SXSW | 03.21.09 | Austin, TX - Day 4

Words & Images by: Kayceman

SXSW :: 03.21.09 :: Saturday :: Austin, TX

#3

Ra Ra Riot :: SXSW :: 03.21.09
For the final day of this monster music marathon, our #3 slot is awarded to Ra Ra Riot. With band leader/vocalist Wesley Miles set up center stage and flanked by two lovely ladies, Alexandra Lawn cello/vocals/keys and Rebecca Zeller violin, the rest of the band (guitar, keys, drums, bass) filled in around Miles and the gals - both musically and position wise. With all the strings, swaying bodies and bouncing rhythms it reminded of Arcade Fire but with less theatrical pomp, but still some of that dramatic flair. Band members swapped instruments freely and there was never any question how passionate they are about their trade. It was difficult to tear one's eyes away from the stop-you-in-your-tracks beauty of Lawn and her cello. She would dip and swing with her instrument, pulling off delicate runs down the body while singing lyrics into the sky, eyes closed, completely under the spell of her band's music. Quite simply, she was a vision to behold. But, just as beautiful as Lawn was the sound of Ra Ra Riot. When the violin and cello linked up with the bass and drums the sweeping strings created a plush foundation for vocals, keys and guitar flourishes to dance across the top. Following the tragic death of original drummer John Pike in 2007, it's rather amazing how far they've come since that time, and one smiles at the fact that Ra Ra Riot play such uplifting, life-affirming music.

#2

French Legation Museum :: SXSW :: 03.21.09
Sometimes what you really need is a slice of soft grass and some shade. Thing is, you can't get that at SXSW. If you've never been, this is not a festival like any other you've probably attended. There's no central local, no big stage and huge field for the headliner. No, this is a concrete jungle full of dirty bars, cement floors and, if you're lucky, the soft wood and beautiful acoustics of a place like The Parish (which also gets you out of the sun). But still, after walking at least five miles a day (probably more like 10) for five days, sweating in the Texas sun and dragging your broken legs from bar to bar, the soft paradise found at The French Legation Museum is an oasis. Just outside the madness of Sixth Street, the lush grass, plethora of trees, mellow crowd, Ice Cream Man, little nooks and crannies to do whatever it is you might like doing and a constant flow of quality music make this our #2 call of the day. Sure, this was JamBase's party (along with Press Here, Domino Publishing and Entertainment Weekly), but it's not just my loyalty that made this place such a respite. And beyond the ability to recharge one's battery, with bands like Chief, who really got rocking towards the end of their set, and the Talking Heads-esque, '80s rock influenced Wild Beast, it was a party. Unfortunately, I left before Dirty Projectors (who I really wanted to see) in an attempt to see Erykah Badu at the Auditorium Lake Stage. The Lake Stage is free and open to the public, and without getting too far down this path, I'll tell you it was a shit show. Badu was supposed to take the stage at 7, and come 8 they were still riding the hype machine: "Put your hands together if you wanna hear Badu!" As we were leaving we could hear Badu take the stage, but she didn't have her band and it appeared to be a DJ deal with her singing. Let's just say I won't be going to the Lake Stage again... but regardless of who throws next year's party at the French Legation, I'll be there.

#1

Efterklang :: SXSW :: 03.21.09
I'm pretty sure the word "efterklang" means "remembrance" and "reverberation" in Danish. And even if it doesn't, it fits Copenhagen's Efterklang damn well. With seven people on stage (a very small stage inside Emo's Jr.) there was a lot going on, and at times it was difficult to determine who was doing what (especially with the huge electronic rig at the back of the stage with infinite wires running out of it). While bouncing with the rest of the crowd I was able to view violin, flute, trumpet, keyboards, bass, several guitars, percussion and that electronic setup that created lots of wonderfully weird textures. On top of that, there were gorgeous three and four-part harmonies that would swell from delicate nuance to powerful bombast. Forced to compare them to other artists, I'd toss out names like Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire and maybe even Sigur Ros minus the vocals. But that's exactly where Efterklang rise above the fold: the vocals. Working atop an orchestral canopy, the vocal structures were exquisite, with choruses dropping out for backup harmonies to fill the void. And bandleader/lead vocalist Casper Clausen was captivating. Efterklang utilized a great deal of soft-loud dynamics, building sections up patiently, letting them grow meaner and fatter with big drums and rattling bass before exploding into a crescendo of manic thrashing with everyone beating on their gear as hard they could in complete unison. In that sense it was very primal, but with the intelligent structure, use of violins, flutes and a delicate sense of melody, it was also very advanced musically. This set was wickedly cathartic and re-energized my slowing body. Efterklang is awesome. Go see them. For more on this fabulous band, check out JamBase's review of their most recent album, Parades, here.

Special Slot: Craziest Shit Ever
Israel's Monotonix could have easily been our #1 slot, but they were so fucking wild they deserve their own category: "Craziest Shit Ever." This was easily one of the wildest shows I've ever seen. It was the last gig on the last night of SXSW, and they burned the fucking Mohawk to the ground. Stage diving off speakers, throwing bass drums and drum cases into the crowd (no balloons or beach balls in this crowd), climbing the scaffolding and playing off the stage in the center of a mosh-pit, there is nothing like Monotonix. Fueled with a punk ethos, slamming drums and big fuzzy guitars like Black Sabbath at their peak, this was a spectacle that will not soon be forgotten. I'll let Sarah Hagerman tell you more about Monotonix, and you can read about their debut EP here.

Kayceman's Top 3 Overall for SXSW 2009
1. Jane's Addiction/Playboy Late Night Party
2. BLK JKS day show at The Parish
3. Tie: Monotonix and Alberta Cross

Ra Ra Riot
French Legation Museum / JamBase Party
French Legation Museum / JamBase Party
French Legation Museum / JamBase Party
JamBase Crew at Auditorium Lake Stage
Monotonix
Monotonix
Monotonix

Quality isn't very good, but you sorta get the vibe:

Continue reading for Sarah Hagerman's SXSW Day 4 highlights...

Words & Images by: Sarah Hagerman

Dirty Sweet

Dirty Sweet :: SXSW :: 03.21.09
The challenge for bands playing SXSW is that they often have a truncated amount of time to show an audience what they can do. Playing tweener sets at Stubb's (indoors), San Diego's Dirty Sweet had a few 20-minute slots with which to win over the room, and they owned every second of that stage time - I was sold by the end of their first song! Ryan Koontz gives you everything you need in a frontman, his commanding vocals matched by his shimmying and shaking across the stage. This band rips, with a born-in-a-garage sound and an effortless Sunset Strip strut that also appreciates the rootsy side of the street (see JamBase's review of their debut for more). Most importantly, they have a damn good time up there, with their faces beaming as they assault you with a balls-to-the-walls approach. Just a fan-freaking-tastic rock band, keep on eye on them. Hot, sexy stuff baby!

PJ Harvey and John Parish
Stubb's (outdoor) was packed, the air heavy with barely contained anticipation, breaking in screams the moment PJ Harvey strode on stage. Personally, I've been waiting for a long time to see Harvey, and part of me had given up hope that that would ever happen, as she doesn't tour much these days. In her white ball gown and matching headpiece, John Parish and her backing band suited up in style around her, she looked regal and ready to kill. She and Parish have been long-time collaborators, and the symbiosis shows. Some of the latest material recalls the vicious bites of earlier Harvey work, while other pieces have more ambient whirls, dissolving into banjo rolls and hypnotic guitar wanderings, courtesy of Parish. They create a captivating atmosphere that cracks open at the seams to reveal huge chasms and haunting vistas. Harvey's writing is a force of nature unto itself, and she delivers words with a ferociously howling stage presence, throwing them down and ripping their guts out - part Patti Smith, part Kali - and then shivering your spine with an otherworldly soprano wail. A new song called "Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen," stormed with its martial intensity while more atmospheric numbers such as "Leaving California" swirled in a galaxy of sound. Besides the new songs, they played a ripping "Taut" and "Urn with Dead Flowers in a Drain Pool" from the duo's earlier Dance Hall at Louse Point (1996). Frightening, captivating, otherworldly, Harvey is a goddess who rules her own universe, a being larger than life impossible to pin down or box up. A musical innovator and an uncompromising artist, she's no doubt a source of inspiration to many who played shows this weekend. Closing song, another newbie called "Pig Will Not" was a kick in the skull, as Harvey declared with burning force, "I! Will! Not!" over screaming guitars. Then, the storm subsided and we were left to funnel out into the night to chase down the last few hours of SXSW. I feel like one lucky writer to have been there to witness that thunder.

Justin Townes Earle

Justin Townes Earle
SXSW :: 03.21.09
When your dad is Steve Earle and you're named after Townes Van Zandt, your musical career will come with a certain amount of expectations. Justin Townes Earle is carrying a compelling and unique voice in the Americana singer-songwriter tradition, and this night at the Red-Eyed Fly he showed us why he is - as the Canadian gentlemen standing next to me said so well - an "uncanny throwback." Earle's music crackles with a vintage soul, pumping with pre-war folk, back porch blues and honky-tonk. There's such honest flesh and blood in it, an immediacy that compels you to listen with fresh ears, and lyrical styles that pin you down with their honest phrasing. He and sidekick, mando, banjo and harmonica player Coury Younts - who was looking a little worse for wear. Earle kept teasing him saying, "He had a big night last night. Didn't wake up 'til 9:00 this evening" - had the room enraptured. This was a warm, inviting show with stunners like "My Mother's Eyes," where he reflects on his background, floored us, while jumpy drivers like "South Georgia Sugar Babe," about, "a white trash girl from Georgia," got the floorboards creaking. Earle has a laid-back vibrancy onstage, as he smiled and sneered his way through tales of love gone wrong and winding trains, his ardent eyes scanning the crowd. There's just something about him that draws you in on a hook. When the set was over, we cheered for one more song. Our wishes were granted and Earle came out to play solo on a swinging version of "Hesitation Blues," leaving me with a grin I couldn't wipe off my face if I'd tried. Pure joy.

Monotonix

Monotonix :: SXSW :: 03.21.09
My SXSW ended with an ass. Ami Shelev, singer of Tel Aviv three-piece Monotonix's ass to be precise, as he stood above the crowd on stage at the Mohawk and shook what god gave him. These cats put on an insanely exciting show, and the cameras were out in force at this one. Freaky, vicious garage rock, their music kind of reminds me of early Stooges, if Iggy Pop and co. downed a case of Robitussin and then drove around lighting people's lawns on fire in their down time. The drumming was dense and tribal and the guitar notes strewn and stretched in wild directions. The band threw themselves around like ragdolls, scaling everything in sight, sailing through the crowd and playing down on the floor, kicking down the proverbial barriers between performers and audience. Shelev hung from the scaffolding, threw drinks every which way, held up a trashcan like Donkey Kong ready to throw a barrel and made everyone sit down and "Shut the fuck up!" at one point. Drummer Haggai Fershtman's kit was deconstructed, and then he played it in the crowd as audience members held up the pieces. When the curfew hit, they ran out into the street, Shelev revving the cheering crowd while the band drummed. I was thinking about this show today as my SXSW hangover subsides, and the big difference between Monotonix and many other bands with a rep for putting on crazy shows is that this isn't so much a show to sit back and watch as much as it is punk philosophy in action, something you are thrown into as much as the band. To put on an entertaining show is one thing, but to take it to the crowd, take it to the streets and really kick the shit out of your songs, your equipment and yourself is something else altogether. That is fucking punk!

Bonus Props: Papa Mali's Hoodoo Blues & BBQ

Papa Mali & Cyril Neville :: SXSW :: 03.21.09
Papa Mali always knows how to party, and at Kenny Dorham's Backyard on the east side of Austin he worked his magic in a tight, raucous set that had the hippies spinning across the grass in some of the best dancing I saw all weekend. Joined by guests who hopped on and off, including Cyril Neville (who did a great take on Allen Toussaint's classic "Fortune Teller") and the powder keg sax playing of Topaz, Papa Mali's show was a real throw down. Plus, the proceeds from the BBQ, which had a great lineup of music going all day, were all going to help Diverse Arts, a local Austin organization that preserves and promotes the multi-cultural arts scene. Big props to Papa Mali for all the good work he's done for the local scene and his fellow musicians, especially those who resettled in Austin from NOLA after Hurricane Katrina. This is the supportive community music in action creates.

Monotonix
Monotonix
Monotonix

JamBase | We Love Austin
Go See Live Music!

Continue reading for the rest of our coverage from SXSW 2009...

Words & Images by: Kayceman

SXSW :: 03.20.09 :: Friday :: Austin, TX

#3

M. Ward :: SXSW :: 03.20.09
With tired legs, tired eyes and a singed head it was an early afternoon set by M. Ward that brought this writer back from the depths of a serious SXSW hangover. Ward lives in his own little world, every nuance, note, hushed storyline and song is played through his unique style and I'm pretty sure he's using some alternate tuning to his guitar to further differentiate his sound from the pack. Through his timeless tales Ward is carrying the songwriter tradition forward similar in some ways to how Dylan and Cash plied their trade. While often praised for his songwriting and contemporary classic albums, Ward's mastery of the guitar is often overlooked - and this guy can manhandle the six string, wrestling it into submission or letting it ring out in clear beauty, effortlessly playing rhythm, slapping the top bass string and picking lead over the top. He's one guy on stage but he fills the room with music. The fantastic set closed with one of the coolest moments of the weekend. Before playing the final song Ward looked out over the crowd and said, "I need someone who can play the piano," and asked a member of the crowd to join him on stage. A brave local boy walked up and Ward stood over the piano with him and taught him the relatively (and I use that word lightly) easy piano part. With a nod they were off on "Rollercoaster," and when our new piano player came in and linked up with Ward the crowd went nuts. The show ended with Ward looping his guitar part, walking off stage and letting the piano player stretch out a bit. As he found some confidence he really stepped up and closed the set in triumphant fashion. In a world of "look at me!" it was refreshing to see Ward be so totally ego-less and letting someone from the crowd take the limelight.

#2

Marco Benevento Trio :: SXSW :: 03.20.09
Our second slot belongs to the Marco Benevento Trio featuring bassist Marc Friedman (The Slip, Surprise Me Mr. Davis) and drummer Jeremy Black (Apollo Sunshine). Friedman and Benevento have been playing together a bunch lately, but this was the first time Black was brought into the fold, but you never would have known it judging by their loose, flowing, well executed set. Sitting at the beautiful, big piano with his plethora of knobs and electronic devices, this is clearly Benevento's band, but it's Friedman who holds it all together. And good gravy, that Friedman boy can play, moving up and down the neck of his instrument, casting a huge, thick wake. Highlights included a spirited take on My Morning Jacket's "Golden" featuring a nice jazz shuffle by Black, a devious, heavily processed "Heartbeats," a dance-inducing "The Real Morning Party" and The Zombies' "She's Not There." But perhaps more than song selection, what really sticks out about this show is how much fun these three were having. Benevento is in a league of his own, able to move from classical precision to new-age knob-twisting without ever missing a beat, and regardless of who he plays with his smile and his sound always fills the listener with fuel for the long road ahead.

#1

Alberta Cross :: SXSW :: 03.20.09
Coming in at #1 is Alberta Cross. If the name isn't familiar to you yet, take note - it soon will be. This five-piece rock band is playing in the same big, dark field as Dead Confederate and lead singer Petter Ericson Stakee has more than a touch of Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon) in his delivery (and his look). But, where a band like Dead Confederate dips into Southern gothic, Alberta Cross are pulling from Neil Young, early My Morning Jacket and even "North" or "Road To Damascus" style Jerry Joseph. They played a bunch of new songs as well as several from their stellar debut, The Thief And The Heartbreaker, whose title track really got the crowd into it, causing us to sing the words back to the band as they built it up, pushing the song until it crossed the peak and rolled down the other side. In addition to their excellent songwriting, it's their ability to crank the instrumental sections into dark, murky, psychedelic waters with ringing guitars and smashing drums that made the live show so compelling. Towards the end of the set, Stakee put down his guitar and picked up a tambourine as he led the band and his now devoted congregation through a gospel rock number that had us clapping, stomping, swaying and falling completely under their spell. All the parts are in place, but what sets this band apart is Stakee's vocals. He's got a high-range wail that cuts through your marrow and he sings as powerfully as anyone I've heard this weekend. This is a band on the rise. Look for Alberta Cross at Coachella and Bonnaroo.

Honorable Mention To The Heavy Stuff: Earthless with Mascis & Crystal Antlers
Earthless featuring Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis was a shred fest of super stoner rock. With only one stack of amps Mascis may have felt a big naked, but he still blazed a linear path through to the back of our heads as Earthless created seizure-inducing bombast.

We'd be remiss to not mention Crystal Antlers's super heavy attack. Screaming guitars over screaming vocals and as much percussive power as any band all weekend, Crystal Antlers worked the small crowd into a lather. With hints of The Mars Volta they performed one of the most unique versions of Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" I've ever heard. If you dig it heavy, check Crystal Antlers.

Continue reading for Sarah Hagerman's SXSW Day 3 highlights...

Words & Images by: Sarah Hagerman

Abalone Dots

Abalone Dots :: SXSW :: 03.20.09
As I approached the tent at Opal Divine's, I could hear them plucking, calling me with their siren song. This female four-piece, joined on stage by a banjo player who sat behind them, certainly had folks, particularly the menfolk, in the tent swooning. This impressive group of musicians channel both the folk starkness of Gillian Welch and the pretty light of Nickel Creek, but with a real sense of mystery to their sound. Maybe because they are from Sweden and not America there's a fresh approach to their imaginative revision that moves beyond borders. They'll coax you down a lovely, winding path and then tear through faster numbers with gravel and fire and songs about running down roads and shooting husbands dead. Rebecka Hjukström (guitar) has a mighty wail to shake the rafters, and she completely owned their cover of "Man of Constant Sorrow." Sophia Hogman's multi-instrumental skills were equally inspiring as she switched between mandolin, cello and a crazy looking Swedish instrument called a nyckelharpa, or key harp. They kept talking about beer, too, so they seem like gals with their priorities straight once they finish tearing down the stage.

Felice Brothers

Felice Brothers :: SXSW :: 03.20.09
"We're just a bunch of dirtbags that live in a car!" Ian Felice yelled. But what a fine bunch of dirtbags! Their scratchy joys, roughneck charms and ragtime wallops translate into total release, and they shook that tent behind Habana Calle loose, cigarettes, whisky and sweat seeping out of our pours. It was a spirit that moved out into the street, where folks were packed up against the fence, craning to see through the bars. A swooning beast of a band, the Felice Brothers' spit and grit is nothing short of cathartic. Songs become effortless anthems, even in the darkest of territories that they explore. "Whisky In My Whisky" got the crowd buzzed, and "Greatest Show on Earth" baptized us in swathes of ragged piano. With a forthcoming album they busted out some new material as well, including the stark "Ambulance Man" and "Penn Station" about architect Louis Kahn who died in that famous train depot. Like the best troubadours, they dig into the American underbelly and expose its darkness. They are just such a flat out fun band to watch, too. Farley was an unpredictable storm, showing off his rapping skills, laying waste to that washboard, sawing that fiddle to pieces and screaming red-faced into the microphone. And James Felice can take even a simple act like drinking a bottle of water and make it look badass. In a few seconds flat he downed the whole bottle, crushed it in fist and threw it against in the back of tent. This is a band whose full throttle drive pushes you through the hardest times and helps you celebrate the best times. I've experienced both trials and highpoints this weekend, and as I lifted my face up to let the spirit in that tent wash over me, I felt rejuvenated.

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit :: SXSW :: 03.20.09
So much heartbreak, so much heat. Jason Isbell's evolving in exciting ways, and it was a privilege to see his journey unfold, sipping a Lone Star, the cool wind whipping through my thin plaid shirt, feeling grounded in genuine soil. Although the sound seemed muddy, this was a fine set that drew from Isbell's Truckers-era material through his superb sophomore solo album (see JamBase's recent feature). Isbell pays close attention to those moments in life that make you take stock, and he can shift and break you in two with numbers like "Try" and "Dress Blues." The latter is an especially powerful piece about a soldier's funeral and the depths of grief that take over a town, and the two gentlemen behind me sighed, one saying, "This gets me every time." Similarly, "Danko/Manuel" has always been one of my favorite songs, and seeing it performed with a horn section swelling it settled in my heart as I clutched its lessons against self-destruction inside. But, this show also flat out rocked the tent off its hinges, and I got to appreciate Isbell's fine guitar skills, as well as the fantastic Browan Lollar, who pounded drums at the front of the stage when he wasn't shredding and sliding. Swirling rhythms, dense muddy layers of humid guitars, crunching bass and the horns and keys driving brilliant shafts through the heart of it all.

Bonus Props: Playing for Change

Playing for Change :: SXSW :: 03.20.09
I only caught a few songs from this group but they were inspiring folks to get down with at the Opal Divine's tent. With kicking reggae beats and a soulful cover of Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" performed by a collective of musicians from Africa and America whose own stories could each fill volumes, they support an amazing organization, whose stated mission is to "connect the world through music," focusing their efforts on arts programs in Africa. The strength of music is often bigger than what connects us in the immediacy of a live moment. At a festival filled with a buzzing, who's who energy, it was a powerful, uplifting reminder of the limitless potential of art in a world that needs it more than ever.

JamBase | Austin
Go See Live Music!

Continue reading for coverage of the first few days of SXSW...

Words & Images by: Kayceman

SXSW :: 03.19.09 :: Thursday :: Austin, TX

#3

The Mother Hips :: SXSW :: 03.19.09
For the second day of SXSW our #3 slot is a shared affair. Taking place at the reapandsow/Remix party fans were treated to a full day of great music (and lots of pancakes courtesy of Batter Blaster) culminating in sets by The Mother Hips and Red Cortez. The Hips put their California rock on display, tearing through a languid "Red Tandy" that erupted into a huge crunching jam that stayed afloat with their always-stellar harmonies. Tim Bluhm (guitars/vocals) and Greg Loiacono (guitars/vocals) have built the type of musical relationship that's only possible through decades of playing together. Their ability to make subtle harmonic and tempo shifts is unparalleled, and when it's time to bring down the hammer they crunch like Crazy Horse. Also included were a super-funky "Magazine" and the crazy multi-part "Two Young Queens" that went from country hoe-down to knee-breaking funk to fist-pumping rock and back to the hoe-down.

The last time I saw Red Cortez they were The Weather Underground and it was High Sierra. Now they are Red Cortez with a new guitar shredder and renewed purpose, playing leaner and meaner then ever. Having just completed a tour opening stadiums for Morrissey, the band was explosive on this small stage. Moving from guitar to keys, bandleader Harley Prechtel-Cortez has "it." Whatever "it" is that makes someone a star, he's got it. He shimmy moonwalks across the stage, slams around and, like everyone in the band, gives it everything he's got at every moment. Playing their juiced up, rootsy gospel, foot stomping rock they had the crowd shouting and sweating. And it's worth pointing out again that new guitarist Calvin J. Love has certainly filled the shoes left by original axe man Shoichi Bagley, and he does it with huge swinging balls. The distance this band has traveled in one short year (we first saw The Weather Underground at SXSW 2008) is remarkable. We see big things down the line for Red Cortez.

#2

BLK JKS :: SXSW :: Parish :: 03.19.09
It was 2:00 p.m. Everyone was tired from the night before and those who could got into the NPR party, where South Africa's BLK JKS blew The Parish up. Taking tired eyes and turning them into glowing orbs, they eased us in slow with a patient free-jazz canopy equipped with a repetitive bassline and acoustic guitar washing over the top. For the second song, which translated to "Rainbow," the acoustic was traded for an electric and we learned of Lindani Buthelezi's massive six string skills. Searingly psychedelic, Buthelezi led us down fractal hallways where shards of light were poking in, casting strange shadows below. The four-piece band stretched compositions out and then yanked the bottom out, dropping us into squalls of feedback, shattering drums and swirling tornadoes of sound. Playing with the power of rock but with jazz-fusion intelligence, a dub education and hints of their native African roots, when this band is on they are huge. Which brings me to the evening BLK JKS show at The Mohawk. Having been so impressed earlier in the day I decided to check BLK JKS again for their night show. Oddly enough, it wasn't that good. It wasn't bad but it was flat and a bit ragged, not full of the spark I'd found earlier. But, as my astute bass player friend Marc Friedman (of The Slip and Surprise Me Mr. Davis and playing with Marco Benevento this weekend) pointed out, "Sometimes a band only has one big show in them per day." True 'nuff, and I'm sure glad I got the goods when the sun was still in the sky. My closing words on the subject are this: BLK JKS are from South Africa. They can't make it to the States all that often so don't dick it - go see BLK JKS next chance you get.

#1

Jane's Addiction :: SXSW :: 03.19.09
By James Trevenen
Could there be any real competition for the #1 spot? Not when Jane's Addiction is playing the private Playboy party in an abandoned Safeway supermarket with an open bar. It was a fucking blazer. They are a stadium band. They play for tens of thousands of people each night, but at 1:30 a.m. this morning they took the stage in front a few hundred. Coming out with "Three Days," they punched us in the mouth and didn't let up for about 70 minutes. Featuring the original, primal lineup of this band with Eric Avery back on bass, this was a serious treat for even casual Jane's fans. And what Avery does with this music can't be underestimated. The way he and drummer Stephen Perkins beat the shit out of the rhythms but also keep them loose and fun is key to what Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro do on top. And good jeezus, what the fuck kind of vitamins does Dave Navarro take? Dude is out of control. It's not an act - he's every bit the rock star he looks and he is just a monster on the guitar. No matter how many times you've heard the albums or seen him on MTV, standing a couple yards in front of him while he literally blows your hair back is an experience. And here's the linchpin: it's heavy, really heavy, but super sexy. Usually when a band's music gets this close to real heavy rock the chicks start to leave and you end up with a testosterone dude fest. But not at Jane's Addiction - the louder and crazier they get, so do the gals. And with a dozen or so Playboy Bunnies strolling around the sex factor was already bumped up a solid notch or six. Tossing grenade after grenade into the crowd they played "Ain't No Right," "Whores," "Standing In the Shower... Thinking," a nasty "Sex Is Violent," "Been Caught Stealing" and a huge "Mountain Song" that crushed our skulls to close the set. After a very brief break they came back out with more chainsaw guitars and backbreaking drum fills for "Ocean Size" and "Stop." If there was any question about Jane's power and the upcoming tour with Nine Inch Nails they have been answered - go to the rock show, you won't be sorry.

Red Cortez
BLK JKS night show at Mohawk
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Jane's Addiction/Playboy Party by James Trevenen
Big Boi in the house by James Trevenen

Continue reading for Sarah Hagerman's SXSW Day 2 highlights...

Words & Images by: Sarah Hagerman

K'naan

K'naan :: SXSW :: 03.19.09
As his backing band threw down funky Afrobeat rhythms that got the room moving from the get-go, K'naan strode onstage at The Parish to do battle armed with the crackling street poetry of a peaceful hip-hop warrior. SXSW runs on buzz bands, but this is an artist who truly deserves that excitement. Inside his music shines the hope and courage to face down darkness, inspiring an unforced conscience shift. My friend summed up his set nicely in one word – "refreshing." The last song he performed, "Waving Flag," opened with an extended a cappella section, where he sang a story about his childhood in Mogadishu. His words capture the innocence of youth shattered by the horrors of one of the most violent cities on earth. The chorus - "When I grow older/ I will be stronger/ They'll call me freedom/ Just like a waving flag" - turned into a mass sing along, the journalists putting down their pens to back him up. Then, the band swelled behind him, the trumpets blaring triumphantly and an overwhelming feeling swept over us as the song moved through everyone in that room. The power of the moment nailed me to the floor, and as I turned to my friends I could see them biting their lips as well. When the set was over, his eyes widened at the cheers he received and his smile expressed more gratitude than words ever could, triumphant in his humility.

Velvet Truckstop

Velvet Truckstop :: SXSW :: 03.19.09
One of the cool things about SXSW is that there is music in every nook and cranny of Austin. So, even if you can't get into the big stuff at the Red River or 6th Street clubs, you may find yourself seeing something intriguing while going to get coffee on South Lamar to fuel up for the evening. Although a young band - I was surprised to hear they had only been together about a year - Velvet Truckstop are building a solid foundation and have certainly absorbed lessons from the right teachers. Guitarist Dorsey Parker and keyboardist Brad Curtioff were particularly dynamic musicians, with Parker taking some pages from the book of Duane Allman, his playing wound tight and full of color. Frontman Jamie Dose has the sort of Southern rock growl that commands your attention. What impressed me most over a lengthy set, at least by SXSW standards, was that they never played a single cover and their original material had real hook and solidity that held my attention despite being unfamiliar. Although striving for a unique voice in the Southern rock-based jam scene is certainly a challenge, this band has the right elements and perhaps most importantly, the aching hunger that drives real musicians. By the end of their set, they were really cooking with gas. As they notch up those asphalt miles and their shout strengthens, I could see them carving their names on those tall lonesome Southern pines with the heavy hitters. This set made me think that SXSW is really about taking risks and welcoming chance encounters, whether undertaken by the bands dreaming big or by the fans in search of something new.

Phosphorescent

Phosphorescent :: SXSW :: 03.19.09
As I stood on the balcony at the Mohawk and watched crowds snake through Red River Street, frantically checking schedules and cell phones in the neon accented, bustling din, I felt my own jangled nerves fraying. My day had been spent running around, making mostly unsuccessful attempts to get into the shows after waiting in long lines, failing to meet up with friends and arriving at venues to find schedules changed at the last minute. In my first year here in any official capacity, I feel I learned a lot about how to cover SXSW on Thursday, and Phosphorescent taught me the biggest lesson of all. Sometimes, you need to relax, breathe and just listen. Find your place in the corner of the madness and just dig in. Glistening rivers of steel guitar washed over me and I felt like my soul was drinking chamomile tea. Although I think Phosphorescent would have benefited from a room more inclined to listen, this show was a moment of meditative bliss, and I think others were feeling that, too. I overheard someone say, "Wow, this band is just so soothing." Although hailing from Brooklyn, Matthew Houck is originally from Alabama and he's got an arrow straight through to the dusty back roads in the heart of Texas. A new song he said was called "I Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down" swung us in a honky tonk jangle, and I let myself go and just danced, rocking in its rustic arms.

Bonus Props: Bird's Barbershop
Bird's is a cool Austin institution, of sorts (where else can you get a Lone Star Beer while they cut your hair for dirt cheap?), and the new location on the increasingly-gentrified east side proved to be hosting quite the throw down - complete with hilariously flamboyant and dangerously generous bartenders – in a laid-back atmosphere for the mid-afternoon happy hour. Although their schedule was all kinds of messed up on the outside stage, inside the DJs were stoking a hell of a dance party. Folks spinning in barber chairs, beers in hand, and twirling across the linoleum, truly embodying the quirky spirit and revelry in music that makes Austin such a great town.

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Continue reading for coverage of Day 1 in Austin...

Words & Images by: Kayceman

SXSW :: 03.18.09 :: Wednesday :: Austin, TX

Cotton Jones :: SXSW :: 03.18.09
Even before you get off the plane they're everywhere. Tattooed rockers, flat-brim crate-diggers, indie hipsters and long haired hippies, and we're all here in Austin, Texas for the 23rd annual South by Southwest Music Conference. Every year thousands upon thousands of bands, fans and industry insiders descend upon this little Texas oasis for loud guitars, late nights, long days, dark bars, Lone Star Beer and maybe even a panel of two (maybe). With so much to see and hear we're keeping it brief with highlights from our adventures.

Kayceman's Top 3

#3
Coming in at number three for the first evening at SXSW is Cotton Jones. Featuring Michael Nau on guitar and vocals and Whitney McGraw on vintage organ and heavenly support vocals, the band was fleshed out with four more members to create a shimmering, psych-folk set that had the crowd swooning. Similar to M. Ward's timeless approach but with a bit more grit under the nails, Cotton Jones is hard to place in any era, making it possible to appeal to a wide swath of fans. With eyes closed we could have just as easily been at a 1969 San Francisco festival with flowers in our hair and mushrooms in our teeth. Standout tracks included "By The Morning Light" and "Gotta Cheer Up," both available on the stellar debut album Paranoid Cocoon.

#2

Rotary Downs :: SXSW :: 03.18.09
The number two slot belongs to JamBase's old friends Rotary Downs. Playing a 9 pm set on the first evening, this was many people's first chunk of music here in Austin and no one left disappointed. Blasting through a number of brand new tracks that show incredible potential and two old school faves ("False Protection" and "Djinni Stomp"), the band's intelligent indie rock and gooey instrumental prowess was in full force. With snaking guitar rhythms, slamming drums, fat bass, double keys, horns and James Marler's unique vocals (which admittedly were a bit muddy) there was no better way to get one's SXSW rollin'.

#1
The top pick for the first night was undoubtedly Dan Auerbach. You know Dan as the guitar and vocals half of The Black Keys and with a full band behind him he's showing his versatility as a leader capable of wearing many hats. After being snuck into a packed Parish that was hot and sweaty (just like the music), it took all of one song to realize this was something special. The six-piece band included My Morning Jacket's Patrick Hallahan on percussion with a second drummer, an auxiliary guitarist, a bass player and haunting keys. Certainly in the same vein as The Black Keys, here Auerbach shows off his softer side, letting some ballads slip in next to the searing, psychedelic blues rock bombast. But don't get the wrong idea, this is most definitely unforgiving, head-banging-rock. And it's really this dynamic of softer sections combusting into flames that makes this project so compelling.

Dan Auerbach :: SXSW :: 03.18.09
Continue reading for Sarah Hagerman's SXSW Day 1 highlights...

Words & Images by: Sarah Hagerman

Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer :: SXSW :: 03.18.09
In the intimate tent at the Paste Magazine day party, The Dresden Dolls front woman proved to me once again why she's one of the most unique and fearless voices in rock. Armed with her rambunctious keyboard styles and wicked sense of humor, she played stripped down selections from her fab Ben Folds-produced solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? (score points for the "Twin Peaks" reference), including "Runs in the Family" and the controversial (at least in the U.K., where it was banned from radio airplay) "Oasis" with quick-witted stage banter in between. She was obviously having a blast, and the tent responded in kind, even singing along with her un-mic-ed ukulele take on Radiohead's "Creep." My buddy turned to me and said that although he usually hates that song, "I think I almost like it now." Believe me, coming from him, that's quite a compliment!

Heartless Bastards
Adding to my double shot of badass rock women, Heartless Bastards rocked the same tent at the Paste party after Palmer. When Erika Wennerstrom takes over the mic, just stand back and brace yourself for a storm. They certainly won over some new fans as I saw jaws drop the minute her throat opened and pure swamp goddess electricity poured out. The Bastards came on like strong Irish coffee, as the early afternoon sun baked the crowded tent. St. Patrick's Day hangovers were washed downhill on a wave of steel and droning guitars during "The Mountain," and then swept away during "Out At Sea." A kick ass set that raged like it was midnight instead of 2:30 in the afternoon.

The Devil Makes Three

Uncle Lucius :: SXSW :: 03.18.09
Some notes on the setting for this gig - Lovejoy's is the only bar I will go to in the 6th street area on a regular basis. House brewed beer, a crowd that usually includes tattooed freaks, gutter punks and rockabilly roughnecks, one of the best jukeboxes in town, all in an atmosphere that's too unique to be described as a dive, but dirty and busted enough to scare away those that would rather sip pinot grigio or do kamikaze shots. It was the perfect atmosphere for The Devil Makes Three, a trio from Davis, California whose rowdy string band energy falls more in line with the working class, hard living wit of Split Lip Rayfield. No pretty road songs in sight, instead we were served tunes about sleeping in attics, getting wasted and tales from strange times. They were rowdy as all get out, with gut-thwacking playing that had an old time swing in the heart. People were locked elbow to elbow in Lovejoy's, dancing on benches, balancing precariously on shaky tables, swinging arms and even crowd surfing at the end. This band is a reason to celebrate. Big cheers!

Uncle Lucius
Okay, so I went to see this band because "Uncle Lucius" is the name of a Bad Livers song, and I was thinking maybe they would be taking a page out of the book of Danny Barnes and Mark Rubin. So, I was slightly disappointed when I saw drums and electric guitars onstage. But no matter, this Austin group plays bluesy roots rock with dusty boots and a stirring spirit. Good stuff, and to answer the eternal question, yes my friends, they jam. Guitarist Mike Carpenter has some serious chops. Those of you who like your rock served soulful and Southern fried, check 'em out.

Hoots & Hellmouth
I was exhausted as midnight rolled around and I'd been running around for a good twelve hours, so I was lounging in a comfy chair upstairs at the Ale House, nursing a beer. Before the first song was over, I had picked my jaw up off the floor, shook myself off, texted everyone I could think of that was out and about to tell them to get down here and then joined the rapt audience in front of the stage to wear off some floor wax. Holy hell! I thought these cats were going to break the boards they were stomping on in half or pop some veins in their foreheads, especially with the intensity Sean Hoots and Andrew "Hellmouth" Gray leapt to their mics with. The explosive Philly acoustic outfit played possibly the best set I saw all day, revved up with genuine raw passion and performed with unrestrained head shaking, leaping fire goddamn glory. Considering how much they move onstage, they never missed a note on their instruments. This is acoustic music with a blazing rock and fucking roll spirit, infused with a wild fever.

Hillstomp

Hoots & Hellmouth :: SXSW :: 03.18.09
John Johnson can probably boast to having the coolest drum set ever – lots of buckets and cans and all matter of clatter, stitched up with some duct tape and a Split Lip sticker. Meanwhile, Henry Kammerer switched between striking banjo and slip 'n' slide electric guitar styles. It was a fantastically muddy, at times brutal, mix, as Johnson's dense, propulsive rhythms would make you shake while Kammerer's vocals gave you chills. There's something ominous lurking at times in their whiskey and gasoline fueled music, and I like it.

Bonus: Buskers
Finally, I have to give some props to the fine pickers representing from Green Mountain Grass (Dave Wilmouth on mando, Trevor Smith on banjer, plus original GMG guitarist Turtle) and Electric Mountain Rotten Apple Gang (Amanda Kitchens on accordion, Andrew Pressman on doghouse bass) for getting out there in the scrum on 6th St. and busking. A great take on "I Know You Rider" inspired several drunken passersby to stop and sing along, get rowdy and dance in the streets. Take it to the pavement folks - that's where the brave musicians go.

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Comments

toestothenose starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/19/2009 12:38PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

toestothenose

Heck yeah! - Is it just me or does everyone else get hella-pumped during SXSW. The onslaught of splendid new music is amazing. Hagerman - I'm so pschyced you caught Hoots and Hellmouth - they rule the stomp. Great coverage to both of you - bring on the new artists

If you two get a chance - check out

Benjy Ferree

Thu Mar 19 2009, 1:30pm

French Legation Museum

Other Music Lawn Party (acoustic stage):

Army/Navy - 12:30pm

Benjy Ferree - 1:30

Alela Diane - 2:30

A Hawk and a Hacksaw - 3:30

Rebecca Gates - 4:30

Viking Moses - 5:30

Thu Mar 19 2009, 1:00am (late night)

Buffalo Billiards

Billions Showcase:

David Martel - 8:00pm

Young Galaxy - 9:00

Herman Dune - 10:00

Emily Wells - 11:00

The Tallest Man on Earth - 12:00am

Benjy Ferree - 1:00am

Fri Mar 20 2009, 1:00pm

Okay Mountain

Forcefield PR/Asthmatic Kitty Party:

Shiny Around the Edges - 12:30pm

Benjy Ferree - 1:20

Tune-Yards - 2:10

Jookabox - 3:00

Dent May - 3:50

DM Stith - 4:40

Bosque Brown - 5:30

rchasei Thu 3/19/2009 01:13PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

rchasei

No mention of the Avett Brother's set and the debut of their new song from the upcoming album???

boo

utkochster Thu 3/19/2009 02:03PM
Show -17 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
allthink Thu 3/19/2009 02:13PM
+9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

allthink

^^^ How the hell is the concept lame...its hundreds of bands for a week...I do not value your opinion at all as I imagine many don't - please go away.

mikemac9317 Thu 3/19/2009 03:55PM
+9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

mikemac9317

^agreed

mikemac9317 Thu 3/19/2009 03:56PM
+10 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

mikemac9317

SXSW is a show case for new bands with bigger bands to headline bigger venues. I think the concept is on point

technopagan Thu 3/19/2009 04:07PM
+7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

technopagan

The idea is to get newer/lesser known acts together so that record companies and producers can put on a showcase of the music they provide.

This festival really is not directed at the fans, and I don't mean that negatively. I live in Austin, and for the most part the people at sxsw do not reside in Austin.

It draws from all over the world, many different genres.

It is a festival for the music industry, and you gotta have some fat pockets to get access to most of it.

**I would like to tell all you sxsw'ers that there are several rumors flying around about a free Metallica show (and no I don't give a damn if you think all metallica fans are methheads and old)

Motorhead played Stubbs for free at 3 in the afternoon last year.

Badass.

ketchup Thu 3/19/2009 04:31PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

ketchup

Very happy Green Mountain Grass slipped in there towards the end. I'd keep an eye out for a band name Theodore if I were you.

brooklynite84 Thu 3/19/2009 04:55PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Go check out Sleepy Sun from San Fran...I caught two of their shows in PHX and Flagstaff last week and they are the real deal for Psychedelic Rock, especially if you're into the whole Black Mountain/Black Angels scene...you'll definitelly love these guys...

March 20:

3pm - Wave On 6th St. (Rooftop Stage)

7pm - Mohawk

11:45pm - The Art Project

March 21:

12pm - Mess With Texas Festival - Waterloo Park (Free)

8:30pm - Trailor Space Records

ENJOY and check them out at

www.myspace.com/sleepysun

if rhymes were valiums... Thu 3/19/2009 05:14PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

if rhymes were valiums...

good job aaron, go on and get yours...

johnnygoff starstarstarstar Thu 3/19/2009 06:34PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

johnnygoff

the tagline / bumper sticker for SXSW should be: "Wow! who is this band again?" ....................the whole point of the festy is to explore, perform, excite and surprise. According to Kayce and Sarah, it appears the mission is underway. thanx for the updates.

delaneyira star Fri 3/20/2009 09:07AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

You guys should check out the new world order movie that premiered there. I heard it was sick! HEH, the main guy they focus on was driving around town with a bullhorn attached to his truck ranting about world govt and the new world order. Alex Jones, guy is an animal. Hate him or love him hes right! Check out the Obama Deception on youtube or google to check him out. Within 10min of watching that movie you will be hooked...

utkochster Fri 3/20/2009 12:55PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
oldfartatplay Fri 3/20/2009 02:25PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

oldfartatplay

i think kayceman has just a tiny bit of a crush on dave navarro. sorry, i know the guy tears the shit up, but i'm a little bit put off when i see him whoring his rock star ass around on every piece of crap television show that'll have him.

PickinKind starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/20/2009 02:33PM
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PickinKind

i wanna see some ohtis

PooDolla Fri 3/20/2009 03:19PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

PooDolla

I can not wait to see Jane's Addiction this summer.

crazynate Fri 3/20/2009 05:00PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

crazynate

Dave Narvo is a bad ass too! I can't wait for Janes Addicition this summer. And those Playboy bunnys gave a good touch to the artcile today.

pornofunk starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/20/2009 09:23PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

pornofunk

Ucockster = phruitcake

moemoe6434 Sun 3/22/2009 07:29AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Hooots And Hellmouth are an AWESOME live band.... I agree.

lsamuel3 Mon 3/23/2009 02:41PM
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i'm sure the marco show was golden

i just conducted an interview with mr. benevento, part 1 can be read over on my website http://backin15mins.blogspot.com A discussion of all things music

RothburyWithCheese starstarstar Mon 3/23/2009 05:42PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
RichardHaley Mon 3/23/2009 06:05PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

^how anyone could think an event with this much music is "weak" is beyond me. We're talking about thousands of bands here. And shit, if you've been there before, as your comment states, then you should know there's nothing "snooze fest" about SXSW... that shit is exhausting. As a fan and not an "industry guy" I'd prefer to go other events, this is more of a biz thing, but man, every time I've been it's been amazing, and with so much music there's just no way it could be "weak." Well, then again, your name does have an SCI reference, so perhaps it's all relative.

5boro87 Mon 3/23/2009 07:14PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

5boro87

the bottom line is that SXSW is the biggest festival in the world, and that aint just for music. if your not a complete idiot and you plan it out as well as you can before you get too hammered than you can drink free booze and see free shows at free parties for free all week. me and my crew just had the best week of our lives at SXSW and it was our 3rd year. pow!

marionc starstar Tue 3/24/2009 09:16AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

marionc

ra ra riot is on point. rest of bands - mehhh

gz99 starstarstarstar Tue 3/24/2009 03:24PM
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Good Article.

It was my 12th SXSW and its still fun but as john dee graham says "SXSW is the festival of broken dreams." A lot subpar bands head to SXSW and get torn up. A lot of the bands these days just don't have it. C'mon the slurping high hat stuff and crybaby "rock" has run it's course. Time to get back to the fun stuff.

The best for me this year was:

- The Oakridge boys covered White Stripes "Seven Nation Army"

- Little Stevens party at Antones was great with Roy Head and the Bo-Keys, Living Things, and Chesterfield Kings.

- Monotonix like last year played about 10 times

- ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead at the Justice Records Party

The only tip I've got is to ditch the car for a bike, wear comfortable shows, and throw the schedule out the door because you will get diverted.

bigchris starstarstarstar Tue 3/24/2009 06:22PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

great pics, those playboy bunnies look hot! Can't wait to see Jane's this summer.

no DJ Shadow rightup for his show at Stubbs? Come on!