Thursday, March 18, 2010

SXSW: Day one wrap-up

I'm finally back in my hotel, safe from the chaos that is 6th St. after midnight. That place turns into a madhouse with all the SXSWers and college-age kids running around. And you're about as likely to find a taxi to get home as you are to see Haley's Comet.

Anyway... I left off with Everybody Is In The French Resistance... Now! It's Eddie Argos of Art Brut's funny little project where he created responses to pop songs including "Gold Digger" by Kanye West, "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Bob Dylan and "Vaseline" by Elastica. They're funny, poppy and Argos spruced up the set by telling stories about each one and where it came from.

Apparently, we were lucky enough to see the first set the band had ever performed in the U.S.  and they did a great job. Argos even jumped into the crowd and sang at people.

My next quandary was to decide whether I wanted to see Broken Bells (Brian Burton/Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley with James Mercer of The Shins) or Codeine Velvet Club (Scottish rock band). Broken Bells won that fight because, performing at the same venue (Stubb's) was Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and Spoon.

Over at Stubb's, after waiting for nearly an hour to get in, we got some music presented by NPR (two things: 1. you can re-broadcast the whole show at and 2. I kind of nerded out when I saw Bob Boylan from NPR's All Songs Considered). If you've never been to Stubb's, it's basically a sloping dirt lot surrounded by beer booths. At the low end of the hill is a stage. It sounded surprisingly great, which apparently differs from how it was last year (according to some folks I talked to).

The first two artists were Visqueen (female-fronted alternative) and Walkmen (mellow, Modest Mouse-esque stuff), who both did OK.

Sharon Jones proceeded to knock the roof off of the joint. I was never impressed with what I saw of her and the Dap Kings when they performed on TV. But the band was solid while she rocked, rolled, strutted and danced all over the place.

Broken Bells were also fantastic. No surprise here, but it basically sounds like Danger Mouse producing a bunch of Shins songs (which is kind of what it is). On that note though, the songs had much more layered instrumentation and much quirkier melodies and sounds than would probably ever make it on a Shins record. Most everyone was very impressed and I loved them. Their album came out last week and I wouldn't be surprised if they began a slow roll to big things.

Spoon was really good, although I have to admit that I didn't stay for the whole time. SXSW takes a lot out of you and I had to call it a day. More to do tomorrow... Stay tuned.

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In addition to this blog, check and The World-Herald every day for summaries of each day.

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