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Friday, March 17th, 2006

SxSW XX II

Day two. No point in messing about, let’s get right into it. And I’m writing most of this at 4AM, so if it’s incoherent or just bad, blame my dogs, for they are barking loudly and it’s hard to concentrate. That’s a metaphor, by the by. I don’t actually have any dogs and if I did, I wouldn’t have brought them with me.

The Walls (Dublin, Ireland) @ BD Riley’s Irish Pub – Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, so why not start off with a little Irish music? The Walls have that jangly, lightly anthemic sound that is so distinctvely Irish. Heavy enough to rock out, yet genial enough to take home to mom. I think it’s the accents – it makes everything sound that much more pleasant.

Gemma Hayes (Dublin, Ireland) @ BD Riley’s Irish Pub – Ah Gemma Gemma Gemma. Even with just a four-song acoustic set, Ms Hayes was able to beguile everyone within earshot with her lovely, honeyed voice. Le sigh. I may not be able to catch any of her other shows this week, so this brief bit of goodness will have to last me.

The Hidden Cameras (Toronto, ON) @ Emo’s – The Hidden Cameras had been foiled in their attempts to make SxSW a couple years ago (or was it last year?) when Joel Gibb was held up at the border, so this was their grand Texas debut. And it’s about time, because everyone knows Texans go nuts for songs about peeing and gay love. But even though the crowd was initially a little small, it was immediately enthusiastic and only grew as they played on. It’s interesting to see an act that’s so beloved at home trying to win over a new audience. I think it was working.

Monsters Are Waiting (Los Angeles, CA) @ The Taproom – Took a flyer on this one after hearing the one track posted on the SxSW site. They’re a new wave-ish act with a sexy, quirky singer who almost certainly spent some time in drama school. Or at least I hope that’s her excuse. Some good tunes and interesting stage presence.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (Bloomfield, NJ) – All hail Ted Leo, closing out the South By Stereogum party. El Ted performed a blazing set of classic material peppered with some new tunes from his forthcoming album. Ted always brings it and this was no exception. A rock-tacular way to close out the daylight portion of the itinerary.

Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s (Indianapolis, IN) @ Nuno’s Upstairs – While I mentioned a little while ago that I liked their debut album and was curious to see them live, I didn’t expect to be blown away as I was by this 8-piece last night. Live, they possess and edge and energy that is only hinted at on the record, bringing some beautifully focused chaos to the songs. And as a bonus, I got to see my first guitar smashed onstage – somehow the headstock got snapped off the bass, and if there’s a cardinal rule to showmanship, it’s to never pass up an opportunity to smash an instrument. Smash it good! Margot good. Very good.

Film School (San Francisco, CA) @ Club DeVille – Coming off probably their worst week ever as a band (their gear was all stolen last week by a very determined thief), Film School was surely ready to work out some frustration. And they did so by creating some very convincing and hypnotic walls of sound to punctuate their moody, atmospheric rock. The people at the Beggar’s showcase were very impressed.

The Rogers Sisters (Brooklyn, NY) @ Club DeVille – There’s no doubt this trio is from New York. Their lightly abrasive post-punk with just a dash of pop sweetness could have come from no other place, at least not in today’s musical climate. I only caught them because I was too lazy to walk back across downtown to see the showcase I’d intended to catch, and it’s too bad because on this night, The Rogers Sisters were not doing it for me.

Some By Sea (Seattle, WA) @ Redrum – There is a definite Pacific Northwest sound these days, and we have Death Cab to thank for creating it. Some By Sea trade in similar wide-eyed, wistful indie-pop but the excellent arrangements adding keys, lap steel and cello to their sound help Some By Sea stand out from the crowd.

Jake Brennan & The Confidence Men (Boston, MA) @ The Continental Club – When you’re sequestered away in the indie world, sometimes you forget what it’s like to see a good, tight, no frills rock’n’roll band in action. Showing up early to the Continental Club served me that reminder as this outfit was kicking ass and taking names. Nothing fancy, nothing gimmicky, just the rock. Respect.

The Minus 5 (Seattle, WA) @ The Continental Club – The Minus 5 are well known for their revolving door of collaborators and their SxSW showcase was no different. With their regular guitarist called away on a family emergency, Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck and Bill Rieflin had a string of impressive guitar talent lend a hand. There was McCaughey’s guitarist from The Young Fresh Fellows (name unknown to me), Andrew Rieger of Elf Power, Steve Wynn and Leroy Bach, ex of Wilco. And Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger/The Long Winters was also along to contribute backing vocals. Neko Case was also in the house but, alas, did not get up and play with them. Or at least not while I was there. I had to bail at 2AM on account of falling down and dying.

Pitchfork is offering dispatches from Austin, Popmatters recaps their Wednesday (two writers!) and The National Post reports back on some Canadian acts at the festival.

And for the non-SxSW portion of today’s post: Dungen are at Lee’s Palace on June 6. And Drive-By Truckers, who I totally could have seen yesterday if they’d only posted set times, discuss A Blessing And A Curse with Ireland.com (Via Largehearted Boy). Oh, I guess that was still sort of tangentially SxSW related. Alas. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

That is all.

np – Young & Sexy / Panic Where You Find It

By : Frank Yang at 10:27 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. danieljosef says:

    I’m glad to hear that Some By Sea were good live, I’ve been crushing on their album hardcore and hope to catch them if they tour through Toronto.

  2. Glenn says:

    I’ve been enjoying the Margot/Nuclear album. Even though my guess was they’re more of a live band, there’s a really good energy on the recorded stuff. Glad to hear they’re all that and more.

    And by the way, Frank, you’re the only one of my regular blog reads that’s actually posting about SXSW while you’re there. It’s pitiful. (Nobody has a laptop? Nobody can find an Internet cafe?) So congratulations for the effort. I wish other bloggers were as dedicated.

  3. travis says:

    hooray for some by sea! Glad to hear that their show went well.

  4. woj says:

    i caught gemma earlier this week at the mercury lounge in nyc. she was pretty good, though a bit more polished than i expected. i had no idea that she had released a second record which apparently mirrors the more produced direction the new songs she played live indicated her having gone. i did record the show and can sling you a copy if you’re interested.

  5. david says:

    Thanks, Frank for the show notes. I dug out the Margot album this morning after reading your post, I’m looking forward to seeing them live.

  6. Paul says:

    Too bad the Rogers Sisters didn’t do much for you. I’ve had the new album on semi-constant rotation for a month and it makes my balls do a jig.

  7. Rachel says:

    What? No scathing commentary on the New Pornographers? That’s okay. Good to see you if only for an hour or so.

  8. Karl says:

    The YFFs guitarist would be Kurt Bloch (also from the Fastbacks), though the first guitarist was Chuck Caroll. BTW, in their day, the YFFs were a fantastic live band.