So last week I went to SXSW. I saw lots and lots and lots of bands. I wish I could have seen more! I've been wanting to leave some notes on the shows I saw here, but alas... I'm a very, very busy girl these days. But never fear! My memories are still here...
Bluebottle Kiss - a band out of Australia who were scheduled to play with the Twilight Singers on Saturday the 11th at a little club in Glendale called the Scene, but didn't make it because of mechanical issues with their plane. They were really bummed, because they LOVE Greg Dulli. In Oz, they have 5 albums out and an 11 year career which has earned them much praise and recognition, but no one knows shit about them here. Well, they're good, especially if you like that dark, twangy somewhat threatening style of Aussie rock. Which I do. And the singer is cute. Bonus! (Nick Cave & Triffids fans, check 'em out.)
The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Sorta like Ministry "Burning Inside" era. I'm sort of done with that, but a bunch of black haired girls with lip rings were not.
The Rakes - BY FAR, the funnest show I saw. I Heart Nerds. These guys were BIG nerds. Skinny as a rail (or rather, rakes) all of 'em, in preppy clothes with that oh-so-British humor, they put on a great show with lots of energy and personality. The music sounded great and they were tight tight tight.
Echo & the Bunnymen - Ian McCullogh sounds great even when he's rambling nonsense, doesn't he? "Killing Moon" performed in a heavy drizzle was wonderful cinematically. My hair did suffer, though.
The Go! Team - She is one little bouncy girl. Not all the songs translate so well, but "Ladyflash" was wonderful. Got to check them out at the wonderful Waterloo Records, which was a mini dance party USA that afternoon.
Metric - She thinks she's all that, but she's not.
Elefant - That lead singer is disturbingly hot. Turns out he's also suave. When I told him he looked alot like my little brother, he immediately threw his arms out and said, "Sister!" and kissed both my cheeks, Euro-style. It was almost creepy. Ole Diego had broken his foot earlier in the week falling off a stage in Philly, but still put on a great show. Very brooding and engaging.
DeVotchka - This show was absolutely magical... They played outside on a patio, a guitar, drums (sometimes), horns, and a tuba coverd in red lights. The stage was built around a tree, which could probably cause some interference for most bands but lent itself to the mystique of this one, which sounds like a spaghetti western in Russia with a Thom Yorke-ish vocalist singing in falsetto half the time. It was like gypsy indie music, and brought to life under the stars in the desert of Texas was absolutely the way to see it.
Translator - Yea, that band from the 80's that sang "Everywhere That I'm Not." THEY ROCKED! Seriously. They really rocked. I know the lead singer, and he was kind enough to dedicate "Necessary Spinning" to me before I had to bolt to the next show...
Twilight Singers - I ran over from one show to get in line for this one, and wouldn't you know it, THIS WAS THE ONLY LINE I WAITED IN ALL WEEKEND. As I'm lucky enough to consider Mr. Dulli to be a dear friend, it was pretty ironic that many of the songs I've had the fortunate opportunity to listen to while sitting on his couch I now had to enjoy blasting out of the windows of a bar. The stage was set up against the street, with windows open wide so many fans watched the band from behind, occasionally giving drummer Bobby MacIntyre a hand when his cymbals would tip off the stage. I got in for the last 20 minutes of the set, and what a great 20 minutes it was!
Magnet - It's just one guy. With a lap steel guitar with a whole lot of effects pedals. And it was dreamy and beautiful and absolutely mesmerizing...
Earlimart - More dreamy pop, tons of the new stuff, catchy and rockin' and fun.
The Elected - Really surprised me, as I'm not so into this band. They rocked it hard though, and put on a great show, which won me over. And Blake played this neat guitar that kinda looked like an ice cream cone.
Twilight Singers (yea, again) - The Fader Party at the Levi's Trading Post, to which I almost didn't get in because of a list snafu, but I got in. This time, I got to be upfront and center as the Twilight Singers let loose about a half hour of sultry rock and thoroughly wowed the crowd. Those boys know how to work it, that's for damn sure! (Afterwards, we all wandered off to watch some basketball at Louie's - March Madness, yo!)
Mary Lou Lord - She traditionally busks at 6th and Congress every year, something she used to do with Elliott Smith and continues to do on her own. There was some concern as to her voice (she suffers from a degenerative vocal chord condition) but it sounded great and she seemed to have a handle on it; not once did she involuntarily go mute. She was sweet the whole time.
Rogue Wave - Beautiful, dreamy pop. How do they translate it live so well?
The Subways - I didn't want to like them, but I did. They had a lot of charm and presence, and put on a great live act. It's easy to get into a band when they are so excited about what they are doing, as these kids certainly were.
Snow Patrol - an acoustic show, which just made their songs that much more dreamy.
The Morning 40 Federation - a buncha sleazy drunks doing jazzy burlesque from N'Awlins; it just made me want to hang out in a strip bar and do shots. Rock on!
The Stills - The cute one didn't sing enough.
Towers of London - I could not figure out if these guys were kidding or not (but I think they were). The sloppy snotty bubblegum punk of Generation X mixed with the bravado and strut of early Motley Crue, lots of crowd taunting and a hot hot HOT guitar player (if you were into Nikki Sixx before he died that one time)... Well, I found myself banging my head (sorta, if occasionally to avoid the water being spit offstage by the singer) and enjoying myself immensely.
Lady Sovereign - She was sassy as hell. Some of her new stuff was great, some of it was a bit hokey... so we'll see what she & Jay-Z come up with.
The Bats - The Bats! The motherfuckin' Bats! I saw them back in '93 (and I guess that was the last time they were in the States) and they sounded just as great this time. Surging yet wistful pop, the Bats remain one of the most distinctive of the late 80's / early 90's indie pop and a standout in that era's Flying Nun New Zealand invasion. They did "Block of Wood!" They did "Boogey Man!" They ended with "North By North!" I didn't think anything could make me bounce up and down on my weary feet at 2am on the last night of SXSW in the rain, but the Bats did.
I guess the only other thing potentially of note was that we saw Wayne of the Flaming Lips rolling down 6th Street in his big plastic bubble, which got people all excited. But come on, that was SO 2004...