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Tuesday, January 19

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Transmission
« SXSW Band Diary: Rabble Rabble -- Wednesday SXSW Band Diary: Rabble Rabble -- Thursday »

sxsw2011 Fri Mar 18 2011

SXSW 2011: Thursday

The main thing I learned Thursday during SXSW is that a huge throng of music fans, bands, and people celebrating St. Patrick's Day isn't necessarily the best mix of humans to encounter. But we'll get to that later.

As any good Chicagoan does when encountering nice weather, I've got to boast a little about how gorgeous it is down here in Austin. We started off Thursday waiting for the bus downtown in 70 degrees with the sun shining and a light breeze. Not a bad way to start the day.

We stopped by the Filter party first to catch some of Cults and The Vaccines. We missed the elusive Cults (which I've tried to see already a few times this week to no avail) but were able to catch The Vaccines, one of the more buzzed about bands of SXSW.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I think of the band, because they played for 15 minutes. Literally 15 minutes. I timed it. Their sound check took longer than their set. But from what I heard they sounded nice. Your typical NYC indie rock scene sounding band, not rough around the edges and a bit too polished, just not very memorable. I wouldn't mind seeing them again to get a better judgment of the band, but seeing them is something I'll probably forget within six months.

After trying to check out a few acts and finding the bands set times were listed wrong, we popped into a coffee shop to take a break. If you want to get a good feel for the industry side of SXSW, look for the casual on-up-ing type meetings going on around the city. I overheard some men wax poetic about the good old days, when "we'd never leave the lobby of the Four Seasons and major labels would wine and dine us all week long." The one gentleman complained about having to reformat his label, how he now works with licensing specific songs to movies and products, but how now his work is all about the music. But one has to wonder, is it really about that? If you're attaching music to a product for an emotional affect, doesn't the music pale in comparison? The struggle this industry has with adapting to change is overwhelming, and the constant living in the past of memories of a thriving industry isn't going to fix the problems of today and tomorrow. Things evolve and change, get over it and move on. It's a lesson that many in the music industry continues to struggle to learn.

Combine the outdated industry chatter with the chaotic scene of 6th street made me wonder if SXSW is really about the music anymore. Families with small children roamed the streets (I can assure you that SXSW isn't really a family affair), and people that could care less about the bands but wanted copious amounts of free booze staggered through the streets. Sure, the music is still at the epicenter of things, but it's become so convoluted that it's hard to remember that at times.

We thankfully ducked in to the BirdDog showcase at Aquarium, and were revived with some excellent tunes from the Brooklyn duo Tiny Victories. They churned out shoegaze like dream pop with hints of danceable synth, the vocals at times reminiscent of Talking Heads. Have Pitchfork heard of these guys? Because they would fit in perfectly at Pitchfork Festival. Get on that Pitchfork.

After wandering around a bit we realized that BirdDog was a really tight showcase, so we headed back and caught some of Ava Luna, a collective that sounds like they are obsessed with 50s girl groups, Beck's Midnight Vultures, and En Vogue. Next up was Yellow Ostrich, a band that recently got a lot of attention when eMusic had them spotlighted on their site. Their recorded music is very vocal driven, but live they're a bit more heavy on guitar while still not losing the crisp vocal harmonies that stand out in their songs. They are an extremely tight sounding band, and seem to have a very promising (and growing at a rapid rate) body of work.

IMG_0019

MillionYoung at the BirdDog showcase

We ended the night with a set from MillionYoung that ended up turning the tiny bar area into a dance party. Their set was another dose of dreamy chilled out pop music, making the entire BirdDog showcase having me yearn for the warm summer months when music like this is a perfect compliment to the season. MillionYoung remind me a lot of Walter Meego, a disco glam vibe that keeps people moving. The crowd was in love, chanting for more songs after the set was over, and making it hard to move, everyone packed in and dancing. If you love danceable breezy pop music, check them out, because they've got a show coming up at Lincoln Hall on March 25th opening for Miami Horror.

We ended the day a bit early, heading home before the bars closed and the mass of angry drunk St. Patrick's day celebrators and the drunk SXSW folks collided. Seriously, I've never seen so many people past the point of tanked. One can only guess how many bad decisions (and stomach pumpings) happen this week in Austin.

 
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