After the two of us FINALLY made it to Texas (me without incident; Jess with a 21-hour journey from New York to Austin), your favorite festival-hopping duo touched down in the “live music capital of the world” and set about to hitting as many shows as possible before crashing and waking up to ravage 6th Street with the best Boston music party SXSW has ever seen. Between Candace, Mikey, Jess and me, here’s what we’ve got for SXSW 2011 coverage so far:
DAS RACIST: After swinging through the Phoenix/Pirate!/CQ Productions shindig to say hey to our friends from home, I booked it to the Speakeasy on Congress Ave for what I thought would be a Das Racist/Bodega Girls double feature. I showed up at the tail end of Das Racist’s set, and the hip hop rascals with a penchant for fast food (see: “Combination Pizza Hut/Taco Bell”) had the bar dancing their faces off before 5 o’clock in the afternoon. An impressive feat, indeed.
BODEGA GIRLS: They blew my mind a little bit, and as someone who’s been to more Bodega Girls shows than I can count on my fingers and toes combined, that’s something. Basically, the promoter or showcase coordinator at the Speakeasy yesterday initially scheduled Bodega Girls for a 5:30 set following Das Racist. They got pushed back half an hour or forty five minutes at first. Fine, a pain, but not terribly out of the ordinary—shit gets bumped back, things happen, whatever. They got pushed back twice more after that, however, and after some words were exchanged, Bodega Girls hit the stage, played a bang-up rendition of “Ain’t That Cold” and as soon as the song was over Jake took his tele, lifted it completely above his head with his arms fully extended and slammed the guitar to the floor. It didn’t break (thank GOD because he’s playing our party in approximately six hours), but Bodega Girls walked off and hit the bar immediately afterwards. Again: yes, sets get pushed back sometimes and maybe it wasn’t the promoter or whoever’s fault, but for a crew like Bodega Girls to get fed up enough with something to just book it? Must’ve been shady. Either way, I was impressed.
LADY LAMB THE BEEKEEPER: When you’ve got a demure woman on the microphone and she can go from a soulful refrain to a heightened howl in the matter of a minute, you know you’re in the presence of someone special. I don’t know if “special” quite cuts it when it comes to describing Aly Spaltro, aka Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, but she was the definition of captivating at the Brooklyn Vegan showcase at the Swan Dive. I can appreciate a good singer/songwriter, but Lady Lamb’s in a class of her own and it was fantastic to see her receive such a warm Austin welcome on her first tour jaunt outside of the Northeast.
HOORAY FOR EARTH: It always breaks my heart to hear what we’ve come to know as a Boston band introduce themselves as New Yorkers, but whatever. Hooray For Earth sounded great downstairs at The 512 for the few songs I was able to catch, and it was nice to break up my tendency to stick to rock/Americana/roots music/lots and lots of guitars with something a little more danceable and a lot more plugged in.
HOOTS AND HELLMOUTH, SWEDISH SISTER AMERICANA BAND, THE DEFIBRILLATORS: My favorite and least favorite aspect of SXSW is, without a doubt, what a lot of us have come to call “SXSW ADD,” or that thing that happens when all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of 6th Street completely overwhelmed with at least eight shows you could go see right at that moment but you have no idea how to choose between them. The best way to remedy this? Wait on 6th until friends of yours walk by en route to something and adopt you as a member of their roving, music-loving pack. I was heading out to meet Jess on 6th and Neches when I bumped into Mike and Ward of Girls Guns and Glory. All they had to say was “We’re going to this crazy party to see this great band from Philly, wanna come?” and we were in. Nick and Jenée of Kingsley Flood were already at the Hoots and Hellmouth/The Defibrillators show at the Belmont, so we booked it over for a banjo and bass-driven dance party. There was some Swedish sister band that played in between them who totally could’ve passed as the Scandinavian Dixie Chicks, but I forget their name. As the bar was closing up, Carmen, Evan and Maura from the Bodega Girls camped came through and we had one last round (too many) before my friends poured my whiskey-soaked ass into a pedicab and I passed out at the hotel merely hours before Boston to Austin.
BOSTON TO AUSTIN: WE DID IT. From noon to around 6pm yesterday, Converse and the Dig hosted a rooftop party the likes of which 6th Street has never SEEN … well, from a bunch of incredible Boston bands, anyway. The place was packed from opening to close, the Guinness was flowing and the bands – Endless Wave, Banditas, Static of the Gods, Mean Creek, Kingsley Flood, Mystery Roar, Bodega Girls, Dirty Dishes and Viva Viva – did an absolutely sensational job. People were stopping in their tracks on 6th to stop and listen, and according to a few friends around town BOS>AUS t-shirts were spotted walking around from Congress to Red River. We’ve always known that Boston music is a force to be reckoned with, but yesterday damn well proved it to the rest of the world. And for that, we’re thrilled.
THOSE DARLINS: Those Darlins are one of my absolute favorite bands of all time, and though they’ve ditched the rockabilly, ukulele-ridden riffs of their past for a grittier, surf rock-infused growl that left them spitting all over the front row and blasting through their set without tuning their guitars. And it was AWESOME. Though I doubt Jessi will sport the snazzy sequined leotard she wore last night when Those Darlins roll through Boston on March 27, I guarantee you they’ll bring much of the same when it comes to snarly, unapologetic rock and roll from the hills of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
TRAMPLED BY TURTLES: By the time that Trampled by Turtles hit the stage around 1am, the temperature in the Swan Dive was approximately 912 degrees, Those Darlins practically had to crowd surf to get their gear offstage and the fervor of the crowd was at a fever pitch. These boys from Wisconsin caught my ear when Palomino, their latest album, came across my desk last fall. I’m pleased to report that the banjo shredding and metal-gone-country attitude I loved the album is ever present in the Trampled By Turtles live show, especially when they kicked off their set with “Wait So Long,” my favorite number of theirs. All in all, a fantastic end to an unbelievable day.
CANDACE’S SXSW HIGHLIGHTS AND LOWLIGHTS (SO FAR):
Favorite Panel: Eight Things That Hip-Hop Taught America:
While I attended other really informative panels like The Future of Music–Is There One? and Bravo’s Platinum Hit–How to Become the Next Big Hitmaker, Eight Things That Hip Hop Taught America turned out to be the most interesting as well as the most political. Cornerstone Promotion founder Rob Stone was on the panel, alongside Hip-Hop Journalist Elliot Smith and author/journalist Dan Charnas discussing how hip hop has not only affected this country, but shaped it as well. The desegregation of the music business, the changing of American aesthetic and the development of street teams were all credited to hip hop–as well as the election of Barack Obama.
As soon as they hit their stage in their too tight clothes and almost comedic mustaches, I knew they were worth the hype.
Favorite Venue: Prague
I knew I was in heaven as soon as I walked down the stairs into a barely lit bar-like basement and into the fog-machined venue reeking of cheap alcohol and forgotten dreams. I got there early enough to experience the craziness of Innerpartysystem, bounced off to Barberella Patio to check out Augustana and Eisley (but couldn’t stay since it was a horribly put together, outside, overcrowded venue where only the people in the front gave a damn about the music they were hearing), checked out what was going on at the Brooklyn Vegan showcase (nothing really was by the time I got there, although there was a lovely white decor), but made my way back to Prague in time to see A Place to Bury Strangers. Loud and angry, they were rock’s wettest dream come true. As soon as they hit their stage in their too tight clothes and almost comedic mustaches, I knew they were worth the hype. Even though I was petrified that this lovely but small venue was going to catch on fire (small room filled to capacity, overheated equipment and electrical sockets, a fucking fog machine), I put aside my fear to catch my babies, also known as She Wants Revenge. They did all brand new material, so I didn’t know a single word to any of the songs. But it’s ok. Justin Warfield is still someone to swoon over.
Loud and angry, they were rock’s wettest dream come true.
Favorite Musical Mishaps: Shinobi Ninja and Dom
Shinobi Ninja happened while meeting up with the adorable Hilary Hughes to let off a little steam after all the panels and catch Bodega Girls (I know, seeing a Boston band in a different state seems a bit redundant, shut up) and was pissed that I just missed Das Racist. But Shinobi Ninja were on stage and I don’t know what the hell happened but there was definitely a Montell Jordan/Papa Roach mashup, followed by Baby G shaking her ass to Eve’s “Tambourine.” Amazed by this, a friend texted me telling me he was about to see Dom at Klub Krucial, which was about a ten-minute walk away. Rushing over there, I saw the last three songs of their set, which included EP favorites “Rude as Jude” and, of course, “Living In America.” The lead singer looked just as apathetic as ever with his tenacious auburn hair covering his face as he rounded out his set. Shot back over to Bodega Girls–even though I’m sure they did only two songs and everyone was drunk by 6pm.
A drag queen yelling at me that I’m a ‘hot stripper’
Favorite Disappointment: The Drunken People In Downtown Austin After The Bars Close
I am not one to talk about being crazy after downing a couple, by any means. But as soon as the bars close their doors in Downtown Austin, all hell seems to break loose. Random people with fake beards giving me high fives. A girl practically comatose from alcohol being cradled by a friend who insisted she’ll be ok since it’s her 21st birthday. A drag queen yelling at me that I’m a ‘hot stripper’ (I did bust out the high waisted shorts though, so I suppose it was my fault). Pedicab drivers dancing on their bikes to the rap music being blasted in the SUV behind them. Trying to hail a cab in all this madness is tough–showing a little leg wasn’t working. But after finally getting one, I felt relieved. And really really excited for the following night in Austin.
So that’s all for now, kids. Jess and I slept in this morning and plan on hitting the English, Irish and Scottish rock parties this afternoon, in addition to the Berklee showcase and some great shows later. We’ll keep you posted!