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Tag: SXSW Festival (41-50 of 50)

SXSW: Pete Townshend gives good keynote

Pete_lIt is 6:27 p.m., and the Grand Ballroom of the Austin Hilton is packed with folks in black t-shirts, muddy sneakers, and green SXSW badges, all waiting in eager anticipation for Pete Townshend’s keynote address. We do not yet know what he will be talking about, but there is a clue on our chairs, in the form of a piece of paper titled, simply, THE METHOD. It reads, "Today, as part of his Keynote Address at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, Pete Townshend is announcing the Method. After more than 25 years of patient research, Pete is launching the website he first described in the science fiction story behind the Who’s legendary Who’s Next album of 1971. The Method — designed by Lawrence Ball — offers subscribers the opportunity to create their own unique musical composition by "sitting" for the Method software composer, just as you would sit for a painter making your portrait." Etc.

Now, aside from the obvious implication that Pete Townshend predicted the Internet, I’m not sure what that means. But I’m certain we’ll soon find out, and you’ll be the first to hear about it, PopWatchers. And you will be excited.

addCredit(“Pete Townshend: Andrew Marks / Retna”)


Howdy from SXSW!

Greetings from the streets of Austin, PopWatchers! It is a horrid, drizzly day, but if there’s one group of people who know how to plan for inclement weather, it’s Canadians… and so I’d like to thank the organizers of the Canadian Blast for providing me this wonderful tent to sit under and drop a line to all my bloggy friends.

BREAKING NEWS: My mother has just called to inform me that Rascal Flatts canceled their concert at tonight’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I do not know any further details, but if I were a bettin’ gal, I’d say Gary and Jay’s pretty severe illnesses finally caught up with them, and I wish them, sincerely, a speedy recovery. Sympathies to anyone who had tix; why not use your raincheck to catch Dierks Bentley on Friday night?

Anyway, I think I’m the first EW reporter to hit Austin — Michael Endelman, Leah Greenblatt, and Shirley Halperin are on their way, and EW.com editor Adrienne Day is someplace prepping to play flute (we’ll let her explain that if she wants to) — and my journey in from Houston involved significantly more hail than I’d like it to. But after stopping at two gas stations and a Taco Bell to let the blinding storm pass, the family Saturn and I arrived in the state capital and got down to business. It took me an (almost) painless 45 minutes to get my credentials, but my badge and I are ready to go.


Oprah passes the mic to the Refugee All-Stars

9947__vanessa_lIf you missed Oprah yesterday, Leonardo DiCaprio and Dijmon Hounsou were on to promote Blood Diamond, a new drama about the diamond industry in Sierra Leone. But the real gems of the show were the members of the Refugee All-Stars band. At SXSW earlier this year, as all of the Pitchfork-heads were trying to get some Editors and Art Brut action, I was lucky enough to stumble onto the All-Stars. I saw a documentary at the festival, also called The Refugee All-Stars, which tells their story of living in strife in Guinea after being run out of their native Sierra Leone. At the time of this brutal civil war, many of the musicians lived without shelter, many more without food, and all constantly lived in fear of the guerrilla  rebels who hacked off limbs on a whim. For them and those around them, music was one of the only ways to cope. They have since been traveling the world’s film and music festival circuit, promoting their story and music in hopes that it’ll inspire others and, perhaps, give them a little cash along the way.

I got to watch the band perform their soothing yet vibrant reggae, and had the pleasure of meeting them afterward (pictured). What can I say? I was hooked. If you’d like to support the band — after all, this is the season of giving — you can buy their album or make a donation here.

On the Scene at SXSW: Lady Sovereign

9134__lady_lLADY SOVEREIGN One of the most intriguing new artists of 2006 has to be this hilarious British MC. Signed by Jay-Z to Def Jam last fall, the quick-witted troublemaker is rumored to be working with the Beastie Boys, Timbaland, and the Neptunes for her debut U.S. album, due later this year. Looking like a spunky hip-hop cartoon with her black and white track suit, cornrows, and sideways ponytail, Sov rolled through an already-impressive canon of U.K. hits including "Random," "Ch-Ching," and "Tango" (a laugh-out-loud dis directed at girls with fake tans). Joking with the audience ("You fell in the kitchen? Did you fall off the counter?" she asked an enthusiastic fan waving crutches) and flouting Stateside drinking laws, the diminutive rapper possesses more than enough star power to have a chance to be one of the few U.K. rhymers to make a big impact in America. Download songs and videos on the Lady Sov site, AOL or MySpace.

addCredit(“Lady Sovereign: Barry Brecheisen/WireImage.com”)


On the Scene at SXSW: My Chemical Romance, the Subways, Ted Leo

11830__mcr_l MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE Taking a break from recording the follow-up to 2004’s mega-selling Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, these theatrical New Jersey punks ignited the relatively small Austin club Emo’s with a quick set of searing bombast. Hardly in need of extra publicity or a record deal, the group instead graced SXSW to help promote a breast-cancer charity and play on the same bill as their idols, hardcore cult heroes Lifetime. But the show’s philanthropic aims didn’t stop MCR frontman Gerard Way from dropping numerous between-song F-bombs, or the band from charging full-throttle with an arsenal of monster riffs on tracks including "I’m Not Okay (I Promise)," "You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison," and "Helena." As the slobbering faithful chanted "one more song" after the band’s initial exit, MCR returned to unveil a new, partially complete opus. Featuring a "na-na-na" finale that had the crowd instantly singing along, the song suggested an even more pop-friendly future for the rambunctious quintet. Download a live version of "Helena" at Purevolume, listen to several tracks at the MCR MySpace page, or buy their music at iTunes.

(My Chemical Romance: Barry Brecheisen/WireImage.com)


On the Scene at SXSW: Special presentation with Ray Davies

11830__ray_lRay Davies started his day like many of the other SXSW festival-goers standing in the lobby of the Austin Radisson hotel — at noon, bellying up to the in-house Starbucks for a kick start. Five hours later, the grand old Kink would hold court at the Austin Convention Center for a ”special presentation,” a live acoustic set of songs from his new album, Other People’s Lives, mixed with some narration, and the premiere of a home video that chronicles the eight-years-in-the-making solo debut.

The video begins with the legendary British songwriter’s return to the U.S. (his lifelong creative inspiration, he says) to embark upon the journey of his first album independent of his longtime band the Kinks. It follows Davies from New York City (where we get a glimpse of some of the ”other people’s lives” he encounters, including that of a self-professed hermaphrodite who is tweaking his own nipples while walking his ”lesbian” dog along the streets of the Big Apple), a performance tour through the States that commences days after Sept. 11, all the way through to his relocation to New Orleans — where he was ultimately shot during an alleged mugging. It’s uncertain if Davies plans to one day release the video diary in some form or fashion, but if so it would be of interest to diehard Kinks-Davies fans.

When asked by EW during the presentation’s closing Q&A session how he thinks one of his biggest fans, Who leader Pete Townshend, who has often been openly effusive of Davies’ work with the Kinks, might like Other People’s Lives, Davies quipped, ”I don’t think in the time of the literary greats one of them would call up the other and say, ‘I just finished your book, jolly good read.”’ Still, Davies added, ”I hope he likes it.”

(Ray Davies: Barry Brecheisen/WireImage.com)

On the Scene at SXSW: Goldfrapp and Neko Case

101411__goldfrapp_lGOLDFRAPP Wrapped in a hot pink cloak that billowed behind a couple of perfectly positioned fans, the leader of this Über-stylish dance-pop group, Allison Goldfrapp (pictured, with bandmate Will Gregory at the Blender party on Wednesday), looked like she was about to start flying at any moment during her band’s blissful spectacle. Updating Madonna’s ’80s pop trifles with a techno-funk backbeat, these Brits stomped and preened through a sultry set. Propelled by popping synthetic drums, down-low bass, and expert keytar(!), Allison worked the stage like a catwalk in death-defying high-heels, her breathy voice easily seducing an enthusiastic crowd. Goldfrapp struts with style for miles but their precise, body-moving attack grooves confirm the band isn’t just a glorified fashion show. Watch their surreal videos at Mute Records for free or buy their music at iTunes.


On the Scene at SXSW: Secret show with the Beastie Boys

It was supposed to be a surprise, but guessing from the hundreds of people massed outside Stubb’s at 7 p.m. on Thursday, it wasn’t exactly hush-hush. Already in town to promote their new fan-shot concert documentary, Awesome; I F—in’ Shot That!, the Beasties dropped by the outdoor venue for an early-evening run through some classics from their catalog, including “Paul Revere,” "Pass the Mic," and “Brass Monkey.” It wasn’t all a nostalgia trip though: Mixmaster Mike kept it current by mashing in new-school beats — Snoop’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” for example — underneath the decidedly old-school rhymes.

On the Scene at SXSW: Secret show with the Flaming Lips

THE SCENE If only for the awesome stage props — giantmulticolored balloons, streamers, and  colored smoke machines under acircus-like tent — the Flaming Lips‘unannounced show at the Fox & Hound on Wed. was a sweet way to kickoff the first night of South by Southwest. Also, a giddy young couplegot engaged on stage — for real!

THE SHOW The music wasn’t too shabby either. Kickingoff with a surprisingly tight cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” theOklahoma psych-rockers tested out some material from their upcoming AtWar With the Mystics (out April 4), including the freaky metal jam“Free Radicals,” which bodes well for the new disc. To close the 45-minute set, they busted out an impressively fierce version of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs," with a cameo from foul-mouthed female rapper Peaches. “We kept this a secret so all the cool peoplewould show up,” said the Lips’ Wayne Coyne. “And you guys did!” Thanksfor the compliment, Wayne; we think you’re cool too.

On the Scene at SXSW: The Birthday Massacre and more

91330__birthday_lThe first in our series of reports from the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas:

THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE Like many industrial goths beforethem, these eyeliner-friendly Canadians (pictured) embrace crunching power chords, sneeringexpressions, and track titles like "Horror Show." But these ‘Birthday’ boys (andgirl) will not be typecast so easily. Breaking from their genre’s strictcodes, the Massacre showed off broad smiles, jump-aroundexuberance, and a contagious playfulness live. As her male bandmates thrashed andwailed (all while wearing spiffy goth-mobster duds), inky-haired singer Chibiadded sly vulnerability to the devastating thunder with her versatilevocals. Tying it all together were instantly memorable songs and melodies rarelyfound amidst such heavy tones. The walloping synth-fest "Video Kid" justlysummaries this unique brood’s pulverizing pop appeal. Download the track for free atSXSW’s site.

addCredit(“The Birthday Massacre: Ryan Dombal”)


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