Sunday, March 16, 2008

SXSW: The Aftermath and the Comedown

Posted By on Sun, Mar 16, 2008 at 1:59 PM

So, I'm sitting here in the Austin airport (flight delayed) after having spotty Internet access (read: none) for the past few days in the hotel. I have a ton of videos and pictures to post in the next few days (I threw down for a hottt camera), but until then, here are some other observations besides what we've already posted:

Simian Mobile Disco (photo by Annie Zaleski)

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*Simian Mobile Disco. The U.K. act headlined Mess with Texas vs. the Breeders yesterday night, and they absolutely blew the Deal sisters away. Vertical light displays in red, white and multicolors (reminiscent of Daft Punk) matched the duo's rave-y techno-pop, which they mixed in perfect discotheque ebbs and swells. "It's the Beat" especially created a groove -- and kept it.

*No Age. I'm in love with the LA duo's upcoming Sub Pop debut, Nouns; it's like Wire meets the Jesus and Mary Chain. But its set yesterday at Mess with Texas was rather awful. What's nuanced, primal and charming on record came off as a screeching, off-key racket live. Was it the outdoor festival setting -- I get the feeling they would be much better in a small, contained room -- or simply show fatigue (the band played an insane amount of shows)? Not sure, but I was disappointed.

*Chromeo. Also disappointing last night were these guys, headlining at Volume. While technically proficient and polished, the Vocoder-laden b-boy '80s funk/disco was just...boring. Perhaps this was because they were too polished and let their shtick (i.e., covering the Outfield's "Your Love" in brief and adding a snippet of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" -- the ultimate cheap ploy at the end of a bar night) dominate. I'm not entirely sure how the set managed to be just meh, considering it was 1 a.m. and I was a few drinks into the night at this point, but I was completely underwhelmed.

*Sons & Daughters. These charming Scots have improved mightily since I saw them opening for Franz Ferdinand years ago. Now much more confident, the group's distillation of American rockabilly and country (it even covered Johnny Cash, with a bit of the Stooges thrown in for good measure) and Britpop was high-energy and totally mesmerizing at an outdoor garden party thrown by Press Here Publicity. The new record This Gift was recorded by Suede's Bernard Butler, and the '90s melodic-rock nods came through loud and clear ("Gilt Complex"). Bonus points for singer Adele Bethel's totally bitching gold lame boots, which I coveted.

*Thurston Moore and the New Wave Bandits. Sonic Youth's Moore was in a jovial mood at the same garden party, cheerfully announcing drummer Steve Shelley as being "from the Crucifucks" (and not, you know, Sonic Youth) and introducing the band's name as "Bromance" -- and then expounded on the concept of "dude love." Aw. His set of solo material was also awe-inspiring; of course his distinctive guitar style made the set seem like a mini-Sonic Youth set, but with contributions from Come's Chris Brokaw and others onstage, the material sprang to life in its own distinctive way.

-- Annie Zaleski

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