SXSW 2007

This is my travel blog. It started as a way for people to keep up with my trip to Australia to watch the 2006/7 Ashes series, and continued with my trip to SXSW 2007 in Austin, Texas, and Las Vegas in March '07.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Has anyone heard of Daniel Johnston? He's the guy on the left, a sort of Van Morrison type figure to look at, but with more mental health problems apparently. Check him out on wikipedia and you'll get the full picture. He was down at the SESAC stage at the convention centre yesterday. I was only there really to sit down and have a (very) late lunch, as I didn't surface til gone 1:30pm yesterday. These late nights are too much for an old man like me.

Anyway, I'm sitting there, watching a rapper from NY called Brother Ali, a 250lb albino Muslim (I quote from the write-up in the paper!), followed by a mix/scratch artist by the name of Kid Koala (a Chinese guy), as the area slowly begins to fill up. By the time the turntables had been dismantled the place was heaving. And this guy shambles on stage. He's obviously got the shakes as he has to hold the microphone with both hands to keep it anywhere near his mouth. He tells a couple of very questionable jokes while waiting for the band to tune up (including one about jews in concentration camps, and gives a nazi salute - I kid you not!) and then launches into a song about wanting to kill the devil! So far, so weird. But his voice is very hypnotic. Sometimes it's almost cracked but also sounds somehow absolutely right. It's very odd, but also sounds like I've heard it before. You know, in the way you hear a song and think, Hang on I know this, but you have never actually heard it before. So he does a few more numbers, including a cover of Band on the Run for good measure and it's over. I felt a bit sorry for the next guys on, who I saw last night anyway, called the Cinematics, doing an acoustic set. There was no way anyone could follow this guy. He was a complete show stopper.

So on to the evenings entertainment. I hadn't managed to find many must see bands so I was prepared to just go with the flow and see what happened. I started with a band called Cities, who I can hardly remember to be honest, which is why I should have done this write-up last night when I got in. The next band however were unforgettable. They were a keyboard duo in the mould of the Chemical Brothers, with the added visual of dressing in black and white chequered jumpsuits, with covers over their heads and only ski type goggles to see out by. I have been trying to upload the picture to give you the full impression but my wireless connection is playing silly buggers so I try again later. Edit: Now added but appears at the top for some reason.

After that I returned to the first bar I was in and caught the end of a set by canadian band called Rock City Plaza, who were rather folky, with accordions. I then waited in the same venue for the singer I mentioned a few days ago, Robyn Hitchcock. Thanks to wikipedia again I now know he was in a band called The Soft Boys back in the UK in the 70/80s. He did an acoustic set with another guitarist and a backing singer, finishing with a song entitled I want to kill you, Karl Rove, which went down a storm with the crowd, despite Texas being Dubya's back yard.

I then had a pit stop at the hotel and returned to the fray in time to see a band called Sloan. They hail from Toronto, and are a real throw back to the 70s and 80s AOR. Think Boston or Foreigner etc. They comprised 3 guitarist/singers, a drummer who also could play guitar and sing ( and did for 2 numbers, being replaced by the lead singer on drums) and a keyboard player. So they knew their onions. Real rock stuff, harmonised voices, posturing guitar playing etc. I loved it! I've a secret penchant for such cheesy stuff (I could admit to owning albums by Toto - but won't) so really enjoyed it. They even had the crowd singing along to their last number, so they must be reasonably well known over here.

The last band of the evening were called the Ettes, and were somewhat removed in style from the last band. They were a 3 piece, with female lead guitarist/singer and also a female drummer. (Incidentally I've seen more female performers in bands over here than one ever does back home). They played buzz saw style fast punky stuff a la Ramones. No harmonized voices or long guitar solos here, just loads of attitude and quick numbers fired at you out of a gun.

So there it is - 6 bands in a evening. You could do more, but there is a limit to how much you can take in at one time really. If you're not careful everything can just blend in together.


At 2:05 PM, April 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a Rite Riveting Read!!

At 2:06 PM, April 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find your writing compelling have you ever thought of applying to NME or another band review type magazine?? Rgds Enid Bucks


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