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SXSW 2010 Thank !@#& It’s Over

Submitted by admin on April 8, 2010 – 4:37 pmNo Comment
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'It' Band Local Natives

Another SXSW has come and gone and Austinites can breathe a collective sigh of relief now that balance has been restored to their fair city. iPhones felt the strain, but have been restored to their full potential, and hipsters native to Austin can feel a little less threatened after the mass exodus of global hipsters who temporarily invaded their musical turf.

Ten days of SXSW is enough to make anyone, especially this woman right here, crave normalcy and routine. Though this was my first time attending SXSW Music without press credentials or a wristband of any kind, I found it was generally painless to attend shows I wanted to see. Granted, I wasn’t delusional enough to think I could get into the bigger shows at choice venues, but the smaller events I opted to check out were manageable and affordable, and by affordable, I mean free.  So, I didn’t get to swoon at the adorableness of Zooey Deschanel (but, mark my words, that day will come!) or stand in a ridiculously long queue to see whatever amazing show was playing on any given night at Stubb’s, and I’ve come to terms with these facts.

Instead, I picked a couple of awesome day shows that had a good variety of bands that I had a genuine interest in wanting to learn more about. And, for the sake of transparency, I will admit, ashamedly, that I went into SXSW this year with very little knowledge of noteworthy new acts to check out or any overwhelming desire to see any one musician in particular. I am happy to report that, despite my neglect as a reformed music journalist, I was still surprisingly impressed with a respectable handful of the bands I was fortunate enough to see.

Village Voice Media “The Showdown”

This showcase won on multiple levels – namely because they managed to land Superchunk as one the bands on the lineup. Last year, I got the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing PJ Harvey live, and this year VVM gave me the opportunity  to relive the 90s with Superchunk at La Zona Rosa. Their raw pop-punk performance was so reminiscent of my high school youth that it was hard for me not to visualize the audience as a room full of grungy teens. In my head, everyone was adorned in ripped jeans with plaid button-down shirts around their waists, clunky Dr. Martens and unwashed hair in various shades of Manic Panic while bobbing their heads to the oscillating raucous on stage.

Surfer Blood and The xx were also on the bill and were both apparently on the shortlist of bands to watch.  Surfer Blood’s music is akin to that of Vampire Weekend’s, only a lot less boring; they’re kind of like The Beach Boys on Mad Dog. The xx – well, they aren’t anything you haven’t heard before.  The music is pretty standard indie pop, but on morphine; the tempo of their songs is snail’s-pace slow. If you have the patience to listen to them unravel, you will be rewarded but getting there is a battle.

Under the Radar SXSW 2010 Day Party

After last year’s stellar lineup, (Loney Dear, Mumford & Sons, Camera Obscura and Chairlift) it’s hard to imagine that UTR could pull off yet another great showcase.  Their day party featured my favorite band of SXSW 2010 The Invisible - a UK band without a US label.  The affable trio makes funkified indie music that unfold in the most beautiful and unexpected ways. It’s the first time in a very long time that I’ve been silenced and stunned by truly original melodies.  Sondre Lerche was as adorable and dynamic as ever – bringing an animated but quieter vibe to an otherwise boisterous showcase. The Veils, Plants and Animals, Avi Buffalo and Everything Everything were all equally enjoyable to experience. The UTR day party showcased a number of talented bands that represented a balanced range of subgenres across the indie music spectrum.

Other notable experiences from SXSW:

Local Natives – I’m pretty sure every writer on the planet has covered this band and rather than wax intellectual about the goose bumps these dudes gave me, I’d simply encourage you to check them out for yourself at Mango’s on April 24.

Robert Ellis – I never actually saw Robert perform anywhere in Austin, he would just randomly appear on some corner or in front of some building just chatting away as I meandered towards my intended destination.  He was like my Where’s Waldo of SXSW 2010.

HitRECord.org – This was a really interesting open collaborative media project started by Joseph Gordon Levitt (500 Days of Summer).  The event featured collaborative work from artists who utilize the HitRECord website, as well as an intimate musical performance from Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl’s project The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

No matter how much general merriment is had during SXSW - the best part is, almost always, the end.

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