Monday, March 21, 2011

SXSW 2011: I Went to There

Once again, with a deep apology to both my liver and my bank account, I headed down to Austin, TX this past week for four days of music and fuckery. Overall, it was a great time - I managed to see quite a few artists that I've been wanting to see for quite some time but have not had the opportunity.

Lord Huron

As I've said before, SXSW is not for everyone. If you don't like crowds, heat or long lines, this is not the place for you. Each year there seems to be more and more people, which pushes the capacity for total and utter bullshit even higher. But that's okay because there is free beer and I can pretty much tolerate anything if under the influence of free alcohol. For example, I was standing next to this gigantic flaming asstard when I was watching Atlas Sound and he suddenly yells out something about being from New Jersey but - thanks to the eighty-two ounces or so of free Lone Star swimming through my veins - I only just glared at him rather than actually open my mouth to further ruin the reputation of Jerseyans.

The crowd waiting for The Kills to play

As always, it was a bit of a total clusterfuck, but that's expected so it's all good. If there is one thing I've learned about SXSW, it's not really to have any expectations. Unless you are a Badge Holder (these people are like the kings of SXSW. Well, they think they are. The rest of us badge-less peons fucking hate them. This does not include everyone I hung out with who had a badge.) You'll get into some shows but not others. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

Esben and the Witch

Here's the thing [climbs up on soapbox] - I fly down there every year not because I'm part of the industry but because I truly love the music and there is no better way to find new artists that may not have had a lot of exposure. The past few years I've gone, I've managed to flit from bar to bar with a list of bands I wanted to see in hand. Yes, I would often have to wait on line but nothing in my previous experiences prepared me for what I saw this year.

Young the Giant

Cover charges, people. I understand that there may be cover charges for the "official" showcases but I was wholly unprepared to sit on a line for forty five minutes only to be told that the cover to get in was sixty dollars. That is not a typo. Sixty fucking dollars! Keep in mind that most of the sets at SXSW are short - anywhere between twenty to forty-five minutes. I didn't even pay sixty bucks to see The National or Mogwai. Needless to say, I didn't see the band I was hoping to see and neither did a lot of people, which is a shame for the fans and artists alike.

Off!

Don't get me wrong, I understand that they would charge a cover for an "official" showcase. After all, the only people who usually can get into those shows are the people who shelled out five hundred (or more!) bucks for a badge. While it smacks of greed to me, it is what it is and there wasn't much I could do about it.

The Vaccines

I know this is an industry festival. And I'm aware of the fact that there are many who view those of us without badges as a bunch of shitheads who are ruining the awesomeness that is SXSW. Undoubtedly, I'm sure there is some truth to that. The badges provide a sort of exclusivity and keep the riffraff out of the shows.

Megafaun

It wasn't the "official" show cover charges that got my panties in a twist. What really pissed me off was that it seemed like a lot of bars were charging these exorbitant cover charges regardless of whether the band playing was an official SXSW band or not. I found myself paying twenty or twenty-five dollars to see one band on a lineup per venue. Those are high for even New York prices. I expect them to raise the beer prices once the sun goes down ($3.25 to $6.00 for Lone Star in one bar, just for the record) but for the venues to charge so much money for bands who aren't even official SXSW bands was absurd. For both the bands and the fans. People who might have wanted to check out an unofficial band would be turned off by such high prices. Therefore, less exposure for the band.

I would like to think that the bands were getting a cut of the door price, especially for the bars that were charging huge covers for unofficial showcases. Somehow, I doubt it.

TV on the Radio

Could I have bought a badge? Or a wristband? Yes. It was my past experience of going to a lot of unofficial shows that made me decide not to purchase either of them. In some ways, I'm glad I didn't get a wristband because I heard that wristband holders were even having a harder time than previous years getting into venues.

Screaming Females

I think I'll go to Bonnaroo next year.

[hops off soapbox]

Regardless, I still enjoyed myself and got to spend a lot of time with some good friends, including Shoewhore Ninja and Miss Tejota. I even got to spend some time with some of my favorite Texans, A Girl in the South and Laxplays (or whatever the fuck her name is). Despite my bitterness (I'm cheap, what can I say) about the cover charges I did manage to watch quite a few amazing and talented bands (all pictured above). I definitely recommend you check them out as soon as possible.

There are three bands that really stood out to me this year at SXSW:

Megafaun - labeled as folk or experimental folk rock. These guys were incredibly energetic on stage and seemed to be absolutely ecstatic that they were up there. It's really refreshing to see bands that obviously love what they do and Megafaun is one of them. They encourage the crowd to participate and all together put on a really great show.



Esben and the Witch - There is a definite psychedelic undertone with this band. A little angst, a little goth but extremely talented, Esben and the Witch put on a really interesting show and are quite the performers. I had only heard one or two songs from the band prior to seeing them and I was really amazed with their performance.



Screaming Females - hands down the best band I saw at SXSW. In fact, they were so good I saw them three fucking times. Ironically, they're from the next town over but I've never had an opportunity to see them before. A little punk, a little 80's and a touch indie, Screaming Females rocks your fucking socks off and then some. Marissa Paternoster is a fucking shredding devil on the guitar - at one point I looked around the crowd and laughed at all the people standing there, completely slack-jawed as Paternoster did things to her guitar that I didn't even know were possible.



Now I need to catch up on all the goings on in Twi-land since I've been gone. Rumor has it Robert Pattinson was saying something about keeling, opening your mouth and praying? {{shivers}} Like I said, I'm really far behind, apparently. Bummer.

24 comments:

  1. Great post. Sad I didn't see Megafaun. I do think I'll be going back next year, but getting a badge. It was great hanging out with you and coughing all over you.

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  2. So...uh...I thought you were gonna say something about your bum leg? No matter. I'm fucking stoked that you got to see some badass bands, and I can't wait to check them out.

    TV on the Radio? LOVE. And Megafaun has been on my radar for a bit...totally my vibe!! I'm super fucking stoked to check out SF. I have flown up and down and up again all over their youtube vids, and I, too, am in love with Ms. Paternoster (interesting...her "last name" means Our Father in Latin...) Could she possibly kick more ass?!!? Methinks not!


    So anyway, happy you had a badass time with some Twitards, sorry you had to drop a shit ton of dough, but glad you made it back alive!

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  3. I think I lived in a house with that banjo player from Megafaun....not really, but he looks a lot like an old roommate of mine.

    Bonnaroo, SXSW wherever....I am going to try and swing it next year JJ. I do have a good friend in Nashville...and I have a very large tent......

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  4. *Jumps with glee*

    Yay! I love when JennyJerkface talks music. As you may have seen in my recent blog post [cue shameless TwiKiwi plug].

    I've not heard of any of the bands mentioned but will def listen to the clips above when I can.

    JJ rec'd MAN MAN to me and I fucking LOVE them. Been listening to their album ALOT and now need to check out others! Shame you didn't get to see The Naked and Famous, JJ, but I was fucking stoked you knew who they were!

    xxxx

    p.s. oh, and since you asked, check out my post here: http://twikiwi.blogspot.com/2011/03/twilight-thank-you-for-music.html

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  5. It sux that they try to gouge people who have already paid big money to attend. The bands are the ones who suffer for that cause they probably aren't seeing much cash from these type of things.

    Glad you enjoyed it. Go to bonnaroo next time. That'd be a blast.

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  6. I love Young the Giant! I won tickets to see them along with The New Politics and Neon Trees. Best free show ever. I am intrigued by the Screaming Females and will definitely check them out. Glad you had a great time!

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  7. I liked all 3 bands you posted...they were uniquely different.. Esben sounds a little like Florence..Screaming Females...she kinds looked like a mini-you...cool..glad you had fun..It seems totally awesome..I would probably HAVE to do a badge..Welcome back...glad you made it back safe.

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  8. MyHeartGoesPitterPattinsonMarch 22, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    I saw your tweet on that cover charge and thought that was total bullshit. One of my writers got a press pass and went to SXSW. It was with bitter pride that I swallowed my jealously and wished her fun. This is what she did with her official spring break her senior year of college which is why she is awesome.

    Anyhow, as always, I love your prowess in all things musical with your recap of SXSW and videos of who you saw.

    Also, I wanted to shamelessly promote (or possibly destroy, I suppose) my friend's band, The Reeling Gilly, and get your honest opinion on their shit. You like music. They play music. If you feel like it, check em out. I'm logical so understand that some shit isn't for everyone. (I tell myself that every time someone tells me they read Twilight and didn't like it. Sometimes I even believe it.) I will say that every time I hear "Good Company" I think what a good drunk song it would be to sway to in Fooooorrrkkkss.

    http://www.myspace.com/thereelinggillybandyahoocom

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  9. MyHeartGoesPitterPattinsonMarch 22, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    Also, I'm considering going to Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis the last weekend of April. Anyone ever been that can state a case for/against going?

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  10. jeebus christmas, were you on stage with screaming females or what?! and how have you never seen them locally??? even mr. snarky has seen them at the court tavern AND at a basement show!

    [do not ask me where i was when he saw said shows because i have no clue and have never seen them play live, even though mr. snarky and i are generally glued together at the hip that isn't glued to JJ]

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  11. p.s. i am really glad you are home, even if i am hiding from you because you are sick and i don't want to be.

    xoxoxoxo

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  12. @LindsayRae - the leg story isn't terribly interesting. Apparently my body is not okay with standning non-stop for 14 hours a day because my legs turned into raging balls of pain and hatred and I ended up having to hobble everywhere.

    @STY - Even worse, Screaming Females has played the same shows as Roadside Graves and I STILL didn't see them. No clue what the fuck is wrong with me.

    And I'm off to nurse my raging cold and whimper at my desk now...

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  13. I'm such a loser when it comes to music. I count on Jenny Jerkface and her adventures like this to introduce me to new stuff. Imagine my excitement when I saw Young the Giant in this post... I just downloaded them on Sunday!

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  14. Love Megafun. And I'm so going next year; saving for a badge right now. Miss Tejota convinced me. :)

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  15. SXSW is a shitshow of epic proportions. They gauge you wherever they can & try to run off everyone who is not a music exec. It is, hands down, the best people watching experience ever though. Sorry about your bum leg. And your sunburn. And your empty bank account.

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  16. Nice having you back JJ - just in time for some more winter weather in Jersey! So frickin' tired of it!

    Thanks for the impressive rundown of SXSW. Sounds like SXSW has gotten too big for its britches. Can't believe the cover charges! Holy shit! Greed has ruined a good thing...again.

    Hope you feel better soon.

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  17. JJ- any thoughts that RedGorilla gaining popularity is effing with SXSW? I will say I'm sorry to hear it wasn't like previous years. I've gone to ACL for the last five years and I highly recommend it. I went to B'roo for the first time in 2005- I'll say that if you love festivals it's great to experience, but it's not the same festival it used to be. I'd say 2007 was the pivotal year where I saw bratty/stupid teenage kids being utterly retarded, and I became appalled at the total lack of respect for the property as a whole. Trash everywhere. It was pretty sad. But, they can nab a great lineup, and like I said, the camping aspect is one hell of an experience (2005 was hurricane Daniel, 2007 they were having the worst drought in a decade).

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  18. Yay! More music recs from the Twitard MUSIC GURU. So far loving all of them. Definately gonna get me all three to add to my iPod Some nice recs from Earplugs Not Included too. Thanks JJ ;)

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  19. Very late to this party, but I'd just like to pop in and thank Siouxsie Sioux for all her influence. Great rundown, JJ. And I haven't seen Screaming Females live either, maybe I have an excuse, maybe not.

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  20. Can't wait to come back and check out the music clips! I love JJ recommended music :) Glad you had fun and made it back safely.

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  21. Yay! More music recs from the Twitard MUSIC GURU. So far loving all of them. Definately gonna get me all three to add to my iPod Some nice recs from Earplugs Not Included too. Thanks JJ ;)

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  22. JJ- any thoughts that RedGorilla gaining popularity is effing with SXSW? I will say I'm sorry to hear it wasn't like previous years. I've gone to ACL for the last five years and I highly recommend it. I went to B'roo for the first time in 2005- I'll say that if you love festivals it's great to experience, but it's not the same festival it used to be. I'd say 2007 was the pivotal year where I saw bratty/stupid teenage kids being utterly retarded, and I became appalled at the total lack of respect for the property as a whole. Trash everywhere. It was pretty sad. But, they can nab a great lineup, and like I said, the camping aspect is one hell of an experience (2005 was hurricane Daniel, 2007 they were having the worst drought in a decade).

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  23. Love Megafun. And I'm so going next year; saving for a badge right now. Miss Tejota convinced me. :)

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  24. I'm such a loser when it comes to music. I count on Jenny Jerkface and her adventures like this to introduce me to new stuff. Imagine my excitement when I saw Young the Giant in this post... I just downloaded them on Sunday!

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