South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Kaiser Chiefs, March 15, Cedar Street Courtyard

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Kaiser Chiefs played as part of a British afternoon showcase at Cedar Street, sandwiched between Band Of Skulls and Keane.  Neither as heavy as Band Of Skulls nor as overtly poppy (well, at least not in the same way) as Keane, in a way the Leeds based band acted as the perfect buffer between the other two acts.  They also definitely know how to put on a show.  

Singer Ricky Wilson is an engaging charismatic frontman who knows a thing or two about showmanship, including a ride through the crowd on the shoulders of an audience member who he drafted into service.  He and the band basically had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands.  It probably helped a bit that there seemed to be a lot of big fans in the crowd (not always a given at these sorts of showcase/parties). During their brief six song set, they most likely made fans out of the rest of the crowd too.

SXSW Review: Jesus and Mary Chain, March 15, Belmont

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

Let’s not kid ourselves, you are here because you are interested how the reunited Jesus and Mary Chain were at SXSW. This legendary band needs no introduction, but of you do want some, here is a site that’ll help explain why many sxsw goers were willing to sacrifice their entire Thursday night at SXSW to see this group. For me, the Jesus and Mary Chain show was the centerpiece upon which I built my SXSW schedule around.

so let’s answer some questions:

What Did They Play?

My biggest fear with their SXSW set was that it would be one of those short 40 minute sets. However, as the night grew on, it became obvious that this would not be just any sxsw show. Check out this set list:

18 Tracks! That’s over 90 minutes of music. A full show! How amazing is that.

How’d they sound?

Luckily for Jim Reid, the Jesus and Mary Chain vocals aren’t the type that stresses on the vocal chords or require a high amount of range. Most of it is drowned in guitar sound anyway. While the group is definitely a bit older, they still sound rather great save for some rustiness on the guitar (there were some out of tune tracks). Reid still delivers his lines with that cool distant detachment that makes you wonder if he’ll walk off the stage at any moment.

Is there still tension?

Hell yes. A band notorious for blow ups on stage, it was definitely on the back of people’s minds as they watched this reunion tour. The tension between the Reid brothers seem to be still there (Jim telling his brother “You need to tune up” with a menacing tone, for example) although it seems like William Reid has mellowed out a bit in his old age. Maybe it’s just the way he is, but every time you see Jim glare at one of his band members over a missed timing or something he wasn’t expecting, you kind of expected him to throw something at them. At one point, Jim wanted to talk to the audience but the guitar feedback was still making sounds to which Jim screamed at his band mates to “fucking turn that thing off!”.

In short, don’t expect this to be a long reunion.

What was that dude doing taking off all his clothes on stage?
wtf were u thinking?

Quote of the night?
“Normally this is the part of the night when we go off and you clap and we go back on, but we can’t fucking be bothered, so here’s the encore” – Jim Reid (paraphrased)

How amazing was April Skies, Some Candy Talking and Just Like Honey?

Simply put, it’s a music fan’s bucket list. All checked off. Woo.

In conclusion, rarely do you get a chance to see reunited bands that you love play (unless it’s the Pixies) so when you get that chance, jump on it.

This was the centerpiece of my SXSW experience and despite my hesitation about sitting five hours at one place – the songs, the attitude, the constant threat of walkouts and the noisy guitar feedback was all worth it.

SXSW Review: Band of Skulls, March 15, Cedar Courtyard

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You certainly can’t say that Filter doesn’t have a wide range of tastes when it comes to booking their shows at sxsw. Thursday afternoon was their UK day, with three drastically different uk bands at different points of their career headlining the bill.

Three piece Southampton group Band of Skulls was first on the list. Currently riding the momentum of their excellent sophomore release Sweet Sour, the trio was certainly the most hip act on the bill. decked out in black and carrying enough swagger to rival a blinged out basketball team. The set consisted of Band of Skulls playing tracks off their new record, which has already spawned a few hit singles such as Sweet Sour and Bruises. Songs that the crowd obviously knew and loved.

Band of Skull’s bluesy rock, black clad attire and attitude reminded me of another three piece group with a similar disposition that played the exact venue two years ago – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Both bands look and sound incredibly cool but underneath the gold plated guitars and voracious drumming lies some excellent song writing with a great sense of timing. Band of Skulls knows when to rock of and when to pull back, and it’s that sense that makes their music so damn good. I also really like the vocal interplay between guitarist Russell Marsden (who looks like he could of walked of the set of Thor) and bassist Emma Richardson. This show seemed like a bit of an coming out party for the group and they delivered on their short set with just some kick ass rock and roll. The crowd loved them and there is little doubt in my mind that they’ll be back and bigger than ever.

SXSW Review: Lionel Richie, March 14, Moody Theater

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

Lionel Richie

You know that feeling? When you’re dancing on the ceiling and it feels like you’ve been going all night long? It hits you like a brick house, but then it’s also easy like sunday morning. Thanks to Lionel Richie’s appearance at South By Southwest, I now know that feeling exactly. And it feels great.

I’m sorry to hit you with so many terrible Lionel Richie references shoehorned into that first paragraph, but I felt it had to be done. After all, what better way to describe a Lionel Richie show than with the man’s words themselves? All kidding aside though, this was a great show. And we weren’t necessarily sure that it would be great. That’s right, I say “we”, because the entire Panic Manual team felt it was important to check out this set. In fact, as the time approached to make our decision on what to do for the night, we were getting downright excited.

Sure, we may front like we’re all cool, cutting edge and indie, but really, we appreciate a good pop song like anyone else and Lionel Richie certainly wrote a lot of hits. You don’t stick around for decades in the music industry if you don’t have what it takes. And Lionel Richie, ladies and gentlemen, has what it takes. Dude definitely brought his A game. He also brought Kenny Rogers out to sing a duet with him. And as the crowd called out for more Kenny (which briefly reminded me of that Seinfeld episode where Kramer gets hooked on Kenny Rogers’ Roasters), The Gambler himself decided that it was Lionel’s show and knew when to run. But not before Lionel sang a couple bars of Rogers’ own hit, “The Gambler.”

Ultimately, this show was no gamble: as we suspected from the beginning, it was a sure thing and well worth our while. And if you weren’t there? Just imagine that it was exactly like the video for “All Night Long.”