Thursday, March 25, 2010
The official advice on www.sxsw.com is telling: "SXSW can be overwhelming to first-timers," it reads. "All the things that make SXSW amazingly informative, fun and unique are also what can make it so daunting."
In two words, true dat. Magnetic music poured from every pore of the city - including tattoo parlours, gas stations and hot dog stands - for days, with as many as 100-plus indie bands playing at once.
Fortunately the Weekly's mission - capturing how local bands seized the only-in-Austin opportunity to be seen by industry playmakers and fans from around the world - helped ease the anxiety of trying to absorb all the everpresent acts at once.
I also shot videos at various venues of local groups, like hip-hoppers Animal Farm with Seaside's Hanif Wondir, otherworldly rockers French Miami, nutzoid-punk-magicians-from-the-fourth-dimension Tornado Rider (including a song where Rushad Eggleston climbed scaffolding and played while dangling upside down - though the shot is a little jerky - I was foolishly shooting stills at the same time) and award-winning Pacific Grove-bred songwriter Matt the Electrician doing a quirky original and a suprisingly money Journey cover.
Click on any of the above or below hyperlinks to see videos of what was captured.
And as the official advice above indicates, there were some other things going on. Street performers were everpresent and inspired (like regular Peninsula string metal outfit Judgment Day), though the scene boiled by an evangelist and a crowd of drunk, shall we say, less-than-devout SXSWsters was even more entertaining. Weird vehicles rolled by. A rickshaw pulled by a guy named Spike delivered us by vigorous foot. Another pedicab blew his chain when I encouraged him to accelerate through the Texas night.
We managed to catch other groups from beyond our fair shores, of course. A couple highlights from Twangfest included KPIG fav Ray Wylie Hubbard and former Violent Femmes' frontman Gordon Gano lead ing his new folky-country-rock group through "Blister in the Sun."
Street Sweeper Social Club - with Boots Riley (formerly of The Coup) and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) - brought their A game, as did many top groups limited by the largess of bands to short sets that drew their best. I liked their covers of LL Cool J and MIA's Slumdog jam best; Morello also dropped a nice little solo while the band bounced around.
And then there was an avalance of bands we'd never heard of but left clubs smitten with after simply hearing them from the streets, like England's Doll and the Kicks and fellow Brits Farfalo.
Reviewing the surreality of the SXSW parallel universe by video reminds me of a text a returning Thornton sent me while I was still in Austin: "Back in the real world," it went. "Not as exciting."