SXSW Day One: Jesus Gave Me a Migrane
Here I sit, high atop the Hilton with a headache. Blame it on the free Maker's Mark courtesy of John Norris and the extremely precise and professional staff of La Zona Rosa, who treated Times New Viking like they were three Bonos. Wow was their sound gigantic last night. I know for fact I'll see the "kids" play multiple times, this virgin set though couldn't have been better. I think the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd was due to awe -- most people at this fest have yet to be inundated with the "shitpop" phenomenon.
Sound issues and venue location plagued Columbus Discount once again, sadly. Night of Pleasure tore through their amphetamine punk without much regard to the troubles. As did the Unholy Two, who made more than enough mentions to the late great Dr. Martin Luther King. What a juxtaposition to have Chris Lutzko's heady feedback-laden crud blaring while blessed Austinites munched on overpriced BBQ. I could see the frustration in Adam Smith's eyes and wished I was technical enough to help with the technical difficulties.
Fortunately CDR's great white hopes, El Jeezy performed magically at high noon, with the sun beating down gloriously, and the free PBR already reminding the crowd of a late sweaty night at the Boo Boo. From there we headed to the Fader Fort (a loving nod to Harmeet Kala) where more free booze was the object of desire. Jeremy Jay was mediocre Jordan O' Jordan (where the fuck is that guy), shaky singer-songwriter flak that didn't impress. The Ruby Suns, who just released a great tropical topical record on Sub Pop, couldn't exactly translate live, coming off like a second-rate romper-room Animal Collective with none of the flair. The biggest surprise was the re-invention of the Kills, who I thought were dead in the water, but managed to present a new strain of icky thump coming through busted ghetto blaster. They got beats and soul. Beats and soul.
Speaking of beats, after the honeymoon with TNV the night took a turn towards electronics. Lindstrom from Oslo, Norway chilled a packed Thirsty Nickel into blissful submission. This was not the ideal venue for him unfortunately, he needed neon and darkness, smoke and weed, not body shots and white caps. Get this guy another show, someone. Our important last slot decision was to see Bon Iver atop Maggie Mae's, but the capacity crowd and undesirable setting forced to seek shelter elsewhere. So we took a risk and headed up to the Karma Lounge -- the best decision of the day. There we got a taste of Cut Copy's amazing skills as DJs(Diplo should be worried) and the riotous arrival of Tough Alliance, who basically lip-synced their entire album amid videos of dolphins and sickly sweet dry ice. It was wild, a pop filled mix of Bronski Beat and Wham! -- all the gay wonders I secretly adore.
Sub. Ref. sxsw