Friday, March 20, 2009

SxSWm - Friday

Panels

Little Steven Keynote Speech

The morning began with a keynote speech by Steve Van Zandt (aka. Sylvio Dante, Little Steven, or Miami Steve). This E-Street Band icon was there to discuss his take on the state of the music industry.

The high points of his talk:

  • Artists no longer work on the craft of performing. Expect to skip steps, which should include putting in time to play out live. Rough quote, it takes about 10000 hours of focused work, to achieve greatness.
  • Spoke about the need to make music that people can dance to.
  • Runs an Indie record label with bands from all over the globe. Seems to have a high regard for Norway, as an incubator of talent.
  • Talked at length about the Underground Garage program he does on XM and Sirius. He promoted and pushed multiple bands, and in hindsight many warranted further listening.

Lots of sage advice, from someone with the music entrepreneurial spirit deep inside his core. He of course was dressed in his very distinctive garb. Later that day I saw him walking down the sidewalk outside of Latitude 30 still dressed that way, trying to be inconspicuous. This was fairly comical to be honest, I just wish I had gotten a picture.

Songs in Strange Places with Tiny Desk Concerts and Project Song

An interesting panel about several projects being conducted by NPR. I didn't stay for the whole session, but it included a segment with Nellie McKay.

Shows

Manhatten Love Suicides at the Sesac day stage

This was a very good Indie band from Britain. I heard them as I was eating and stayed for the entire set. They seemed to draw some attention from many of the passers by. Will have to investigate further.

Austrialian Music Party

I heard several bands, but the most interesting was Temper Trap, who drew on guitar ostinatos like Edge from U2, combined with a millennial vocal sound. It seemed to go well with good weather, and a couple of bottles of Dark Wattle Ale.

Juliette Lewis and the New Romantiques at the DirecTV Bat Bar

All I can say about this is that I'm tired of screen actors wanting to do music. This show was about as compelling and interesting as Dog Star.

The Proclaimers at the DirecTV Lone Star Lounge

This was another highlight of the show. The brothers basically did this show by themselves, since their band did not want to make the trip. No matter, they were awesome even without the band.

Although they sing with a thick brogue, their voices are powerful and their lyrics moving. There is a certain weird charisma that these guy have that draws the audience in. Like the Kin, they had everyone eating out of the palm of their hands. They finished with their hit, I'm Gonna Be, which was a delight.

I felt compelled to buy one of their albums after seeing this show.

Honey Ryder at the Thristy Nickel

This band was listed as TBA on Red Gorilla schedule, most likely because they had SxSW showcases, as well. They were a British band with a female lead vocalist and equally talented woman on backup vocals.

I'm not sure if everything they sang was their own music, but they were very talented. If time constraints were not a factor, I may have attempted to see their showcase.

I Am David Sparkle at the Karma Lounge

Karma Lounge is dance club that is temporarily converted into a live music venue for SxSW. My friends Ron, Alissa and I went to check out this band from Singapore.

Unfortunately, they had a late start because of power problems. I'm not sure who was at fault, but Alissa (a former SxSW staff member) said that they used to have people specifically assigned to handle this. I felt really heartbroken to discover that this band had flown 30 hours to get to Austin, and that this was there only showcase. Kudos for the effort.

This band was a power trio having a nu-metal/prog sound, and no vocals. I found the music interesting and actually would have stayed longer to hear more, if possible.

Igudesman and Joo at St. David's Church

I always try to go and see at least one show at this venue, given the exceptional acoustics of the room. I chose this show at random, and fate came through for me.

Igudesman and Joo are a classical violinist and pianist who have a comedic act in the tradition of Victor Borge. Let me first say they are phenomenal musicians. On top of that, however, they are extremely funny.

My best advice is to direct you to their website or one of the Youtube videos, so you can see for yourself.
Igudesman and Joo at St. David's

Monahans at the Tap Room

I erroneously thought that the Golden Hornet Project was playing in this slot. It turned out being a local Austin band. I happened across my friend Thad, before proceeding elsewhere.

Austin Music Hall

Tricky

I ended up at the Austin Music Hall early in order to see Devo. As a result, I had to sit through Tricky. Honestly, I don't get this guy's popularity. His band was fairly tight, playing slow grooves. I'm not sure what his talent is however, certainly not much of a singer or performer. Yawn.

Devo

This was another highlight of the night. Even though a huge crowd was attempting to see Metallica on the other end of town, at Stubbs, the Austin Music Hall was still packed as well. For me personally, 27 or 28 years had transpired since last seeing them on the New Traditionalists tour on Halloween night, in 1981 or 1982, at Radio City Music Hall. I was one of those weird punkers in high school that went to go see them immediately after they were on SNL in 1979, and was always a big fan of this very innovative band.

The 5 Spuds from Akron came out and played for over an hour covering 2 new songs and a selection of their hits including Jocko Homo, Mongoloid, Gut Feeling, Freedom of Choice, Whip It, Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA, Secret Agent man, etc... Even though they are all old men now, it was amazing how much the crowd was into the show.

They are expected to tour this year, I may have to make a point to go.

Devo at the Austin Music Hall

PS. Boogie Boy did make an appearance for one song, Beautiful World.

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