Monday, May 5, 2008

"Rock and Roll Spring Break," or My First Time at SXSW (Day 4)


1. Longwave
When I was heading to Mario Martelloli the night before, I ran into a couple of Longwave members on the street (and recognized the lead singer who looks like the Chris Martin of Coldplay but with cooler hair). I’d raved about what I saw at Emo’s and asked if they were doing any other day shows, and they told me about their kicking off the Filter showcase at Cedar Street’s Courtyard. I think I spent more time at Cedar Street than any other venue my whole trip because of that tip.

John already knew about Longwave and was heading there too, so with some coffee fuel in hand, we raced up to the Cedar Street Courtyard. Talk about great jangly guitar-driven power pop. John coined their sound best, “a great wall of sound that still manages an underlying melody to come through.” The lead guitar that has this cool synthesizer-like sound and the lead singer’s voice has this ethereal sound, adding up to this amazing sound. If the whole of their record sounds like this, it should be fantastic.

Download:Sirens in the Deep Sea-Longwave.mp3 (MP3)

2.Rogue Wave
John and I raced back over for Billy Bragg's set (John, having seen him at SX a year or two prior called it a must see, and hell it's Billy Bragg, of course he was right) during the Utne Reader Showcase. We got lucky as Rogue Wave was hitting the stage beforehand.

A pretty odd looking bunch for a rock band, kind of like, Wide World of Rockstars: one young guy, two old biker guys like you’d find in a dive bar, and an indie hipster. Rogue Wave’s sound is....a quiet hootenanny. It’s not alt-country or a singer-songwriter sound, but more of a nice Americana sound with a definitive rock edge and a fantastic slide guitar (along with fiddles, the slide guitar is another instrument that just kills me and seems to add something special to a song). It's like sadness with a hint of redemption, where you know the night will suck but if you can just make it till dawn, you'll be ok. Which works because Rogue Wave's music is much like that too.

And how cute is this? She was wandering around and dancing throughout the set.

Oh! And Nada Surf's lead singer Matthew Caws jumped up and shared lead vocals with Zach Rogue for one song. When I saw Nada Surf a few weeks later at DC's 930 Club and Caws, a super-approachable guy, was wandering through the place after, I made it a point to tell him how much I enjoyed his song. It really brought Rogue Wave's sound to this whole other level with both voices.

I had trouble finding a proper download so I give you this, a good review of Rogue Wave's recent San Fran show, and this:

3.Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg, always the leftist. But it definitely agrees with him, he's aged really well. Armed with an electric guitar and fevered opinions, Bragg remains a confident force who stands strong and proud, year in and year out. "Wavering" has never been an issue for Bragg in terms of his politics or his live show.

A wee bit blurry but...this will teach me to start drinking so early in the day

He played a lot off of his new record, "Love and Justice," some stuff off his Woody Gutherie covers with Wilco (including a great version of "Ain't Got No Home")...and is one really funny mofo. Highlights include, "American football is bollocks. The rest of the world calls American football "runny, runny, hurry, hurry, stand around 20 minutes for the adverts," and in reference to a previous SX that he played, he stated a great thing about it was the rare things that one gets to see...like "Phil Ochs in a Nudie suit standing around on upper Congress (Avenue)."

He then brought up fellow Brit and NME-Best-New-Musician winner, Kate Nash for a few songs. They wound up doing "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" by the Shangri-Las, which was awesome. Her voice is pure blue-eyed soul, for sure.

(Version below from a few days later in NYC)

Bragg didn't do "A New England" this set, which is how I discovered Bragg freshman year of undergrad, so I was a bit bummed. But overall, he sounded great, his live show and his preaching from his pulpit (read: stage) sound as always.

Download:Billy Bragg-I Keep Faith.mp3 (MP3 from his Conan O'Brien appearance)

And I got free jeans! (Of course, now I feel guilty given that the Nau company giving a pair away if you tried them on there went under not 1.5 months later. Booooo). For what it's worth, the jeans are sweet, and now they're really cheap so go buy yourself a pair...

4.Kate Nash
We got word that Billy Bragg was going to perform a few more songs with Kate Nash at her set that closed the Filter showcase back over at Cedar Street Courtyard, so we ran back after Billy Bragg's set ended. And waited....and waited...and after 1.25 hours, she came on (thank goodness for strong legs and beer within reach heh). As you can see, we weren't alone...

Photo from the artist's perch (the right photo), thanks to the ATE kids for the shot

Kate Nash armed with an acoustic and a keyboard, and was fantastic. This was the first I'd heard her but I was apparently the only one like that as there were a ton of Brits around me shouting her on. Her lyrics, they're like mini-plays and her enunciation of words is quirky and interesting (listen, you'll hear what I mean). I liked it so much I made it a point to pick up her record before I left Austin.

Billy Bragg joined her about 20 minutes in. "So through the wonder of Youtube, they'd discovered a mutual love of the Shangri-las" (When I say I'm in love, you best believe I'm in love, L-U-V"), and they launched into another version of "Give Him a Great Big Kiss," to much crowd excitement.

I caught Kate Nash's regular show at DC's 930 club a few weeks back and honestly? If she ever does her and an acoustic, go, without fail. But with a full band, with her songs so lyric-centric and subtle, you need the quiet of a place like the Cedar Street Courtyard, not some stupid fucking rock club...At the 930, it was tough to hear her and the nuances which totally make her songs hit home over the talkers in the crowd and the venue's size, and 930 typically has excellent sound. She's best seen in a really, really small place. If you do, however, you will be knocked out, trust me. She may be a wee one, but the girl has a powerful presence.

And did I mention Bragg and Nash did "A New England" as their closer at SX? Yup. And it was just fantastic.

Download: A New England-Kate Nash and Billy Bragg.mp3 (MP3)

Download: Foundations-Kate Nash.mp3 (MP3)

Day 4 PM, coming up...

1 comment:

Indie_dinosaur said...

I love Kate Nash! I'm going to her show at the Showbox in Seattle this Friday night... can't wait! I just read about her in Ragged - she looks adorable on the cover and it's free to download! Check it out www.raggedmag.com