Saturday, April 25, 2009

Songs, Sun, and Lone Star Beer: SXSW 2009, Day 3

Intro, Day 1, Day 2 (day), Day 2 (night)

1. The Wrens
When I saw The Wrens were playing this year's SX, one of my travelmates knew of them so I asked him to describe their music. His exact words were “awesome and awesome-est.” Said travelmate and I don’t always agree on what constitutes “awesome” music (our common ground is Springsteen and Westerberg), so I wasn't sure what I'd find upon arriving to their noon set at the Hot Freaks day party this third day.

What I found was complete and utter awesome and awesome-est. Squared. To infinity.

Sometimes, hearing enough music that is just ok-not mind-blowing, not life-changing, but palpable-enough of that and you start to think "ok" is enough. You forget what it was like to hear music so good it scrambles your brains and all you do is grin like an idiot.

Go see The Wrens live and you'll recall all of this soon enough. What a glorious full-on aural assault of melodious noise.

(See more photos from the set here)

Give a Listen: Everyone Choose Sides-The Wrens

What could follow up such a thing? I needed some time to breathe so had a few beers then set out to catch my first SX music panel. Along the way, I caught two minutes of Bishop Allen...

and Viva Voce...
(See more photos from the set here)

2. Music Panel: The Sound and the Fury
SX has a ton of panels on all sorts of things music-related. But I thought "Sound and the Fury" looked pretty interesting if only for the roster (see below). Where else would you see Sylvain Sylvain, Matthew Caws, and Jonathan Poneman (one of the founders of the Sub Pop label) in the same place?

Like the variety of perspectives Faulkner offered in his classic novel, artists' views of the music biz are filtered through their particular experiences. Without denying the difficulties facing the recorded music market, and the economy as a whole, there are opportunities for intrepid musicians to find fans and make a career out of their creativity. The artists and execs on this panel bring unique histories to their current work, and they'll share their thoughts about furthering their goals in this challenging era. But maybe we'll leave Faulkner's themes of incest and despair out of this panel.

-Moderator: Karen Glauber Pres, Hits Magazine
-Lynn Barstow, Program Dir, Emmis Austin Radio/KGSR/KROX
-Matthew Caws, Nada Surf
-Karen Glauber, Pres, Hits Magazine
-Matthew Hales, Aqualung
-Mikel Jollett, The Airborne Toxic Event
-Jordan Kurland, Owner, Zeitgeist Artist Management LTD
-Anya Marina, Performer, Anya Marina
-Jonathan Poneman, Sub Pop Records
-Sylvain Sylvain, New York Dolls

(More photos from the panel discussion here)

There were some pretty funny quotes. Sylvain Sylvain on being a cult artist: "You get laid a lot." He also talked about taking a job as a cabbie in the lean years so he could make music on the side. "I got robbed three times, once by a woman." And Matthew Caws: "We'd rather play a packed closet than a half-empty living room." (Gotta love Matthew Caws.)

3. The Henry Clay People
Playing the last of their 98786876 shows at this year's SX at Red Eyed Fly, the HCP boys were ready to cut loose.

HCP are consistent in putting on a great musical performance, even a few drinks in (well here, it was more "a lot of drinks in"). The obvious closeness of the band collectively, and of the brothers Siara as family, make for an entertaining stage show; that friendliness amongst them exudes into the audience when they play. Combine that with their excellent musicial abilities and damn catchy songs, and you've got a great can't-miss band. I see great things on the horizon for HCP.

And I couldn't get a proper shot of drummer Mike Hopkins the whole show, so he was nice enough to pose for me after. I've always said I'm too east coast to live on the west coast, but damn, if all the boys are as handsome as Hopkins, I may just have to reconsider...

(More photos from the show here)

Give a Listen: You Can Be Timeless-The Henry Clay People

After HCP, I caught up with the travelmates at the SPIN day party at Stubbs for a few minutes of Glasvegas. "Daddy's Gone" is a lovely, rather hymn-like song that really does hold up live...

Give a Listen: Daddy_s_Gone-Glasvegas

And then I headed over to Maggie Maes for the only performance at SX of The Takeover UK, who were headlining the Sonicbirds party. Out of Pittsburgh, PA, Takeover's excellent take on powerful indie Brit-pop is worth a listen (debut is called Running with the Wasters). Their energetic live show should not be missed.

My travelmate John did a great writeup on the show here

(See more photos from the set here)

Give a Listen: Ah La La-The Takeover UK

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