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Friday, March 18, 2011

SXSW Day 2: Toro Y Moi, The Civil Wars, The Baseball Project, Bob Geldof, Vandaveer, Abigail Washburn, Charles Bradley, Ron Sexsmith and Surfer Blood, Thursday, March 17

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 12:56 PM

click to enlarge The Civil Wars - DANA PLONKA
  • Dana Plonka
  • The Civil Wars

12:24 In the South By vortex, all news - or at least news not related to Jack White pop-up performances, Cee-Lo Green cancellations, Kanye gossip and R.E.M. show rumors - gets obliterated. Japan's nuclear nightmare is no exception. Glancing at an RSS reader under 75 degree skies pool side at the Oltorf Road La Quinta is surreal, nauseating, guilt-inducing. Rock & roll shouldn't flatter itself into thinking it can do a goddamn anything about anything. And I don't pray. So it's onward into the music. Godspeed real world.

13:12 I stop by Jovita's, the site of the 88.1 KDHX and Twangfest Day Parties, but the parking lot is a wasteland. No music. The local authorities, on complaints from neighbors, shut down the outdoor stage. But the indefatigable Nico Leone (Co-Executive Director of KDHX) has a plan. All the outdoor bands, move indoors, sets shorten and the music continued, apparently without further incident.

13:36 At Waterloo Records, the chillwave (typing this word is unpleasant) band Toro Y Moi play indoors to a smooshed-in crowd. The sound is abysmal and the band, while expert in its own redundant fashion, has little to say. Sick of beer and hungry, I find a table at the 24 Diner, a new joint next door. The Bloody Marys, with farm-fresh, pickled Brussels sprout garnish, are ace.

14:30 Stuck in traffic on Cesar Chavez, and there isn't even a Strokes concert to blame (that would be later). Traffic and lines and parking searches are as much a part of SXSW as pedi-cabs and swag. That doesn't make them suck less.

John Grant w/Midlake - DANA PLONKA
  • Dana Plonka
  • John Grant w/Midlake
15:30 Walking up Congress towards South By San Jose, the annual free parking lot concert outside the zen-plush hotel of the same name, I hear the instantly identifiable sound of Denton, Texas band Midlake. And, it is Midlake, but fronted by John Grant. I'm certain he's a fun drinking buddy, but as a songwriter, dude is the apotheosis of irony, so over the top in his cutesy attempts to offend and flatter, simultaneously, an audience that one almost thinks it's an elaborate satire of himself. But no, he takes his stream-of-hipster lyrics seriously, and sings them with big, barrel-chested pipes. Not even Midlake can save his songs.

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