Concerts

SXSW Review: Say Sue Me, Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, March 13, Valhalla

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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Every year for #sxsw, I typically get hyped for the Korean music showcase. It’s a typically glossy affair that in the past had the appeal of bringing some of Korea’s biggest pop acts into these tiny venues.

However, the last year or two have seen K-pop explode in popularity which led SXSW to book the Korean pop night at the Moody Theater. For whatever reason, this became less appealing to me.

Luckily, off in the little corner of Vahalla, another Korean movement was burgeoning. Damnably, a London-based record label, was putting on a showcase highlighting something that has mostly gone under the radar – Asian rock. Being Asian, I felt it was part of my duty to check it out and I wasn’t disappointed.

Say Sue Me was actually on my SXSW list for 2018 but I wasn’t able to make their showcase last year. A four piece band, the group’s sugary twee sound brings forth the nostalgic memories of Camera Obscura and those Labrador Swedish bands (Lacrosse, Acid House Kings, etc) with a little more guitar mixed in.

Between the catchy hooks, the soft comforting vocals of Sumi Choi and the hand claps, I’m shocked these guys aren’t bigger.

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Next up was the Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, a three piece punk rock band. First of all, that’s the best band name. Second, look at their song titles:

“I’m a Fucking McDonalds”
“National Police Shit”
“Keep Drinking!!!”

Basically, they are excellent namers of things. Their music wouldn’t look out of place in Southern California and it seems they are heavily influenced by their local punk scene. The visual contrast of the band and the music was eye opening. I previously associated that type of music with tattooed-punk looking white dudes (and sometimes gals), but to see them played by relatively clean cut, polite Koreans made me realize that music really is universal and I should stop assigning music to certain subcultures.

Despite their relatively clean cut looks, the group rocked hard, and a mini mosh pit developed beside me. At one point, guitarist Seo Bondu aggressively ran into the crowd, a pleasant surprise which I was not expecting. Kind of like the entire show itself – a pleasant surprise I wasn’t expecting.

SXSW Review: Olvia Neutron-John, Foie Gras, March 15

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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If you’ve ever been to Austin, or even if you haven’t but know remotely anything about the city at all, you’re probably familiar with its unofficial motto: Keep Austin Weird. But that motto need not only apply to Austinites and the Friday night of SXSW saw two visitors to the city doing their best to keep things as weird as possible. In their respective shows, Olivia Neutron-John and Foie Gras definitely made it weird with each act putting on an intense and memorable performance.

Olivia Neutron-John’s sound was made up an interesting mix of industrial sounds with some Casio sounding beats and tones – a unique aesthetic wherein you could hear some light and bubbly sounding bleeps and bloops while Olivia Neutron-John (aka Anna Nasty) shouted out things like “Hold what you kill, feel it slip away!” (or something to that effect) into the mic. I’ll be honest – my initial interest in this show was based 100% on the play on words in the artist’s name, but once I had a listen and then saw it live, I was hooked.

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For the final slot on my schedule for the night, I headed to Cheer Up Charlie’s for Foie Gras, but once I entered the room, it seemed more like I was in Twin Peaks. And not the cool, kind of creepy yet chill vibe of The Roadhouse, but the full on ‘everyone’s talking backwards and Killer BOB is freaking you out in the Black Lodge’ sort of vibe. So of course I was very into it. In a post on her Instagram from after the show, Foie Gras wrote, “shout outs to the guy who said my set both aroused and scared him” about an audience member and I suppose that’s a fairly apt description. Ultimately, Foie Gras’ dark, heavy goth vibes were the perfect way to end things off for my Friday night and along with Olivia Neutron-John’s earlier set, made for a perfectly weird evening.

SXSW Review: Mojo Nixon, March 16, The Continental Club

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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Arriving at the venue a few minutes before the start of Mojo Nixon’s late afternoon set at The Continental Club, I caught the tail end of the band getting set up before Mojo announced to the crowd that they were now going to pretend they were big rock stars and go off stage for five minutes before returning. Of course, that didn’t work out entirely as planned, since the drummer just stayed onstage, claiming that he was stuck, and kept on talking to the crowd. At one point, it seemed like he was about to say something about how he’d been coming to SouthBy since before some of us were born, but then had to stop himself, noting that it was a pretty old crowd.

He was right on both counts – it was an old crowd and Mojo Nixon and The Toadliquors have been coming to SXSW for many years, with this year apparently marking the 20th edition of Mojo’s Mayhem, the annual party hosted and headlined by Mojo and taking place on the final day of the festival.

As promised, Mojo and the rest of the band returned to the stage minutes later and launched into a cover of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding.” And lest you think that his choice of cover material means Mojo’s gone all soft and hippie-ish, he still managed to fit a chant of “Donald Trump can suck my dick!” into the middle of the song. Yes, Mojo Nixon’s stage banter leans more towards the profane than the profound, but you’d expect no less from the man who wrote “Tie My Pecker To My Leg” back in the day.

Mojo would go on to play that song, as well as other hits like “Don Henley Must Die” and “Elvis Is Everywhere” while continuing to take shots at Trump throughout his set (“Donald Trump’s got a tiny dick!” was another popular chant) and even musing about the possibility of running for office himself.

Perhaps inspired by the town hall held earlier in the week at SXSW featuring several Democratic presidential hopefuls, Mojo figured he might have a shot too.

“Lot of motherfuckers running for president,” he noted before leading the crowd in another chant, this time of “Mojo in Two-Oh!” He even came up with the perfect campaign slogan – “Put another Nixon in the White House … ’cause Mojo’s not a dick!” – and also speculated about who his running mate should be, before launching into yet another chant: “Mojo and Beto!”

And while a Mojo Nixon run for the Oval Office seems highly unlikely, so did the chances of the man currently holding that position, or as Mojo referred to him, the “lying cocksucker who can kiss my hairy ass”. And really, if America is determined to have a buffoon in the White House, why not make it a much cooler, much more likeable one? Mojo for president!

SXSW Review: Holiday Sidewinder, March 15, Lucille

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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One of the fun things about SXSW is seeing artists perform in unusual spaces, often ones that are not quite perfectly suited to their style of performance, and then watching that artist take over that space and totally make it their own. Such was the case with Holiday Sidewinder.

Playing a mid-afternoon set on the tiny front yard stage set up a at Lucille for the Aussie BBQ showcase, Australian pop singer Holiday Sidewinder Carmen-Sparks (yes, that is actually her real name) put her all into that show. She definitely took over that space and could not be contained by the small stage, quickly moving from its confines onto the patio itself and moving about the space, dramatically posing the entire time before finally singing in the midst of the crowd. And the entire time she was throwing down perfect pop songs like “Leo” and “Tra$h Can Love.”

She may have been playing in a small space, but Holiday Sidewinder came on strong with a big, bold, and fun performance.