Monday, March 19, 2007

SXSW '07 : A Hazy Recap

Last year I ventured down to Austin for the very first time. I had no idea what to expect. There I was schedule in hand, and determination in my eyes. I saw 90% of the bands I came down to see, and yet found the experience chaotic, yet fun. This year I hadn't the time or the energy to figure out a schedule beforehand. I rsvp'd to every email I received and went down with one intention: have fun. Any band I want to see will come to New York. I just wanted to relax, see some cool shows, check out some new bands, and catch up with some friends. And luckily, I did it all.

It was exhausting alright, but I wouldn't have changed a thing. I always get flak for seeing bands I've seen a million times already, but that's just how I roll. But most of who I saw was new, and I was glad to get an opportunity to check them out in one place. And thanks to Wes, I got up early and checked out some panels. Had it not been for him, I probably would have slept right through them or started drinking much earlier, but I was happy I didn't.

So as follows, my recap/awards/notes about this year's SXSW.

Best Show By Someone I've Never Seen: I think I have to go with Mika for this one. I know, you all probably hate him or thing he's a flash in the pan or whatever, but seeing this charming little guy up on stage singing with that incredible falsetto brought a smile to my face. He's a born star, in every sense of the word and although he claimed everything to have gone with the show I saw, I thought it was spectacular. I was ready to go home right there and then after that and be completely satisfied. Ah, Mika. What a guy.

Best Show By Someone I've Seen: The Rapture. Hands down the best band and the best performers out there today. It's always remarkable to me that they haven't received more attention, but perhaps its better this way. The longevity this band will have is so apparent; they just keep getting better and better. The crowd loved every minute of this show and I bounced and sang my little heart out. A great start to a fantastic week.

Best Panel: Tie between the A&R one and the Music Supervision for TV & Film. First, I have loved Perry Watts-Russell ever since DIG! and hearing his thoughts on bands out today was incredibly interesting. In fact, although the panel consisted of 6 white dudes, they were all very smart (minus one, I wont name names) and pretty funny too. A lot of talk centered around Arcade Fire and their next moves, which makes sense. The Music Supervision one made me so giddy because Gary Calamar was the moderator. You may remember if you read this blog regularly, I interviewed him two years ago when he was music supervisor for Six Feet Under. Such a cool guy, and since my secret profession of choice is to become a music supervisor for a cool show, I loved every minute of it.

Best Party: Fader Fort. Contrary to what Nora will think it wasn't just for the free So-Co juice mix, although that was so delicious, I could drink it all day. It hosted a great lineup throughout the festival, and I will forgive them for not letting me into The Good Bad And The Queen. Every time I texted anyone I had to use capitals: THE FORT. It was huge, and had great sound and an incredible step up from last year. Kudos Fader. You had me at free So-Co.

Best Venue: Maggie Mae's. It was my favorite last year, so good to know they are keeping things up. Its beautiful inside, they make a slamming margarita and although each band takes forever to set up, it always sounds top-notch.

Worst Venue: Eternal. Was there for the Mika/Amy Winehouse show and felt like I was going to pass out the entire time. Too many people, not enough air, and gross drinks. Plus, for Amy Winehouse I couldn't see a gosh darn thing. Time to make the stage a little higher or slant the floor for goodness sake.

Best Celebrity Sighting: Toss up. Seeing Peter from I'm From Rolling Stone made me totally giddy because I'm one of the 5 people who are in love with the show. He was very nice in person and although he told me he couldn't tell me if he won, I have it on high authority that he did indeed. Other than that? Seeing Michael Pitt on the sidewalk was kinda cool too. Nora and I screeched. It was awesome.

Most Nostalgic Moment: Seeing Birdmonster perform on the same stage that I saw them for the very first time, this time last year. And hearing their new songs and how amazing they are almost brought tears to my eyes. Almost.

Best Food: Iron Cactus. No competition. We ate there with Tally Hall on Saturday night and the fajitas were top-notch. Okay, so I was there every other day as well, but that night stuck out in my head as a favorite. I love those Tally boys. They stayed in their colored (newly skinny!) ties all weekend. What troopers.

Best Cab Driver: I forget his name, but the one we took from the Diesel U Party back to the Pure Volume Loft. Nora decided she wanted to marry him, but he needed to know a few more things. Sampling of questions: Do you like people who major in economics? How do you feel about dishonesty? Don't you think Justin Timberlake's Dick In A Box made a pretty dweeby guy cool? Amazing.

Most Heard Complaint: "My feet are killing." I don't know how those girls in heels lasted more than a minute. Even in sneakers, I was hurting. All that standing around all day really does a number. We all need foot massages, I imagine.

Band I Wanted To See And Didn't:  Peter Bjorn And John. It wasn't gonna happen. Sigh.

Best Afterhours: PureVolume loft. Vodka and Redbull at 1 AM is necessary. So is Nintendo Wii.

Best Band I Didn't Expect To Like: Matt & Kim. All the blog buzz in NYC really turned me off, but they turned out to be a totally fun and awesome band. Matt cracked me up with his in between banter, and the crowd there was having a pretty good time. So sometimes hipsters are right. Who knew?

Best In-Between Banter: Although Matt was funny, nothing will top Malajube. This band put on one of the best shows of the week, and I had never laughed so hard at a show before in my life. First they called everyone "Irish Vegans" (it was St. Patrick’s Day and we were at the Brooklyn Vegan Showcase) and then they called out two kids for smoking pot. "This one is for you slackers." Maybe it was their French accents, but I loved them that much more.

Scariest Moment: Checking out Amy Winehouse's cool tattoos and then realizing she had intense scratches all up and down her arms. It looked like a cat attacked her, but I'm sure that's not the case. For such a talent, she really needs to get some things sorted out. It'd be a shame if she doesn't.

Band I Saw But Shouldn't Have: Badly Drawn Boy. Zzzzzzz.

Best Dressed: Datarock. I want a red jumpsuit. Like now. (Oh and "I Had The Time Of My Life" to close out their set? Genius)

Weirdest Moment: Seeing Golum wish everyone a Mazel-Tov and watching a hora ensue. I felt as though I walked into some hipster bar miztvah. Crazy.

Best Cover: White Rabbits covering The Pogues' "The Old Main Drag" on St. Paddy's day. The frat boys loved it, and I was too. Success!

Band I Didn't Expect To See But Did Twice: The Fratellis. Although both were acoustic sets, they were great. Shows just how good these boys are at songwriting. Wish I could have seen them perform with Pete Townsend, but oh well.

Cutest Girl Band: The Pipettes. Seriously, every boy I was with swooned. I wanted their outfits. A win-win.

Cutest Boy Band: Kristoffer. Mmmm. Swedish Boy with sunglasses and a guitar. Really can't get any better than that.

Thoughts for Next Year: Get a hotel closer. Save more money.

The end.


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