The Rich Girls Are Weeping: March 2007

29 March 2007

"I'm totally straight," he told me as I perused his iTunes library over the network this morning. I admit, I'm not entirely sure why he felt the need to tell me that. I wanted to tell him that having the Jesus and Mary Chain, The Mountain Goats, and the Indigo Girls in his iTunes library was definitely not an indicator of his sexuality, not in the slightest. Because every dude I've ever known who was into the Indigo Girls was really, really straight -- and always seemed to enjoy going to their shows because it was a total low-pressure situation in terms of female interactions. It's kind of sweet, actually -- my friend Dave the Indigo Girls Superfan was always that one guy rocking on the front row at their Austin shows in the mid-90's. I left disc one of live album 1200 Curfews in my other friend David's car on a roadtrip to Dallas. I never got it back, and was later informed that he listened to it constantly, much to the irritation of his girlfriend(s). And of course, there was that oh-so-sophisticated high school boyfriend who made me a mixtape with "Strange Fire" on it that was my first exposure to the band.

It's funny, though -- I've found myself thinking about a lot of things in the past lately (big life changing events will do that to you, I guess) -- and I wanted to post these two specific Indigo Girls songs for you -- which was kind of weird, really -- until a) realized how integral my Indigo Girls fandom was to my general transpottery state (more on that below) and b) I found out that they'd recently played a show here at Town Hall.

See, if it wasn't for my Indigo Girls fandom, I might not have discovered Kelly Hogan, who was a cohort of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers in the Athens scene back in the day, when she was the lead singer of The Jody Grind. And if I hadn't doggedly pressed people to listen to Kelly Hogan's long-forgotten solo album The Whistle Only Dogs Can Hear (released, perhaps not coincidentally, by Amy Ray's Daemon Records), it might have taken me a lot longer to discover her SBFF Neko Case. Which would have been sad, really.

Other favorites I discovered more or less via the Indigo Girls are the deceased Benjamin Smoke (Daemon Records also released albums from his bands Smoke and The Opal Foxx Quartet, check out the documentary directed by Jem Cohen about Benjamin's life if you can -- it's a lovely and sad film; Benjamin is also the subject of Kelly Hogan's song "Sugar Bowl"), John Wesley Harding (who also has a Kelly Hogan connection, she sang backup on his album Awake and they did that killer duet of "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock'n'Roll") and pre-Girlfriend Matthew Sweet (who was in a band with Michael Stipe's sister Lynda called Oh Okay in Athens; Oh Okay was a precursor to Magnapop -- remember them?). Good lord, why do I still know all this stuff? Anyway, I also must confess that the Indigo Girls discography was the first Web site I ever visited, with antiquated text-only browser Lynx -- ca. 1993. So, in a roundabout way, they're kind of also responsible for this blog. Oh, dear.

Anyway ... There was one summer when I was in high school (which was, oh, a billion years ago) that I wore out (literally!) a mix tape I'd made of the best (in my mind, anyway) bits of the Indigo Girls' rapidly burgeoning oeuvre. I remained a rather staunch fan until the release of Shaming of the Sun in 1996, when they kind of just lost me. In my mind, their last great release was the aforementioned double live album 1200 Curfews (1995), which just happens to be the album that launched the whole conversation chronicled above that spawned this entry. Another co-worker had caught that Town Hall show; I mentioned to her that I'd actually thought of going (because Town Hall is a great venue), but decided against it, since I hadn't listened to their albums in over a decade. She pointed out that most of the crowd at Town Hall that night probably hadn't either; they all seemed to be there solely to hear Amy and Emily to trot out the the oldies but goodies. Which makes me wonder, did they lose a lot of fans at that point in the mid-90's? I remember their last great LP, Swamp Ophelia (1994), created a lot of furor -- it was as if they'd simultaneously done a Dylan goes electric and a Melissa Etheridge-esque desexualization OR Lilith Fair-fueled in-your-face dykeing-up, depending on your POV -- and people were not happy. Now I'm wondering -- was that when they actually came out? I can't remember.

So anyway, I've been listening to 1200 Curfews all day with a sense of nostalgia -- their first five albums were great, but maybe I just outgrew them? Or they went off in a direction I couldn't follow? I'm still working on how that happened. Anyway, like I said, if it wasn't for them (and that weird, weird boyfriend), you probably wouldn't be reading this right now...

Indigo Girls -- Midnight Train to Georgia (live) (yes, a cover of Gladys Knight and The Pips' version)

Indigo Girls -- Thin Line (live) [my favorite, favorite, favorite song of theirs, I think.]


And now in a total 180, everyone come out to Bootie NYC, Vol. 2 tomorrow at Element (225 E. Houston), okay? We'll be there with our fancy shoes and party dresses on. Hells yes. Because the mashup isn't dead yet, and we've still got a whole lot of dancing to do. Featuring the sparkle-tastic dj skills of our fave Party Ben, A+D, and tons of others.

A plus D - Standing In The Way of Connection (The Gossip vs. Elastica)

Party Ben -- Every Car You Chase (Snow Patrol vs. The Police)


Also, I had dinner with renaissance man Matt LeMay at adorable Indian joint Dimple the other night (it was delish, thanks), and we talked about the New Get Him Eat Him record Arms Down and his upcoming 33 1/3 title about Elliott Smith's XO (I can't think of anyone better suited to write that one, except maybe ... me -- but I never finish my pitches!) To herald the release of Arms Down (June 5) and the band's summer tour, GHEH is releasing high-quality digital versions of their darling tour EPs for free for a limited time.

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24 March 2007

Recap, finale. (That is, unless someone sends me some more over the weekend -- hint, hint stragglers.) I'm relatively certain that I have the best rolodex of people in bands who just also happen to be fantastic writers. Two of today's contributors, Peter Hughes of The Mountain Goats and Josh Strawn of Blacklist, are two of the finest examples of this phenomenon. They also happened to be SXSW virgins, which is doubly charming. Blogging veteran, tastemaker and SXSW veteran Dave Gutowski (aka Largeheartedboy) weighs in too.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this feature -- we hope you enjoyed it, dear readers. We're not sure if this is the year SXSW finally jumped the shark (what with that collapsing deck at the Elks Lodge and Damon Albarn shopping at Factory People and all), but we are sure it's pretty safe to say that we'll all be back for the fun next year.

Peter writes:

This was my first time. For years I'd listened to the stories, exactly half of them about how SXSW is the greatest thing ever and exactly half about how it is complete and utter hell to be avoided at any cost. In my normal life I tend toward misanthropy, introversion, and solitude, and I was inclined to trust the latter. I'm not sure if it says more about SXSW or my true nature that once I got down there, to paraphrase Sheryl Crow (whose set at the Cook's Illustrated/Claritin day party was a highlight), all I wanted to do was have some fun. But
that's what happened.

It helped that my only actual obligation -- our show at the 4AD night at Emo's -- was out of the way by Wednesday night. Unlike a lot of people I ran into, who had carefully prepared spreadsheets listing options and priorities for the week printed out onto micro wallet-sized cheatsheets for easy reference, I hadn't even looked at a schedule. Instead, I'd compiled a mental list of maybe a half-dozen friends I needed to hang out with, and I knew that I wanted to see Prisonshake on Friday night. Apart from that, I cast myself upon the winds of chance.

It worked out. I saw my friends. I saw Prisonshake. And I spent whole days in a giddy haze of alcohol, barbeque and music (add me to the list of people who were moved to tears by Shearwater's set at the church, by the way), and never once made it to bed before five in the
morning. Good times, on the whole.

I took my friend the consummate SXSW vet John Vanderslice's advice and left a day early, on Saturday. He'd said it would feel like getting away with a crime. Instead it felt like leaving a party too soon, but I'm still kinda glad I did, much as I hate to admit it. No matter:
I'll be back.

Peter Hughes, who is generally 1/2 of The Mountain Goats (unless they tour with a drummer, and then he's 1/3) , is a connoisseur of fast cars, New Order and BBQ.

Photo credit: Kathryn Yu


Dave writes:

Aside from one evening a couple of years ago, this was the first SXSW I have attended since I started Largehearted Boy. I have attended SXSW at least a dozen other times, but I was still surprised at how much the SXSW experience has grown. Day parties were everywhere, and often as interesting (and difficult to get in) as the showcases. Without a badge or wristband this year, finding a showcase in the evening was often nerve-wracking.

Since this was the first SXSW for me as a music blogger, the highlight was meeting the people I have met through my blog. Sure, I saw 38 bands in three days. Some blew me away, some disappointed, but the atmosphere and the opportunity to talk music in person with people whose opinions I have come to value over the years made the trip worthwhile for me.

Dave Gutowski IS largeheartedboy.


Josh writes:

The coordinators of SXSW probably weren't setting out to confirm yet another niche in the proliferating field of musical nooks, but the lineaments of something like anthemicmelancholymajestic did converge this past week in Austin. Denmark's Mew sounds like Black Sabbath via Slowdive and Sigur Ros. Mark Burgess of the Chameleons UK is still making luscious, shimmering rock songs. 'Scott Walker: 30th Century Man' is a documentary about the godfather of the whole dark baroque shebang. It's all quite psychedelic really, even if the aura is more Svankmajer or Bergman than hashish and Haight Street.

If you've ever felt the undertone of sadness that comes with taking that leap into the unknown, you probably identify with the string swells of Scott Walker's 'Rosemary' or the synth and guitar washes of Mew's 'Am I Wry? No.' Mark Burgess prefaced a brilliant new track 'Beast' by explaining that the lyrics would reveal why he moved to Hamburg from Manchester--the refrain being 'I don't even know if I can make a stand anymore...' There was a sense of the journey and of its lifeblood in that confession of confusion. Mark is a bit greyer than some of his nubile festmates, but more convincing. That isn't to say that age equals vitality (as the Buzzcocks proved at their MTV Spring Break-esque performance) but only that, with a few exceptions, the kids and the grown-ups alike were missing something. (I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Burgess' new band, Bird, and I rate it as perhaps the peak moment in my musical career.)

Brian Eno, when interviewed for '30th Century Man' complained that Scott humiliates artists, since nobody's gotten past those early Talking Heads or Roxy records except for Walker. It was both humble and arrogant, but nevertheless all-too-true. Arrogance and narcissism are probably intrinsic to the process of making pop and rock records. The point isn't learning to be humble or selfless--the point is making the parts you stick out for the world to see matter. The point isn't innovation for innovation's sake--it's opening someone up. I have to say that, though I missed plenty of SXSW acts, the boys from Copenhagen, the gents from Hamburg and the fellow from Hamilton, Ohio shone like bright beacons through a muck of boring, fashion-driven rock and roll conformism.

On the sleeve of 'Scott 3' there is a quote from Camus: "A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to discover through the detours of his art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened." At least a few artists at SXSW, both young and old, with pose and without, managed to touch on this for me, proving it isn't style or age--it's simply about making that trek. I suppose you only fall in love with possibility amidst a haze of stagnation--but a few times last week in Texas I did and it was pretty mind-bending.

Josh Strawn is the frontman of Blacklist and a recent graduate of the Eugene Lang College at the New School for Social Research in New York City, where he studied with the contrary Christopher Hitchens.

Photo credit: nariposa @ flickr.

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23 March 2007

Holy cow. We interrupt the recaps (again) to bring you some video content (again). Somehow, I missed the fact that former Suede frontman Brett Anderson is on the comeback trail with a new solo record (out next week in the UK) -- totally in the Bryan Ferry mode, looks like. There's a great profile in the Telegraph, here's a choice excerpt:

... Yet, as soon as he begins to sing in that unmistakable half croon, half operatic cry, his snake hips snap from side to side, his arms fly out into showgirl twirls, and the audience goes wild with adoration.

It seems strange then that, while Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker and the Gallagher brothers are all being bestowed with reverential status, Brett Anderson has become the lost boy of Britpop.


Despite years of drug abuse and hard-living, Anderson is still good-looking and cigarette-slim. With well-cut hair and a matching suit, the 39-year-old looks like a girlier Paul Weller or even a young Bryan Ferry - another in the mould of skinny, working-class boys from the suburbs who tried simultaneously to mythologise and escape the small world they grew up in.

And here's the video for "Love is Dead." Goodness, so bleak and lovely. Perfect for a grey Friday morning.

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Recaps, part the fourth. We're on a good clip here, huh? I thought I'd pair up recaps from Karen (who is an awesome person and takes great pictures) and Kathryn (who is an awesome person and takes great pictures) because Karen went wristband and badge-less -- and Kathryn had a platinum badge. And I think they both had a fantastic time. But I'll let you bet the judge of that...

Karen writes:

please allow me to provide your townie, non-musician, no-wristband (if for the first time in several years), sick with allergies perspective.

lots of special things can happen at showcases. seeing your favorite band play in a church (sans cuss words, apparently), all kinds of things that would never normally happen, even seeing the same band you've seen a million times in the same old emo's but with an electric new level of excitement surrounding you. feeling kind of like you're at some kind of indie-rock theme park, at least if that's your idea of fun. but (and yes, we all get the irony of the sxsw administration trying to sabotage their existence) the real appeal of the festival is most apparent in the unofficial shows. the huge downtown affairs are spotty and overwhelming, and are set in motion by a few smart, cool people, a huge throng of hanger-on douchebags, and a handful of corporate sponsors. they can have their lovely moments. but the real gems are elsewhere, usually east of the highway, and while somebody may have donated a keg or two they are run by sheer enthusiasm.

for example, i saw the shivers play in a random way-way-south house, with some random schmo passed out on the couch. i saw some friends' band play punk rock for little kids and people eating pizza in a parking lot. i saw a not-familiar-enough band at a familiar bar more crowded than i've seen it almost ever, in unfamiliar daylight and filled with slightly sweaty hipsters. and of course i happily saw a ton of my friends' bands.

but perhaps most importantly, there was the thing that basically saved my south by southwest: gayxgaygay (or gay bi gay gay as they took to calling it this year), held on the sunday after basically everything else is over, featuring a bunch of bands in two adjacent deep-eastside backyards. well, a bunch of bands and a couple of things that could only be considered performance art. five dollars for all the beer you can drink, free veggie burgers, lots of friendly faces (heaven fucking forbid), and high-quality, unpretentious music. oh, and fun. i almost forgot about that.

and the joy division cover band (which has no more specific name than that):

[ed note: that's a joy division cover band starring gretchen philips and thor harris, btw -- and a bassist i can't place...anyone know who that is?]

Karen Broyles was a contributor to the 'zine Caught In Flux.

Kathryn writes:

Baker's Dozen of SXSW

1. Go see Matt and Kim. Then randomly start singing Matt and Kim's "Yea yeah" song as a response to serious questions.

2. Watch long-haired guy standing next to you at super-crowded, gross, and hot Emo's Main Room get into argument with a tall photographer for being tall. And having a fancy camera. Watch shorter photographer defend tall photographer who is only doing his job. Watch everyone around you tense up as guy continues to berate tall photographer. Watch tall photographer leave. Watch bystander girl say to the long-haired guy, "Now he's gone, so go and take his spot since you wanted it so badly. Aren't you happy now?" Watch long-haired guy refuse. Watch everyone in the immediate area avoiding eye contact and being uncomfortable. Long-haired guy just leaves before the band even comes on. Then blink and wonder if that actually happened.

3. Eat breakfast tacos (almost) every single day. Have no regrets.

4. Try to catch a cab back to the hotel. Watch cab driver refuse the fare because of traffic and drive off. Watch pedicab dude scoop you up instead. Watch him pedal up to the cab driver, taunt him, and then take off at blinding speed. Hang on for dear life.

5. Start mental list of venues with places to sit (couches at Buffalo Billiards, upper patio at Mohawk, bleachers at Emo's, pews at the Central Presbyterian Church, etc.). Continue mental list of places with non-disgusting bathrooms (Bourbon Rocks, the Convention Center, Club De Ville, etc.).

6. Attempt to see the Faint at Eternal. Fail to see the Faint after the person behind you pukes and it gets on your bag, shoes, and jeans. Go back to hotel room to clean off vomit. Get text message from friend who is wondering where you are. Get another text message, from a different friend, who thinks Eternal is a dump and wonders if it has herpes. Get another text message, from first friend, who is leaving the show and wonders when the Faint turned into a ska band. Feel bad for the Faint.

7. Randomly start singing Margot the Nuclear So and So's "Meow meow meow" song at natural pauses in the conversation.

8. Eat half-priced food at the Roaring Fork's bar during happy hour. Feel some shock at seeing small children, and mothers, and business men watching basketball. Get the check, fail at math. Hope that you left a decent tip.

9. Miss a secret David Byrne show. Cry, but only on the inside.

10. Wonder why Yaris is sponsoring when the most of people attending SXSW live in NYC and can't even own cars. [ed note: because the other half live in LA!]

11. Briefly consider trying to get into Stubb's on Saturday night for about 20 minutes. Instead, eat ice cream at the Hideout, until it is overrun by Japanese musicians in cool hats, who turn out later to be in Asakusa Jinta.

12. Drive to Lockhart, TX to eat BBQ on the Sunday after. Sit next to indie rock band who are still wearing their artist's wristbands at Smitty's. Listen to them complain that the sausage wasn't as good as they remembered. Watch them pile into old beat-up van bearing Ontario plates afterwards. Wish that you'd asked what band they were in.

13. Take a nap. Start wondering when registration starts for next year.

Kathryn Yu says, "Bands? What bands?"


22 March 2007

Recaps, part three. This set comes from old friends ... and new. I usually spend SXSW gallivanting around with a group of old friends that includes contributors Meg and Dan -- it was a joy to introduce them to the wonders of Magnolia Cafe, queso, and Lone Star beer a few years back. Now they're hardened veterans, and the perfect people to provide recaps in my place. Also, I would like to think that had I been there this year, I would have spent at least a little time in the company of Gerard. Probably in a hot tub with James Iha, Har Mar Superstar, and Nardwuar -- drinking mai tais. Wait, didn't that happen last year...?


I did not DJ a party, or throw a party, or meet anyone famous, or get
into the show that no one else could get into. I did not sign a deal,
or sign anyone else, or get so fucked up I stood on top of a
stranger's roof. I did not change my life like my life's never been
changed, I did not find brilliantly untold meanings, I did not know
about things that no one knew about. I did not always think before I
spoke, I did not always comport myself with the dignity befitting a
young lady. I did not not indulge, I did not not get sunburned, I did
not abstain, I did not get lost. I did not always buckle my seatbelt.

Austin's finest ambassador was the young lady who firmly blocked me
from re-entering the Dity Dog Bar with an arm and a simple truth:
"It's two in the morning. GO HOME."

I did not heed her advice.

Meghan Deans has liked "the indie rock" since it first pulled her hair, called her fat, and ran to the other side of the playground.


The best show I saw was David Byrne making a pretty decent-looking brisket sandwich at Iron Works. The best show I saw was Har Mar Superstar putting his shirt back on. The best show I saw was Daniel Johnston and Public Enemy at the Doobie Awards. The best show I saw was Amy Winehouse and Voxtrot playing "Roundabout" at the Vice afterparty (y'know, the real Vice afterparty). The best show I saw was the Stooges and the Buzzcocks handing out Yaris stickers outside the Beauty Bar. The best show I saw was Tim Harrington ripping off his wristbands and throwing them into the crowd at Red 7. "I need that one back," he hollered, "that's worth $100." The best show I saw was Gregg Gillis trying and failing to pee in the communal trough at Elysium. The best show I saw was Gerard Cosloy executing a perfect fakie double stalefish at some skate ramp. The best show I saw was Moby listening to a Zune in line at an ATM. The best show I saw was an A&R guy eating a brisket sandwich outside Iron Works. "South by SO WHAT," he said to whoever was on the other end of his Bluetooth earpiece, and cackled at his own joke until I was out of earshot.

Daniel Cohen is not a contributor to


Gerard favorite part for SXSW is for when Gerard get back to home and make play Wii Sports instead for make talk to stupid haircut people with ugly boots and business cards. Also afterparties. Yes.

Gerard is the owner and operator of Gerard vs. Bear


21 March 2007

We interrupt these recaps to bring you ... a Hold Steady video. For "Stuck Between Stations," the only song on Boys and Girls in America that I actually like.


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Today's recaps come courtesy of two young gentlemen who couldn't possibly represent two more different ends of the SXSW buffet table. Well, I suppose if I had someone recapping like, all the tejano bands or all the crappy jam band wannabes -- maybe we'd have a wider spectrum. But I don't know anyone interested in crappy jam band wannabes, and I wasn't there to hit the tejano shows, so. Enter Nick Hennies of the experimental folk outfit The Weird Weeds and and dj & blog curator Travis of Big Stereo. Nick's SXSW lens focused on the freak folk and the eccentric miscellany that hovers on the fringe of the festival -- where some might say the real action is. Travis, on the other hand, danced his arse off and always seemed to be where The Party was. Which apparently, was also always where Yo Majesty seemed to be.

Which isn't surprising in slightest.

I'm not sure what it says about me, but I think I would have enjoyed all of the events chronicled by both these fine young fellows. I'm especially sad I missed Datarock @ Whisky Bar (where I saw truly stellar sets from Turing Machine and The Hold Steady at SXSW 2005 -- relatedly, Travis wanted me to add that he sat next to Les Savy Fav on his flight home), as well as the Unusual Animals party. Then again, that may be why I asked Nick and Travis to contribute to this feature ...

Nick writes:

In the wake of my fourth SXSW (third year performing) I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of conflicting accounts about the artistic and commercial worth of the festival. Some feel there’s too much advertising, booze, and socializing and not enough music; others think it’s a great opportunity to see a lot of good bands in a short amount of time. Whatever your opinion of this ever-changing festival, one thing remains true of almost every performing musician in Austin last week – if you’re playing SXSW then you’d like to make money playing music. I say this not as a cynical criticism but as a simple fact, a fact that ultimately should quell any complaints that SXSW is more of a trade show than a music festival – of course it is. Complaining about the presence of “the biz” at SXSW is like complaining there are too many Mexicans in Acapulco (unfortunately, I make this joke out of real-life experience and not just spontaneous wit… in other words, I’ve actually heard someone say it). One blogger in particular who caught my eye wrote at length about the saturation of commercialism and that he “can’t really remember much” about the bands he saw. To all those who lobby such complaints--maybe you’re just seeing the wrong bands.

Of course, I have my own complaints about the festival - this year in particular - but that didn’t stop me from having an incredible time and seeing more amazing music and friends from all over the place in 72 hours than I usually do in six months. What follows are some of my favorite moments of the festival, most of which failed to grab the attention of anyone with a blog or press credentials:

Best Fwends @ Beauty Bar – Wednesday night

I was talking to my friend George yesterday and he said, “Dustin from Best Fwends is a comic genius” and I’m going to have to agree. If you had told me last month that one of my favorite moments of a band’s set would be the band and half the audience dancing to an R&B song I wouldn’t have believed you. Damn if it’s not true.

Lambchop & the Tosca String Quartet @ Habana Calle 6 Patio – Thursday night

Famously grumpy Kurt Wagner was on stage before playing his final song (and first dance at my wedding) “Theone” and he wept. The man was crying, and who could blame him? The quiet, slow, heartfelt, and reserved music and utterly silent audience was the polar opposite of the endless Loud resounding through the streets of downtown Austin. An amazing set from one of my all-time favorite songwriters.

Shapes & Sizes @ Emo’s Lounge – Thursday night

I can’t really properly describe the place this band has in my heart as they’ve not only become one of my favorite rock bands but also some of my best friends. Equal parts musical ingenuity and youthful exuberance, these guys totally killed it on what was at times a somewhat awkward evening at Emo’s Lounge.

Dengue Fever @ Emo’s Main Stage – Thursday night

Hands down the best performance of the entire festival. Within minutes the huge crowd who seemed unfamiliar with the band (probably early arrivers for Voxtrot later on) were hooting, shouting, and raising their fists in the air at this (I’m sorry but I have to swear) fucking amazing band. The best bass player in rock music got so into playing during their penultimate song “Sni Bong” that he leapt in the air. The crowd erupted.

Boat, Faintest Ideas, Tullycraft @ The Parish II – Friday night

I don’t even really like indie pop, OK? I spend a lot of time in my partner’s car dreading the moment Tullycraft comes up on shuffle. Let’s face it, I’m a grouch and I don’t listen to music that would ever be referred to as “fun”. This night I decided not to be a grouch and have fun. Guess what? I had fun! (Admittedly, I was too tired to stay for Tullycraft but I saw them during the day at another show so I’m not technically lying)

Unusual Animals party @ Okay Mountain Gallery – Saturday afternoon

Yes, I planned this party. Yes, I am saying it was the best single event at SXSW 2007. No, you cannot argue with me. Between songs, Keith Zarriello of The Shivers started screaming, “I think this is the real Austin! Not that shit over there!! That’s the L.A. Austin!!!” The fact that someone can plan a show without any “big name” bands and still get that kind of an audience with that kind of amazing atmosphere should be enough to convince anyone that SXSW is the greatest, no matter how much crap there is each year you don’t like. The Field Guides, W-S Burn, The Theater Fire, The Weird Weeds, The Shivers, Peter & the Wolf, and Castanets all performed on what will remain as one of my all-time favorite shows for the rest of my life. If you don’t believe me just watch this clip of tons of great people having great fun watching a great band at a great gallery in a great city. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Travis writes:

I've wanted to do SXSW for as long as I can remember, but I never got my act together until this year. I went in with no expectations and a clear agenda: to see as many bands as possible in four days. I exceeded that. Days felt like weeks. Time stopped – or actually time became a whirlwind, no longer a straight line. Basic human necessities became a luxury… we slept a few hours here and there, we ate when we remembered, we drank when it was free. Communication broke down to the basics: "Uh, Chromeo?" "Yeah."

By the end of the week, my whole body ached. I was no longer able to walk. My ears felt like the were bleeding. My eyes were crossed. Total sensory overload. SXSW kicked my ass... and it was worth every single second.

I don't remember anything as a single event. Each showcase blurred into the next... Highlights though:

  • On the first day standing outside a bar and looking across the street only to see Yo Majesty DANCING in the street... stopping traffic and hollering. They were the party, and I don't think they ever stopped.
  • Dancing and shouting to Datarock's "FA FA FA." We caught them at the Whisky Bar which is the tiniest venue in the universe. People were bouncing off the walls – dancing and singing. It was amazing. I couldn't talk for an hour afterwards, and I don't think I have ever danced so hard.
  • Having my high tops photographed by every single photographer in Austin. Um, they're shoes! [ed note: I looked all over the interwebs for a pic, but I couldn't find one...]
  • Partying with Spektrum. I love those guys. They did their first American show, and it was a total treat. These guys deserve to be huge.
  • The Scanners make me cry like a little boy. They're just so beautiful and intense.
  • All the random "rockstar"sightings on the street. Word.
  • Kiiiiii. Omg. Those girls are crazy.
  • Either Matt & Kim are the best live band ever or I was super drunk or both. I'm afraid of what I might've said to them. Though dancing with Kim later that night was a definite laugh out loud highlight.
  • Lots and lots of free ICE CREAM!!!! Ice Cream is my favorite dessert ever.
  • Realizing everyone isn't connected by six degrees but rather two. Everybody is a friend of a friend.

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20 March 2007

Part one in a weeklong (?) series.

Howard & JonathanSo, I had this brilliant idea that I would harass everyone (and I mean everyone) I knew who went to SXSW 2007 and get a little report from them about the best part of the experience. A few people seem to still be recovering and totally MIA (*ahem*, but this afternoon I received two prompt and wonderfully lively reports from Howard Draper (left) and Jonathan Meiburg (right) of Shearwater.

(Photo courtesy of Kathryn Yu.)

Howard writes:

Oxbow At the hottest of hells in Austin, Spiro's, I saw the band Oxbow, at midnight on Friday night. The music was almost indescribably gnarled and massive, with Eugene Robinson's screaming/whispering pithy vocals narrating stories I'm afraid to know. Eugene stripped to his briefs and tank top, double pentagram tattoos spraying terror in all forward directions. The bouncers at Spiro's became more and more aware of their masculine inadequacies, and just prior to the last song, the head bouncer visibly expressed to the band that Eugene must put pants back on. Eugene said "this is our last song", and he maintained his modest level of costume. Power to amplifiers was cut, the PA was shut off, the venue light cord was torn from its socket. The drummer was physically removed from the drums. The floor screamed as the wall of bouncers descended and pushed, until the six linebackers focused a fierce beat down on one attendee, barely visible on the floor beneath all the cocked biceps and boots. Finally, some police came. For my SXSW experience, nothing was bigger than Oxbow. Nothing.

Jonathan writes:

SXSW is really more of a trade show than a music festival, but music does still happen at it now and again. I made a vow, a couple of years back, that since I'm playing (this year, at 5 shows, was mild) I'm not going to try too hard to knock myself out running around and getting in lines - but I do somehow always manage to see some neat stuff. I didn't have any real WTF moments this year, where something I wasn't expecting floored me, but it's my fault for being a wuss. Thor won that prize for seeing Yo Majesty at Chain Drive and Howard nearly got his clock cleaned in a near-riot at the Oxbow show (the freaked-out staff pulled the plug when Eugene Robinson refused to put his pants back on).

Wed night I braved Emo's and the 4AD showcase, mostly because I wanted to see Blonde Redhead, but was surprised to see The Mountain Goats put on the best of their shows I think I've ever seen (and we've toured with them). All the more remarkable as, minutes before showtime, poor John was cowering in a corner of Emo's' pretty poor excuse for a green room, pretty clearly wishing he was anywhere else, while the 47 members of Beirut's entourage covered every available inch of floor space. [ed note: Emo's green room -- a/k/a The Doublemint Lounge, is like, literally 10x10 and contains two nasty sofas, a leaky toilet, and a convenience store display "cooler."] In the midst of this, Miwa (from Beggars) managed to smuggle in a cake for John's 40th birthday - with candles - and, after a little bow, he good-naturedly took a huge bite out of the side of it.

Thursday night was Shearwater's showcase at Central Presbyterian, and I don't think I've ever been as nervous before a show - forgot to take my glasses off until about two songs in when I realized I could see the audience a little too well. But as we got going I started to feel really good - Central Pres is the opposite of most SXSW venues and I think I never want to play anywhere else again. Everything sounds like an epic in there, and instead of the music being sucked away from the stage (as it is in most clubs), every sound you make just blooms on its way to the back wall. I made a vow to take a grand piano on tour with us from now on. And there wasn't an overpriced beer or surly bouncer to be found in the place - just friendly church volunteers who said things like "the restroom is down the hall to your left" and "good luck!" and "I make my own honey!"

People I "met": besides the very entertaining Matador crew, who got so blitzed doing karaoke on Friday night (apparently Gerard sang "Breaking the Law") that some of them hadn't even left their hotel by 5pm on Saturday, I was pretty stoked to meet Vashti Bunyan and Jim White during our showcase. Also Stephen Thompson from NPR, who had astonished me by plugging our show on the air on Thursday morning. I was in the UT communications building at the same time as the Stooges, and kept hoping/fearing that Iggy would leap out of the elevator, but to no avail.

Friday night I went home early, watched You Can Count On Me, and fell asleep instantly.

Saturday I went back to the church to see Jandek (who was, to my surprise, genuinely frightening, funny, and kind of awesome). At one point, during yet another maelstrom of detuned-guitar, keening harmonium, and thundering drums, he yelled "I DON'T LIKE MYSELF!" and then, a little sheepishly, "SORRY, BUT I DON'T!" Bill Callahan's set, afterward, was sedate in comparison, but very beautiful - new songs "Sycamore" and the lovely/unsettling "Honeymoon Child" in particular. The audience howled when he announced his last song (already?) but Bill was unrepentant. "They gave us half an hour," he said. "It takes Columbo twice as long to solve a crime."

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15 March 2007

If I ignore it, maybe it's not really happening. So, as I write this, nearly all my friends and most of my favorite bands are probably nursing hangovers with breakfast tacos in my former adopted hometown. SXSW 2007 is in full swing, and for the first time in (oh, I am loath to say this...) ELEVEN-ish YEARS, I am not there.

(Ok, technically, I missed the festival in 2001 because I was in a wedding in Abilene, Texas -- but at least I was in the state -- and utterly traumatized that I was missing Matthew Sweet play in Republic Park.)

But to be honest, I've kind of enjoyed the lack of SXSW in my life this year. There was something really disturbing about getting a party flyer for an event at Red's Scoot in sponsored by Microsoft Vista. There was also something really disturbing about going back to Austin so soon. It would be like meeting your ex-boyfriend a few weeks after a messy breakup and deciding that one last makeout session for old times' sake wouldn't hurt anything. And we all know that just gets messy. Same thing with me and Austin right now. It would just end in tears.

And yeah, I'm missing bro-downs and free bbq and parties and in-stores galore. But I also don't have to deal with sitting next to assholes at Moonshine and sore feet and crowds and my makeup slowly melting at muggy, stuffy day parties. And the waiting. Oh god, the waiting around. Even with a Platinum badge, so much of SXSW is just ... waiting. Great networking opportunities, sure -- but by Friday night or so, you just want everyone to get on with it already.

Anyway, I have a bead on all you crazy people. I saw The Winterkids' first Stateside gig at the Mercury Lounge the other night, and that's really all I cared about. (They were a little rough around the edges at first, but totally pulled it together by the end. I don't care if This is Fake Indie, they're really charming and fun -- Bloc Party meets Art Brut for the Panic! At The Disco crowd. Don't let that put you off, though. Remember when music was fun? It's good for you.)

And anyway, The Double is playing Cake Shop Friday and Saturday -- and there's a screening of Liquid Sky at The Museum of the Moving image, with members of the creative team in attendance. Plus, I'm saving about $2000, at least. $2000 that I totally don't have after an insane cross-country move without a job lined up -- and buying a fancy new computer. Ahh, reality. The reality being that well, I just couldn't afford the SXSW experience this year.

Because really, besides say, a few other assorted European bands that I've championed here over the past year, everyone I'm interested in seeing, I've seen before -- or they're playing up here in the next few weeks. Though I am sad to be missing a few Cue appearances, I will fess up to that. And naturally, the Beggars/4AD showcase, too. Which would be like, Rich Girls Name Dropping HQ. Hahaha. (I mean, come on -- the chance to see Wayne, Pete & Aurelio, John & Peter AND the Voxtrot kids all in one go seems almost tailor made for us you know.)

But hey, I'm burned out. I needed a break. And good night, the last thing I ever wanted to be was a LOATHSOME MUSIC BLOGGER @ SXSW for the third year in a row. (Though, I am sorry we had to turn down all those requests for dj gigs...)

If you'd told the 19-year-old me, peering through the chain link fence at Liz Phair's SXSW appearance at Liberty Lunch in 1996 (which was ELEVEN YEARS AGO TODAY, Y'ALL) ... that Microsoft would be sponsoring parties dive bars on the East Side -- well, that version of me would have laughed in your face. For like 20 minutes, at least.

That being said, I hope everyone has a great time, really -- and here's a few things you should check out if you're down in Austin. Tell 'em The Rich Girls are Weeping sent you.

+ The instores at End of an Ear. Pick up a tote bag and tell the gang we said, "Hey."
+ Hungover rockstar breakfast @ Bouldin Creek CoffeeShop. The breakfast of champions -- complete with hair of the dog in the form of a frosty Lone Star.
+ Taco Shack. Eat a breakfast taco for me. Eat two. With bacon. Mmmmm.
+ Need new shoes? CREATURES on South Congress.
+ Oooh and ahhh at the beautiful things at Uncommon Objects
+ Go see the Animatronic LBJ at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library.
+ DO NOT TRY AND PICK UP ANY OF THE PRETTY WAITSTAFF AT STARSEEDS. Also, no, they can't turn the stereo down. Suck it.
+ And, remember -- do go to the Teleport Door parties (they helped us throw our grand party last year). Especially Saturday, because Pony Pants & Scream Club rule you.

And remember, please don't do coke in the Beerland bathroom. Seriously. And if you're sick of nasty bathrooms, make a pitstop in the Driskill lobby. Just look like you know where you're going (enter on Brazos Street, walk thru the lobby, take a left at the grand staircase, and the loo's on your left -- alternatively the ones by the bar (up the staircase) are handy as well.) You now know our biggest SXSW survival tip. Well, almost. Maybe next year, we'll tell you where to park for free. EVERY NIGHT. Heh.

WinterKids -- Tape It

Calla -- Sanctify

The Mountain Goats -- Against Pollution

Voxtrot -- Trouble

Pony Pants -- Factory


06 March 2007

We're staying up late at TRGAW HQ tonight -- it's cold and we stayed in. We just watched Marie Antoinette and now we're listening to The Knife and discussing its relation to vintage Detroit Techno. Pinkie is distraught that she hadn't actually heard The Knife until this exact moment in time. I'm reminding her that Mr Plunkett and I told her several months ago that she would like it. *ahem*

We're playing this game because Lo Sunbeam, my little sister, is visiting and obliging us use of her Ruckus account. We've hit the high points of the TGRAW favorites, including the new Bloc Party, The Postal Service, The Stills, Goldfrapp (or, as Lo dubbed them, Goldfarp), Trail of Dead. We are kind of surprised to find a service targeting college students doesn't seem to have an agreement yet with our favorite Beggars Group and other high-profile indies like Merge and Secretly Canadian. Hint, hint y'all. The kids at Michigan State and all the other colleges out the need your delicious music offerings. Stat. I mean, we can't force Lo to listen to Spoon, The Arcade Fire or Interpol -- or Calla or The Double or Celebration, and there's something clearly wrong with that.

I think the only thing she's liked so far that we recommended was Jeff Buckley -- then again, she already knew his cover of "Hallelujah."

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