SXSW | 03.20.10 | Austin, TX - Day 4

Words by: Kayceman | Images by: Scott Dudelson

SXSW :: 03.20.10 :: Saturday :: Austin, TX

She & Him at Rachel Ray's Party :: 03.20.10 by Dudelson
We celebrated the first day of spring with some of the coldest weather Austin has experienced this year. With a bitter wind and temps dipping down into the 30s, the cold definitely affected the music experience on the final day of South by Southwest. Prior to the really chilly evening, I spent my day at the 40 Watt/JamBase Party located at the Side Bar. With one indoor stage and two outdoor ones, it allowed for a nice flow in-and-out of the elements that kept patrons warm(er). Each stage took the name of a departed Athens artist with the Vic Chesnutt Stage serving the headliners, the Jerry Fuchs Stage being the secondary outdoor venue and the Jon Guthrie Stage set up inside the bar.

Kayceman's Top 3

#3 - Camper Van Beethoven

Psychedelic folk rock, alternative ska pop, alt-country and whatever else people call Camper Van Beethoven, the band was able to warm the huddled masses at the 40 Watt/JamBase Party with "Take The Skinheads Bowling." Mixing a polka shuffle with a neat little violin line (that could have been louder in the mix), they twisted deeply into weird Americana/country rock landscapes and it wasn't hard to pick up on the Leftover Salmon cross-breeding found through bandleader David Lowery's work with Salmon in Cracker. What's even cooler, the band funded their trip to Austin by letting fans donate $100 in exchange for selecting a song to be performed at the fest.

#2 - The Tenant

Street Sweeper Social Club
Rachel Ray's Party :: 03.20.10 by Dudelson
Named after Roman Polanski's movie The Tenant, the quartet played inside the 40 Watt/JamBase Party to a filled bar. Working a moody, dark, dream-pop motif with warm textures, they won me over quickly, even though I'd never heard of them before. One can hear the influence of Manchester bands like New Order, Joy Division and Stone Roses, but it still came off as original. Heavy on electronics but juiced with real guitars and drums, it was easy to dance with. Another band that fans of Phoenix or M-83 should really check out.

#1 - Dead Confederate

There were a lot of big, distorted guitar squalls at the 40 Watt/JamBase Party, but none knocked the crust from our tired, cold bones more than Dead Confederate. Built upon slow, patient grooves that erupted into slamming cymbals and walls of noise, it was remarkable that they could paint such a picture in the light of day. This is dark music, both in content and delivery, and it's best experienced in a loud room with weird lights, where you can hide in the shadows. But none of that mattered during "The Rat." Looking around the converted parking lot, heads were slamming back and forth and fists were pumping. A serious achievement considering how freaking cold it was.

Bonus Coverage by JamBase CEO David Rosenheim - Big Star Tribute

The remaining members of Big Star joined special guests to perform an emotionally charged tribute to frontman Alex Chilton, who died suddenly on March 17. Big Star was scheduled to play a fest-closing set at Antone's, and instead of canceling the gig they brought in friends to help celebrate Chilton and his music. The capacity crowd was treated to 100 minutes of Big Star classics from the band's influential 70s albums #1 Record, Radio City and Third/Sister Lovers. Performing with original Big Star drummer Jody Stephens were current Big Star members Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of The Posies. Special guests ranged from original Big Star bassist Andy Hummel, Chris Stamey (dB's), M. Ward, Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Sondre Lerche, Chuck Prophet, Evan Dando (The Lemonheads), John Doe (who sang a lovely version of "I'm In Love With a Girl"), Amy Speace, The Watson Twins and Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets.

Kayceman's Top 3 Overall for SXSW 2010
1. Sleepy Sun at IODA Party
2. Kayceman's Treehouse Party
3. Big Light Private Late Night Show in Hilton Suite

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

Words by: Sarah Hagerman

The Packway Handle Band at 40 Watt/JamBase Party
03.20.10 by Hagerman
Saturday came down upon us, bitterly cold and gray. It was definitely a shock to the system after three days of gorgeous sun and mild nights. The weather seemed to cause many folks to stay indoors on the last day, which meant noticeably sparser attendance at a lot of shows, plus a fair number of cancellations and outdoor stages running late. But as the sign I spied at Green Mesquite BBQ later that day said, "It's called Texas weather." Texas weather means extremes that smack you in the face. So, I bundled up and rolled with the punches.

Packway Handle Band

Those in attendance at the 40 Watt Day Party (co-sponsored by JamBase) seemed to have the right idea – grab a Bloody Mary at Side Bar and huddle in the warmth of conversation. As the crowd swapped stories about the previous nights' revelries, Athens, Georgia five-piece string outfit Packway Handle Band stepped up to their dual head mic stand, set up on the Jon Guthrie Stage inside the bar. Without so much as an introduction, they launched into a set that made a believer out of everyone by the end. Packway have a fierce stage presence, with more than a touch of dramatic brimstone. Fiddle player Andrew Heaton was especially infused with hellfire, frequently leaping from the mic huddle to run around at the front of the crowd while thrusting his bow into the air like a baton. They were just a joy to watch. I adore the single mic stand set-up for bluegrass bands – it adds an element of theater, and Packway had it down to a snappy science. The four – Heaton, Michael Paynter (mandolin), Josh Erwin (guitar), and Tom Baker (banjo) would smoothly weave in and out (bassist Zach McCoy stood coolly to the side, until the end that is), leaning in close and singing, stepping out for the solo passes and even acting out the lyrics. When they sang, "Times a-comin' when the sinner must die," Paynter fell to his knees and Heaton mimed shooting him in the head. With his eyes menacingly wide, Heaton drew his finger across his throat, grimacing on the word "die." From an amped-up version of "Tell It To Me," which kicks the shit out of OCMS's version about five times over, and a cover of The Tiger Lillies' "Terrible," which featured trumpets and a couple gals on backup vocals, this is a band that knows how to own any song they set their minds to. At the end of the show, they ran into the crowd, furiously picking their instruments. McCoy raised his doghouse bass over his head, sending the bar lights swinging and wildly cheering folks ducking out of their way. They pushed the crowd back and forth, as they ran into the walls of the bar. This is how I like my bluegrass served up – dark and passionate, with a side of blood.


Lumped in with the post-punk disco bands, but drawing equally on robotic electro and banging club pop, WhoMadeWho were ferociously fun at Encore. They laid down rubbery beats and squishy synth, as bassist Tomas Hoffding leapt from the speakers to the crowd and back again and guitarist Jeppe Kjellberg pointed directly at members of the audience, singing, "You! Your thoughts are dirty!" One of the most amusing things to me was that Hoffding and Kjellberg never cracked the glass cool looks on their faces – Kjellberg kept a slightly-sweet, slightly-pervy smile glued on the whole time, and Hoffding was absolutely unflappable, even when Kjellberg bent down and pretended to tickle his balls or reached over and grabbed his nipples. When Hoffding made a trip into the crowd, an audience member tried to get in on the titty twisting action. Unfazed, Hoffding simply ripped open the top of his shirt and let him have it. These are some seriously freaky Danes, and when they closed the set with a crushing cover of "Satisfaction" from Benny Benassi's 2003 album Hypnotica (you know, "Push me/ And then just touch me/ Until I get my/ Satisfaction"), you felt like they really wanted you to push them in some very unseemly ways.

Titus Andronicus

Pretty Lights at La Zona Rosa :: 03.20.10 by Aaron Bach
I'm a total Shakespeare nerd, so I had to see a band named after one of The Bard's more obscure tragedies. I shivered in the cold and darkness of the Red 7 patio, through the end of the utterly unmemorable Crystal Antlers. Titus Andronicus was worth every minute of that wait. You can just tell when a band fervently believes in what they are doing, and lord, does this group write some new gospel. Anthemic punk with definite touches of The Hold Steady, Springsteen and The Pogues, you just want to pump fists to this. Note to self: Get their recorded stuff, so I can scream the lyrics next time. They had bucket loads of energy and are unapologetically brainy. Their latest album, The Monitor, is a loose concept album about the Civil War. They also have an album called The Airing of Grievances, which is a reference to "The Strike" episode of Seinfeld and the holiday Festivus. I'm glad there's a band of fellow pop culture, literature and history geeks out there to freak out with, who also have the balls to write 15-minute punk songs. I think I'm in love.

Pretty Lights

Utterly beaten to a pulp, I ended my SXSW 2010 with Pretty Lights at La Zona Rosa. Although not normally my thing, I got to hand it to him – Pretty Lights is definitely on top of his game. There's a reason he's blown up as of late. He has a seamless sensibility as he layers and melts bits and pieces together. It's real craftsmanship, and I was well impressed. He also had a mind-blowing light show, and drummer Cory Eberhard added a real thrust behind the sonic palette. Glitchy, dubby and heavy, with moments of exuberant flight, it was the perfect way to sweat and dance down the last hours of SXSW 2010 before 2 a.m. fell upon us. SXSW can be a harsh mistress, but, as I looked around at the beaming faces and hands raised in the air, I knew she'd already called me back for 2011.

Continue reading for more pics of SXSW Day 4...

Images by: Scott Dudelson

Rachel Ray at the Rachel Ray Party :: Stubb's :: 03.20.10
Dr. Dog at the Rachel Ray Party :: Stubb's :: 03.20.10
Chapin Sisters at the Rachel Ray Party :: Stubb's :: 03.20.10
Tom Morello - Street Sweeper Social Club at the Rachel Ray Party :: Stubb's :: 03.20.10
Andrew WK at the Rachel Ray Party :: Stubb's :: 03.20.10
Priestess at the Harley Davidson Party :: 03.20.10
The New Harley Davidson at the Harley Davidson Party :: 03.20.10
Exene Cervenka at Bloodshot Records Party :: 03.20.10
Big Light at Relix Showcase :: 03.20.10
The Like at Stubb's :: 03.20.10

Click here for coverage of SXSW Day 1.
Click here for coverage of SXSW Day 2.
Click here for coverage of Day 3.

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