Saturday, March 31, 2007

The beer is free, but water is $2

Taylor and I got back to the condo at 3am. Yeah, I haven’t seen 3 am in a long time. I am not my husband. He is more of a nocturnal person than anyone I know. Needless to say, getting up in the morning was rough. The other thing is my allergies. They are going crazy. There has been a spike in the oak count and I can feel it. I am determined not to let it slow me down. Taylor has to get some work done during the day, but will meet up with me for the night shows. I decide to hit some day shows. They beautiful thing about SXSW is all the free stuff that happens during the day at every possible venue. Free as in no wristband, badge or any type of cover charge. If you are especially lucky, there is free food and booze at these parties. Well, as long as the food and booze lasts! The day shows also give you an opportunity to see a band you wouldn’t see at the nightly showcases. My nightly schedules are pretty much decided on so I am taking the day parties to see other bands. This also allows bands to play multiple times each day. I think the band Peter, Bjorn and John are playing 10 shows in four days! Crazy! Today, though I will be going to the Schubas’ party at the Yard Dog Gallery on South Congress to see the Cold War Kids, Midlake and Bishop Allen. This party is free with free beer and free shoes. I want the shoes!
Now, even though it is SXSW, it is still a Thursday. People are working all over the place. Getting downtown and parking is rough because it is a workday. It takes me a lot longer to get to south congress than I thought. Parking was not as difficult as I expected. I just have to walk rather far. I find the Gallery and there is a tent set up in the back for the bands. It is a warm day and good thing everything is under a tent. The beer is free! All I need to do is show my ID. They are selling some food, but just hot dogs and chips, nothing fancy. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected it to be. The free days shows can get to capacity pretty quickly. I get there in plenty enough time to see Cold War Kids. This tent is rather small so I am pretty close to the band. They start on time, which was different from last night. There are a bunch of other acts playing this party, but I just came to see these three. Each band plays about 30 minutes, which isn’t very long. The only song I wanted to hear from the Cold War Kids was “Hang me up to dry” and they didn’t play it! Damn them! Oh well, there was set still good. It was short, but good. They were sweating profusely, as are most people standing around. I think maybe their showcase that night will be better, but I don’t want to dwell on that. After CWK, Midlake is up next. I saw Midlake last month in New Orleans at the Republic. They have a few shows and this is the only one I will be able to see. Their music is definitely growing on me. When they start their set, the lead singer makes the joke that the beer is free. I notice during their set how crowded the tent is. Midlake is from Denton so I am sure they have a lot of fans in Texas. Their set was also quite short, but they played “Roscoe”, “We Gathered In Spring,” and “Van Occupanther.” Unfortunately, the one song I wanted to hear, “Young Bride” they didn’t sing. Not having a good record today. Their set though was still very good. After they were done, a whole bunch of people left. It seems the majority of the crowd was there for them. The last band I was going to see today was Bishop Allen. They are a real interesting mix of musicians. It seemed each member played a few instruments. The lead singer plays the guitar and there is a girl who plays the xylophone and whatever else she can shake. They hail from New York and they were very entertaining. They had a lot of energy which I am always glad to see. I did like their set and it seemed most of the people here did as well. After they were finished, I decided to head back to North Austin to regroup and grab Taylor for tonight’s shows. I really need to eat and sit down. The day shows are great, but it is just more time on your feet! I have decided we will do a little bit more jumping of venues tonight.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different

Melissa attended SXSW a little over a week ago and has kindly agreed to give us all a recap of what she did. Enjoy. (And to set the scene read this article to get an idea of what goes on there.)

That was brilliant, dahling

SXSW is upon us again. The middle of March always gets me excited because I know I will be immersed in new music. This festival always is a precursor to the next big thing in music. I wake up today to horrible weather. There is a band of thunderstorms hanging over the city that have been reeking havoc for the past few days. The weathermen say it should stop by tonight though. Well, no days shows for me since the weather is terrible. I will just wait for the big NME showcase tonight at Stubb’s. This year is extra special because Mr. Taylor Riche got a wristband with me and is letting me guide him through the madness that is SXSW. He said he would follow me to any showcase because he has never done this before. The only band he wants to see is Tilly and the Wall. That show will be recapped later. So let’s get this party started.

The NME showcase tonight includes The Sunshine Underground, The Automatic, Jamie T., Lily Allen, Razorlight, and The Bravery. This is a bunch of British acts, then the Bravery at the end from NYC. I don’t understand either. Taylor and I are both quite content to stay at Stubb’s all night. I want to see all of these acts and no one else is playing that I won’t be able to see later in the week. Now, this past weekend, I was at Stubb’s for the Silversun Pickups, Ok Go and Snow Patrol show. It was fantastic. I have many pictures and videos from that show. It is another recap all together. I can write quite extensively about Mr. Gary Lightbody and Snow Patrol. I will stop myself right now. ANYWAY, the Sunshine Underground are playing when we arrive at 8pm. It is not very crowded so we walk to near the front. If anyone has ever been to Stubb’s there is this giant cover over the stage. It sort of looks like a shark’s mouth (to quote Mr. Gary Lightbody!). Verizon is a major sponsor so they have a projection onto the cover telling people to text messages and send pictures to a specific number and maybe it would be shown to the crows. Of course, people start doing this. I was a constant source of entertainment the entire night, especially between sets. Some of the messages were the lotto numbers from Lost, Go England, Go Ulster, Kevin Durant for Prez, and my personal favorite, I love lamp. The Sunshine Underground are your typical Brit rock group. They finish within their time frame, which is important. After that set, Taylor and I grabe 16 oz cans of Lonestar (oh yeah!) and head closer to the front. While we are standing there chatting, the lead singer of the Sunshine Underground walks up to his friends standing behind us and starts talking. Wow, the lead singer is standing right behind us! That is why I love this festival! One of his friends tells him he did brilliant. It is at the time Taylor and I realize we are standing in a sea of young hip Brits. I think we are the only Americans in this venue right now. Wow! Look at all of them! I can’t believe how international this festival is. These are people probably younger than us. Cool. The Automatic are next. To say this band is crazy is an understatement. The keyboardist has orange hair and is completely going bananas. He runs back and forth across stage, jumping in and out of the crowd, onto all of the speakers and then onto the roof of the small building that is next to the stage. The only way he was stopped is because he mic cord didn’t stretch that far. Very rock n’ roll. The lead singer announces this is their first show in American. Now, that is cool. In a year is this band explodes, we can say we saw them for this first time in the states. It looks like they definitely had a good time. I would recomment the song “Monster” by them. It is quite catchy. They are done is their allotted time and allow Jamie T to come on at 10 pm. Not much to say about Jamie T. I have never heard of this group before. They are sort of a cross between the Arctic Monkeys and the Streets if that makes any sense. His accent is so thick I can barely understand what he is saying. He is done in his allotted time as well. Now, on to Lily Allen. Unless you have been living in the Hatch with Desmond, you know who Lily Allen is. Her song “Smile” has taken England by storm and she is finally taking off here in the states. The people who paid to get into this show have been here to see her. I am quite excited as well. Her music is so different. Taylor hasn’t heard much about her, so I tell him what she is all about. Now, here comes the problem. She starts 15 minutes late. Once one group is late, it pushing back every other set. This will be a reoccurring problem this entire festival. She has a full band, a trombone, trumpet and sax player on stage with her. Awesome. She has a cigarette in one hand and a can of Budweiser in the other hand. She starts by singing “LDN” a catchy little tune. It is so crowded, I can barely see anything. I try standing on my toes, but not much. I catch glimpses of her now and then. She sings most of her first album which is this mish mash of pop, dance, and reggae. There really isn’t anyone else out there who sounds like her. And she is totally a bad ass. In between songs, she mentions that he hates the NME. That is right, the people who are putting on this showcase she says if she would have known she was singing for them, she would not have performed. But, she was happy to see for the people in Austin. Oh dear, did she just diss the NME? I look at Taylor and he looks at me. They are going to shut down this party! I can’t believe she just said that. Then she mentions she is drunk from drinking in her tour bus all night. Whoa! Well, amen sister for speaking your mind. She said Jack Black was her inspiration in calling the NME the man. She bashes them a few more times and calls them things I should not put in print on this blog since parents read this. Use your imaginations. This was her first time in Texas so she was enjoying bar be que and Lonestar beer. That is the way to do it. After the vile spewed from her mouth, she finished her set around 11:45. A little over when she was supposed to stop. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, I think. After her set, Taylor and I agree she was good. We both liked her. I would definitely recommend her album, “Alright, Still” to people. Now Razorlight should be coming on at midnight. Lily Allen ran late, so I have a feeling Razorlight will as well. It seems most people left after Lily’s set, so Taylor and I move closer to the front. He doesn’t know Razorlight, but I do. I have their latest album and I love it. It is full of some catchy Brit Rock. I recommend the song “In the Morning” if you are curious. They are very big across the pond. They are playing all the huge festivals like Isle of Wight and V. When I found out about Razorlight coming to SX, I was very excited. They haven’t played much in the US. They toured with Keane back in the fall, but that went bust when the lead singer of Keane went into rehab. Since Taylor doesn’t know about this band, I warn him. The lead singer is quite a brash guy and can be quite a wanker. There is a good chance he will be heavily intoxicated and swearing at us. You have been forewarned! Razorlight doesn’t start their set til after 12:15. Yuck, this is running way too late. The lead singer, Johnny Borrell is in skinny white jeans, a tight white v-neck undershirt (and I mean deep v-neck) and a long flowing head of curls. Taylor gives me this look like, “you have got to be kidding!” I laugh and look at him like “I warned you!” He starts with playing “In the Morning” and then goes into “America,” “Before I Fall to Pieces” and “Golden Touch.” I am rocking out and singing all the words. This is great! Halfway through the set, Johnny goes back stage and reemerges without his shirt. HA! He is one skinny, hairless man. He is sort of built like a 15 year old boy. It is very obvious he loves the way he looks. When I mean hairless, I mean, we think he waxes everything. EVERYTHING! Taylor now is definitely giving me the “Oh god” look. One British guy behind me says outloud, “Man, Johnny, you have to take your shirt off, don’t you?” That was good for a laugh. The set was tight. I thought the band sounded very good and the lead singer wasn’t drunk. He didn’t manage to tell the crowd hello. They finish late, closer to 1 am. The Bravery is supposed to come on at 1 and it obvious that isn’t going to happen. Taylor tells him he didn’t like Razorlight and it is basically because he thinks the lead singer is sort of a tool. And he is sort of right. At least he wasn’t drunk! Now it is time for the last act. God, it almost 1 am and we have been standing up since 8. My back and feet are starting to hurt. We are not whimping out. We came here to watch the entire set and we aren’t leaving until it is done. I first saw the Bravery 2 years ago at SXSW. I saw them at an instore at Waterloo and now they were playing Stubb’s. Taylor and I conveniently forget to mention the ACL 2005 show they played when it was 140 degrees outside. Too hot! The Bravery don’t start until 1:30, very late. I haven’t seen this band since ACL and they have a new album coming out in May, so I am curious to hear some new stuff. Taylor wants to hear them as well. The band comes out and they look completely different. No makeup, no tight torn jeans and crazy hair. Damnit! But wait, they are in suits. MMMM, I like that. The lead singer is in pinstriped pants (love these) white shirt, tie and black sweater over it. How professional! The bassist we are standing in front of is in a brown suit with a skinny tie. I decide I like the new look. The band goes right into “Fearless” “Swollen Summer” and “An Honest Mistake.” About 15 minutes into their set, a stage hand grabs the bassist and tells him they need to finish in two songs. He gives him the look of WTF? Curfew is at 2 am, no matter when you start. They were supposed to start at 1am and finish at 2. They started at 1:30, but still had to finish at 2. They had to cut their set in half and they weren’t happy. I don’t blame them. They have been hanging out all night waiting to play. The good think is, we did get to hear some new tunes. One is called “Time Won’t Let Me Go” and I like that one the best. One song had a steel guitar and the lead singer said he was going to rock us with some country shit! That got a laugh. At 2am, the stage hand tells them one more song, then they are shutting them done. So, unfortunately, they play one last song. Good thing is it “Unconditional” or I would have followed the band back to their hotel and made them sing the song to me. I have been standing for 5 hours, sing my damn song! You could tell, they wanted to play longer, but the Stubb’s people wouldn’t let them. Oh well, it is really late and I am happy they are done. I am ready to get off my feet and into bed so I can tackle the next three days. WooHoo, we are just getting started!