South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Jane Weaver, March 17, Central Presbyterian Church

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

Jane Weaver

During Jane Weaver’s Friday night set at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church, observant concertgoers might have noticed an individual just laying down on their back in the middle of the aisle – an odd sight for sure, though one that could be explained away as either a photographer trying to get the perfect shot or someone who was just so taken aback by the power of Weaver’s music that they had to have a bit of a lay down. Probably the former, but I’d like to think that it’s at least partially a little of column A and a little of column B.

While Weaver is known for making spacey, experimental psychedelia, the songs off her latest full length, 2020’s Flock, lean a bit more towards poppier sounds – still plenty trippy, mind you, but the kind of trippiness you can dance to as well. Most of the songs performed by Weaver and her band on this occasion came from that album, with a couple selections from 2017’s Modern Kosmology thrown into the mix as well. It was a compelling performance, and one that made me wish it could go on for at least a couple more songs. But such is the nature of SXSW set times.

So yeah, maybe it’s not too likely that that photographer was literally swept off their feet by Jane Weaver’s music, but her show was one that was easy to get swept up in.

SXSW Reviews: Otoboke Beaver, Poison Ruin, Soul Glo, Escuela Grind

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

In our preview of Soul Glo in advance of this year’s SXSW, I mentioned how music on the heavier side of things has never quite had the highest profile at SXSW and has definitely shrunk its presence at the festival over the past several years. That said, I still managed to find a decent amount of good stuff under the metal/hardcore/whatever banner that helped to scratch the itch, so to speak. Here are a few of the highlights:

Otoboke Beaver, March 16, Hotel Vegas

OK, they may not be metal per se, but Japan’s Otoboke Beaver can make just as much of a racket and put on a better show than many of the metal bands I’ve seen in my day. The band’s high energy punk rock can approach near-grindcore levels of intensity, but always with a strong sense of melody and most importantly, they’re a lot of fun to watch live.

Poison Ruin, March 17, Chess Club

With their dark, heavy hybrid of old school crust punk, post-punk/goth sounds, and a solid dose of heavy metal, Philadelphia punks Poison Ruin put on a memorable show during their Friday night set at Chess Club. Their new album Härvest is out April 14 via Relapse Records. Check out the video for “Resurrection II” below.

Soul Glo, March 18, Chess Club

I read somewhere that Soul Glo flew into Austin on the morning of the final day of the festival and crammed three sets into their brief time in Austin. I suppose that makes sense in a way – this band goes hard enough that I can’t imagine them sustaining the usual SXSW model of playing multiple shows a day over the course of the whole week for all that long. Their show at Chess Club as part of the Creem Magazine day party will surely go down as one of the best sets I saw at this year’s SouthBy.

Escuela Grind, March 18, Elysium

I may have only caught the last ten or so minutes of Escuela Grind’s Saturday night set as part of the Knotfest showcase at Elysium, but in those few minutes, the band crammed in a lot, putting on one of the most intense performances I saw all week. The band was fresh off the road from a European tour with Napalm Death and Dropdead and that time on the road has clearly left them in fine form. And I’m happy to see that Escuela Grind will also be hitting Toronto next week for a show at the Hard Luck Bar on March 31 as part of their current North American tour.

SXSW Review: Dream Wife, March 16, Hotel Vegas

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

Dream Wife
Dream Wife at the British Music Embassy

Having seen Dream Wife a couple of time already, including my introduction to them during SXSW 2017, I didn’t necessarily need to see them at this year’s SouthBy, but once I saw the band’s name added to the lineup for this year’s edition, I knew that I was absolutely going to see Dream Wife at this year’s SouthBy.

It was a no-brainer, really. With their fierce, high energy performances, the band is practically the definition of a “must see” and I would have seen them multiple times if I had the chance. As it turns out, I only ended up seeing them the one time, but the band was playing several times throughout the week and I believe almost all of Team Panic Manual caught Dream Wife in action at one of their many shows during the week.

The Hotel Vegas set, though, was the one for me. Over the years, the East 6th venue has become one of my favourite spots to catch a show at during SXSW – it seems a bit further removed from all the industry stuff and the place just generally has a good rock ‘n’ roll vibe about it. And with a lineup this afternoon that also included the likes of Dumbo Gets Mad, Death Valley Girls and Otoboke Beaver, it seemed like the place to be.

With the crowd packed into the indoor space, Dream Wife took to the stage and immediately had our attention. Singer Rakel Mjöll is all energy and attitude, while her bandmates Alice Go and Bella Podpadec are, well, also full of energy and attitude.

The band put on an incredible show, running through numbers like “Hey Heartbreaker,” “Somebody” and “F.U.U.” The standout track though was “Hot (Don’t Date A Musician),” introduced by Mjöll with a spiel about how hot it was in Austin along with the requisite warning to heed the song’s advice and not date a musician, perhaps an even more relevant message when one is in Austin during SXSW and every other person might be a musician – even the bartender.

If you haven’t seen Dream Wife yet, go see them when you get a chance. And if you have seen them? Go see them again.

SXSW Film Review: 299 Queen Street West (Sean Menard, 2023)

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


If you were to ask me for the perfect documentary that captures what it was like to listen to music while growing up in Canada, 299 Queen Street West would be it. I’m very happy that this film exists because I can now watch it every five or ten years and remember what it was like when I was young.

For the uninitiated, 299 Queen Street West chronicles the story of MuchMusic, a DIY startup 24 hour music channel that was an extremely large part of the lives of everyone who grew up in Canada in the ’80s and ’90s. If you are not Canadian, however, this documentary is still for you as the film also chronicles the changing landscape of music on several fronts, from the medium through which it was delivered (music videos to streaming) to the genres that took turns dominating the landscape over the course of 30 years.

The story is told purely through archival clips, featuring the voices of many of the players that defined the MuchMusic era including Erica Ehm, Steve Anthony, Master T, Rick the Temp, and Strombo among others. I really appreciated this approach (vs visual talking head) as it really let the film focus in on clips of the past. I was not in Canada when MuchMusic first started, but it was interesting to see how the channel grew from its initial conception to it taking over the building at 299 Queen Street west. For me, the nostalgia kicked in with clips from Electric Circus, The Wedge, Intimate and Interactive and footage of all the VJ’s.

At almost two hours the film provides just the right amount of time to relive all those memories and as the film draws to a conclusion, we start to see the demise of MuchMusic and it’s eventual transformation into what it is today, which is garbage. Still, the story of MuchMusic as captured in this film will bring up a lot of fond memories and joy for those who lived through it while also capturing a very important moment in time for the world of music as a whole.

I believe this film will be streaming on Crave at some point, which is quite ironic in itself.