SXSW update #$^%

Post Author: Jeremy Krinsley


Wandered camera-less through the Fader Party one last time, sipping their SoCo concoction and lightly trailing the bald fat dude in blue tighty whities. Pushed myself towards the front of the stage (not with tighty whitey- UPDATE: TIGHTY WAS HAR MAR SUPERSTAR) for easily the best show I saw. There’s something to be said for the rough brilliance of young, innovative bands, but its hard to compete with the cold competence of Damon Albarn in his newest reinvention in The Good, The Bad & The Queen, donning top hat and patrician stare and taking on the full frontman persona- occasionally hitting the piano but also going for melodica, recorder and… whistle solos. But even Albarn was upstaged by former Clash bassist Paul Simonon, who’s fine-tuned his ability to embody the righteous swagger of rock royalty, cradling the same bass (“Paul” scraped into the mangled guitar body), and smacking it with his black-caloused finger in a disturbingly elegant broken waltz.

No Age (ex-members of Wives) followed with a careful on-off guitar noise-loop / punk riff pattern that was heard best about 75 ft back from the sheer immensity of the mangled din. These guys are a nice reminder that LA still offers up its own doses of experimentalism, despite what the polished pop-punk and dance-rock acts being spewed out regularly would have you believe.

Headed over to Todd P’s excellent lineup at the ramshackle Ms. Bea’s, a cinderblock box-bar with a patio in the back sporting San Antonio Spurs banners and a giant dirt parking lot. Dirty Projectors were already going. There’s a big difference hearing Dave Longstreth’s shattered croon in a New York venue and out in the open on a warm Austin day. Mild amusement derived from watching local passerbys squint towards the stage through Longstreth’s spasmodic ballads. Still beautiful and glad I caught him mid tour.

Dragons of Zynth took their set slowly from shoegaze towards hardcore, with the latter half definitely doing its part to eradicate the evening lulls weighing down the hot afternoon and ushering in a whole crowd of second winds. The last time I saw them they were head-dressed out and while they were still sporting shocking regalia (front man had what looked like a paisley velvet blazer), the music certainly didn’t suffer from a lack of distractions.

Caught about 5 minutes of Deerhunter and it looked that, amidst the noise, one of the members was floating above the stage, or at least strong enough to hang by one arm on a rafter while playing another member’s guitar with his foot. What I heard was amazing, partly because I could hear it from three blocks away and the undulating riff didn’t really change once.

In some ways Land of Talk, who followed, start where Rainer Maria left off in instrumentation and genre (melodic indie punk), but Land of Talk comes up with some truly gorgeous guitar riffs that maintain an emotive restraint while passing through moments of dissonance. Front woman Elizabeth Powell has a full voice that manages to cut through, sounding sort of like Kim Gordon minus 20 years of cigarettes.

Hella kicked the crowd in the balls (which is fair to say because there weren’t too many chicks left in the front rows at this point). They’re pretty much the most aggressive hardcore jazz noise I’d heard at South By, decimating any semblance of auditory functionality with the three-man attack on the vocals and fluttery bass. For those who haven’t seen them live (like myself previous to last night), their album sound didn’t necessarily translate to their live show, mainly because you don’t realize how Loud they’re going to be on stage.