South By Southwest

SXSW review: Audra Mae, March 19, Victoria room at Driskill

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

Audra Mae, SXSW, March 19

Austin, TX – Victoria room is a quaint sitting room in the historic Driskill hotel on 6th and Brazos, where LBJ loved to stay. Compare to the rest of the hotel, its furnishings are sparse and, contrary to the insane streams of hot bodies (I don’t mean it in the beauty sense), the population of the room was sporadic when I strode in. Having misunderstood that Vandaveer plays at an amphitheater across the river and not 5 min from our hotel, I did what every Asian person would – stayed back and ate spicy beef donair kebab. 3 hours later when I arrived at Victoria room, everyone was sitting on the floor as if they too had consumed way too much for their feeble legs. There was a serenading cowboy, homosexual couples, (I was also thinking brokeback mountain), and old freaky photographers. I did a double take – last I checked I wasn’t in Toronto and it wasn’t the gay pride parade outside. But then a girl from Oklahoma took the stage and my fears were allayed. I didn’t immediately feel better, however. Audra‘s brand motto should be bible-belt blues. The River, her opener, was the song that first caught my ear. When listening I recommend just pretending you heard it on Finnish radio station or something. And then see if you can match that melody to these:

I’m going down to the river alone; don’t tell mama and daddy I’m gone. And if they cry when I don’t come home, just lie and tell’em I’m funnin’. Whoa to get out of my eyes, into the river wide I’m runnin’. And I can’t swim, but it’s alright. ‘Cause all my sin will drag me down even if I could.

So if it’s not clear already, the songs about a young girl who will commit suicide because she is now ostracized for sleeping with someone. Tough stuff. Or maybe I just have a thing for pessimism? Her next songs dealt with the mystery of life and lost of innocence (I made lightning in a bottle but i forgot the recipe). The gig could totally benefit from a missing mic – she does not lack volume or range, and the amps made her sound scratchy, unnecessarily coarse at times, which I’m sure she’s anything but. The songs are also more to my taste when they’re sung without drum beats or other distractions. There was also a wooting guy who seems to want to harmonize each high note. But besides that she was quite brilliant. It was a short set and she wrapped up with a Beegees cover and Happiest Lamb, another satirical piece about infidelity. Gotta wonder where she got the inspiration from. Listen to a few of her numbers when you have time – just make sure your universal translator is set to off.

SXSW Reviews: Scissor Sisters, March 20, Stubbs

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

Scissor Sisters, SXSW, March 20, Stubbs

Austin – I’ll be honest and say that most of the Panic Manual was pretty pissed off Saturday night. We all had our rsvps for the Perez Hilton party and that was pretty much the only thing on our schedule that night. However, poor planning (by Perez’s people), late start time and an unwillingness to wait in the freezing weather for a few hours forced us to leave the lineup for the party in search of something else. We were all cold and bitter I was really looking forward to seeing Snoop Dogg (no idea why) for the first time and also seeing VV Brown and Marina and the Diamonds again. The sudden and unexpected change of plans forced us to reevaluate our plans and try to make something out of nothing. A 26 of Irish Whiskey later, the PM crew was ready to rock and looking to close off SXSW with a nice fun show. Luckily, the crowd at Stubbs was rather sparse and we made it into see Scissor Sisters

I don’t think Scissor Sisters really need an introduction, but they are a glammy disco queer dance band from New York City. You might recognize their songs Take Your Mama and I Don’t Feel Like Dancin. Neglecting the freezing weather, the band came out casually dressed and delivered a pretty good party show. The Scissor Sisters are about good times and with some killer bass, nice synth grooves and playful interactions/dance moves between Jake Shears and Ana Matronic, they definitely whipped up the crowd in a fun frenzy. I don’t care what your attitude is towards semi mainstream music, but when a song as ridiculously catchy as I Don’t Feel Like Dancin comes on, you are moving your body…too bad this song also stays in your head for hours afterwards.

The band drew material from their previous two albums, as well as introduced the crowd to some new songs, all of which were received with enthusiasm. I haven’t really listened to their second cd – Ta Dah very much so I can’t tell you which songs were new and which ones were off that album. They did play a stellar version of Tits on the Radio, which was the song that garnered my attention to the band way back in 2003-2004.

Overall, Scissor Sisters was a good consolation prize for missing Perez’s party. Heading in, I knew they were going to put on a good fun show, and that’s exactly what they did.

SXSW Review: The Antlers, March 19, Galaxy Room Backyard

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, South By Southwest | 2 Comments

The Antlers, Phoenix, Toronto, ON

Austin – This is the fourth time we’ve reviewed The Antlers on the Panic Manual, so it’s quite possible to say we like them quite a bit. Friday night was a great source of frustration for me, as once again, I was foiled in my attempt to see She & Him. The lineup was extremely long and my attempt to casually walk through the side entrance pretending to be someone important ultimately failed. I then retreated to Esther’s Follie to check out some comedy acts to cheer me up. Once fully cheered, I decided I liked nothing more then to hear some familiar depressing music. It was my emotional roller coaster night I guess. Midnight seemed like a perfect time for the Antlers to play. It’s dark outside and they play dark music. They were playing the French Kiss showcase, which also featured bands like An Horse, Suckers and Les Savy Favs.

Just like their opening set for the Editors in February, the Antlers played only a handful of songs – five to be exact, and just like that concert a month ago, I was equally captivated by their music. This time, I was slightly less captivated as the sound system pretty much sucked balls for some reason. Still, it’s always a pleasure to see Pete Silbermann sing. The man does not hit all his notes, and somehow every version of Two comes out sounding a bit different, but the intensity and heart behind the voice makes it all okay somehow. The Antlers have become experts at the building up songs. The music starts off quietly, maybe a few beeps, a few boops. Some slowly paced drum beats and stellar guitar feedback and then the next thing you know, Silbermann’s wailing on his guitar, the synth has become deafening and theres a massive wall of sound hitting you square in the face. It’s quite the treat experiencing it. This wasn’t the best set of theirs I’ve seen, I thought the some of the tenderness that is Bear was lost amongst the chattering and the crappy sound system. Still, a band I would recommend seeing live.

Here’s a crappy video I took during their set. This video camera is good a picking up vocals, bad at picking up noise, so don’t think this is acoustic performance by any measure:

ps. the picture was not from sxsw, but from February because our photographer Gary decided to take a break.

SXSW Review: Everybody was in the French Resistance…Now!, March 17, Galaxy Room

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

Everybody Was in the French Resistance....Now!, SXSW

Austin – Eddie Argos. What a showman. If you have been to any Art Brut shows, you will know that he puts on live shows like no other. Hilarious banter, genuine honesty and true love for rock n roll, that’s what the man is about. When it was announced that he was in a new band with his LA girlfriend called Everybody was in French Resistance Now! and they were putting on shows at SXSW, I marked this one down as a much watch. Sadly, I must have been one of the few, as the Galaxy Room was only at 30% capacity for this band’s debut. The people who did stayed enjoyed one hell of a show.

With Dyan Valdés on synth and an old British man on drums/guitars, EWITFR is like a lighter, bouncier, popier version of Art Brut. Fans not fear, the cleverness of Eddie Argos lyrics are still there. Announcing this band as a ‘concept’ band, Eddie delivered introductions to each song, including songs like Billys Jean, which was a response to the Michael Jackson’s song Billy Jean. Other songs included Superglue, a response to Elastica’s Vaseline and also ‘Do Think Twice’ a response to Bob Dylan’s song Don’t Think Twice. You get the idea.

Because of the small crowd, the show seemed rather intimate. It was made even more intimate when Eddie Argos took the microphone stand directly into the crowd and sang in the middle of the people who were there. At one point, I was looking at my phone to read a text message from Derek or Alli, only to look up to see Eddie singing directly into my face. Slightly embarrassed, I never reached for my phone again – it was that kind of intimate. The show ended with a rant on Avril Lavigne’s song Girlfriend, followed by the band covering the original song boyfriend.

Kickass music, intelligent lyrics, great showmanship and a small setting. That’s what SXSW is about and I’m excited to see this band again if/when they tour.