it’s been quite excellent here in austin so far. every hour at the pandora booth is surprisingly fun and also kind of intense. I don’t usually talk this much. it’s sort of like a high school reunion, but it’s better because I don’t know these people (and let’s be honest, it’s easier to go to a reunion where no one knew each other back in high school). I’m hoarse. jolly ranchers do not help for this.
I’ve seen old friends (chris grabau from the undertow collective and bands magnolia summer & waterloo, who I saw last night and who are both in pandora), plus ian brennan, who curated and created the “best of the west” tours that I was lucky enough to do back in the day. and the biggest non-musical thrill so far is that we met dave allen from gang of four! yesterday morning! I’m all a-quiver. looking forward to keeping in touch with him for sure.
we saw the new heavy metal documentary called a headbanger’s journey, which was great. expect a continuous flow of metal to be coming into pandora over the coming months. I’ve kind of got the bug… we’ve eaten at ruby’s bbq. went to the annual pre-sxsw swollen circus show with mostly songwriters and rootsy sorts of folks. it’s put on by walter salas-humara of the silos. that was a cool way to kick things off in authentic austin style.
I’ve seen some great bands, of course. it’s amazing how many incredible bands are here. I won’t list the bands now, but the major highlights so far have been: field music at the kork/polyvinyl showcase at emo’s! field music are 3 brits who sound like early xtc, but even more like the mommyheads (anyone remember them?? they were sf’s best band in the early 90s, signed to geffen and got burned by the major label flames….). field music was quirky, brilliant, energetic, with lots of vocal harmonies and shifting time signatures. it’s clever music, but beautifully so. their record comes out here in april and I’m on it.
of montreal was absolutely amazing. they all had glitter in their hair and around their eyes, and had weird butterflies on the necks of their guitars. kevin barnes is a white indie rock prince (as in Prince, the artist) – jumping around and effortlessly cranking through a bunch of surprisingly dancey songs. I was kind of expecting more of their psychedelic pop stuff, but I didn’t care. they were massively entertaining, weird and great. definitely a favorite band of mine.
and last night I went to the park the van showcase to see the teeth and dr. dog. dr. dog was brilliant, a kind of bizarre mix of the band’s rootsy americana and camper van beethoven’s brainy angularity. but they have a really buttery feel to their music, so even the angular stuff goes down smooth. lots of vocal harmonies, too. but the teeth, the teeth are my fave new band. I liked their record, carry the wood, which came out last year, but their live show is ridonculous. super high energy very short songs that careen wildly on a pop odyssey through endless twists and turns. the show was reckless, exuberant, surprising and brilliant.
a long post, I know. I have to head over to the booth now. it’s friday morning. but just one more thing: I can’t help but think of sxsw as a kind of benevolent death star. is it ok to say that? it’s just incredibly well-run and organized, so I guess I mean death star more as a compliment than anything.
a couple o photos:
here’s tim getting fitted for some earplugs:
a typical sxsw nighttime scene on 6th street:
Dr. Dog setting up: