Friday, March 25, 2011

Destroyer to Play Mohawk Tonight

So, who's up for some European-style blues, indie-rock with shoe-gaze influences?!?! Did I mention it's Canadian? Well if that description didn't make you want to shell out some cash to see Destroyer at the Mohawk tonight, then you should probably lose my number. I know, you went out a lot last week because of SXSW but that totally doesn't count because Austin is a foreign-land during SXSW. All of the prices are back to normal and the chief misses you at the 'Hawk. Not to mention, even though my description of Destroyer's sound was, somewhat, tongue-in-cheek they're effing awesome and you need to hear them perform. In this blogger's opinion, Destroyer's principle songwriter, Dan Bejar, is one of the greatest indie songwriters or our generation. His lyrics are so weird and cryptic yet, somehow, full of truth and he manages to write these hooks that become instant ear-worms. Also, I was hesitant to include this truth but in addition to being the principle songwriter for Destroyer, Dan Bejar is also a contributing member of the Canadian super-group The New Pornographers. I figure most of you already knew this but for those who didn't now you know. Also, I'm not sure if it's STILL true but one incarnation of Destroyer had Canadian band, Frog Eyes playing back-up. Spencer Krug of Frog Eyes went on to join Wolf Parade. How do you like that Canadian-indie-rock full circle of justice? Those Canadians, are so effing collaborative!

Destroyer - Kaputt video via YouTube

If you want to see Destroyer at the Mohawk tonight, you better shell out your $14 bucks for a ticket as soon as humanly possible. I can, pretty much, guarantee this show will sell-out before the doors open. Even my friends who don't go to concerts were talking about it today. Also, I may have mentioned this before but the 'Hawk has a minimum credit card charge but if you use Tabbed Out you can circumvent that. Just throwing that out there.

Destroyer - Hey, Snow White video via YouTube

Opening for Destroyer on the Mohawk's outside stage tonight will be, highly google-able band, The War on Drugs. I know it's tough to convey via words on the internet but that was sarcasm. It's like indie bands don't want you to know about them or find their web presence these days. Maybe that's the cool thing to do. Looking at you Weekends amongst a bevy of others!

The War on Drugs - Needle In Your Eye video via YouTube

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Thoughts (Rant) on SXSW 2011

Wow, so we don't have to think about SXSW again for another 8-9 months. Feels good doesn't it? I feel like each year I get a little better at the SXSW experience and each year I come up with ways to make my experience better for the following year. This was the first year that I had an official wristband, which was very exciting. That put me third on the totem pole to get into showcases, behind express passes and badges but AHEAD of people paying cash at the door. It was due to the luxury of my official status that I learned a lesson for next year. Basically, every year before has been about the day-party for me and/or the free evening showcases so it was hard to break that habit. What I learned was it's really hard to do day parties followed by evening showcases, I was all tuckered out y'all. So, my plan for next year is do less unofficial stuff and more official stuff. I'm going to be a have, not a have-not.

My other reasoning for this logic is going to be controversial, I know, especially since I've been a have-not for so many years previous but I'm just going to put it out there. The more unofficial stuff we do, the more platinum selling artists will team-up with gigantic, multi-national corporations to hijack the hype from SXSW proper. I'm not saying there is no place for the day-parties and such but when all anyone can talk about is Kanye Muthaphuckin West's ridiculous midnight to four am "party" at the power plant then we have a problem. It's hard to not get swept up in the hype of big names and celebrities at SXSW, I'm guilty of it too but there has to be a point where we say enough is enough. 2011 is the year that platinum-selling hip-hop artists took over and I for one do NOT approve. Do Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, Big Boi etc. need the exposure from SXSW or are they just cashing in FAT pay checks to vaguely align themselves with an indie-spirit of, what was once, an indie-music festival?

With that all being said, like with anything in life it is what you make of it. So, if you want to hang out in the Pepsi Max lot for Snoop or wait in line for 12-14 hours to catch Kanye at the abandon power plant, that's your business. My goal, for next year, is to not get caught in the hype wave and focus on well-curated, official showcases. Here's a video from one-such showcase I attended Thursday night:

James Blake - The Wilhelm Scream video via YouTube

People can hate on Pitchfork all they want but they put together a fantastic showcase at Central Presbyterian Church Thursday night. I arrived about 90 minutes before doors opened as I knew it would be a popular showcase and I wanted to be sure to gain entry. Some people were skeptical I would even get in with a mere wristband but I assure you I made it no problem and so did everyone lined up early in the cash line. I feel like anyone can get into any showcase if they arrive early enough. However, if you're paying cash it's a real crap-shoot as to how much you'll have to pay. For the Pitchfork showcase it cost the cash people $30 to get in, whereas the previous night's showcase at the same venue was merely $10 and lots of the smaller showcases cost only $5. In any case, whilst waiting in line I liked that the church had porta-johns outside that we could use, I was less enthused once inside to realize those were the only available bathrooms. They let us all in, then said oh hey just so you know the bathroom is outside and once you leave you have to get back in line. So, I spent the rest of the showcase parched for fear of the need to pee if I consumed water.

The acoustics in the church were amazing and the atmosphere lends itself to a quiet, respectful audience. There is no alcohol so there are no drunk people chatting and ordering Lone Stars and, obviously, there was nothing smoked in there. It was also quite nice to have seats after spending all day standing around at day-parties. I had heard of all of the artists but the only one I had seen before was Twin Shadow, whom I have seen twice and liked on both occasions. Unfortunately at the show Twin Shadow had the misfortune of following the one-two punch that was Glasser followed by tUnE-yArDs.

I have been a fan of the Glasser album since late last year. It ALMOST made my top albums list but I just hadn't heard it enough for it to rank but seeing the songs performed live with the acoustics of the church was jaw-droppingly, awe-inspiringly, out-of-this-world gorgeousness. It was, without a doubt, my favorite 40 minutes of SXSW 2011. The second song of the set earned the band a standing ovation. I know at a club show every song gets a standing ovation but in a church, with everyone seated in pews it is quite dramatic to see the entire crowd leap up cheering and clapping. Even just writing about it gives me goosebumps.

After Glasser's set I was just thinking, "Wow! What could possibly top that?" Then tUnE-yArDs came out and played one of the most wildly inventive sets of music I've ever seen. I wouldn't say it topped Glasser's merely because Glasser was SO dramatic but I would compare to my first time seeing Dirty Projectors. The songs were constructed in front of the crowd using vocals, samples, loops and live instrumentation. It all would have seemed really corny and gimicky if the singer didn't have a voice blessed by God. She yodels, she yells, she sounds like the opening song from The Lion King and somehow it all works. It was ridiculously fun and energetic and made me want to hunt down the CD as soon as possible. In other words it was exactly what you want in a SXSW showcase.

After those performances, Twin Shadow just seemed so ordinary. Also, the church setting was not ideal for their brand of John Hughes movie synthesized dance-rock. James Blake followed Twin Shadow and delivered a beautiful set of music that managed to stay true to the album while also giving it an interesting live twist. He was accompanied by two musicians including a live drummer using v-drums who was excellent.

It seems crazy to wrap-up four, twelve+ hour days worth of music in this one post but I really want to put SXSW to bed so other artists I saw who really impressed me this fest include:

The Holidays - Heavy Feathers video via YouTube
There's also a slew of bands I would have liked to have seen but didn't so I'll have to catch them on their new trip through Austin! For those of you who have been reading this site because you were coming to SXSW thank you but thank you MORE to those of you reading this and every other post I publish. With that, I don't want to talk about SXSW anymore and if you ask me in real life about it imma refer you to this post.

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MtvU Woodie Awards 2011 Wrap-UP

Alright y'all, Sxsw 2011 has officially drawn to a conclusion, which means I can do my laundry and dishes and scoop Miss Paws' litter box. It also means I can do the stuff I should have been doing since last Wednesday, for instance, did I tell you I was going to the MtvU Woodie Awards? Yeah, I totally went, and not only that for some reason I was granted press credentials, which means I got to "work the red carpet." So, I put on my Jessica Rabbit dress and headed on down to the Austin Music Hall armed with a Flipcam, a point-and-shoot, my digital voice recorder and smartphone. I really had no plan of action, being an Austin music blogger I have very few opportunities to experience a red carpet scenario. It seemed so foreign. First, we were all gathered up and assigned numbers based on our importance, I was give the number 52 but the numbers went all the way up to the high 70's, so I wasn't in the bottom of the pack. The ironic thing was the lower the number, the older the person wearing that number. I suppose that's because the heavy-hitters have professionals with years of experience where as I have...a blog that my Mom really likes (mostly).

So, basically the way that it works is they put a label at your feet so the people walking the carpet know the name of your publication, then a press-agent comes down the line and discretely whispers the name of their client with a brief bio and asks if you want to talk to them. It was one part funny, one part sad and all interesting. A lot of the artists I hadn't heard of and/or knew very little about, while a few felt like old friends. I tried asking questions that would garner non-rehearsed responses. I ended up mostly asking the same family of questions revolving around the artists last day-job. So, here's the highlights and low-lights of my interviews. I didn't edit them so you'll hear my goofy voice and stupid laugh, also I didn't have a camera person I was just holding my Flipcam sort of beside my head so a lot of the shots are framed poorly and are shaky. With that all said, I give you the lovely Matt and Kim.

Matt and Kim - 2011 Woodies Interview video via YouTube

Matt and Kim was actually the last interview I did, so I'm posting these in reverse order. In other words my interviewing skills will get worse as you scroll down. Although, you can already tell from the Matt and Kim interview that my blessing and curse is I get just downright chatty and the interview format sort of devolves. That's part of the reason I have such a hard time transcribing interviews. Luckily, everyone was cool with the Flipcam.

Sleigh Bells - 2011 Woodies Interview video via YouTube

This Eliza Doolittle interview was funny to me for a couple reasons. Firstly, her press agent was walking down the line reading the names of the media outlets and he paused at AustinBloggyLimits and asked me about the name and what is it, who is it etc. I told him it's me and he said, "I like you, do you want to talk to Eliza Doolittle?" and I was like, "sure." The other thing that makes this interview funny to me is I asked her about her styling and then didn't show what she was wearing. Trust me, it was a valid question.

Eliza Doolittle - 2011 Woodies Interview video via YouTube

Ok, so I really didn't know much to anything about The Cataracs and I wasn't even planning to interview DEV but this ended up being one of my favorites. I really liked their answers and it was just fun to chat with them. For those of you who don't know, they are featured in that Fly Like a G6 song.

The Cataracs and Dev - 2011 Woodies Interview video via YouTube

I really love Two Door Cinema Club and I think this interview started out well but then I just sort of went off the deep end for some reason. Did I really need to bring up kitty-cats and Care Bears? Was it wise to insult Irish cuisine? Probably not.

Two Door Cinema Club - 2011 Woodies Interview video via YouTube

Oh Land is beautiful to look at and her music is really gorgeous as well but this was one of my first interviews and it really didn't go that well in my opinion. Although, it went better than the one I did with Nic Harcourt, which I won't even be posting.

Oh Land - 2011 Woodies Awards video via YouTube

So, there you have it. There's several reasons why Bloggy should not be allowed on a red carpet. As far as the show itself, it was cool to see a production like that behind the scenes. The performances were great, Sleigh Bells with a marching band was my personal highlight and I'm glad I can say I saw the Foo Fighters perform live. All in all, if they do it again next year I hope they allow me back and I hope they do it before or after SXSW so I don't have to miss any official showcases.

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