Tag Archive for SXSW

3/15/13…SXSW Day Three

SXSW 2013

This would end up being my third and last day at SXSW, unfortunately.  I had planned from the beginning to take the train down on this particular day.  I not only wanted to avoid having to find parking, but I had a feeling I was going to get scheduled to work on Saturday morning (which I did) and this would be the perfect push to get me home early on Friday night.  The last train departed from downtown at 12:30am, so I didn’t really have a choice.  The problem with taking the train from as far north as I live is that it only runs every hour, so by the time I got to the station and found parking (parking is a NIGHTMARE at these Park & Ride stops), I wasn’t able to get on the train till about 1:30.  The train wasn’t scheduled to leave until 2!!  UGH!  What a letdown.  At least I know better for next year.  I had originally planned to see some other bands before I went to my Day Stage for Vampire Weekend, but I figured since I’m already so late & frustrated, let me just take it easy on myself and go straight to the Day Stage and chill out.  I KNEW that the crowd would grow to a ridiculous size for Vampire Weekend anyway, so it worked out better for me to be there early and grab a good seat.  And that’s exactly what I did!  I had never heard of the first band I saw, Pickwick.  They were four guys from Seattle with a very different sound.  I never was able to completely put my finger on it, but they were pretty good;  the lead singer had some chops, for sure!  There was definitely one song that got me groovin’.  And here it is for you to check out too:

The guitarist was going crazy, clapping and just jamming out.  It was fantastic!  This was actually the song that drew me in to their set.  It made me want to hear more.  I’m glad I caught them.  The next band, Dawes, was definitely one with which I was somewhat familiar…at least their name.  I’ll be honest, I never had taken the time to really check out their music, but I knew they had toured as Jackson Browne’s backing band.  There are four members and the lead singer actually has a very similar tone to Browne.  The most entertaining member of this band was easily the drummer.  When the lead singer moved aside and I caught a glimpse of him going off behind the drums, and I mean GOING OFF, I couldn’t help but laugh.  I wasn’t the only one in the audience that noticed all of the crazy faces and movements he was making.  AWESOME!!  I wish I would’ve caught him on camera…next time.  I have to say that I was very impressed with this band.  They capture a very 60’s, Laurel Canyon vibe in their music, but their songwriting is truly unique and special to them.  They’re the kind of band that tells a distinct story with each of their songs.  In that respect, they reminded me of Paul Simon.  I enjoyed listening to their stories so much, in fact, that I intend to pick up some of their music now.

It was before & during the Dawes set that the room really started to fill up.  It was obvious people were coming in to see them, but the flow of Vampire Weekend fans was very evident.  I have NEVER seen this Day Stage pack so many people in.  It’s usually more of a secret space where the “adults” come to discover new bands.  But since Vampire Weekend is already so well-known and popular, the kids came out in DROVES.  It was crazy.  Even from my 2nd row spot, it was hard to see because the kids all packed themselves right in front of the stage.  I’ve never seen that happen before.  It was CRAZY.  But I didn’t care.  I was just excited to see Vampire Weekend.  I had missed them a couple of years ago at Austin City Limits Festival because I had chosen to see Sonic Youth.  I do NOT regret that choice, but now was my chance to finally see them.  I knew they would be a lot of fun.  And when they started the show off with “Cousins”, I was SURE of it!  Here’s the tail end of it:

It turned out to be a very short set.  They would be playing a full set of music at Stubb’s the next night, so this was more of just a preview.  I was a little disappointed, but figured since I would be working at Stubb’s anyway, I would get to hear more then.  Little did I know…I’ll get back to that.  Because their music is so high energy, the crowd was on its feet the whole time they performed.  This show was so much fun!

For some reason, the only pictures that came out were the ones of Ezra.  I swear I took them of the whole band.  But he is the cutest one. lol  When “A-Punk” came on, I had to pull out my phone again to get another video.  It’s such a bouncy and energetic song as you can see:

I had a great time at this set and was full of enthusiasm as they ended.  I had just enough time to run over to ACL Live to get in line for Green Day.  I was bursting with positivity…until I actually got there and the security guard totally burst my bubble.  She told me that the only people getting in to the show would be lottery ticket winners.  WHAT??!!  I even showed her the SXSW program which indicated that the show was for Badges and Wristbands only.  WTF??!!  I was so pissed!  She proceeded to point out the line of people across the street that were “last-chancers”.  Ok, I was MAD!!  Did I want to wait in line?  Did I want to head down to Auditorium Shores and try to catch Divine Fits, Jim James, & Flaming Lips?  OR was I that pissed that I just wanted to go home??!!  I sat on a bench and mulled it over for around ten minutes.  I finally decided to just go home.  The reality is that I was very run down & tired and my allergies had been bothering me a lot.  Or I thought they were my allergies.  And since I had to work early the next day, I figured the smart & responsible thing to do would be to make an early night of it.  I had intended to see Green Day & I was completely and utterly let down!!  I was so sad!  So I started walking back to the train stop and I was almost there, when all of a sudden it started to shower.  Yeah, that’s what I thought anyway.  I was like, OMG, what’s going on here?  And then I realized, wait a minute, it’s not raining, where the hell did that water just come from??  So I looked up and could see water or SOMETHING had been tossed over the side of the building I had been walking next to.  Now does that not just complete the picture??!!  That was my definitive sign that it was time to get the fuck out of there!  What’s sad is this ended up being my last day of SXSW.  The next morning I went to work, but I ended up going home early because I was actually sick.  I was so depressed.  I had really wanted to make it for my last shift & day of SXSW since I overall had so much freakin’ fun this year.  I probably had more fun than I ever had, simply because I’m more experienced at maneuvering this conference.  Well, all good things must come to an end and I will now look ahead expectantly to SXSW 2014!

3/14/13…SXSW Day Two

SXSW 2013

Oh, the Day Two Blues…Because of working late the night before, I got off to a later start.  Thursday is always the busiest day during SXSW because it’s when the keynote speaker…speaks!  It’s an early session (11am) so people get down there super early, which translates into NO PARKING later in the afternoon.  I drove around for an hour before I finally found somewhere to park.  This not only sucked because I was stuck in my car for all that time, but I also ended up missing my friend from New York’s band.  BOO!!  I still met him up at The Blind Pig (where they played) and we just hung out for about an hour and chatted.  It was cool catching up with a NYC connection!  He had to join his band for an interview, so I took that opportunity to skedaddle out of there to go check out Fitz & The Tantrums at the Stub Hub Live Party at Old School.  I got there just a bit early, but they started a little late, so I ended up standing around for what seemed like forever…something I absolutely HATE to do!!  But, I must admit it was completely worth the wait.  It wasn’t a big room, but it certainly became a very crowded room.  There were repeat audience members (like me) and several newbies.  One of the greatest parts about this for me was watching how the band won over these newbies.  The crowd started off lukewarm, but by the middle of the set EVERYONE was dancing and getting very into the music.  The top dogs in the band, Noelle & Fitz, were so full of energy that it just oozed out into the crowd and seeped into our souls!  Their whole performance was extremely infectious.  These guys that were standing behind me and had never seen them perform before were having the greatest time.  So fun!  There was one passage where the keyboardist just went OFF!!  I mean, he looked like he had lost himself completely in his insane solo.  It was one of the most fantastic bits of live music that I have ever been a witness to!!  INCREDIBLE!!  At one point, towards the end of the show, I had looked down for a second and saw a commotion brewing closer to the stage out of the corner of my eye.  Then all of a sudden the crowd sort of opened up and someone came flying towards me.  I screamed and jumped because I really thought a fight had started.  Turns out, it was just Fitz barreling through the audience.  Holy crap!  This one dude started laughing at me when he saw how I had reacted.  It was hilarious.  Fitz came back through the audience a little bit more calmly and we just patted him on the back as he passed us to go back on stage.  Great moment!

The band sang a couple new songs which translated great in this live setting; they worked very well alongside their better known songs.  Their cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by the Eurythmics NEVER gets old!! The audience participation that this band enlisted was better than any show I’ve been to.  They get you dancing, crouching on the floor, waving your arms, singing…it’s a non-stop party.  And I felt so lucky to be a part of that for the third time!  I’m so happy that they are getting the love they deserve.  LOVED this show!!  After they were done playing, I had to head over to the Convention Center to start my shift.  Once again, I was set to work at Stubb’s…my spot.  I knew it would be a crazy night given that the Sound City Players would be performing.  Since I had missed Dave Grohl’s keynote speech, I was excited that I would be able to catch just a bit of him at this show.  If you’re not familiar with Sound City, it’s the movie that Dave Grohl directed that was based on the recording studio where many legendary artists (Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cheap Trick, Rick Springfield, etc.) recorded some incredible albums.  Dave Grohl was playing backup musician with the rest of the members of Foo Fighters for Eleven, Masters of Reality, Stevie Nicks, Fear, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Rick Springfield, & John Fogerty.  WOW!!  That is quite a line-up, huh?  I wanted to time my break perfectly because I knew exactly who & what I wanted to see.  I only got to hear Stevie Nicks & John Fogerty from outside the auditorium; But they both sounded pretty damn good.  I stole away for my break while Rick Springfield was playing with the guys.  You can only imagine my delight at seeing Dave Grohl up there singing “Jessie’s Girl” with Rick Springfield.  Check out this very short video and you can actually hear my delight. lol

I wish I had caught more of the moment, but I was just too excited watching it that I forgot to pull out my phone to record it.  I was so happy.  But my moment didn’t end there.  That song marked the end of Rick Springfield’s segment.  To my surprise & delight, the next guys to come out and perform were Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), Pat Smear (The Meat Puppets, Nirvana), Rick Nielsen, Dave Grohl & the rest of Foo Fighters.  When I say I was excited…I was overjoyed!!  OMG!!  They sang Cheap Trick songs.  Since they’re from the Chicago area, I 100% support them.  I was just in heaven.  GREAT GREAT night!!  Way before I had gone in to the stadium for my break, I had met a young man from Peru.  He was on his way into the show, but since he had a camera (no cameras nor press were allowed into the show) he had to step back out of line.  He called his friend to come pick up the camera so he could go into the show.  She was a bit of a distance away, so he just stood next to me & my co-workers while he waited for her.  He turned out to be the sweetest guy.  We just talked about why he was in Austin, how he was a musician, etc.  It was nice just chatting with him.  Finally, his friend arrived and he got into the show.  After the show ended, he came up to me and gave me his band’s card.  I said, ‘oh, you want me to check out your music.’  He said, ‘well, yeah and keep in touch.’  I’m always hesitant to check out people’s music, only because I have an initial worry that I won’t like it or they’ll just suck.  But I was happily impressed by what I heard on his website.  The first song was very pretty, but the second one actually gave me a very emotional reaction.  I was kinda blown away and I’d like you to be blown away too.  So please take a minute to listen to this beautiful song by Wolves As Friends:

And while you’re at it, do yourself another favor and check out the new album they just released, Small Goodbyes.  You’ll thank me.  The most interesting thing I discovered about this young man is that although he was born & raised in Peru, he does all of his music in English.  He speaks near fluent English.  He told me he learned a little in school, but mostly he learned it by watching American TV and listening to American music.  Go figure.  I have to admit, that I ended up having another great night at SXSW.  Day Two Blues turned into a smile after all.  🙂


3/13/13…SXSW Day One

SXSW 2013

I had been looking forward to this conference for weeks now and was so happy the time had finally come!!  I was afraid that I would have some problems getting off from working my real job, but luckily, at least the first few days I was able to finagle off!!  The first day started off like a breeze.  Easy to get downtown, easy to find parking, & easy to make my way over to my favorite SXSW stage, the Radio Day Stage in the Austin Convention Center.  I had some music to see, PEOPLE!!  And I had decided to spend my whole afternoon at this Day Stage because of the incredible line-up of artists.  Since I had allowed myself so much time to get downtown, I actually arrived early, so I got to see a band I hadn’t even planned on seeing.  They were called Cuarteto de Nos and were from Uruguay.  Either they (or the band before them) started late because when I walked in after 1pm, they were still setting up and they should already have been playing.  They started so late, in fact, that they were only able to play about 4 songs in their set.  That was fine with me, since I was very anxious to hear Bajofondo (the next band).  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  This band, Cuarteto de Nos, was actually pretty good.  They were a 4 piece rock band.  But the thing that sort of gave them their edge was the way their lead singer sort of “rapped” out the lyrics.  It was sort of weird and different, but cool at the same time.  I enjoyed them.

But again, I was really looking forward to Bajofondo.  I had recently replaced a CD I had by them that I had accidentally deleted out of my iTunes library, so they were pretty forefront in my mind.  They’re from Rio de Plata in South America and their music can best be described as Electronic Tango, with some heavy hip-hop & rock influences.  Since the first band started so late and the stage set-up for Bajofondo was so intense, it took about 40 minutes before they were set up to play.  I overheard one of the stage guys say they would only have time for a couple of songs and I began to feel so disappointed.  The band members didn’t seem phased, so I hoped that they would be able to play longer than that.  When they finally hit the stage it was with a BANG!!  Wow!!  It was this in-your-face, incredible music.  I immediately was enthralled and had to capture some video footage:

There were 8 performers on the stage and each one of them gave it their ALL!!   They had great energy and a great connection with the audience.  We were all caught up in their web of fun!  It was FANTASTIC!!!  They definitely did more than a couple of songs, which pushed the show back even more, but at this point with THIS band, nobody cared!  This guy sitting in front of me who had chatted me up a bit, turned around after they were done and asked, “It was worth the wait, no?”  Oh HELL YEAH it was. lol

They were so great, in fact, that I kind of felt sorry for the band that had to follow them. The band, Boy, were performing as a trio (for SXSW only) because they couldn’t get all of their band members over from Germany.  They’re based out of Hamburg, but I believe one of the females that front the band is from Switzerland and the rest are of German descent.  Their music was in stark contrast to the Electronic Tango of Bajofondo.  They played a more mellow, pop-inspired rock.  The young lady that sang the lead vocals had a very lovely voice and a very charming stage presence.  She seemed to be very shy, but warm towards the audience.  She definitely showed a sense of humor, especially when referring to their male bassist.  I appreciated the simplicity and beauty of their music.

The next artist to perform at this stage was Jake Bugg from Nottingham, England.  Oh, Jake Bugg, why won’t you smile?  More to follow on that.  I had started seeing this name getting tossed around a little before SXSW began.  In fact, one of my friends had suggested that I check him out, so I did.  I went on his website and listened to a couple of songs, but I wasn’t convinced.  However, when I saw he would be playing at SXSW, I decided, well, maybe he puts on a great live show.  Let’s check it out.

The two things I didn’t know, but found out this day were that #1) This KID is only 19 years old & #2) This sourpuss NEVER smiles.  It was kind of annoying.  I only caught him crack a quarter of a smile for half a second when he watched his drummer come onto the stage.  Otherwise he was Mr. Serious.  It was weird, because really, the only band member (there are three of ’em) that seemed to be having any kind of fun and DID smile on occasion was the drummer.  Cheers to you, mate!  As for Mr. Bugg’s music, well, to me he’s more a product of the hype machine, that is the music industry, than a true talent.  Sure, he’s a decent guitarist.  And sure his music is ok for a 19-year-old, but it didn’t WOW me.  And I certainly didn’t care too much for his extremely nasally vocals.  Maybe it’s that and his Justin Bieber haircut that have the girls wild for him, but neither quality really floated my boat.  It wasn’t until close to the end of his set that I finally heard a song that stood out to me.  It had some swing to it and made me tap my foot…always a good indicator of my interest.  I’ll let you all be the judge:

Because the set times were still a little thrown off because of the late start on this stage, I wasn’t too sure I would get to see much of Devendra Banhart.  I’m not really a fan of this hippy-dippy artist, but I thought he would at least be entertaining.  And I was so right.  What surprised me was when this hot guy walked out in a super fashionable outfit.  I was like, who’s that??  The last time I had seen a picture of Devendra he looked like THIS:

Mr. Hippy-Dippy

Mr. Hippy-Dippy

But the guy that walked out on stage looked like THIS:

Mr. Hotness

Mr. Hotness

I was like, WOW, Mr. Banhart cleans up very nice, indeed!  So I was excited to see what he had in store, although I couldn’t stay for long, as I had to start my volunteer shift.  He was definitely very loose with his set.  It felt like a coffee shop performance as opposed to an official SXSW stage show.  It was actually really cool.  It’s obvious he has a very communal relationship with his fans.  He draws you right on in to his special world and makes you feel at home.  He had a great sense of humor within his songs, always focused on the audience.  At one point, he started to sing a song, forgot the lyrics, stopped and started a new song, then stopped and said ‘Oh, I remember the words now’ and went back to the original song.  So quirky, so cute, I loved it!  But I only was able to stay for three songs.  I can’t say that I became a fan of his music as much as I became a fan of just HIM and his great personality.  I would be very much interested in seeing him perform a full show just to get a larger peek into his world.

As I had last year, I planned to work my volunteer shifts at Stubb’s because I loved the line-up they had in store there and also because I loved the people who worked out there.  It’s always a good time at Stubb’s and this year was no exception.  It was great to see some familiar faces from years prior, which made it that much easier to work.  I knew how to handle the crowds of people and it was fun at the same time.  It was a night of celebrity sightings down at Stubb’s from Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers) to Jared Leto (30 Seconds To Mars) to Adrian Grenier (Entourage) to Britt Daniels (Spoon) to David Fricke (Rolling Stone writer).  The only ones that I actually saw (Owen Wilson) and interacted with (David Fricke) either walked right past me or right up to me.  Apparently Owen was a real douche and as he walked out of Stubb’s a guy asked him for a picture and Owen responded, “No, I’m good”.  Nice.  David Fricke, on the other hand, was very chill.  I’m a long-time Rolling Stone subscriber and he has written for that magazine for longer than I’ve subscribed to it (over 20 years), so that tells you what kind of rock star I think he is.  I knew who he was the minute he approached me to find out if there was any possibility of him getting in to see Cafe Tacuba.  When I honestly told him, ‘probably not’, he simply said, ‘Oh, well’ and walked away with a smile.  He was super cool!  I saw Britt Daniels walk very quickly past the venue while carrying his guitar.  I yelled out ‘Britt, Britt!’, but he either didn’t hear me or was in too much of a hurry to acknowledge me.  Either way I was happy to spot him.  The other two guys were spotted and photographed with some of the girls I worked with, but they were both missed opportunities for me.  Not. Meant. To. Be.  Although, I would have loved to have seen both of those guys!!  One of the main reasons I wanted to work at Stubb’s on this particular night was because the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were performing.  I wanted to be able to take my break (around 25 minutes) while they were on stage.  And I got my wish.  In fact, I got even better when I went in during the time they played both “Zero” AND my favorite song, “Maps”:

I was more than satisfied and extremely happy.  I couldn’t believe that Karen O. had dyed her hair blonde.  She is so crazy awesome!  I love that band!!  They sounded great and she was wild & fun, as she always is on stage.  Even though I still had to work a couple more hours after they performed, I absolutely ended my night on a high note.  The rest of the line-up that I got to hear, but not see included Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Cafe Tacuba, & Alt-J.  This first day of SXSW was hands-down my favorite day of all!  I got to hear a ton of music and just had a BLAST with everyone I encountered!!  Good times!!