By Chris Pacifico
South by Southwest Music Conference :: 03.14.07 – 03.17.07 :: Austin, TX
Wednesday, March 14
Rather than flock off to Florida or Cancun to party with libidinous college kids traveling on their parents dime, I joined my music industry peers in America's sixteenth largest city for the annual South by Southwest Music Conference to mix business and pleasure.
Honeycut :: 03.14.07 :: SXSW
I started off on the funky side of things with Honeycut at Emo's Annex (a.k.a. a tent over a parking lot). Singer Bart Davenport strutted his stuff as key man RV Salters went to town on the Clavinet. Apostle of Hustle laid down their Latin tinged post-rock but the sound was a little off. However, it was Austin's newest psych heroes, The Black Angels, who made the hair on the back of everyone's neck stand up when they played the eerie Delta blues of "Bloodhounds on My Trail."
I spent most of that evening bouncing between Emo's Main Room and Emo's IV for the Sub Pop and Beggars Group showcases. At Sub Pop's affair we got a taste of what could possibly be one of 2007's best debuts (not slated for release until July) by acoustic duo Tiny Vipers, who play chilling, delicate folk led by Jesy Fortino, a chanteuse with an enticing, angelic voice that could bend steel.
Tiny Vipers :: 03.14.07 :: SXSW
Over at the Beggars shindig, Australia's blistering, trippy export Wolf & Cub gave us a hot riff-charged pummeling courtesy of two drummers and singer/guitarist Joel Byrne's stuffy, raspy, reverb filled wah-wah throw downs. A good old face melting from The Early Years was the perfect way to top off the night that set the sonic aurora borealis flickering with their fuzz lined Krautrock.
Thursday March 15
Woke at the crack of noon and had barbecue for breakfast at the Vice/Scion soiree at Stubb's, where I pushed my way upfront to get a glimpse of impassioned instru-metalers Pelican. On this 81-degree day, the smell of sweat, beer breath, cigarettes and charcoal all mixed together in a disturbing way.
Pelican :: 03.15.07 :: SXSW
The true treat of the afternoon was Japan's Boris, who cranked their amps up to eleven and slithered out their dense, arty doom metal. Even though I can't speak a word of Japanese, I've always seen it as a beautiful language even when lead singer Takeshi is screaming it out like he's just been force fed wasabi.
Montreal's newest delicacy, The Besnard Lakes, stunned the crowd at the Cedar Street with some dark, baroque pop, blowing me away with the haunting call and response "For Agent 13." Burned shoe leather with the one and only Kayceman to The Mohawk for a private Rhapsody event, the highlight of which was Swede popsters Peter Bjorn and John's infectious, foot tapping tunes that went well with the open bar.
Boris :: 03.15.07 :: SXSW
After heading back to my hotel for a nap and some grub at the world famous Iron Works, it was off to the Hydra Head Showcase at Emo's Annex, where Daughters could be heard AND felt a few blocks away. Inside, the duo Big Business went on as a trio with Dale Crover from the Melvins sitting in on guitar. Afro-headed bassist Jared Wilson provided the shrill, abrasive vocals while Coady Willis was a monster on drums. Jesu was absolutely opulent. The ethereal guitar of Justin Broadrick put soothing metal in the air that wafted dreamily with the cigarette smoke and his angelic vocals.
Friday March 16
The Mess With Texas event at Marxist decorated Red 7 was a nice mix of humor and music emceed by David Cross, who broke the balls of Patton Oswalt for not being able to show up since he had to film the last episode of The King of Queens as well as his former Mr. Show co-star Bob Odenkirk for getting tied up with "dad stuff."
David Vandervelde :: 03.16.07 :: SXSW
Danava induced LSD flashbacks with their concoction of '70s prog rock and proto thrash metal. Then, boy wonder David Vandervelde, backed by his Moonstation House Band, played and sang way beyond his years with a Sgt. Pepper-meets-shoegazer acid pop rock stew.
This was the most insane night of my trip. An Albatross rocked my world with a potent cosmic fiasco similar to the one they pulled off at CMJ last fall. Before their set, ringleader and self-described "psychedelevangelist" Eddie Gieda was hitting the sauce hard, tossing chairs into the river from the deck backstage. From the opening chords of "Hairobics" the crowd was whipped into a frenzy brought on by the band's day-glow, psychotic metal flamenco grind. Bassist Jay Hudak was on fire as Gieda scaled the rafters encouraging the drunken masses to make the pit even more frantic. Toward the end of the set, Gieda vomited for a few minutes by Steve Vaiani's bass drum before stumbling his way back onstage.
An Albatross :: 03.16.07 :: SXSW
But even that vulgar display wasn't enough for the crowd, who banged on every surface like a bunch of primates. Four attendees, including myself, were summoned to go backstage and carry a passed out Gieda on by his arms and legs to rejoin his band. He got his strength back for an encore at which point someone threw ice at the people lined up along the side stage. It wasn't long until everyone was heaving any kind of garbage they could get their hands on at each other with An Albatross caught in the middle, completely oblivious to the melee as they played. It was all in good fun and made for a joyous night even though most walked out smelling of beer floaters and wet cigarettes.
Saturday March 17
There's always one day each year when SXSW coincides with St. Patty's Day. It's nothing but green clothing as far as the eye can see on the main drags of Red River and 6th Streets. JamBase's gathering at Opal Divine's Freehouse was a nice way to start off the night. The earthy, psychedelic crew West Indian Girl provided invigorating grooves for the mind and body. The heavenly voice of Mariqueen Maandig was ambrosia for our ears.
West Indian Girl :: 03.17.07 :: SXSW
Les Claypool's Electric Apricot surprised anyone expecting his trademark skewed bass warbling. Here he plays drums, and my skepticism was squashed as his wacky story telling provided some good laughs with good tunes. Keyboardist Herschel Brillstein plays like he has eight fingers on each hand, while bassist Steve Trouzdale looks like Claypool when he tours with Primus. Leave it to ol' Les to fuck with fan's minds.
At the Solid PR showcase at the Creekside Lounge, where the outdoor stage overlooks the polluted, pungent Waller Creek, Clockcleaner were quite possibly the loudest band on earth. They wear their ban from numerous venues like a merit badge, offering up their brand of garage pop crammed with massive amounts of feedback and abrasively catchy hooks. Singer/guitarist John Sharkey has no problem causing a fracas with hecklers, and even got banned from The Kyber a little while back when he urinated all over another band's merch table after overhearing them talk smack about his band mates.
Daughters :: 03.17.07 :: SXSW
Rhode Island's most insane export, Daughters, kicked out the jams with a towering dose of jazz-structured, math-rock hardcore noise rock. Leader Alexis Marshall thanked Texans for their hospitality over the week but also called them "sloth bastards." Later in their set, he grabbed people's drinks and poured them all over his body, yelled at the gutter punks down by the creek and eventually whipped out his junk. All just another night for Daughters.
Check out what Kayceman did at SXSW 2007 HERE.
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