Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

Posts made in: 'SXSW' (26) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 26

March 16, 2012 at 6:05pm

SXSW: A letter from Owen Taylor in Austin, Tex.

DOOMTREE THRASHER PARTY AT SCOOT INN: Dessa giving the crowd what they want. Photo credit: Owen Taylor

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Weekly Volcano is one of forty-some alt-press papers around the country to co-sponsor SXSW. Because of this, we get to send scribes to Austin, Tex. every March for the annual music festival orgy. This year Owen Taylor is our correspondent (or something). He submitted this letter to Volcano Editor Matt Driscoll earlier today.

Hey Driscoll, 

What fresh new hell is this you've sent me into? There's free booze and women everywhere, and I have a special little lanyard that gets me into damn near everything ... It's all being documented, simulcast, streamed, uploaded and imbibed. I'm cursing my mother's rapidly increasing aptitude at technological innovation. She will surely see something someday to officially disown me. Assume I will eventually blame you for this. 

This is a people watcher's wet dream. This is Graceland for the social networker, the awkward interactive debauchery of industry people and full time drunks, all politely convening to divvy up the rotting cheese of the music industry. Everything is sponsored, from the trashcans to the low-level sexual harassment and paralytic alcoholism. I've seen plenty of hands on asses, celebrities being retarded, and hordes of nervous, finicky bloggers obviously new to the game. You can see it a mile away at the registrant's tent, actually believing their complementary drink card is only good for one small beverage, and not all the vodka and Dorito's they can shove in their free tote bag.

It's muggy and gray. I've slept with the windows open in my clothes every night thus far, improving from van to couch to full-blown bed in only three days! They have a keg of High Life in the press lounge. You'll know where to find me. 



Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire on the streets moving between one of his dozen showcases this year.

Danny Brown, rapper. (Not some crazed hobo wearing a sequin dress.)

Playing with fire.

Pickster One, Moombahton Stuntin

Olympia's own Black Top Demon rocking one of the several food truck corrals.

Filed under: Music, SXSW, Weekly Volcano, Olympia,

February 12, 2012 at 12:33pm

Hey bands! Warner Music wants you at SXSW

Deep in the heart of Texas, about sixty bazillion bands and at least as many tastemakers will converge in Austin for the annual South by Southwest celebration. Will you? Photo credit: Matt Driscoll


For those who feel that music has hit rock bottom, that it just can't get any worse -  well, there's always the South by Southwest South Music Conference in Austin, Texas, March 13-18, 2012. There's nothing like the thought of 2,000 musical acts from around the globe spread across 90 stages, all in a downtown area the same size as downtown Tacoma. It's a perfect anecdote to cure what ails you, the music biz's spring break, a time when you can shake off the winter blahs (not to mention that heavy coat) and think about nothing but music. 

Nikon and Warner Music are looking for a band to play the "Warner Sound Captured by Nikon" showcase on Wednesday, March 14 at SXSW. 

Bands just have to submit a video of an original performance or music video for their chance to get an all expenses paid trip to Austin. 

For more details, click here.

LINK: Weekly Volcano at SXSW

Filed under: Music, SXSW,

March 24, 2011 at 4:16pm

The SXSW 2011 blog post to end all SXSW 2011 blog posts …

Carletta Sue Kay


Last week the Volcano was all about SXSW 2011. You may have noticed. We dispatched the chillwave Jason Baxter and the ever-so-crunk Rev. Adam McKinney to Austin, basically hoping for something - anything - knowing damn well how much Lone Star Beer flows during the yearly music industry orgy.

Anyway, it turned out swell. The coverage - which includes a chance encounter with Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, a missed 3 a.m. Kanye West gig, plenty of Nightgowns references, and two wicked sunburns  -- can all be found here.

And, since he forgot his the USB cord for his camera, Rev. Adam just sent me some pictures - which I'll post now as a final farewell to SXSW 2011.

See you again next year, Lone Star Beer ...

The Nightgowns in shorts

Tea Cozies

A blurry Tyler, the Creator from Odd Future

Mister Heavenly (Michael Cera on bass, yo)

Ravenna Woods

The Back Pockets




Twin Shadow

Strange Vine

Filed under: Music, SXSW,

March 24, 2011 at 1:12pm

THIS WEEK'S VOLCANO MUSIC SECTION: SXSW, Norman Beats, Illizm, Strangled Darlings and more ...


Amidst all the craziness of March Madness, the Tournament of Pizza, Liz Taylor's death and shit like this, we still managed to come up with a Weekly Volcano music section  - conveniently packaged in the issue of the Weekly Volcano hitting streets today.

Here's a sneak peek at the musical goodness in store in print & online ...


Last week may have marked the silver anniversary of the South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference in Austin, Texas, but it was my first time attending. Looking back on the experience, I'm mystified by the apparent absence of a unifying narrative or clear, inarguable breakout star. I'd been led to believe that SXSW is a nexus where the music industry's major players and bottom-feeders alike conspire to collectively discover "the next big thing." Maybe I wasn't listening in on the proper grapevines, but it seems to me that the two artists to depart with a flurry of hype at their heels - minimalist dubstep composer James Blake and LA aggro-rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All - were the same ones that entered the conference with the most hype. - Jason Baxter


On Feb. 24 Beats was in the audience of the sold out Macklemore show at The Royal Lounge, meaning he got to hear and see 400 people react to XP performing his newest banger "Again" - a track produced by Norman Beats.

"It's one of the dopest beats I've ever made," Beats has been quoted as saying. - Nic Leonard


Another big local release just happened this month. Tacoma's Illizm has a new album available for download on iTunes. Illizm's new album is titled Adamantium ... Where my comic nerds at? Notable production on the album comes from Washington's own Swift Holiday. - Josh Rizeberg


After 32 years in business, Sluggo Music is closing its doors. By the end of the month every gold cymbal, every wood-grained guitar and every last guitar pick will be sold off. The iconic Sluggo sign on the front of the building will disappear. Upstart musicians will lose their Sixth Avenue spot for Ernie Ball guitar strings and expert musical knowledge.  - Brett Cihon

PLUS: Better Living Through Music - Tacoma Metal Awards, Sic Alps, Strangled Darlings and Osama Bin Rockin

PLUS: Concert Alert

PLUS: The most extensive live local music listings in the South Sound

PLUS: Things like this

Filed under: All ages, Tacoma, Olympia, Music, SXSW,

March 21, 2011 at 10:05am

SXSW with Rev. Adam McKinney: The Nightgowns final Austin gig, Tea Cozies, Casiokids, Pop Up Animal Kids, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All


There was a certain frantic desperation in the air, Saturday, on-ostensibly-the last day of SXSW. (There are sparse shows happening here and there Sunday, but the festival's basically over.) The sudden realization that a million shows have happened over the past few days and I've only seen a relative few washed over me.

The day started at The Stage, with the Nightgowns' final Austin show. Surprisingly, even though the show was at 2 p.m. and the walls were lined with photo-realistic paintings of country music stars, this turned out to be the Nightgowns' best and most well-attended show of the festival. Being that this was a Seattle showcase, I stayed and watched the next couple bands: the sunny garage rock of Tea Cozies and the earthy folk rock of Ravenna Woods.

Afterward, I wandered around, peeking my head in at the random shows that lined Sixth Street, finally resting at the Benson Interruption, hosted by comedian Doug Benson. The show features comedians-this time including Chelsea Peretti, Eugene Mirman and Brody Stevens (who called me John Hodgman; gush!)-doing standup sets while Doug Benson sits on the stage and interrupts their acts.

Back out on Sixth Street, I wandered over to the Parish, where I caught Casiokids, from Norway. Like much of the music coming from that part of the world, theirs was a slick, disco-flavored pop that did miracles in turning the muggy humidity of the Parish into the perfect spot for dancing out all that Lone Star beer I had been saturated with.

Next, I hit up B.D. Riley's downstairs for a set from Pop Up Animal Kids, from the Netherlands (what is it with European people and putting "kids" in their name?). They are the first band I've seen in town that embrace the idea of band uniforms. Each one was color-coded-either red, blue, green, or yellow. Their crunchy, riff heavy indie rock united the odd assembly of people in the Irish pub. Heavy enough for that guy in leather to bang his head, and groovy enough for that middle-aged dude to awkwardly bob from foot to foot.

But by far the shining moment of the night was the performance from the L.A. shock-rap collective, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All at the Billboard music party. After waiting in line for about 45 minutes and watching as wristband-holders were turned away at the door (making it a badges-only affair) I finally made my way through the gauntlet of entering the club. Three stations of doormen stood, ready to check IDs and badges, search backpacks, and wave people down with a metal-detector.

Once inside, the crowded club was treated to the kind of show that you look for in a festival like SXSW. About 30 seconds into their first song, "Sandwitches," OFWGKTA leader Tyler, the Creator, stopped the song and berated the audience for not being wild enough. They started over, with chants of "wolf gang," "golf wang," and "swag" ringing through the club.

Tyler, the Creator and Hodgy Beats took turns jumping onto the monitors to swat at lights and shout "fuck you" to the crowd. Tyler, the Creator's microphone was a little too quiet, so he said, "Yo, sound guy. Microphone two is shit. Fucking fix it!" before throwing it off stage.

Two songs later, Tyler, the Creator introduced his breakout hit "Yonkers" by announcing that most of the assholes in the room only know this song of theirs. After they finished "Yonkers," Tyler, the Creator once again shouted at the audience, telling the people in the front that they were cool, but that he wanted everyone else to leave.

Finally, after playing three songs, Tyler, the Creator and the rest of OFWGKTA stormed off stage, saying that they fucking hate SXSW, they never even read Billboard, and that this whole show was bullshit.

Chants of "wolf gang" died out after a minute or so, and befuddled press ambled out of the club.

Regardless of what OFWGKTA's intentions were, I think that this was a brilliant marketing strategy. Because the show was badges-only, at that point, a large contingent of the audience was made up of jerky press people like me. We all wanted and expected to see some crazy nonsense from Odd Future, and that's just what they gave us.

I walked across the street to see Starfucker's set at the Parish. But after Odd Future, Starfucker's bland, edgeless indie rock did nothing for me.

I caught my ride and headed back to the house.

LINK: Weekly Volcano's 2011 SXSW coverage

Filed under: SXSW, Tacoma, Music,

March 20, 2011 at 10:55am

SXSW With Jason Baxter Day Five: the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Dan Deacon, Odd Future, and more…


Saturday at South by Southwest had the the longest lines of the entire week, the most people, and the strongest winds. It felt like the apex of all the week's hectic festivities — an overstuffed explosion of bodies and noise, drunkenly warring against the forces of nature (wind, sun).

During an early afternoon set by New York band the Forms, a fuse was blown after their second song and a sudden gust of wind lifted an entire canopy off the crowd and flipped it over, nearly tearing down low-hanging strands of lights and causing at least one can of beer to empty, geyser-like. It felt like a bad omen, and the band ended up with only enough time for three songs, though all sounded great. Their combination of electric mandolin, tribal rhythms, stabbing synths, and Tuneyards-esque harmonized yelping proved pretty hard to resist.

As I milled about on the East Side, I eventually found myself outside of a record store called Trailer Space, where a DIY punk show was being thrown. Inside, Hoboken band Personal and the Pizzas (their Jersey roots are real, their affected accents are not) were performing. Various Northwest DIY mainstays were drinking in the parking lot. I couldn't stay for long, and soon after I made my way to Cheer Up Charlie's. I arrived not a moment too soon: the venue was already near capacity by 6 p.m. The venue's afternoon/evening programming included sets by Diamond Rings, Dirty Beaches, Austra, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and Dan Deacon (hence the crowd).

Pains of Being Pure at Heart took the main stage at sunset, playing a dramatic, captivating cache of their tender Reagan-era rock. "Let's fucking destroy this shit!" frontman Kip Berman shouted at the top of their set. After their blistering opening number, he clarified his statement: "We mean that in a mild-mannered, pussy kind of way." The band, while rather gentle on record, were explosive live, and for their fourth song onwards, kids were moshing in the middle of the crowd.

I had to leave PBPH early to try and get a good spot for the Dan Deacon concert right around the corner, but that proved to be a futile exercise — the narrow lot behind Cheer Up Charlie's was so congested with people that all I could see was Deacon's infamous glowing green skull grinning from its perch atop a pole next to the Baltimore musician's gear table. I could tell it was going to be a wild show (but when are Dan Deacon shows anything but wild?) when I saw at least one Deacon lookalike in the crowd, a man wearing four pairs of sunglasses and a disco ball on a chain around a neck, and a guy crowd-surfing before the music had even started. That crowd-surfer would prove to be the first of many others, and Deacon's typically-ecstatic set had the entire lot dancing so hard that great nose-clogging clouds of dust kept getting kicked up in the revelry. Though there was the apparent danger of the power failing during the set, Deacon soldiered on, leading the crowd in a dance battle and other hive-mind inanity. The highlight, certainly, was the distorted new song Deacon played. He later revealed to the crowd that his next full-length record is "completely written" but not recorded. Needless to say, I can't wait. All of his Bromst and Spider-man of the Rings material sounded incredible in the sweaty Austin dusk.

Odd Future

I closed out my night with the much-anticipated set by white-hot LA rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. They took their sweet time getting onstage, but when Tyler the Creator came barreling out in a ski mask and ironically cheesy eagle tee, the crowd flipped. The band, as aggressive as ever, taunted the crowd and ran around the strange with the energy of sugar-high toddlers. Amps were mounted, mics were indifferently tossed offstage, and after three insanely intense songs, the band threw their mics on the floor in disgust, walked offstage and never returned. This may sound anticlimactic, but it was also remarkably savvy. They'd played other, assuredly better sets this week, and by bailing on a concert sponsored by the magazine whose cover they currently grace (Billboard), they maintained their "fuck everything" cred and gave all the music biz bigwigs in the crowd something to tweet about in the morning. Was it the performance I was hoping to see? Was it worth missing out on personal favorites Gobble Gobble (one of the best live bands in the world)? Did it properly close out this exhausting, euphoric week? Of course not, but it was a show I'll never get, which I'm sure was exactly the point.

LINK: Weekly Volcano's SXSW 2011 coverage

Filed under: SXSW, Music,

March 19, 2011 at 2:26pm

SXSW with Rev. Adam McKinney: Oberhofer, official Nightgowns showcase, Wild Flag and Twin Shadow ...


If Oberhofer was on the verge of making it big on the way to SXSW, his performances yesterday will push him over the edge. I caught part of his set early in the day at the Brooklyn Vegan party at Barbarella, and then his whole set later in the evening at the Noisey party at Kiss and Fly.

When I saw him last year at Squeak and Squawk, he played with a hastily thrown-together band and only ended up doing the four songs they were able to rehearse earlier in the day. It was fun, but sloppy, and didn't quite capture the energy of his record.

Now, with a full-time band and a touring schedule that includes opening for the likes of Tapes n' Tapes and Handsome Furs, Oberhofer (the band) has clearly mastered its live show. Even more propulsive and frantic than the recordings, this new Oberhofer is a ball of furious energy, full of drastic stop-start dynamics and goofy onstage theatrics like leaping off of the kick drum. It was a star-making performance.

Earlier in the evening, I caught my third Nightgowns set at SXSW-their official showcase at the Bat Bar. The stage at Bat Bar opens out onto the street behind the band. Lookers-and-dancers-on outside the bar gave the performance an odd Today Show feel. The Nightgowns were in fine form as usual, and attendance at the show included Brandt Detling from Tall Girl.

While dropping in on various other concerts, I managed to catch the first little bit of Wild Flag, whose first show I saw in Olympia last year. I had to abandon ship at the venue, the Parish, because it was so goddamn muggy and crowded. I feel bad for the people that have to perform on that stage and all the weight they lose in the process.

I ended my night on the rooftop at Maggie Mae's for the Twin Shadow show. Twin Shadow knocked it out of the park with their majestic New Wave. Lead-singer George Lewis Jr. is a born frontman-a good-looking, sharp-dressed man with remarkably expressive vocals and the ability to shred on the guitar when need be. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand and didn't disappoint.

Today, my plan is to have no plan. I'll wander around Sixth Street - zoo that it is - and see whoever catches my eye. My favorite experiences so far have included bands about whom I've never heard. Let's keep that train rolling.

Filed under: SXSW, Tacoma, Music,

March 19, 2011 at 11:37am

SXSW with Jason Baxter Day 4: Local Favorites and Chance Encounters

My fourth day at the South by Southwest music conference was full of surprises, terrific music, and more artery-clogging cart food. I encountered a budding rap superstar and caught performances by four others. I managed to scope out three of my favorite Cascadian bands, and happened across a Columbian group making their U.S. debut. It was a wild time.

I started my day with half a set by Seattle's THEE Satisfaction, the Black lesbian duo that recently signed to esteemed NW imprint Sub Pop along with Shabazz Palaces, their collaborators and cohorts in the booming 206 hiphop scene (SP's Ishmael Butler could be seen swaying in the crowd). THEE Sat's crowd was woefully small, but their attendees seemed to be enjoying themselves regardless. While I would have loved the chance to hear some of the new cuts they've been busy recording in Seattle with producer Erik Blood, I never tire of their other songs anyway, so it was all good. The beat to "Obama," in particular, never fails to put a smile on my face.

I had to bail a little ways into THEE Sat's set in order to make it over to the East Side in time for Portland band Hausu's performance at Cheer Up Charlie's. Though hampered by an uncomplimentary mix (frontman Ben Funkhouser's voice was way too loud), the band's gleeful take on wiry post-punk impressed as always. Throughout their set, great gusts of wind would blow through the outdoor venue, as if the band's rawking commanded the forces of nature. During the closing minutes of "Weaving Spiders," Funkhouser's Spingsteenian wailing coincided with a couple huge torrents of wind, and the young Reed undergrads looked absolutely epic as the dust swirled in the air around them.

Then my afternoon got very strange and magical in that "only at SXSW" kind of way. I wandered towards the stage at the empty lot behind Cheer Up Charlie's to discover Los Angeles band Sun Araw getting ready to perform. I hadn't seen this performance advertised anywhere, so getting the opportunity to soak up their psychedelic dub jams felt positively fortuitous (I should mention for the stoners out there—and Sun Araw fans are certainly no strangers to cannabis—that I stumbled across the band at exactly 4:20 PM). They played three extended jams out of a boss sound system with enormous speakers; the bass throbs of their dub beats sent blasts of hot air towards my face. Their drippy, dazed music seemed to perfectly complement the overbearing heat, and I was surprised that their On Patrol LPs didn't melt right off the merch table.

The intense weather gave me a craving for a lime popsicle, something which resulted in the most unexpected and serendipitous moment of the entire festival so far. After following the distant sound of an ice cream truck's treacle melody, I waited in line for about ten minutes before finally reaching the window. I was about to place my order when a lanky Black man in a tie-dye shirt with a towel over his head and a skateboard under his arm cut in front of me. He turned around.

"Oh, hey man, I cut you in line. Is that cool?"

It was Tyler the Creator of über-hyped LA rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. Naturally, I said, "Of course!" Looking around, I suddenly noticed that all of OFWGKTA were present, along with a camera crew and a few stunned onlookers with their cellphones out, snapping pics. I was a little too flabbergasted to do much of anything except watch while OFWGKTA procured about ten or eleven sprites, and Batman and Spongebob popsicles. After a few minutes, the entire posse moved on, scribbled-on skateboards in hand, and I finally got my lime popsicle.

Toro Y Moi

Still buzzing from this chance encounter, I went to the nearby Pitchfork stage at the East Side Drive-In to get a good spot of Toro Y Moi's evening set. Having missed him yesterday, I was determined not to make the same mistake today. From right up front, Chazwick Bundick sounded aces, from opener "New Beat" right on up until the end. His performance consisted entirely of material from his recent lounge, disco, and funk-inspired LP Underneath the Pine, which I had no problem with. As I much as I adore his previous effort Causers of This, I can definitely hang with his new artistic direction. Bundick's muse wanders, and I like to follow its zig-zagging paths wherever they may take me. Bundick and band had the majority of their sizeable crowd dancing in the breeze, and pot fumes could be detected in the spring air the second that they launched into album standout "Still Sound." I'm told this was the Toro Y Moi set to see yesterday—his performance later that night at Klub Krucial was apparently overcrowded, intensely hot, and marred by sound issues.

The next band I caught was Brooklyn trio Keepaway, known for their EPs and production work with half-serious rap provocateurs Das Racist. They played in a narrow outdoor courtyard with surprisingly great acoustics. I was also pleased to hear the band take oceanic sounds and make them sound fresh instead of ubiquitous. Their solid mix of acoustic and electronic percussion, surfy, verbed-out guitars and korg synths charmed, and I liked the sense of aural democracy Keepaway demonstrated: all three members shared vocal duties or harmonized.

It was a great relief to me that I made it to the Red 7 Patio in time for Shabazz Palace's set. They kicked things off with percussionist Tendai Maraire warbling into an autotuned mic and tapping on hand drums, before launching full-force into what sounded like a new jam with a klackety beat. Stas and Cat from THEE Satisfaction joined the group onstage (for their first song!) and would reappear later for what I assume was their collaborative jam on SP's forthcoming Black Up. Most of their set, in fact, sounded like new stuff, with one song so new that a fellow Seattle journalist (and SP expert) didn't think it was even on Black Up. The crowd wanted an encore, but the club management nixed this idea, to everyone's disappointment.

Shabazz Palaces and THEE Satisfaction

After Shabazz, I made the long walk up to Copa to see a band called Herencia de Timbiqui from Columbia. I'm told it was only their second-ever performance in the U.S., after one other SXSW performance the night before. The club was packed—maybe word got out about them?—and Herencia de Timbiqui were, without a doubt, one of the most energizing bands I've seen all week, and another tremendous surprise in a day filled with them. Their sound combined rhythmic flavors from Africa and Columbia, with frenetic marimba playing, a kick-ass horn section, three drummers, and a cumulative total of eleven musicians onstage. The crowd ate it up, and it was relieving to be in the presence of concertgoers capable of syncopated clap-alongs. I felt like I was watching something revelatory…the band has only one five-song EP percolating out there, but they worked the room like veterans, with huge builds and swells and breakdowns (and the occasional, out-of-nowhere rap verse). Girls were brought onstage to dance, super-deep bass notes were hit, and everyone cheered for more by the time the band wrapped. Last night was defined by encore blue-balls.

The last band I saw was Ford and Lopatin (formerly Games), the duo of Joel Ford of Tiger City and Daniel Lopatin/Onoehtrix Point Never, at Gorilla vs. Bear's Klub Krucial showcase. As a big OPN fan and staunch admirer of Game's That We Can Play EP, I was stoked on this set, even if it took them ages to set up. That said, it didn't totally live up to my expectations, but that may have had to do with my unfamiliarity with their all-new material and the "too many cooks in the kitchen" dilemma created by Prefuse 73's onstage presence (he produced their upcoming debut full-length). Prefuse cranked unseen knobs and dials, sending high-end sounds screeching to the fore, while Ford and Lopatin jammed on keyboards over throbbing backing tracks. Their rich analog synth textures whined and rippled over pulsing kick beats, and their pre-recorded vocal drops had an unexpected R&B swagger to them. I should also mention their visuals, which hit all the de rigueur hallmarks: dolphins, triangles, beaches, lazers, and more…it was the finest in retro VHS psychedelia.

I'm crossing my fingers that today will be filled with as much wonderment and discovery. I'm totally exhausted, but hungry for more. Only one more day of constant music, oppressive heat, and fatty foods. Bring it on.

Filed under: SXSW, Music,

March 18, 2011 at 1:25pm

SXSW with Jason Baxter Day 3: Teen Daze, Dom, Dum Dum Girls, Smith Westerns, Creamers, and more…

I realized about midway through the set that lead singer "Dom" looks a bit like Dave Mustaine, only I'm pretty sure Dave Mustaine never played a pink guitar or wore silver nail polish.


My third day at SXSW began in disappointment: I arrived to Pitchfork's East Side Drive-In stage too late to see Seattle's finest hiphop outfit, Shabazz Palaces. They've got another gig today, so I'm hoping to make up for yesterday's loss (even though I've seen them no less than four times already, I'll never get sick of their sound).

Dejected, I ended up wandering to the nearby stage at Cheer up Charlie's, where I caught Vancouver, B.C. chillwaver Teen Daze leading the crowd in a midday dance party. Teen Daze is a restless creative spirit, with an incredibly prolific output and a constantly evolving sound. The tracks he played yesterday were synth-heavy dance tunes, which he triggered from a laptop hidden behind half of a cardboard box (to minimize glare on his screen, I'm guessing). He danced in place and waved his arms in the air, leading the dazed attendees in full-stop revelry.

My mood stayed high as I walked back to Pitchfork's stages for sets by Dom, Dum Dum Girls, and Smith Westerns. Dom's set was outrageous: the Worchester, Massachusetts band worked the crowd like seasoned pros, wowing everyone with their arena-ready, singalong surf rock. I realized about midway through the set that lead singer "Dom" looks a bit like Dave Mustaine, only I'm pretty sure Dave Mustaine never played a pink guitar or wore silver nail polish. They managed to include a cover of Prince's "Little Red Corvette" in the set, and during epic closing number "Living in America," Dom threw Brooklyn Lagers to the crowd and shared the mic (albeit only for a few seconds) with some of the dudes in Canadian electronic act Gobble Gobble. At one point, a bubble wand was thrown onstage and Dom showered the crowd with bubbles.

The Dum Dum Girls were a little more reserved, taking the stage in color-coordinated, monochromatic black outfits (high necklines, short skirts, garters) and wielding identical guitars. Lead singer Dee Dee's voice had a charming, warble-y quality to it that I'd never noticed on record, and their musicianship was inspiring. I didn't stick around for too much of their performance, however, as I wanted to catch some of Smith Westerns at Pitchfork's other East Side stage.

Like Dum Dum Girls, Chicago's Smith Westerns trade in a throwback kind of rock 'n' roll, and yesterday, they had the bratty attitude to match. "Thanks for choosing us over the Dum Dum Girls," lead singer Cullen Omori joked (he apologized for this statement later in the set). There were also lots of middle fingers thrown in the crowd's direction, fountains of beer spat into the air, and jokes made at Pitchfork's expense: "We got an 8.4 on Pitchfork and we're going to give an 8.4 performance." In fairness, their set was legitimately rousing (I'd give it a 7.9), but half the fun was in watching Omori act like a total dick. For his actions, he was rewarded with a bombardment of bottles, books, and bras.

The next couple of hours were spent milling around. I missed a couple artists I was dying to see (Julianna Barwick, for one), and ended up overhearing about ten seconds of Das Racist. It was at this point in the evening that I decided to make the half-hour trek outside of the downtown area and into Northeast Austin to check out a house show at Baby Blue Studios, a punk house/venue space/recording studio. It was my plan to catch a set by Olympia's Weird TV, but the show was running behind schedule, and I had to take off before they went on. I did, however, catch a rowdy performance by Austin punk quartet Creamers, whose sound was relentless and thrashy (I thought their most "garage-y" song was their best). During their set, an insanely raucous mosh pit was started, and at one point, a rolling chair was introduced into the fracas. It was sweaty, spazzy madness. It looked to be a pretty incredible show overall, with bands from all around the world congregating at the DIY venue, and acts like Rene Hell, DJ Dog Dick, and Caresick Care on the roster.

When I got back into town, I made a beeline for the 512 club, with an eye on catching three consecutive rooftop performances: Adventure, Cloud Nothings, and Toro y Moi. Adventure's performance was incredible. This was my first time seeing the Baltimore musician, and I'm mostly familiar with the chiptune, arcade-evoking sound from his first record. New single "Feels like Heaven" I've heard and loved, but everything else on his just-released Lesser Known is a mystery to me. Or was, anyway (now I guess it's more or less "known," har har). If last night's set gives any indication, the new record is stacked with greatness, and marks a dramatic departure from his previously-establish sound. I'm all about chrysalis-busting, and I love when an artist changes up their style from album to album. In the case of Adventure/Benny Boeldt, he seems to have ditched his old sound for something clubbier and more upbeat, with vocals on every track (where before there were none). It can be tricky when instrumental artists decide to pick up the mic and flex their pipes, but Adventure performed admirably.

Pop-punk revivalists Cloud Nothings weren't the last band I intended to see last night, but that's how my evening ended up shaking out. Their frenzied, whining sound probably hits home with rock critics of a certain age (particularly the ones working for taste-making indie rock paragons like Pitchfork), but fails to elicit much more than admiration on my part. Frankly, I generally try and avoid emo-tinged reminders of my misspent youth. That said, the dudes are excellent musicians, particularly their drummer, who was an absolute madman, and I was happy to have caught them.

Afterwards, my night went sour. I left 512 (despite a strong desire to see Toro y Moi play a psychedelic rooftop dance party with strobing pink/green lights straight out of Enter the Void) in hopes of seeing lauded minimalist dubstep soloist James Blake at the Central Presbyterian Church. Blake's already one of the big breakout stars of SXSW (nevermind the tidal wave of hype he surfed in on). Everyone in the young, savvy crowd I've been romping with at Southby has been incredibly stoked on seeing Blake but, to my knowledge, none of them have managed to pull it off yet. Despite arriving to the church with time to spare, the line was enormous, and security informed me that the venue was at capacity and "there was no way" I was going to make it in. Later on, I learned from a fellow Cascadian journalist that the wait to get inside was so long and interminable that one of his buddies had to pee in an empty water bottle. This is the kind of craziness Blake is already causing. He plays again today, and I'm not even sure if I'll put in the effort to try and catch him—during the time it would take to wait and see him, I could probably see at least three other bands play, and my operating principal so far this week has been quantity and quality.

Filed under: SXSW, Music,

March 17, 2011 at 2:15pm

SXSW with Rev. Adam McKinney: Spider House, Butts, Christmas, Carletta Sue Kay and the Growlers


Yesterday was mostly spent at the Spider House - an awesome venue with three stages. If you weren't into a particular band you could walk to another stage and see what was happening there.

The mission for being at the Spider House was to see Butts (Seattle) and Christmas (Olympia). Butts-a two-piece comedy-punk group-played first. The band's set is about half music and half banter, with the guitarist and drummer joking around before launching into one of their mostly under-a-minute songs. Topics covered: alcohol, cigarettes, taking naps, and the female tradition of doing the "wiggle dance" in the absence of toilet paper. Their set was short, sweet, and refreshing given the abundance of self-important bands that surrounded them.

Later, Christmas played a high-energy set of reverb-heavy surf-punk. Lead-singer Emily Beanblossom did well at establishing and maintaining a dancy, fun atmosphere, and watching the interplay between the guitarist and bassist was great.

However, my favorite discovery out of the ten or so bands I saw at the Spider House was a duo called Carletta Sue Kay, a duo out of San Francisco. One man on guitar, the other on a microphone-a mountain of a man, wearing tights, a wig, and a skirt. The band's music could best be described as torch songs, but with a bit of an edge. The singer had a great, expressive voice. It was the kind of voice that inspired applause breaks mid-song. They closed with a Gladys Knight and the Pips cover and brought the house down.

Here's a video of Carletta Sue Kay from last year's SXSW ...

In the evening, I caught up with the Nightgowns and saw a little bit of a set from the Growlers, whom I have previously covered in the Volcano. The Nightgowns and I waited for about an hour in line for Duran Duran before calling it quits and going to bed.

On deck for today: sets from Oberhofer, Tune-Yards and the Nightgowns.

Filed under: Music, Tacoma, Olympia, SXSW,

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