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Transmission
« SXSW Band Diary: Rabble Rabble -- Thursday SXSW Tour Diary: White Mystery »

sxsw2011 Sat Mar 19 2011

SXSW 2011 Coverage: Friday

Like any good stereotypical "spring break" type of event (many music industry people refer to SXSW as the "music business's spring break"), sometimes SXSW is all about winging it. Bands cancel, capacity is reached (even for badge holders), and sometimes you wake up to find the power is out in the apartment you're staying at. But it's all a great adventure.

In fact, let me describe to you the place we're staying in. Instead of booking a hotel 20 minutes out of the city, we decided to crash a few miles from downtown with a few lovely girls from Chicago. The apartment is a 2 room little bungalow, no air but a nice breeze, chickens roaming in the backyard, and a dream catcher hanging next to the door. A tent is being rented out in the back yard during SXSW. We've never seen said tent person, but we've heard them cough, so they're there. It's like I've stepped into Richard Linklater's film Slacker. If you haven't been to Austin, and truly want to get a feel for many of the inhabitants of this town, watch that movie. It's just scenes of people and conversations in Austin in the 90s, and for much of the city and people, it's very true to life. This city has a bizarre charm about it, and things that might seem odd in another context fit right in down here in Austin.

Anyways, we shrugged off the electrical problems, bid our yard chickens adieu, and headed down to check out the A.V. Club, Canvas Media, and Flowerbooking (a local Chicago booking agency) party at Mohawk. We wanted to catch Chikita Violenta, an excellent pop band from Mexico City. The Mohawk is an excellent club, and as we entered we heard part of Sharon Van Etten's hazy gorgeous set on the patio. She really is a stunning songwriter and vocalist. Inside the Mohawk, which reminds me of a more rough version of Schubas, Chikita Violenta were dishing out their brand of rock pop anthem. Their music simmers, then has a slow build and just explodes, cymbals ringing in my ears even after the song is over. The band uses a loop of strings at times to really add a lush element, reminding me of some of the crescendos and cinematic flourishes in The Frames catalog. My SXSW partner-in-crime said they remind him of modern day Sonic Youth. A good way to start the day.

We stopped by the Rhapsody Rocks Austin party at Club De Ville next, hoping to catch Glasser. We grabbed our complimentary alcoholic beverages (if you're paying for drinks at SXSW, you're doing it wrong), free pancakes (yes, Batter Blaster was a sponsor, welcome to the modern music industry!), and staked out a spot in the shade out of the 85 degree sunlight. We thought the band on stage ended, and then 20 minutes later realized they were still playing. If I don't even realize that your band is still playing, that is probably a sign you're not a very memorable act. After finishing or snacks (the pancakes in a can were actually pretty tasty) we left early to try and catch Starfucker. But when we arrived at the venue, we were greeted by a sign that stated "Starfucker had to cancel, FUCK THE POLICE!" Not sure what that anger was about, but we shrugged it off and walked down 6th street in search of something new.

The Sennheiser audio party at Stage 6 caught our ear. We were able to catch The Antlers set, who I saw at Pitchfork Festival two years ago. The band has really matured and grown comfortable as a performing band. They haven't lost the emotion and intimacy of their music, but seem to draw the audience in more than alienating them. Sometimes it's nice to revisit an act and see how they've grown.

We wandered around and ended up grabbing dinner at the Lucky J's Chicken and Waffle food truck, and ran into Chicago's own Hood Internet. Apparently since Chicago is behind on the food truck craze, us Chicagoans had to get our fill while in Austin. As Clayton Hauck pointed out to me, "# of food trucks in Chicago: 6? # of food trucks in Austin: 600?" And he's about right.

We decided to spend the evening at the Gorilla vs. Bear and Mexican Summer showcase at Klub Krucial. Something about the name of the venue should have warned me about the inside of this club. Never trust anything or anyone that improperly spells something to be cute or edgy. The layout was a bit awkward, but there was a decent balcony with a comfortable couch (a welcome home after being on your feet all day) to lounge on. But, there was no air. Not even the ceiling fans were on, which meant the place felt like a sauna. Was it worth it though? Judging by Toro Y Moi's set alone, yes it was. The much buzzed about band had the place packed, and whereas I thought I'd find the band dull and boring, I really enjoyed them. Live, they have a disco glam vibe, and got most of the sweaty room dancing or at least swaying in time.

IMG_0023

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The view of Toro Y Moi from above


After Toro Y Moi, the club cleared out, clearly showing who was voted most popular on the night's bill. We stuck around since the lack of bodies cooled the place down, and caught a haunting set from Tamaryn. Dressed head to toe in black lace, she delivered a set of distorted beautiful melody, reminiscent of PJ Harvey. Next up was Games with Prefuse 73, which was a bit of a glitchy muddled mess of visuals and sounds. We tried to beat the crowd to get a cab, but that was not happening. So we hiked about 2 miles home in the dark of residential Austin, stopping to take a break at a 24-hour coffee shop. I almost paid a band to give us a ride, but like I said before, sometimes at SXSW you've just got to wing it.

 
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