The best thing about SXSW – music is everywhere - just like Elvis. And I mean everywhere - in pizza joints, in parking lots, on patios, in hotel lobbies, in upscale bars, in crappy dives, in houses turned venues, in an old Spaghetti Warehouse, on the street and even on top of bus cruising downtown Austin – any possible space you can cram a band, they cram a band. For you Philly folks, imagine sealing off
As I stated earlier, a SXSW cardinal rule is don’t worry about what you are not seeing. But it’s almost impossible as it seeps out of every crevice, with every 10 steps bringing a new, fleeting sound. Two years ago, my SXSW traveling bud (let’s call him V as he either craves anonymity or is ashamed to be associated with me… probably the former) were strolling home from an afternoon party when we passed a tiny, darkened bar on San Jacinto and heard someone banging away on electric guitar that sounded a lot like Billy Bragg. And with good reason – it was Billy Bragg himself playing an industry invite-only shindig to a barely interested room of journalists and scenesters. Nothing quite that serendipitous this year, but we definitely stumbled onto a few nice surprises. Here are some highlights and lowlights from the week:
WednesdayHighlights – Even though we missed them for the Consequence of Sound day party,
Lowlights – the generic, anthemic rock of The Apache Relay provided swells but no swell songs and Phosphorescent’s main man Matthew Houck seemed unprepared and unironically prophetic when he began his solo set by saying he “wasn’t exactly going to get this party started”. Also, after 5 minutes of whistling and fiddling about, we decided to fly the coop for (from?) Andrew Bird.
Moments to savor – Ben Kweller’s sublime “Penny on the Train Track” and Titus Andronicus’s majestic “A More Perfect Union”, still the leader in the clubhouse for song of the decade.Also Got to See - the charming indie girl pop of Tennis, the angular Britpop of New Cassettes and the alt country lilt of husband and wife led The Mastersons.
Titus Andronicus - "A More Perfect Union" (from The Monitor)
The Men - "Candy" (from Open Your Heart)
Ben Kweller - "Penny on The Train Track" (from Ben Kweller)
Up Next... Day Two.