Trying To Get To You

Monday, March 17, 2008

SXSW: Day Three

We have a special guest writer (who shall remain anonymous) to capture night three far better than I can. By Friday night, my feet were killing me and I was starting to get grouchy. Seeing X made me feel a little better, but the lines to see MGMT had me more than a little annoyed. Our guest's tastes are more indie-centric than my own, but I like different viewpoints. And we agree about Ironworks BBQ - he loved the meat and I loved the pork ribs. God bless.

Friday Night was my big band night...

Began at Stubbs where I caught a bit of The Ting Tings for the third time while in Austin. They embody what SXSW is really all about for me. I had never heard of em before and I left the festival loving em. I thought they really held and then elevated the large crowd at Stubbs. "That's Not My Name" and "Great DJ" both sound like hits to me. Should appeal to those who claim to like M.I.A. (who I do really like) but would prefer something a bit more charming and tuneful.

Santogold was next at Stubbs and was one of those acts I didn't know too much about, but wanted to check out based purely on the buzz. Didn't do much for me. Even the two dancers bored me. Probably works better in headphones or in a club.

Inertia is a powerful force, so I stayed at Stubbs for MGMT. That album hadn't blown me away in my one listen, though I think "Time To Pretend" is the best single of the year. They really delivered live and I've since gone back to the CD with fresh ears. Struck me as a mix of Flaming Lips and Built To Spill, riding a wave of trippy guitar. Band looked and sounded big. "Time To Pretend" was strangely treated as a throwaway cut, as if they've already tired of the tune. Probably a good sign...

Next stop was supposed to be Nicole Atkins. I really like everything I've heard by her and my friend is the guitarist. They play all the time in NYC, yet I've never seem em live. That remains the case.

In one of those SXSW great drunken redirections, I was convinced to get see Vampire Weekend at Antones. My protestations that we'd never get in seemed to be confirmed by the huge line wrapped around the block. We were saved, however, by my friend who convinced the doorman that he worked for XL, even though the business card he flashed was for a totally different company. We were quickly ushered in and made our way to the side of the stage. As for the band? They were great. Way above most other bands I saw at SXSW. Great energy on-stage. Super tight. Crowd was into it and singing along. Actual hooks and memorably quirky rhythms. Is it Beatlemania? Not quite, but there's something to this band. Check em out.

We were already past Congress so we moved a few blocks further away from the 6th st/Red River center of the Festival to see The Knux. I work with the band, so I won't comment too much, other than to say that these guys have the personality, charisma and talent to win over hip-hop purists and the indie rock set.

Next we headed all the way back to Stubbs to see N.E.R.D. I was outvoted. That said, Pharrell can work a crowd. Most of the new stuff sounded like Gnarls Barkley and served as filler between the knucklehead "jump around" anthems that made em famous.

Other bands I saw:

Jay Reatard - Mostly because Tom Scharpling plays em all the time on his (mostly) call-in WFMU show. Unfortunately, I've never heard the tunes because I listen to the podcast and WFMU strips out the songs. Not at all what i expected, but fun. Reminded me of Nuclear Assault. That's a good thing.

Earl Greyhound - Zeppelinesque rock. Dug it. Don't remember a single song, so Ben may be correct.

No Age - Tripped out and atmospheric indie punk rock. Great show, even if the playing was pretty damn sloppy. I'll give em a pass tho, since it was 1pm and they looked like they've never seen the sun before. And, I think sloppiness is part of the charm.

Clipse - Solid. I think it's funny that these guys and Ghostface Killah are worshiped by indie kids who probably don't listen to any other hip-hop.

Darker My Love - Another group I work with, so I'll keep it brief. The Verve meets Surrealistic Pillow meets Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Kind of...

Yo La Tengo - A mellow, mainly acoustic show in the day outside a museum. Great. Easy to forget how good they are.

And most importantly: Ironworks BBQ. Get the combo plate. Thank me later. Also, the chopped beef sandwich they Stubbs sells at the venue is probably the best food to be found at any rock club or arena. Wash it down with a Shiner Bock or two.

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