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Tag: SXSW Festival (31-40 of 50)

SXSW Friday: Kings of Leon Will Make Beer Irrelevant

Leon_lHowdy from Austin, where it is not only the last (full) day of SXSW, but also Saturday, and also St. Patrick’s Day. These factors together have combined to create lines the likes of which this reporter has never seen, and sightlines so abysmal I might as well be watching from Dallas. (Hello, the Walkmen! You sound good from the end of this hallway!) But if I’ve never said this before, now is the time: God bless Beerland, where I’ve walked in and grabbed not only a barstool, but all the free wireless a girl could ask for, and a punk hoedown courtesy of the Goodnight Loving. If I sit here until 5:30, I get to see the Black Lips, who are high on my list of band cravings. Beerland, you are a friend to me.

Also a friend to me: The Kings of Leon, whose skinny legs rocked Stubb’s yesterday afternoon with the best set I’ve seen at this festival. Caleb Followill and his band of brothers tore into a sweaty, PBR-filled crowd with a vengeance that grew as the afternoon wore on and more and more people abandoned their beer in favor of jumping up and down. "I thought this was gonna be a s—ty crowd," Caleb said about halfway through, "but I was wrong." They closed with "Slow Night, So Long," and it seemed way too soon. I wanted more, more, more! I didn’t want to have to give my heart to another band right away! That’s the hardest part about this stupid festival: Just as you’re getting into something, the set ends, and you walk to or run to or stand in line for something else, and you never get to savor anything. It’s like wolfing down your barbecue, something else I’ve done plenty of lately. Damn unsatisfying.

In general, SXSW Friday could claim to be the day where everything reached a fevered pitch. You were in my pocket for all of it, PopWatchers, so won’t you come along now and see what you saw?


SXSW: Iggy Speaks!

Stooges_lJust got out of the Iggy Pop panel, where the punk-rock icon was interviewed along with Ron and Scott Asheton, his cohorts among the legendary proto-punk firebrands the Stooges. The group reunited recently after more than three decades of silence — "We needed a break," guitarist Ron quipped — and they are here in Austin to support their comeback disc, The Weirdness, just released a couple weeks ago. Somehow, despite years of self-inflicted abuse, Iggy (center, photographed late last year with Ron, right, and Scott) seems preserved in amber; wearing a white wife-beater, he looked like a happy-go-lucky surfer dude, complete with streaky blonde hair and those famously wiry and tan muscled arms of his. Over a 75-minute conversation, the trio covered a long list of topics, including why they never received much commercial success and the genesis of some of their greatest songs. It’s too much to detail in one blog post, but here are a few highlights:

• To promote one of their albums,  Elektra records sent Iggy to go visit the  "very horny editor" (Iggy’s words) of a teenybopper magazine at her apartment. "They wanted to see if we hit it off." Iggy said. Long pause. "I was on the cover."

• The band’s garage-soul favorite "No Fun" was inspired by three songs. The "no no no" line from the Rolling Stones "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction," the Beach Boys’ frequent use of the word "fun," and the structure of Johnny Cash’s "I Walk the Line." Not sure if I get it, but it worked.

• The Stooges loved all the critical trashing their albums received when they were released. "Bad reviews are better," said Ron Asheton. "It’s like, come see the circus freaks!" Iggy added his own bit of peculiar wisdom: "What passes for intelligent generally isn’t."

• Iggy’s first attempts at writing and recording music were pretty hippy-dippy. "I was a flower child, wearing beads and a Hindu-style moustache," he recalled. "And I sat in my bedroom writing a rock opera about little mouse in a bucolic world." We’re glad he outgrew that phase.

addCredit(“Stooges: Robert Matheu / Retna”)

SXSW: MuteMath, Amy Winehouse, and more

Mutemath_lWhat’s up with the lines, people?! Everywhere I went on this second day of my tenth South by Southwest, I saw frustrated badge holders doing their best to demonstrate that patience is, indeed, a virtue. Is the number of registrants just so astronomically large this year? Is there a shortage of venues? There certainly seems to be in the parking department.

This is, of course, nothing new to SXSW. The one consistent complaint about the festival in the last few years is that there are too many bands overlapping and competing for too few time slots. Add to that the dozens of unofficial parties going on at any given moment, and you’d need to clone yourself three times to catch a fraction of the bands you’d like to see. What ends up happening, as many local Austinites know, is that the folks who can’t get in simply watch from the street. And those crowds are sometimes as large as the ones inside. So here’s a view from the outside in of who had the longest queue on day two…


SXSW: Ben Jelen, Apostle of Hustle, and more

Ben_lBit of a late start this morning, PopWatchers, and for that I apologize, but I stayed up way too late at the Blender after-hours party, drinking something that may have contained too much vodka and being lulled into a dancing coma by a group of Swedes. Yes, Peter Bjorn & John may be overhyped, but they’re hard to resist after a long, hot day in the sun, especially once they start whistling. So even though two fratty types in front of me declared them to be "s—" and headed for the door, I stayed until the bitter end, and poured myself into bed with way too much music ringing in my ears. (Our Flickr page has a complete record.)

So now it’s about 1 p.m., and I’m sitting in the backyard of Stubb’s, where it has once again gone cloudy and cool, and Ben Jelen (pictured) is onstage kicking off the Spin magazine party. (He’s quite good, BTW, and deserves a larger audience than the 20 or so people standing tentatively in the middle of the yard.) This will take us through the rest of the afternoon, culminating in performances from Kings of Leon and the Buzzcocks. It’s also rumored that my close friend Pete Townshend will be making a guest appearance with the Fratellis, but I’ll believe that when I see it. If I learned anything yesterday, it’s that one should be very careful not to believe everything you hear in this town.


SXSW: Nightwatchman patrols after hours with celebrity pals

Morello_lHave you ever heard Slash, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave), Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) and Wayne Kramer (MC5) jam together on a revved-up version of Woody Guthrie’s "This Land is Your Land"?  Neither had I until I slipped into the after-Midnight gig by Morello (pictured), a.k.a. the Nightwatchman, his acoustic, folky, political alter-ego. Leading up to the April 24 release of  his One Man Revolution album, Morello has been playing a bunch of freewheeling solo gigs, with famous guests and drop- in cameos. His gig at the Parish club on Thursday night in Austin was no different.

I’m still kicking myself for missing the beginning — I just had to have a slice of pizza — but word is that show opened with the whole gang taking one of Farrell’s classic Jane’s Addiction songs (not sure which one, sadly.). When I walked in, Morello had moved onto his solo tunes, which evoke Muddy Waters and Van Morrison. Rumors of a Rage-reunion at SXSW did not come true, though Morello did play his old band’s "Guerilla Radio" as Dylan-style harmonica-and-acoustic tune. From there, it became a kind of absurd game of rock ‘n’ roll musical chairs. U.K. neo-folkie Alexi Murdoch stopped in to play one of his contemplative tunes; everybody piled on stage for a sloppy run through the MC5’s riot-starting classic, "Kick Out the Jams"; and then the evening ended with a punky take on "This Land Is Your Land," with the totally inappropriate yet completely awesome Slash solo tacked on the end.

In the middle of this chaotic mess was Morello, who, after being just-the-guitarist for so many years, is coming into his own as a frontman. He’s got a booming, espresso-rich voice, a nice way with traditional Americana, and most of all, a genial, funny, stage presence that makes a big club feel like a small living room. "Have a nice weekend," he ended the show, "But you won’t top that s—!" He might have been right.

addCredit(“Tom Morello: Sean Ricigliano”)

SXSW: Fratellis and Elvis and Tokyo Police Club, oh my!

After days of stormy weather, Austin heated up Thursday in more ways than one: The first official day of the SXSW festival was a scorcher, Fahrenheit-wise, and so was the daytime rock. Tokyo Police Club, the Ontario teens who look like cub scouts and sound like sexy delinquents, put on an exuberant, high-speed set at Emo’s mid-afternoon, churning out angular should-be singles like "Nature of the Experiment" and "Citizens Demo."

Across the way at Emo’s Annex, singer-songwriter Elvis Perkins played a kinder, gentler set, serenading a hushed, respectful crowd with tracks like "May Day" and "While You Were Sleeping" from his recent XL Records debut, Ash Wednesday. Caught afterwards, he confessed that though the infamous Austin hot springs were his number-one dream destination at the festival, he would more likely catch sets from friends in Cold War Kids, Okkervill River, Ghostland Observatory, and Patrick Watson, as well as Pete Townshend’s much-hyped late-night appearance.

Perhaps the most fun discovery so far, Brazilian party-makers Bonde do Role, set the Fader House attendees churning with their playful, DJ-assisted anarchy, pulling samples from Alice in Chains’ "Man in a Box" to make cranked-up call-and-response club jams.


SXSW: Emmylou, Elvis Perkins, and more

Emmylou_lHowdy, PopWatchers! (Yes, I’m gonna keep saying "howdy." I’m from Texas and can do whatever I want.) I am happily ensconced in a corner of the Driskill Hotel ballroom, where a celebration of the silky-voiced Emmylou Harris (pictured) is currently taking place. I am happy for two reasons: First, it is air-conditioned. (The sun has come out with a vengeance, making all the hoodied hipsters quite sweaty.) And second, I can’t think of any artists whose body of work has pleased me more consistently over the past couple decades.

And I’m not alone: This party — featuring performances from Allison Moorer, the Watson Twins, Charlie Louvin and more– is to honor her 15 million records sold, and the box set that’s coming out later this year. That 15 million could probably be upgraded a great deal if you take into account the artists she’s harmonized with over the years: Bob Dylan, Patty Griffin, and Elvis Costello jump to mind, and, of course, her longtime musical partner and occasionally wayward dead body Gram Parsons. Again, I’m not being tasteless. That’s just true.


SXSW: Razorlight, the Bravery, and our new brunchtime pal, Stoney

Stoney_lIt’s 11:15 a.m., and I’m sitting at Austin’s Tequila Mockingbird Studios, where Nic Harcourt, the voice of KCRW’s splendid alternative music radio show Morning Becomes Eclectic is holding court during SXSW (the show usually tapes out in Cali). This morning’s guest is a young British musician named Stoney, who’s making his stateside debut on the today’s broadcast and is currently soundchecking on the other side of the studio glass. I’m gonna listen in while I write about what I saw last night, and try to make this into some sort of really splendid pastiche of liveblogging and passionate memories. Or something. I’ll probably end up posting this mid- or after-show, so I guess it’s technically not live. But here’s an idea: If you missed the broadcast, it’s available in the KCRW archives.

addCredit(“Stoney: Meg Griffiths”)


SXSW on Flickr

Hey kids, just a quick note from morning 2 of SXSW to say that I’ve put some pics of the first night’s shows — and Pete Townshend’s keynote address — up on our Flickr page. Check ‘em out! My digital camera is the bestest!

Now I’m off to watch a live broadcast of KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, and will check in from there with the scoop on last night’s performances from Razorlight and the Bravery. Glad to see Endelman got the Lily Allen vs. NME spat on the blog this morning. I’ll admit, it was a bit odd.

Ugh. I need a breakfast burrito.

SXSW: Lily Allen vs. 'NME'

Lily_lThe first night of SXSW is a relatively slow one. There aren’t that many MUST see shows, everyone is yawning from their early flights, and Austin’s 6th Street just smells like only beer… not beer, piss, and garbage. By the time I got my badge, ate two tacos, and drank a margarita, I only had the energy for a short night. I wandered easily into the giant outdoor Stubb’s for the NME and Zune-sponsored Brit-centric line up.Catching only the last notes of Wales’ the Automatic, I grabbed a Miller Lite and prepared to be blown away by young English lad Jamie T, a next-big-thing signed to Virgin UK who I’d been told by a friend was the "one musician I am most excited about see this year at SXSW." His sloppy, shambolic set of punky-reggae free-associations sounded like 2nd-gen Arctic Monkeys to me, but why don’t you just hear it for yourself?

Next up was chirpy and cheeky London pop-reggae songbird Lily Allen, who looked adorable (green babydoll dress and ’50s hairdo), sounded better (her voice might be better live than on the album), and admitted very early on, "I’m a bit drunk. I’ve been drinking on my bus for hours." You couldn’t tell from the music — which was spot on — but her stage patter sounded like soused trash talk. "F— the NME!" she said, referring to the UK tastemaking magazine that was sponsoring the show. "If I had known it was their gig, I wouldn’t have done it!" (She also called the mag a raunchy British colloquialism that can’t be repeated here, but it rhymes with "blunts.") The gig then pretty much continued as usual until she introduced the last song — the funhouse ode to her stoner sibling "Alfie" — and she called the NME a few more nasty names and then strode offstage. Maybe some PopWatch readers can fill me in, what did the NME do to Ms. Allen?

UPDATE: Reader Mandy describes the details of the dispute in her comment below. Here’s Lily Allen’s blog post outlining her beef with NME.

addCredit(“Lily Allen: Daniel Boud/Retna“)

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