for being the band whose lead singer was punched out by Jack White just before signing to Sire. I really liked that they sang their mike checks, as opposed to the usual counting. They sounded good, in fact better than they have in years. The songs still aren’t very memorable, but they put on a good show.


Next stop, Austin Music Hall for


Big Boi (Of Outkast)- This set was great. He a few new songs mixed in with all the best that Outkast has to offer, including a version of Bombs Over Baghdad that slaughtered to album version. The song is so ferocious that it may be my favorite song to hear live ever. I hardly even missed Andre 3000.


To Be Continued…


1 Comment »

  1. dakin told me just this morning that this was the best decemberists set he has ever seen – “the epitome of unboring”, he said

    Comment by phour20 — April 1, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

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