Wednesday, March 14th, 2007
SxSW XXI Preview
So today it begins. Four days of glorious weather (though not the case yesterday, as it was pouring rain all day), foodstuffs cooked over open fire pits and round the clock rock’n’roll. The trip in was mostly uneventful – I actually slept pretty much every minute that I wasn’t required to actually be boarding or disembarking a plane. The past week/month/whatever has picked a fine time to catch up with me but last night’s 10 hours of sleep should go a looooong way. Be surprised if I get that much over the next four nights (okay, probably an overstatement but not by too much). My hotel room is interesting – it’s designed for wheelchair access so there’s a handy ramp from the the parking lot to my door and the washroom can accommodate the turning radius of a Buick Roadmaster. And there’s an IHOP outside my window.
But now I’m wide awake, its morning and I have a working cellphone (yay!). A man, a plan, a canal. Putting together my tentative game plan was a lot easier this year than in the past thanks to my obligations to the various day shows I’m helping present. Can’t very well not show up to my own parties. Thankfully the lineups are by and large solid so I won’t feel the urge to slip out the back door and check out someone else’s show (not too much, anyway). But if you’re curious, looking to find me or just living vicariously through me (not nearly what it’s cracked up to be, trust me), here’s the what where and when of the next few days.
Today I’ll mainly be at the Mohawk for the Austinist/Gothamist/GvsB show, mainly to catch Headlights and Loney, Dear but happy to catch Nicole Atkins, The Hourly Radio and Sparrow House while I’m there. This presumes, of course, that I get my wristband situation sorted out in the early afternoon and am not running frantically around downtown Austin looking for scalpers.
In the evening, after filling up at the annual Horseshoe BBQ, it’s off to Emo’s for the big Beggars/4AD showcases. The UK’s iLikeTrains are pretty much the only thing on at 8 so they’ll get the nod there, and then it’s ex-Delgado Emma Pollock showcasing material from her debut solo record. It’ll be a coin toss between seeing Beirut outside or The Early Years inside but no question about hustling over to the Parish at 11:30 for San Fran’s Minipop. We’ll see how long I stay there because at midnight Courtney Tidwell is at the Ale House and then… well I’m not sure since Daylight’s For The Birds has canceled their show at the last minute. Boo! Not a lot of other options so if I don’t turn in early, I’ll probably stay at the Ale House to see France’s Cyann & Ben.
Thursday’s the day of the Spaceland/LiveDaily jag I’m co-presenting at Antone’s, so my stomping grounds will be limited to the west end of downtown for the most part. Hoping I’ll be there in time to catch at least some of Monsters Are Waiting’s noontime set but am not optimistic. But I’ll definitely be seeing Dirty On Purpose, Annuals and Blonde Redhead and I’ve heard good things about Datarock. That’ll most likely do it for the day, and then it’s foraging for grub before night falls.
But when it does fall, I will be safely ensconced in the Central Presbyterian Church at 7:30 to see Shearwater play. With luck I’ll be able to squeeze in some of The Besnard Lakes at the Mohawk before zipping to The Ale House for Joan As Police Woman at 9. I hear Cloud Cult is the act to see at 10 – they’re at Emo’s – and then at 11, David Vandervelde has the inside track on my attention though I could be easily distracted by a shiny object. Or maybe I’ll just get in line for Bloc Party’s midnight set at Stubb’s. Apparently that’s a 3000-capacity venue so I’m hopeful that I’ll get in eventually. My optimism is somewhat less so for Okkervil River’s 12:45AM show at the Mohawk – if my two-hour wait to see them last year is any indication I’m not getting in, so as a 1AM fallback I’ve got either The Rumble Strips at the Rio or The Hot Puppies at BD Riley’s.
Friday equals Hot Freaks day one, so that’s me at the DeVille/Mohawk complex bright and early. I expect to be running around from stage to stage all day, but will definitely be taking in Small Sins, The Black Lips, Apostle Of Hustle, Imperial Teen, Midnight Movies and again, Shearwater. There may also be some sneaking out to see The Pipettes and Elvis Perkins elsewhere, but not for certain.
I’m hoping to start off Friday night at Exodus where Nellie McKay is slated to perform at 7:45. She won’t come to Canada because some of us club baby seals, but she’s no problem performing in the BBQ capital of the world. Okay. 9:00 means Buffalo Tom at The Parish and I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to see them live, something I thought I’d never get to do. Then it’s Via Audio at Club DeVille at 10 and Bon Savants at Buffalo Billiards at midnight. In an ideal world, I’d catch some of Bedroom Walls’ 11:20 set but Club One 15 is a bit of a hike from the other venues and I don’t think it’s going to happen. Then I intend to finish off the night on Maggie Mae’s Rooftop with the UK’s Electric Soft Parade.
For Hot Freaks: The Morning After, we’ve got the wonderful Broken West making 11AM a good time for Mohawk rock and Toronto’s Hylozoists offering a vibraphonic counterpoint at Club DeVille. Other hot and freaky must-sees are The Early Years, Land Of Talk, Asobi Seksu, The Rosebuds, Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s and many, many more. And if you haven’t guessed who our super-secret headliner is, you probably haven’t tried very hard.
Saturday night doesn’t offer the dizzying array of choices the previous nights did, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to fill up the sched. Locked in at 8PM are Scots My Latest Novel at Buffalo Billiards, whom I skipped some four or five times this past weekend in Toronto at Canadian Music Week. Then it’s Austin’s Lovely Sparrows at the Mohawk – I hear they’re lovely – and then possibly Tilly & The Wall at Beauty Bar. Partly because there’s not much else going on at 10 and partly to already be inside at 11 to catch The Pipettes, assuming I haven’t seen one of their dozen or so other appearances this week. And then, finally and at last, I’ll zip across town to Antone’s to see The Tragically Hip try for the umpteenth time to impress America.
And that’s all she wrote. The preceding has been geographically optimized – some artists I would have otherwise have liked to see were omitted if they were playing a venue clear across town from where I was going to be. So assuming reasonable lineups – and I’m only hitting a handful of what you’d call “hot” shows – I think the above is doable. I hope. But if not, there’s contingencies in place. I think this is going to happen. I can feel it in my bones. Yessir. But hey – if there’s something you think I should see (and you don’t work for a label/PR company/whatever), lemme know. I’m open. Pitchfork has their picks for the week but they’re rather the usual suspects so not that useful to me.
Trying to keep up with all the press surrounding artists playing the fest will be an exercise in futility so I’m not even going to try. These, however, are some that I’ve already saved down so I may as well get them out there.
Paste names Cortney Tidwell their artist of the week, Salt Lake Weekly talks to Malajube, PopMatters has an interview with Loney, Dear, Harp talks to Elvis Perkins, Uberdrivel interviewed Emma Pollock and The Austin Chronicle and Austinist have a slew of capsule interviews with, like, everyone.
And this Rolling Stone piece wondering aloud if SxSW has sold out or not makes me laugh, though I can’t figure out if it’s because RS is pretty much the last entity that should be calling out ANYONE’S integrity or because the writer seems to have such a hate-on for KC & The Sunshine Band. This Harp piece tearing the once-mighty tabloid is also a fun read.
Okay, that’s it. Once more unto the breach. And by breach, I mean breakfast tacos.