South By Southwest

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

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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.

SXSW Review: Local Natives, March 19, Cedar Courtyard

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Local Natives, Filter Party, March 19, Cedar street courtyard, SXSW 2010

Austin – Filter puts on awesome showcases every year at SXSW (witness last year’s Late of the Pier party) and this year was no exception. The lineup was around the block on Friday for their showcase which involves bands like The Temper Trap, Local Natives, BRMC and Dr. Dog. We were there for all of them, Gary will be reviewing Dr. Dog and the Temper Trap (who ruled).

The Local Natives have been featured on our blog a few times before and so as you would figure, I was rather excited to see the show. For those who NEED to know, they are a LA based band that relies on harmonizing vocals blended with a California laid back rocker sound. It’s good.

I had high expectations for this show and much to my delight, Local Natives killed it. 3 part harmonizing vocals, two guitars, one synthy guy, one bassist and a kickass drummer. Nice setup. These guys have mastered quiet…quiet…EXPLODE technique. Perfect example would be the live rendition of the song Sun Hands, Taylor Rice slowly lulls you to a nice calm state with his subdued singing then BAM, all four of them scream out “AND WHEN I CAN’T FEEL WITH MY SUN HANDS” and whoosh, awesomeness. Speaking of Taylor Rice, he has a pretty nice voice and hits the notes despite the show being like, the band’s 5th show in 3 days. Kelcey Ayer’s multi-instrumental skills was impressive as well. The sometimes duo drummer setup the band employs adds a lot more ooompf to the live show then the album, which is great. I’m a fan of two drummers in a band. Don’t ask me why.

The 40ish minute set consisted songs from the debut album – Gorilla Manson, something you should look into. Good showing, will definitely see them if they tour Toronto.

Speaking of Filter, they want you to win a record player and a bunch of vinyl, as long as you are American. One lucky winner will receive a Crosley Archive Portable USB Turntable and the following must-have titles for any record collection, hand-picked by FILTER’s editors. Animal Collective, Tribe Called Quest, Beach House, etc. You can enter here

SXSW Review: Rachael Ray’s Feedback, March 20, Stubbs

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rachael ray's feedback party

Austin – Every year, this woman named Rachael Ray puts on a show at SXSW. Now I know who Rachael Ray is, but I have never seen her show nor did I know she had enough stroke to book Stubbs on an afternoon. This show was incredibly hard to get into and lineups were already around the block when I decided to leave my hotel at 1pm. Luckily, I was able to get into a show via some people and so here is a report on the acts I saw. Sorry as there are no pictures as all I had was my iphone with me.

Andrew WK – If there was anyone on Earth you would associate with partying, it would probably be Andrew WK. I think every single song he has contains the word party. His set was full of hard rock frenetic beat songs where Andrew WK yells into the microphone while banging his head up and down to the point where i felt my neck hurt from watching him. You have to give it to the guy though, he is committed to the cause of partying. He also has a lot of friends as I lost track of the amount of people who were on stage. You get the feeling that maybe even some people there he might not even know, probably just met them at the party last night. Even his in-between songs banter are about partying. I guess in the right mood (not say, 1pm on a freeeezing day), Andrew WK would be a fairly fun show.

Dr Dog – I was impressed with what I heard from Dr. Dog the previous day at Filter’s showdown at Cedar Courtyard. They have come a long way from the lo-fi sound of the early 2000s and look and sound like a good ole rock band. I wonder why they all wear sunglasses. What I was not impressed with, was the sound people at the North stage of Rachael Rays party, as the sound kept on cutting out halfway through the songs. We were completely deprived of vocals. Fortunately the group of hardcore Dr. Dog fans were there to singalong. There are a lot of hardcore Dr. Dog fans. I never knew that. The set ended off with the song Rabbit.

Jakob Dylan & Three Legs – Bob Dylan’s son teams up with Kelly Hogan (?) and the always awesome Neko Case in a country collaboration. How do I know this? Because Jakob Dylan was wearing one of those dorky country hats that people wear when they want to do more country songs. He was just missing having some wheat in his mouth. The music was very non-offending and probably has it’s place among Rachael Ray’s primary demographic – love deprieved stay at home moms wishing for a more lively, yet tender relationship. I thought he could of utilized Neko Case (wearing a winter jacket) better. He also DID NOT sing One Headlight or 6th Avenue Heartache. Seriously, even the most veteran of rockers know what got them there. How can they NOT sing that song.

Street Sweeper Social Club – Tom Morello has a new super group. Teaming up with Boots Riley, who looks like a Lenny Kravitz mixed with the Rock, if you threw him in the dryer for a few hours. They arrived on the North stage looking like a bunch of rock stars and were wearing pseudo-military garb with their logo embroidered on the front. Very RATMish if you ask me. They came on stage and layered some incoherent rap over some heavy rock music. I was unable and unimpressed with this band, seems a bit like a RATM ripoff and they did a horrible cover of MIA’s Paper Planes. There is no doubt they have the look of rock stars, the swagger of rock stars and the aspirations of rock stars, I just don’t think they have the music of rock stars, even if individually they might be. I left the set early to scope out a spot for She & Him

She & Him – Finally. I see an entire set of She & Him. What can I say? it was good. All their songs make you feel warm and happy inside and Zooey is cute. Hard to argue against that. Having said that, the background band was stellar and they all knew who the star vehicle was. Zooey’s vocals are rather strong and while she doesn’t really do anything on stage, it’s almost captivating enough. They played songs from both albums, including This is Not a Test and they new single In The Sun. M.Ward was also cool.

All in all, it was an okay lineup. I think most people go to Rachael Ray’s thing for all the free booze (there was A LOT) and free food. I have a good story about the lineup at RR’s for food, but it’ll make me sound like an asshole, so I’ll reserve that for another time.

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

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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.