Ahhh, yes. Austin in March. You just have to love it. Stellar weather, NCAA basketball, um, scantily-clad lady types and South By Southwest. The festival kicked off yesterday and the ball was rolling quickly, with a full dayís schedule of events to jump right into. This is my third or fourth year of SXSW diary keeping and if you donít enjoy rambling, nonsensical reviews of a day's events, feel free to skip to the next article now. For the rest of you, letís start at the beginningÖ
As always, the SXSW week started off with an attempt to mitigate the wrongs Iíd be doing to my body due to overindulgence: it was time for a run. However, the humidity and heat of Austin are vaguely different than that of San Francisco and I was gassed halfway out. I completed the journey, but I was a mess at the end. However, it made me feel good about the quesadilla lunch I had, in a tasty Mexican seafood restaurant an hour later. Seems like members of Dresden Dolls and Fred Schneider of The B-52s thought that Mexican food was the way to go, as well, as they were in also snacking on tasty vittles at our restaurant of choice. Off to pick up the badges at the Convention Center, where I met one of the members of Aqualung and got the details of his bandís showcase. After dropping off the vast quantity of random shit that is included in the SXSW gift bags (thanks for that collection of different sized cases, CDs and otherwise, whichever company makes those. Those will sure come in handy. Sometime.), it was time to check out the FADER/Leviís Lounge in our new space on 6th Street. Compared to last yearís space and vibe, it was like night and day. The new layout was incredible, with indoor and outdoor lounging locales, and a solid sound stage set up in back. I was really impressed with the location this year and the bands who performed. It was also nice to finally put faces to names and voices (this means you, Matt ìMaverickî DuFour, John Staub, Elliot Aranow, Marisa Brickman, Miguel ìI Got Drunk & Fell Downî Banuelos, Elkland manager Alex Fredericks and The Reputationís Elizabeth Elmore, as well as specialty hosts Sam Hiller, Jeff Sottolano, and Drew Patterson. Also good to see old friends (nice molester beard, Robert English) and check out the bands in the space. Lookout! Recordsí Reputation was the first band I caught and their infectious indie pop sounded great on the afternoon. Velocity Girl-esque and extra tight, they debuted material from their upcoming Lookout! release, out April 20. hitting the stage afterwards was Jim McGuinn and his Cordalene posse. Good old fashioned rock & roll was the order of the day and Cordalene filled that need to a T. Lastly, a hook-filled synthtastic set by Upstate NYís Elkland rounded out my FADER/Leviís Lounge day, with ìEverybodyís Leavingî taking the cake as the catchiest song of their set. I ran out to the door to catch up with the gang at Manuelís for a tasty dinner before taking in the nightís festivities.
Adan Armandariz of Epic Record was kind enough to include me in his reindeer games and the snacks were of the highest order. Also enjoying the meal were Lynn Barstow, Ray Vaughn, Toby Ryan and the omnipresent Aaron Axelsen and Adrian Moreira. Eating and running was sadly in order, to get over to catch Maverickís ,b>The Shore. Mixing indie guitar rock influences with Verve-esque wash, the young quintet shone brightly, especially considering they had not played many shows prior to the showcase. Also peeping the potential next big things were Gaby Skolnek and Karen Glauber. The schedule was now filled by back to back gigs at the outdoor BBQ hootenanny that is known as Stubbís.
The line was down the block for the showcase, featuring sets from The Von Bondies, (International) Noise Conspiracy and ,b>Joan Jett. it took some time, but we finally made it in to catch all but one song of the Von Bondies show. Frank Correia, Dan Connelly, Carlyn Kessler and Dayna Talley took turns shaking their asses and lifting their cups. Material old and new was unveiled, but it was most likely the extra catchy ìCíMon CíMonî that had the amassed brain trust of Phil Costello and Perry Watts Russell nodding their heads with anticipation of good things to come. Costello was kind enough to take us back stage to meet the Detroit rockers. Also in the mix in the ìcool kidî zone were members of Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand, whose highly anticipated showcase will cause lines down the street this evening. International Noise Conspiracy, who are now an all-male revue, also played songs old and new, showcasing tunes off their upcoming IDJ release, as well as touching on past highlights like ìCapitalism Stole My Virginity.î So much had already been done, and there were still two gigs left to go.
First up, The Bronx. Also queuing up to see these Los Angeles noiseniks were Reading, Englandís finest, The Cooper Temple Clause, who tired of waiting in the interminably long line and left before having the opportunity to witness the sheer mayhem that was The Bronxí live show. About three songs into the set, frontman Joby Ford chucked a bottle of beer across the crowd, which bounced into the bar, confounding and pissing off the bar staff to no end. Three minutes later, his shoe went firing into the crowd, only to be stopped by a marauding ceiling fan. Trouble was in the air, and the violently moshing crowd only seemed to heighten that sense. That said, the sheer sonic pummeling became too much and we headed to the eveningís final show, Modest Mouse. Again, Mr. Armandariz was the star, allowing us to bypass the huge line to get in to see Issaquahís finest. Jaime Cooley, Steve Nice, Mike Savage and Kari Crowley were also feeling the vibes of the Washington indie kids. As the ëMouse ended their show, the time came for NAPS. But not before catching some of the oh-so-wonderful Crocodile Dundee II. Who the hell let THAT movie be made?