South By Southwest

SXSW Primer: Pack A.D.

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

Toronto – The music of The Pack A.D. represents pretty much how you’ll feel after attending any music festival – a bit rock and roll, a bit dirty, a bit sleazy and a bit cooler then you thought you could ever be. The Pack AD are from Vancouver and consists of two girls – Becky Black on guitar and Maya Miller on the drums. They like to pound the shit out of their instruments. I saw them at Sneaky Dees for NXNE a few years ago and they definitely left an impression. They had the same effect on Wade at Pop Montreal. Basically, you will like them live. The Pack AD played over 150 shows last year, and this year appears to be no different as they’ll be bringing their blend of bluesy no bullshit rock and roll to five SXSW showcases.

SXSW March 18 AFM Party @ Canada House – Austin, TX
SXSW March 18 Mint/Six Shooter Hootenanny @ Headhunters – Austin, TX
SXSW March 18 The Best Damn Day of Duo’s ever @ Pie Guys Pizza – Austin, TX
SXSW March 19 Buddyhead.com Day Party – Austin, TX
SXSW March 19 Showcase @ Jaime’s Spanish Villa – Austin, TX

SXSW Primer: Surfer Blood

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, South By Southwest | 1 Comment

Toronto – So there’s two big festivals going on in march – SXSW and CMW, so in the next few weeks, we’ll be posting up some random stuff about bands that are playing at these festivals. First up is Floridian band Surfer Blood. These guys are currently riding a wave of critical acclaim (Pitchfork gave it 8.2) into Austin and you can be sure their showcases will be packed. Their album Astro Coast was released on January 19th and reviews have generally been favorable. Also, they have TWO songs named after a WWF catchphrase (“jabroni”). It’s kind of hard to pin point what kind of music they sound like. I guess it’s mostly indie power pop, filled with big riffs, occasional feedback and reverb. Check out the song Swim, aside from all the big elements I just mentioned, it also has a Vampire Weekend-ish instrumental in the middle.

Surfer Blood will also be at Sneaky Dees, March 6th as well as at SXSW.

SXSW Review: Razorlight [Cedar courtyard, March 20 2009]

Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Razorlight, SXSW, Cedar Courtyard, March 20

Toronto – Discovering a band isn’t very hard for me to do – I’m horrible at remembering band names, I don’t know that many bands to start with, and even worse I’m vicious at rejecting things that doesn’t produce good vibrations within 10 seconds of incus hitting malleus. For some reason Razorlight kept my attention despite the fact that we were really waiting for White Lies during the afternoon (if you recall this was also the same party where LOTP happily played one song too many and had their brawl with Cedar courtyard security, see below).

What began as a casual head-bobbing turned into seriously listening and by the end of the set, I didn’t care that I was made fun of for liking their sound. Razorlight started in 2002. Either the fans or their marketing contributed to the wiki, because it’s actually quite sizable given their indie status (it’s longer than that of White Lies, for example…) Listening to most of their songs across albums after the set, I’m convinced that they actually sound more American than their British/Swedish composition. Songs like Golden Touch, America, and Vice are all very typical. But it does switch and produce some funny associations… In the City actually sounds more like a Sheryl Crow song when it begins; and at some point during To the sea I’m reminded of Sister Act… weird. There is something to be enjoyed if you have never heard them prior. Although the lead vocal’s slightly off tune style cannot be said to be impassive, it translates just that much better in real life performance. Happily sandwiched between the brawl and the main gig, they played a mix of new and old. Apart from the ones I’ve mentioned already, Wire to wire, Hostage of love, and North London Trash from their new album were there, too. Like I mentioned, sound was not only true to recording but actually better, and good showmanship in general. With that, I’m now happy to have some solid rock in the ipod aside from the sugar-high songs that I normally have.

SXSW Review: Late of the Pier, March 20, Cedar Courtyard

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, South By Southwest | 3 Comments

Late of the Pier, SXSW, Cedar Courtyard, March 20

Austin – One week ago today, I was in Austin, amongst my musical compadres, in nice 27 degree weather and watching show after show whilst eating good BBQ meat. Today, I am in almost sub zero temperatures at my desk job reminiscing about the time that was. Yay. The last SXSW review I am writing is about the Late of the Pier show(s). Late of the Pier is a spacey sounding electro rock band from England. I can’t even find the proper terms to describe the music, they have duel synths, appreciate beats but also like pop music at the same time. It’s something else.

The first show we saw them was at the Levi’s/Fader Fort. Let me say something about Levi’s/Fader Fort – it’s too far. They had some fantastic acts (including Kanye, Graham Coxon, Handsome Furst) but seriously, you have to go under the interstate into some ghetto industrial part of town to get there. That is too far in the Texas heat and too time consuming. The Late of the Pier set started off promising, but ultimately equipment problems got the best of them, despite Sam Eastgate’s promise that “we are going to go fix everything”, the set seemed to have been cut short. So we left, and being too tired to walk, took a pedicab:

SXSW Pedicab

Despite having a short set with technical problems, we were impressed enough to catch their set at Filter’s UK party the following day at the Cedar Street Courtyard. Filter decided on that day they wanted to squeeze in an extra band, and so everyone’s start times were pushed back. When Late of the Pier went on, it was about 45 minutes later than they were supposed to and with Razorlight and White Lies still coming up, you knew that there was a good chance that they would get cut short again.

About the show itself, LOTP came out to a decent crowd. I am not sure a lot of people knew who they were, and I am not sure that the newspapers marketed them properly, comparing them to MGMT for some reason. They played songs from their debut album, including Space & The Woods and The Bears are Coming. It was a pretty solid set, the dueling synths were nice. The music is definitely louder and messier in a live setting then on the album and with increase focus on guitar work, the songs definitely come off as less electronic and more rock. The band didn’t really engage with the audience much, rather letting their music do the talking. I guess with time that will change.

The real fun began when the promoter of the party decided that LOTP only had one song left and told the sound guy that. It was looking like LOTP was getting cut short again, so they played what was perceived to be their last song (I forgot what) then at the end of that extended song, they announce ‘Now, this is our last tune’. The promoter on the steps threw a fit fitting for a queen and during the song, ordered a security guard to get the sound guy to turn the sound off, and when the sound guy refused, he ordered the security guy to bring the sound guy over, which prompted either the stage hand or manager of the band to interfere, which resulted in that guy getting dragged up the stairs which resulted in Sam Eastgate going nuts and next thing you know, its all out war. However, cooler heads prevailed and LOTP and the sound guy finished their set to a rapturous ovation. Pictures of the fracas is here.

All in all, a fairly memorable show. Even if the events at the end overshadowed the music that the band put out.