SXSW Review: Barsuk/Merge Showcase [The Parish, March 22, 2009]

Toronto – Now that I am back, I can take the time to recount the last night of SXSW. Twas a night after 3 gigantic beef ribs measuring 1 ft each, mash potatoes, beans, corn, 2 cups of coffee and too much sugar. After standing in the line up for 30 minute I was surprised that I could not only get into the Parish, but inch slowly towards the front, and by the end of Lou Barlow’s last song I was touching the stage. What luck. Well, it turns out there were drama waiting for me. Oh and yes there are verb tense mistakes below… just a disclaimer.

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Say Hi

Say Hi to your mom from Seattle, established in 2002, decided at some point that they did not just want to greet your mother, but Say Hi (to whatever you see fit). Apparently they have a very urgent fan base. Just at this one show there were 2 very vocal fan-girls professing their loves, squishing me and 5 other people out of our spots in the process. One of them literally materialized in front of me the way you’d expect to see Batman if you’ve stolen candy in Gotham City. And when I dodged around, she shadowed as if she had eyes on her scapula. Creepy. Representing Canada, I couldn’t bring myself to squeeze through, but thankfully southern hospitality came to the rescue and another girl sacrificed her spot up front for me. Very Cool. After listening to more than Northwestern Girls, I decided that I am happy were I was. There is nothing wrong with synthesizers – but  it almost makes sure one band cannot be distinguished from another. Maybe I just don’t think their music is much inspired but that would just be little old me. By this time the Parish is beginning to fill up.

The Rosebuds, The Parish, SXSW, March 22, 2009
Rosebuds

One of their most played songs says: get up, get out. Right. I wish I could push through the North Carolina crowd that by this time had gathered behind me – not massive, but very passionate. The Raleigh, NC couple had to borrow a drummer and bass for their cause – really wasn’t that hard at Southby, I guess. The huge bearded bass was very fitting, I thought. And it helps that they have brought their own local fans – the crowd reaction was very positive from the get go. I forgot what song they started with, but they played quite a few good tunes: Leaves do fall, Boxcar, Hold hands and fight, Shake our tree (during which we were asked to sing-along ‘WOAH NO!’). Being the acoustic snob, I liked some of their unaccompanied guitar versions on the 2007 EP better; you really get to heard how clean their vocal can be. But they sounded very good live as well, after all their sound is not about earthquake tremors. It’s folksy guitar and lyrics concerning relationships which almost without fail has leaves, birds, or trees in them. After gracefully finishing the set, they high-5 the fans, or was that before? Oh who cares… I liked it.

Ra Ra Riot, The Parish, SXSW, March 22, 2009
Ra ra riot

The Parish was packed by this time. Ra Ra Riot from Syracuse, NY were indeed a riot to watch live. Just the sheer number of instruments – bass, guitar, drums, vocal, violin, and cello all swinging and swaying on the stage – it’s so expansive I almost couldn’t fit everyone into a single shot (guess I should think of Arcade Fire who has 8… or I could have backed off into the crowd, but I wasn’t about to lose the spot). Instead of a strong theme or melody, to me their songs are like unending streams, crest after crest waves of ballerinas coming down the aisle to stare you down. It’s not harsh or unpleasant, but you just don’t know when to mark a stop or end. Especially when Rebecca’s violin and Alexandra’s cello just keep flowing and flowing… actually without the lead vocal Wesley’s pauses to speak to the crowd, I would probably have treated the entire gig as one gigantic good song. Except Suspended in Gaffa (wtf is that anyways?), that’s got some beats that differs from the rest. The vocals were not as clear as I had hoped to be, but then again I was right next to the speakers as always. But I still enjoyed songs like Dying is fine, Oh La, and of course Can you tell, most of which I think were from their latest album The Rhumb Line. Good job to the guys from Barsuk/Merge records. Very nice line up and smooth to the finish, it was definitely a good note on which to end SXSW.

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Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything, South By Southwest

2 Responses to SXSW Review: Barsuk/Merge Showcase [The Parish, March 22, 2009]

  1. Pingback: SXSW Review: Barsuk/Merge Showcase [The Parish, March 22, 2009 … | BassBumpers.com

  2. Pingback: Concert review: Ra Ra Riot [Mod Club; August 30, 2010] | The Panic Manual

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