South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Voxtrot, March 16, Stubb’s

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


Watching a reunited Voxtrot play Stubbs at SXSW in 2023 brought a warm and fuzzy feeling to my heart.

It’s hard to imagine but the nostalgia of hearing tunes like “Raised By Wolves” and “The Start of Something” hit much differently than, say, the Britpop bands I’m mostly enthralled with.

For the uninitiated, Voxtrot is a band from Austin that released a series of “hits” in the mid ’00s. They released one album, several EPs and then disbanded just as quickly as they arrived.

I can’t actually tell how popular the band truly was because I only knew those songs were really big in my circle – music blogs and music diehards. However, in a way that’s why the nostalgia hits differently. They are a band that you would have discovered via blogs at the time and their songs – pure pop heaven with catchy lyrics and hooks – were the stuff that made you feel really good when you discovered it. Hearing their set brought me back to that period where music discovery was exciting, something I can’t quite seem to replicate today.

While I’m not sure if my sentiment is shared, what I can be sure of is that a large crowd showed up on Thursday night to see the group play Austin for the first time in over 13 years. Kicking off with the track “Raised By Wolves,” the group sounded like they never missed a beat, even adding a much punchier, more rocking sound to each track (perhaps adjusting for a festival crowd). The next 40 minutes reintroduced the crowd to their catalog of songs including “Soft and Warm” and “Wrecking Force”.

In a move that would delight any Voxtrot fan, the group debuted a new track during their set. Maybe their next show at SXSW won’t take another 14 years. That makes me happy.

SXSW Review: Jamie-Lee Dimes, March 17, Lucille

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

20230317_122643 (640x488)

Appearing as part of the Sounds Australia showcase, Jamie-Lee Dimes took to the stage at Lucille and announced that she had decided beforehand that she’d just wing her setlist depending on how vulnerable she was feeling. Based on the selection of songs played that afternoon, I’d wager she was feeling vulnerable enough.

That vulnerablity came through in songs like “Find A Home”, a song about touring life and living out of motels, as well as in “Wishing I Was Someone Else”, a song described by Dimes as being “about spending too much time in isolation and yeah … you know how that goes.”

“I’m singing all my midnight moonshine songs I wrote in my mom’s garage during the pandemic,” explained Dimes at one point and true to her word, she played a set of fairly personal songs, most of them unreleased tunes from her upcoming album, due out later this year.

SXSW Review: Brandt Brauer Frick, Desire, Kalush Orchestra, March 16, Parish

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

20230316_230204 (640x480)

Sometimes the most memorable shows end up being the ones you don’t see – the “ones that got away,” as it were. These are the shows that stick out for some reason, often because you regret missing them, but sometimes it’s because you still ended up seeing something great anyways. Such is often the case at SXSW and such was the case on Thursday night at Parish.

With weather conditions either delaying any outdoor shows or cancelling them completely, the Thursday night of SXSW was already thrown into a bit of chaos in general and much of the Panic Manual crew just opted to stay inside, safe and dry, once the rain and lightning started up. Not me though. I rallied and headed out, protected by my rain poncho and only slightly deterred by a brief stopover inside the convention center while I waited for the rain to die down a little. After all, this was Tangerine Dream night and I was determined not to miss it. But, alas, I did miss it.

I arrived at Parish, only slightly damp and ready to take in an evening of music which would culminate in a performance by the German synth masters. Onstage as I walked in were Kalush Orchestra, who I had completely forgotten were on this bill, so I was pleasantly surprised to catch even a few brief moments of the current Eurovision champs in action. But wait, weren’t they supposed to open the show at 8:00? And wasn’t it now pushing 10:00? This complicated matters a bit.

Throwing a further wrench in the works were the delays to Desire’s set caused by some sort of technical issues. These issues were eventually settled and Desire put on a compelling enough performance that culminated in a cover of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle.” Pretty cool, but still not Tangerine Dream.

Next up were Brandt Brauer Frick, a trio that happens to share a member with the night’s headliners, so in a way, I kind of saw Tangerine Dream, right? At least maybe a little?

A model of German precision and efficiency, the trio took to the stage, each clad in suit and tie, and proceeded to lay down some sweet electro jams. It sounded fantastic and it was pretty impressive to watch the interplay between the three of them. Often, electronic music performances can ultimately amount to just watching someone stand there pressing buttons and twiddling a bunch of knobs, which isn’t always the most exciting. With Brandt Brauer Frick, I really wanted to watch them stand there twiddling knobs.

And then came the moment when I had to make that hard gametime decision – should I stay or should I go? With Tangerine Dream’s initial performance timeslot only about 20ish minutes away, and with Roosevelt still getting the equipment set up for his show, it looked like it would likely be at least 1:00 before the group would take the stage. And having already had a fairly long day, I was starting to fade.

So I called it – no Tangerine Dream for me. So be it. Oh well, at least I came close. Maybe next time. And hey, that Brandt Brauer Frick set made for one heck of a consolation prize, so all in all, not too bad.

SXSW Review: Superchunk, THICK, March 15, Mohawk

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

IMG_1020 (640x614)

On “This Night”, Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan sings, “this night is like so many” but with the news last month that drummer Jon Wurster would be leaving the band, there was at least one way in which this night would be unlike so many that had come before. This night, the band’s set at the Mohawk would be one of their first without the longtime drummer after his recent announcement that he was leaving the band. Having seen Superchunk a couple of times before, I was looking forward to the show, but I’ll admit there was also some uncertainty about it.

Don’t get me wrong – I knew it would be a fantastic show regardless as Superchunk have a discography full of indie rock bangers and have always put on great shows when I’ve seen them in the past. But without Wurster behind the kit, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

After all, Wurster is one of the most entertaining live drummers to watch (and just an entertaining guy in general – his comedy work with Tom Scharpling on The Best Show is also worth a look of you don’t know it already) so the new guy had some big shoes to fill. Was he up to the challenge?

The new guy in question was Michael Benjamin Lerner and while I’m not sure if he was just filling in or if he’s a permanent replacement for Wurster, he seemed to fit right in with the band as they ran through a set that included classics like “Hyper Enough” and “Slack Motherfucker” as well as newer songs like the aforementioned “This Night” off of last year’s excellent Wild Loneliness. So was the new guy up to the challenge? The simple answer is yes. Yes he was.

Earlier that evening, THICK played on the same stage and it was an incendiary performance that set the tone for the evening. Fun tunes, a strong feminist theme running through the lyrics, and a decent contingent of hardcore THICK fans in attendance made this an unforgettable show that it was hard not to get wrapped up in. This night was a pretty good one.