South By Southwest

SXSW Review: You Say Party We Say Die!, March 17, Elysium

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Panic Manual YOU SAY PARTY! WE SAY DIE!

Austin – One of the things that I was trying to avoid when I was making my schedule itinerary for SXSW was Canadian bands. Now, now, before you don your white Maple Leaf masks and bring out the torches, you have to realize that Canadian bands tour Toronto ALL THE TIME. Most of them live in Toronto, so it’s just a simple application of supply and demand that I had decided to not check out any Canadian acts. Obviously, that failed. The thing about SXSW is, everything changes the second it starts. Crowds are larger then expected (almost always), bands bail on shows, you can’t find the venue, you are too hungry..basically there are some things you can’t factor for, and so you just have to wing it.

You Say Party, We Say Die! was a wing it show. The original plan was to go see Broken Bells. That failed and so the 11pm slot opened up on Wednesday night and what do you know, on our quick walk, we see YSPWSD are playing at the Elysium and there is no lineup! That’s a massive score in SXSW – to find a band you like play in a not completely packed venue. As much as I wanted to walk another few blocks to check out some other band, there was no guarantee that you’d get in and frankly, I can always listen to Laura Palmer’s Prom live.

Off we went into the Elysium, a bar that does not sound like what the name suggests. I don’t even know what Elysium is, but if you had put that bar name out, I’d think it was some swanky lounge with shades of yellow and orange lights and 60s sci fi chairs. It was however, another one of many Austin’s dive bars. I guess it was just a normal bar, seeing how a lot of bars looked like it. I’d hate to see what a dive bar really looks like in Austin.

The crowd was kind of sparse for the beginning of YSPWSD’s set, but eventually built up to what I’d imagine was about 80% capacity by the end. Maybe 150 people. The set was peppered with songs from XXXX, but the debut album was not ignored. With gold sequined jacket and the 80s hair, lead singer Becky Ninkovic once again put on a good live show, resembling what I can only described as a butterfly on ecstasy. The dance-punk fusion that is YSPWSD won quite a few fans over with their energetic set, based on this one situation – when Becky jumped down from the stage to start a dance floor on the floor, a heavier, older, scarier blond woman with massive tattoos pushed me aside and forced her way to the dance floor area where she started having the time of her life. I’m pretty sure they didn’t know who the hell was on stage before the show, but I guess now this band has at least one more fan, if not many.

SXSW Review: Rose Elinor Dougall, March 17, Galaxy Room

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Panic Manual Rose Elinor Dougall

Austin – I will freely admit that I was pretty much in love with Rose Elinor Dougall the first time I saw her perform live with the Pipettes. Sure that trio had two other blonde bombshells on the roster but for me, Rose, with her pretty eyes and cute retro look was definitely the one that caught my eye. Luckily, she also had a sensational voice and anyone who listened to the Pipettes would admit that she had the most talent out of the trio. Much to my (and many, I’m sure) disappointment, The Pipettes pretty much dissassembled last year. They have two new members but it’s not the same..ask the Sugababes. After the demise of the band (or maybe even before), Rose Elinor Dougall decided to do the solo thing and went to Austin to showcase her own music. I was there to check it out.

When the schedule for SXSW came out, the 12 am time slot on Wednesday night was one of my bigger conflicts – Spoon was also playing at the same time, and it’s hard to resist watching that band in their own hometown. Luckily, this conflict (like many) was solved for me when I saw the lineup for Spoon, which was about three blocks long. Arriving at the Galaxy Room, it did not surprise me to see a pretty empty room awaiting Rose Elinor Dougall. The Pipettes were pretty much a novelty pop act(despite their pretty awesome album) and that is a tough sell for an elitist indie crowd such as SXSW, where high concept math rock would probably garner more attention then pure pop candy.

Shortly after midnight (and an overly long soundcheck), Rose and her band came out on stage. There was a drummer, a guitarist (with crazy rock hair) and arguably the hottest bassist ever. Rose herself was manning a leather jacket was slotted comfortably behind a keyboard. I guess the leather jacket is to represent rebelliousness and rock n roll or something. I remember when Justin Timberlake had that single after he left n’sync and was wearing a leather jacket, to symbolize the exact same thing. Basically, if you are leaving a pop act, buy a leather jacket.

“I’m glad their school let them come on this field trip!”
– Derek

The band was fairly young, but their set consisted of music with influences from 60s pop music and 80s new wave sound. I still don’t know how they get these influences as I’m sure they were born in the late 80s. I guess they had cool parents. All the music did feature one thing – Rose’s strong voice. It’s got a sweet, yet strong sound to it and it is highly featured in each tune. Like most Brit singers, she delivers each word with a certain amount of clarity and slight accent that makes it so good. The 30-40 minute set featured previous released singles Another Version of Pop Song and Start/Stop/Synchro, and also some music from what her debut solo album Without Why.

So I guess the question that begs to be answered is whether or not this was as good as the Pipettes debut, which was fantastic. I would say the answer is no, although we’ll have to wait for the album to come out to fully determine. What I will say is that while the Pipettes album was wonderful, it was what it was. This new solo work by Rose Elinor Dougall definitely explores more sonic regions then the Pipettes album and lays the groundwork for future growth, which is great news.

SXSW Review: The Boxer Rebellion, Maggie Mae’s Rooftop, March 19

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

boxer rebellion

Austin – Don’t mind me if I get a little too real here for a sec, but a couple days into SXSW I developed a pretty nasty cold. I spent all day Friday in the hotel room trying to recuperate just so that I could go out that night to see The Boxer Rebellion. They were basically the main reason I wanted to come along for the ride, as they released one of my favorite albums of last year.

I found myself surrounded by a fairly unfavorable crowd at this show, as Sum 41 (?!?!?) were set to be playing later on.. by unfavorable, I mean teenage girls and drunk frat boys. I was able to ignore them once they went on, so that has to say something good.

The Boxer Rebellion come off as a very gracious and professional band. I can’t say enough about how enjoyable the show was; I completely forgot how crappy I was feeling while they played, and came away with enough energy to enjoy the rest of my evening. Singer Nathan Nicholson puts everything he has into performing and it’s very genuine. The same goes for the rest of the band, but he is really an excellent frontman. I especially enjoyed the addition of extra percussion on “Flashing Red Light Means Go”. If you’re like me and you enjoy good British rock with a touch of falsetto now and then and great, sometimes hauntingly beautiful guitar sounds, you will love this band.

boxer rebellion

SXSW Review: Dum Dum Girls & The XX, French Legation Museum, March 18

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

dum dum girls

Austin – It seemed like everyone attending SXSW came to this particular show. The XX are easily the most hyped band here at the fest this year; I’d heard quite a bit about Dum Dum Girls too.

LA’s Dum Dum Girls are self-described as their own genre, “blissed-out buzzsaw”.. basically to me it translated as a cross between the Ramones and just about any shoegaze band you can think of. It’s something I’d want to listen to on a chill day at the beach. Very enjoyable.

the xx

The XX come from southwest London, I’m not sure what to say about them that hasn’t already been said. They’re young and I got the vibe that they’re a little overwhelmed by their fairly sudden fame. It just seemed weird to hear the gigantic, mostly drunk crowd cheering like they were in a football stadium after any of their sexy, understated songs. I enjoyed them quite a bit but I think it was just the wrong environment to see them in.

the xx