My second full day at SXSW was if anything better than my first. I aspire to go to this thing until I am too old to decently be allowed through the doors. God knows I’m already older than most of the beard sprouting indie kids there now. Except, perhaps, at the Echo and the Bunnymen show…
Viva Voce (Mohawk)–I found earlier work by these guys a letdown, but their live show has turned me around. I look forward to their new release. These guys are from Portland, and they sound like it–although they originate from the south, I’m led to believe. Very melodious, femme-fronted guitar pop. Good feelings all around.
Peelander z (Mohawk)–This is the craziest show I’ve seen in a long time. These Japanese freaks may or may not be good musicians, but they are excellent entertainers. They got the crowd so pumped that the next act was almost forgotten. Human Bowling, bassists hanging upside-down from the rafters, broken engrish, what’s not to like?
Camera Obscura (Mohawk)–After the wildness of Peelander Z, the crowd and that stage filled with pasty, self-aware white folks. Camera Obscura has put out some of my favorite music in the past handfull of years, so I was pretty excited. While they sounded pretty good, they also seemed exhausted–it was their third show at SXSW and Scotland she was calling. I loved it anyway, and will buy their newest upon release.
Akron Family (Waterloo Park)–Did I really know what these guys sounded like? Too jammy for my taste. Left as soon as the hippies started to dance.
Steve Burns (Central Pres. Church)–This was interesting: Burns and band seated up on the alter, with a screen behind them playing an oddly moralistic tale involving a puppet. The songs were a soundtrack the the movie, and the movie was a sort of “choose your own adventure.” The audience was given laser pointers, and between songs they were instructed to choose by pointing which course they wanted events to take. (Save a Kitten? or Recreational Drug Use?) The concept was good, even if the movie was slightly absurd, ending with an excellent Galaxie 500 cover. This guy has talent coming out of his ears.
Marnie Stern (Central Pres.)–Biggest letdown of SXSW. This really sucked. To be fair, apparently her drummer made advances on her the night before (“he wanted to have sex with my vagina,” she told us, cross behind her) and she dismissed him from the band. So, she loaded herself up with alcohol and a supporting cast of Austinites who proceeded to jam incompetently. I had to leave…
Echo and the Bunnymen (Rusty Spurs)–This was the show I had planned to see all day, but when we got there were were told badges only. That’s why we went to see Marnie in the first place. Luckily, she sucked, we left, and when we checked back by Rusty Spurs they let us slide in with elevated seating behind the sound board! This club is about the size of a large apartment, and Echo is one of my all time heroes. Call me old, but when they broke into “Back of Love,” “The Cutter,” and other sing-alongs I almost wept. Ian’s voice is still strong as hell and the band is a bunch of reliable professionals by now. Highlight–near the end, they covered Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side. Made my entire weekend.
It even made up for the most excruciating moment of the weekend. Unable to get into the venue at Stubbs to see PJ Harvey, we were able to eat there. As I was ignoring my moral qualms about BBQ, I could hear barely her through the walls, but couldn’t see her. One of my serious heroes, that one.
I’m exhausted, and trying to catch up on my work, but I’m already talking about making hotel reservations next year.