SXSW UPDATE: FRIDAY/SATURDAY SUMMARY
And the shitshow that is SXSW continues. Friday saw action from blog buzzband Tokyo Police Club, Def Jux rapper El-P, the Bon Savants and Austinite indie-jammers Sound Team. Saturday saw drunkenness and then soberness three complete times, dispersed over a number of shows: Detroit hip-hop three-piece Nowon; Brooklyn blues rockers The Brought Low and Austin southern stoner-rock band Super Heavy Gonads at The Copa; Austin alt-country band The Summer Wardrobe; NYC girl-rap Northern State; and finally Houston hardcore band The Jonbenet and Swedish hair-metal revivalists Vains of Jenna at Redrum.
Tokyo Police Club is definitely a band to keep an eye on. This is one of those blog buzzbands that I was skeptical of, but I have to say the live show lives up to the hype. This is sceney indie-rock that actually ROCKS on stage. El-P and his band have considerable talent and continue to be very successful. Friday night at Buffalo Billiards, a pool hall with a massive upstairs concert venue, the Bon Savants opened for Sound Team. The Bon Savants were a pretty good indie-rock band with plenty of energy and good songs. The singer struck me as a bit pretentious and too cool for school in his cream colored suit, while the guitarist sometimes had too much energy for the band, rocking out just a little too much for this kind of music. But the effort was appreciable and the band was decent. Sound Team was a treat. Often the local bands got overshadowed at South by Southwest, but the fact of the matter is that the bands in Austin are consistently really, really good. Sound Team was really cool upbeat, unpretentious indie rock. The drummer was a hard rock drummer in an indie rock band, and the bassist was totally whacked out (in a good way).
On Saturday I saw Nowon, featuring former members of Detroit hip-hop collectives Athletic Mic League and Funktelligence. This is the good shit, kids. Later on at the Copa I caught the end of The Brought Low‘s set, rockin’ southern blues based rock. The Brought Low is from Brooklyn and I definitely plan to see them soon locally. The Super Heavy Gonads were on next, bringing southern riff rock ala Clutch; I can’t find any web presence for them, which is too bad because they were really good.
Austin alt-countryers The Summer Wardrobe played later at Latitude 30. I’d seen these guys before at CMJ 2006 so I roughly knew what to expect. The guys seemed a little tired, and the singer confessed to me afterwards that they were exhausted after 4 days of playing, but even so the band was good; the pedal steel player is fantastic, so smooth. NYC rap group Northern State brought the goods at the Light Club to a packed house. These three girls know how to pump up the crowd, and the energy level in the room was top level; the best I’ve seen them perform yet.
After a fine Vietnamese dinner at Mekong River, it was on to Redrum, a dirty rock and roll bar (just the way I like it) on the fringes of downtown. The Jonbenet was pretty generic uninteresting hardcore. Vains of Jenna was on next, with their straight up early Motley Crue revival — these dudes have poofy hair, tight pants, the whole nine. I was somewhat impressed with the band, but not overly so; the sound was terrible and this might have a lot to do with it. They were still really entertaining and I’d be willing to give them another shot in a better setting.
What followed was mayhem on 6th St., a Blender afterparty, riding around in a VW bug for an hour, free drugs, hot chicks and… ah well, nevermind. The flight home was brutal — hipsters passed out everywhere all over the airport was a funny scene. I am still recovering. Can’t wait ’till next year.