South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Peter, Bjorn and John, March 18, Vice Lounge

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything, South By Southwest | 2 Comments

Austin – Before going to Vice Lounge on Wednesday, I had associated the letters PBJ with all things pleasant – Peanut Butter and Jam and Peter Bjorn and John. However, as of Wednesday night, one of those things is no longer pleasant, and lemme tell you – it’s not the one you eat. Peter, Bjorn and John as you might know, is a Swedish indie pop band that exploded a few years ago with the whistling super pop hit ‘Young Folks‘. That song was everywhere, your grandma knew it. Since that time, they have been dormant ..until now.

With their fifth album “Living Thing” being released on March 31st, the Swedish trio went into SXSW to once again impress the hipsters with their blend of soft melodious indie pop. It was a great opportunity to remind the people just who they are. This is an ADD generation that forgets who jumps from one band to the next as quickly as bands jump from one groupie to the next. I talked to a few fellow SXSWers about PBJ before the festival and they didn’t seem that excited. You talk to the same person three years ago and they probably would have given their first born rabies to get into the show.

Luckily for PBJ, they were nicely set up on the first night – following rockers Von Blondie and leading up to the nights big show – Glasvegas (which Allison reviewed). This was the perfect opportunity to impress some folks (some…young folks muhaha). Like Matthew Fox, the opportunity was Lost (lame). SXSW runs on moderately tight time schedules, each band has about 40 minutes to play and 20 minutes to set up. PBJ took a long time to setup. A really long time, maybe 45 minutes. When something like this happens, people get a bit worked up – everyone goes on tight schedules here and when something goes off, well, this screws things up. After what seemed like an eternity, PBJ took the stage…and sucked.

How is it they sucked? First of all, they had sound problems thru out the whole show, disrupting any kind of flow they may have. Sing a bit, stop a bit, sing a bit..stop a bit. Bad for the crowd. Secondly, the music, for some reason, was dry and awkwardly paced. The band didn’t seem to know what they were doing and when you have to wait 45 minutes for a band to set up and then the band goes on stage and looks all confused, it results in a high level of suckitude. We also suspect the band had their fair of drinks before the show. At one point, they attempted to whistle (maybe to start off Young Folks?) however, they failed at that attempt and just went into another song. It didn’t help that when they did get everything working, the new material did not seem to hold up to the old stuff (especially the Justice influence children singing sampled filled single “Nothing to Worry About”. All these factors resulted in the crowd turning on the band halfway thru the set and well, lets just say, most people were glad when it was over.

Having said all that, they are playing two more shows at SXSW, I wonder how they were.

heres a song from happier PBJ times.

SXSW Review: Glasvegas and School of Seven Bells, March 18-19, Vice and Mohawk lounge

Posted on by Alli in Concerts, South By Southwest | 4 Comments

Austin – Hello from the panicmanual’s ‘American Correspondent’ – I’m Alli, and I’ll be writing from time to time when I make it out to gigs down here in Texas.

I’m along for the ride at SXSW 2009, and here I sit in our hotel room at 11:30pm on the second night of the music portion of the festival. Crazy, right? What am I doing in so early? I’ll admit it, I can’t hang. I’m not used to all this excitement. So I’m gonna attempt to write a bit about my favorite parts so far.

The main draw for me to this fest, aside from the option of seeing any of the 1800 bands playing in less than a week and tons of free booze, was the Scottish band Glasvegas. Of all people, Tim Booth of James recommended them to me – first through a blog he wrote on James’ website, then personally when I met him last fall. I downloaded their self-titled album and fell in love with it quickly. Many people compare them to Jesus and Mary Chain, which I guess I get, as they are both Scottish and both have a knack for that “wall of sound” technique first perfected by Phil Spector in America almost 50 years ago. Comprised of four members (three male and a female drummer), Glasvegas recreate said wall of sound perfectly in a live setting, which is exactly what I was hoping for. We arrived at Vice, the club here in Austin where they headlined last night, a few hours early so as not to miss them and the place was absolutely jammed. They have quite the buzz following them around town this week and rightly so. More comparisons fly when singer James Allan takes the stage; with his wayfarers, pompadour and swagger he reminds you of Joe Strummer, almost exactly. He sings his heart out through every note and you feel it, especially during the personal “Daddy’s Gone”, a great set closer. Personally I had a lovely time singing along at the top of my lungs with every song; as best I could anyway as the Scots lyrics are nearly unintelligible (but nonetheless irresistible) upon first listen.

After seeing Glasvegas I felt like I could turn around and go home happy, even though I had just arrived at SXSW that evening. I made it my mission to see them at least once more during the festival. Lo and behold they had another gig this afternoon at Mohawk, where a party for Rhapsody was being held. Also on the bill were School of Seven Bells, whom I was very impressed with. The two female members of the 3-piece are actually identical twins, whose voices are also equally beautiful and mysterious. It was difficult to get a lot out of their set with the whole party atmosphere going on but I really enjoyed their set. Glasvegas played after them and once again packed the venue and did not disappoint. I think they may have been suffering a bit from the events of the previous night, their sunglasses stayed on and several swigs of beer were taken which only added to the charm of a daytime performance. I talked to several attendees who were there to see them simply because they kept hearing their name, even though they knew nothing about them. Awesome few hours out of the very long day that was day 2 of SXSW..

SXSW Review: Voxtrot, March 17, La Zona Rosa, Austin

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


Austin – Technically not a SXSW showcase, Voxtrot played at the SXSW Interactive closing party (hosted by Media Temple) on Tuesday night. For me, I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the music portion of my trip then to check out Austin’s favorite Smiths influenced band on their home turf. For those not in the know, Voxtrot became Panic Manual favorites a few years ago with their bouncy pop tune ‘The Start of Something’. Their music can be considered a brand of jangly indie pop.

I would figure that Voxtrot’s showcases at SXSW was because of a new album coming out, but i guess they only have a new song to promote (you can download it for free here ).

The band came on at ten and there was a rather sparse crowd watching them. Most of the people at the party were too busy watching drunk nerds fall off the mechanical bull to catch Ramesh Srivastava’s take on good well crafted pop music. Did I mention this party was an open bar? Anyways, Not having much new material, Voxtrot played a set consisting of tracks from the Raised By Wolves EP , Mothers Daughters Sons and Wives Ep and the self title LP. Despite what I thought was some muffled guitar sounds, the rest of the music was crisp. I don’t know if it’s a curse or not, but it seems like songs off the Raised by Wolves EP are STILL the most popular tracks from the band. Sad to say, they did not play ‘The Start of Something’, but I guess this was realistically just a crowd who was just there for free booze and good tunes. Well, mission accomplished for them.

SXSW Interactive Weekend Report [Austin, 2009]

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, South By Southwest | 6 Comments

Toronto – As many of you know, aside from attending the music portion of South By Southwest, I am also attending the Interactive portion as well. I guess being a web developer has it’s perks. Here are some random notes about the interactive weekend so far:

- Everyone bloody twitters. I had no idea this twitter thing was so hot before I came here. I think it’s way more popular then facebook. Everyone tweets each other. I do have to say, once I got a hang of it, twitter is ridiculously addictive. We are #panicmanual on twitter. Follow us.

- Everyone has an iphone.

- If you were a girl who likes pale guys with pony tail, glasses and a goatee, then boy, is SXSW a wet dream for you. I think one out of every 7 guys has this look.

- If you were a girl who likes overweight guys, then honey, this is REALLY the place for you.

- Apple dominates the laptop market. I would say about 60% of people attending talks has a laptop in the room, blogging or tweeting away as the talk goes on. A.D.D is at an all time high here. I am old school, so I went to the panels with a good ole notebook and a pen. Until I won a moleskin at the Adobe stage, then I used the moleskin with the pen.

- “Social Media” is the new hot word at this festival. Everyone talks about the Social Media here, you would think we are all part of some revolution or something.

- I feel a bit out of my element here, despite being a software/web developer, I pay almosts no attention to tech sites on the internet, so when people are laughing it up when a speaker makes fun of techcrunch, or when panelist refer to other internet celebrities by name (some guy named zeldman..or the people who run digg), I feel like a stranger in another world. Maybe I should look into sites that aren’t music or sports or shopping deals or celeb gossip or style related…

- Everyone here is ridiculously nice and easy to talk to. All the free alcohol probably helps.

Party Report
Here are some random thoughts from the parties.
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