South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Mavis Staples, Jacob Latimore, DRAMA, March 12, Clive Bar

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

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On the Tuesday night of SXSW, a show was happening that promised to be pretty special and unique – NPR was presenting The Tiny Desk Family Hour, a concert inspired by the broadcaster’s famed Tiny Desk Concert video series and held at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church. Of course once we arrived at the venue, there was a long line that stretched around the corner so it was on to option B – a show by the legendary Mavis Staples at Clive Bar which also promised to be a fairly special show in its own right. Staples was performing as the headliner for the Showtime network’s day of programming to promote the upcoming second season of its (descriptor) drama series The Chi on a bill alongside Chicago-based R&B/dance duo DRAMA and The Chi star Jacob Latimore.

After a fun opening set by DRAMA that got the crowd moving a bit, Latimore took to the stage for a mini-set before Staples’ headlining show. The man’s got a good voice for sure and put his all into his 3 song set, but he was definitely not playing to his crowd – I wonder if he knew going in that the crowd for this would be dominated by a bunch of greyhairs staking out a spot up front for the headliner. He made the most of it regardless. While his music isn’t entirely my cup of tea, I had to admire Latimore’s hustle – over the course of his brief set, he was continuously promoting, reminding the crowd where they can stream his music, where they can find him on social media, and when The Chi would be premiering its second season (that would be April 7 in case you were wondering).

Staples, on the other hand, did not have to do much self promotion on stage – her reputation pretty much speaks for itself. And besides, with a set of roughly just a half hour in length, she didn’t have time for much at all in the way of stage banter, and spent that time instead just running through a powerful set of songs that acted as a reminder of how good of a performer she is after decades in the game.

SXSW Review: Anteros, March 11, Latitude 30

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

Anteros, SXS

Anteros, SXSW

Part of the fun of SXSW is trying to figure out which bands will “break through”. Sure, there’s all sorts of odd and fun bands out there to see, but there’s also that hope you are catching a band on the upside, mostly so you can brag about it later. While I’m not 100% sure, it sure feels like Anteros has all the tools to emerge.

Their debut album doesn’t even get released until later on this year, but the way the band plays and carries themselves, you’d think they had been touring forever. The band’s lead singer – Laura Hayden is charming, fun and oozes charisma on stage. The music has a timeless pop sound to it and is filled with hooks and ear worms.

Highly impressive

SXSW Review: Illuminati Hotties, The Beths, March 12, Side Bar

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

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When you get right down to it, all you need for a successful show is good bands and a good crowd. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have some good hot dogs. This show had all of those. And perhaps some important life lessons along the way.

After taking the stage to the sounds of an audio sample from some sort of documentary on Adam Weishaupt and the Illuminati and how “they must remain hidden,” Illuminati Hotties took to the stage and, unlike the actual Illuminati, they had no qualms about making their agenda known – they came here to rock out and have fun. And to give props to the hot dog guy.

Yes, this day show had hot dogs and sausages provided by The Hot Dog King. Illuminati Hotties bandleader Sarah Tudzin mentioned how she spoke with the king earlier and asked exactly how one gains the title of Hot Dog King. Apparently by selling 10 thousand hot dogs at one event. The band then dedicated its next song “I Wanna Keep Yr Dog” to the king himself. Hot dog king? I Wanna Keep Yr Dog? That’s lot of dog references in there. Coincidence? I think not. Hot dog illuminati confirmed.

The band put on an excellent set full of Tudzin’s endearing and kind of goofy stage banter and some amazing Illuminati-themed synchronized dance moves during “Pressed 2 Death.” Before ending things off with “Better Than Ever,” the band also threw in a fun, high energy cover of Paul Simon’s “Obvious Child” that was only made better at one point when Tudzin forgot the lyrics and just kept going with some “na na na’s” as placeholders.

Following Illuminati Hotties on that stage was The Beths, who put on an equally fun show while also giving a shout out to hot dogs. “Can we get an update on the hot dog bun situation?” asked Beths guitarist Jonathan Pearce, referring to an earlier hot dog related emergency on-site when the King ran out of buns.

The band displayed some great harmonies throughout their set – it’s always impressive to see every member of a band singing together at the same time – as they ran through a set full of songs off of their brilliant and catchy debut full length Future Me Hates Me.

And perhaps inspired by Illuminati Hotties before them, the band also threw out a couple of conspiracy theories of their own. The first was that a “suspicious amp” (it was later cleared of suspicion) may have actually been filled with all those missing hot dog buns, but the major, possibly game changing, reveal came when Pearce detected a bit of music still playing over the house PA that was bleeding into their sound. And while singer/guitarist Liz Stokes just assumed it was coming from whatever band may have been playing next door, Pearce laid it all out for us, much like one might lay a hot dog out in a fresh, soft bun: there was in fact no other band playing.

“That’s the Austin effect. There’s only ever one band on,” he theorized. “So don’t worry about your fear of missing out – it’s not real.” Well said. But one question remains unanswered – did we ever get an update on that hot dog bun situation?

SXSW Film Review: I See You (Adam Randall, 2019)

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

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As Jackie, Helen Hunt leads a cast of secretive characters in their pursuit of a privileged, suburban American dream in Adam Randall’s I See You. That idyllic existence was recently disturbed by Jackie’s infidelity with her high school sweetheart, but this new dynamic also seems to have stirred up something much more evil, which begins to tear at the family’s life more fiercely than anyone could imagine. Bizarre and inexplicable things began to occur around the house. And it does not stop at their household. The eerie presence seems to spill into their community as a 10 year old boy goes missing on a bike ride in the woods. Under pressure to deliver results both at home and at work, Jackie’s police detective husband Greg must resolve the mysterious evil once and for all.

The soundtrack in Psycho famously made people jump out of their skins in discomfort. The music in I See You likewise brought a disquiet to the theater, but in a far more forceful and blanketing manner. As I am sure it was intended, it really did bother me. There was a malignant, pervasive dominance to it that gave the feeling that it could not leave anyone unscathed. The drum rhythm pushes the plot ahead, and the discordant score dissuaded me from being curious about what the disfigured instrument which produced the sound looks like.

As the film unfurled towards the inevitable end, like a red carpet rolled up with skeletons from the closet, the audience is forced to confront both the characters and their own expectations. As a midnighter, I See You is an excellent horror/thriller. As a matinee, you would be too alert to forget what you see. Either way, easily recommended.