A few of Kansas City's most talented indie bands from across the metro battled for a spot in PopWreckoning's Showcase at South by Southwest 2010 on Friday night. The winners, as judged by PopWreckoning and Jeff Tafolla of Saddle Creek Records: The Grisly Hand, Roman Numerals, and Thieves.
Here's the lineup:
Pretty formidable, eh? Click here for a slideshow.
Last week was kind of the week from hell, so forgive me for being about 10 days late on picking this up. However, for you sad bastards (like myself) who missed this nugget of fantastical news, here's the press release:
The slumber is over and Man or Astro-Man? must see what has become of earth in the wake of their absence. So indeed, for all of humanity, 2010 will be the year of contact, or, at least re-contact with the original space cadets themselves: Starcrunch, Birdstuff, and Coco. In addition to all the scientific experiments and live music demonstrations, MOAM? will host a variety of benefits and charities for earth specimens, predominantly in the human or animal form.
The first opportunity to see them perform will be on March 6th at The Bottletree in Birmingham, Alabama. Later that month, MOAM will play several shows at the SxSW music festival in Austin, TX (March 17-21).
Expect to see various posts that look like this in a month and a half: "HOLY SHIT!!! I JUST GOT TO SEE MOAM!!! OMG!!!!111" Just a warning.
Now that the festival is over and folks hangovers are wearing off, the really good shit is coming in. The past few days I've been enjoying living vicariously post-facto through KJHK's SXSW blog. If I tried to do the same thing through the Ssion's blog for Vice magazine, I'd probably turn gay, have a heart attack and die a glamorous, rainbow-spewing death. Click here or on the photo below for part one.
Cody Critcheloe's stories are not for prudes. The talks openly and unashamedly about taking drugs, chasing boys, and, worst of all, eating food from Chili's. But his lust for life is undeniable. As a boring straight guy who is psychologically incapable of letting go even for a minute to the extent that Cody and crew did at ever turn, I am in awe.
Possibly my favorite moment is his description of getting past this doorman (because getting past doormen is almost a bigger sport than the whole music game at SXSW):
On top of that there was a door guy, wearing a suit! HA HA! Can you believe it? Where did this asshole think he was? LA? Paris? Milan? New York City? HA HA HA! What a fuckwad! He tried to tell me that we weren't on the list, but after Alexis threw a fierce fit, he couldn't deny our star-power and let us in. It was odd the door guy had such a problem with us because the clientele seemed to be mostly over 40 and part-time employees at Joe's Crab Shack.
You have to realize that for fags to go more than a couple of days without dancing is like being in HELL!
The border around that YouTube video is green. Like money. I received a press release today about the St. Louis band Living Things, which did something kinda outrageous at SXSW last week. The band burned money on stage. Several times. The stunts were done in protest "Wall Street's dirty ways" according to the release. The band also had this to say: "Our mother is a bank manager at Bank of America. Our father is a small business owner. We believe in the American Dream. But the dream is broken. You and I have something in common, we want the good life. But there is a problem. Wall Street's dollar is dirty. Let's burn that dirty dollar. We are not economists. We don't have a solution. But through symbolism we can raise awareness together."
A publicist for Living Things told me that over the course of several shows at SXSW, a total of $200 went up in smoke but also donated that much to a homeless shelter. Maybe they should have burned Monopoly money and donated $400 to the homeless shelter. But I guess that wouldn't have been as extreme.
Pick up a free Living Things download at ultragrrrl.blogspot.com.
I'm writing this blog entry from my basement couch in Overland Park. Besides the ringing in my ears and a pain in my back and ribs that I can't remember aquiring, this seems like a world away from the aural and visual shitstorm that is Austin during South by Southwest. But I mean that in the nicest way.
If anyone's looking for the expert's wrap-up of the hottest shows in Texas last week, you'll have to look elsewhere. My perspective was supposed to be different. My two friends and I (all SXSW first-timers) planned to show up without badges or much of a clue, for that matter, and try to see the shows we wanted to see. If that didn't work, we'd settle for pretty much any stage with a working microphone on it, and I'd blog and tweet my experiences as I went along.
So, without further adieu, here are my tips for all the newbies who might want some guidance on surviving one of the world's largest music festivals:
Tip #1: Feeling overwhelmed is normal. There are more than 1,800 acts playing over the course of five days and hundreds of venues throughout the city, and that's just the official evening showcase. If you count all the day shows, unofficial mini-festivals and street performers, it's probably safe to double that number. Just remember: you're not going to come close to seeing all the bands, and that's okay. I probably sat down and watched 30-50 bands, and although I'm positive I missed some great stuff, I also discovered some amazing new music, like Efterklang, Denmark's horn-filled answer to Sigur Ros.
Tip #2: Badges aren't a necessity. Unless you're only going to Austin to see the top-billed acts -- or if you have an aversion to waiting in lines -- badges aren't an absolute necessity. Spend some time in the weeks leading up to SXSW scouring the Internet for high-profile day parties, label- and corporate-sponsored showcases, and mini-festivals that overlap SXSW's 6th St. presence (such as the fantastic Red Gorilla Music Fest, which hosted Black Clover artist and KC hip-hop regular Grieves), and you'll have more shows on your calendar than you'll know what to do with. Just be sure to watch for online RSVPs; even some of the free shows require you to plan ahead.
Tip #3: Don't chase your tail. With the exception of some of the top-billed acts, a lot of artists play multiple sets. We wasted way too much of our first day schlepping around town trying to catch the Thermals, only to see them again at multiple showcases. They're one of my favorite bands, but after three shows in three days, I think I'm good for awhile.
Tip #4: Get the hell off of 6th St. I spent a few extra days in Austin earlier in the week for SXSW Interactive, and by day nine, I was thoroughly finished with the constant noise, people and all-around cacophony of the downtown institution. But just a dozen blocks east on the exact same street, I caught Astronautalis and Busdriver at Bird's Barbershop. It was a cool, uncrowded venue with shade and free beer, and it was probably the best showcase I saw all week.
Tip #5: Bigger isn't always better. Camera Obscura and American Analog Set sucked. The Hold Steady rocked, but it was crowded and the $2 all-you-can-drink beer had a 45-minute line. On the other hand, the teeny-tiny hip-hop showcase at the Back Alley Social Club (particularly Crew54) was jaw-droppingly good.
And with that, my first SXSW comes to a close. There a ton of things I'd do differently (namely, slow down on the beers the night before my flight home), but I had a great time. I really hope I can make it back to Austin again -- but I'm also thrilled that it won't be for at least another 361 days.
The following is a guest dispatch by Riverfront Times music editor Annie Zaleski, who is courageous and awesome.
By day four of SXSW, everything is a chore. Waking up. Standing up. Drinking beer. Even mustering up enthusiasm to see bands becomes more difficult, mainly because the constant barrage of music - we're talking from the moment you land in the airport until you leave Austin - brings on sonic fatigue.
This was my mindset on Saturday afternoon, at the Chop Shop/Atlantic Records day party, which was held in a giant tent outside near the Austin Convention Center. I missed the Republic Tigers, who played earlier in the afternoon, but was incredibly excited to see Janelle Monae, the proud Kansas City, Kansas, native who was drawing quite the buzz in Austin this year.
Clad in dapper black-and-white outfits, her band walked into the show several minutes before her, like a group of penguins on a serious mission. A good omen, I thought, as I sucked down a can of Dos Equis like it was a bottle of water. Monae walked in later, her combination Mohawk/bouffant hairdo, crisp white shirt and confident stride making her impossible to miss.
I've been in Austin for eight days now and leave tomorrow, so needless to say, the chaos of downtown Austin -- particularly 6th St. -- is starting to give me some serious sensory overload.
That may explain why our journey away from 6th yesterday was so refreshing. As I mentioned in my last post, my two friends and I are all SXSW newbies, and we're here with no badges, no bracelets, and pretty much no discernible plan whatsoever for what shows we're going to see. Sixth is sort of the epicenter of the madness, and our goal yesterday was to find as much good music away from the insanity as possible.
The journey started at a hip-hop showcase at Bird's Barbershop, quite possibly one of the coolest venues I've ever seen (it's a real barbershop. I even stepped in some hair that hadn't been swept up). We got there just in time to catch Astronautalis, one of the best-kept secrets in indie hip-hop.
Astro spit rhymes to a crowd that, by the time he finished, was overflowing out the door. Besides his penchant for rapping about American history, he's probably best known for his freestyle, where he solicits topics to rap about from the audience. He did two completely off-the-cuff freestyles, covering everything from Twittersex to unintentional consequences to Octamom.
The next stop was good for my soul. The French Ligation -- basically a historic park with lots of shade trees and grassy areas to hang out -- played host to about a dozen bands, including Camera Obscura, the Thermals, Cursive, Pete and the Pirates, and Efterklang.
We took off before Cursive took the stage, but Camera Obscura, whose guitarist was out sick, was a pretty big let-down, while Efterklang, a Danish folktronica group, completely blew me away. After that, we headed back to 6th and caught a few semi-KC-related parties, including the Lose Control party (organized by Nomathmatics) and a nameless band that I thought was called Electric Grandmother, but apparently was not. Guess that one's going to have to remain a mystery.
Like most nights here, yesterday's festivities devolved into booze-fueled hedonism around midnight. I love the crowd-packed insanity of 6th, but if you're visiting SXSW for the first time, I highly recommend hitting some shows away from the madness.
South by Southwest has always intimidated me. I'm a decidedly uncool person, and 6th St. in Austin is a pretty cool place -- or at least it's always seemed like one, considering I'd never been there before this week.
But after a few days, "intimidated" isn't the word I'd use. "Overwhelmed" might be more like it. I was lucky enough to spend a few days at SXSW Interactive and got to stick around for the music festival, but even after seven days in town, I still can't wrap my brain around the sheer volume of bars and bands here. My friends and I also didn't buy badges, which meant that besides having to figure out the good bands, we also had to figure out which shows we could actually get into.
On Wednesday (the first official day for the music festival), my friends and I started out at Touche with a forgettable singer-songwriter before deciding to track down the Thermals, one of my favorite bands.
Lesson #1 from SXSW: don't try to chase bands around town. By the time we got to Red 7, the Thermals were already finished, and we had to walk halfway across Texas to find them at Club De Ville and the Bitch Magazine/Kill Rock Stars party, and they weren't on for another hour. That actually worked out well, though, because opening for them was a great rockabilly act called Thao with the Get Down Stay Down.
As expected, the Thermals tore it up. Not a lot of crowd interaction, but Lesson #2 from SXSW: bands will cram as many songs as they can into a 30-minute set.
We tried to catch These Arms Are Snakes at Red Eyed Fly and later, the Decemberists at Stubb's, but quickly learned that without badges, high-profile showcase shows are overhyped and overpriced ($12 and $25, respectively). Considering the amount of awesome free music available, we skipped all the paid shows. That paid off in spades, since avoiding those shows led us to an unplanned visit to the Black Clover showcase, featuring Grieves, at Darwin's Pub.
Lesson #3: pace yourself on the drinks. Starting at noon gets expensive, and it makes it hard to blog about the bands you saw at the end of the night. I'll try to be better tomorrow.
The Wayward Son will not be at SXSW this year. Awwwwwww. But you can follow the antics of Nick Spacek, program director for Lawrence station KJHK 90.9 FM, and friends at this specially dedicated blog and Twitter. The Pitch does have a special agent down in Austin, however; check here for updates over the next couple of days (he's already caught Bacon Shoe and the Republic Tigers).
Bacon Shoe, apparently, is continuing its street-attack tradition, born in 2006. They're even wearing the exact same clothes. Here's a video of them from a couple of days ago, feeding beats and bacon to a homeless lady.
If y'all know of anyone else from here who's going down and blogging SXSW, do share in the comments.
Though Kansas City has more than respectable representation in the official SXSW showcase, our biggest coup this weekend in Austin is sure to come from the three-day non-showcase party that local DJ duo Nomathmatics, with help from a lot of friends, is throwing in defiance of God, the Man and Everybody. More than 60 individual acts, a few bands and a lot of DJs, are convening Thursday through Saturday this weekend for the Lose Control Party at the Canvas Bar and Gallery (105 E 5th, Ste 113).
"After our visit last year to SXSW and attending multiple parties we decided this year we wanted to host and play one of the bigger parties of our own," says Sheppa, one-half of Nomath.
Check the flyer posted at losecontrolparty.com for the lineup and to RSVP, if you're going. Last time we talked with Sheppa, about a week and a half ago, the RSVP count was approaching 4,000. Damn.
The KC-Lawrence acts spicing up the disco meltdown include (of course) Nomathmatics, Norrit, Max Justus, the ACB's and Dri. Notable out of towners include Le Castle Vania, Treasure Fingers, Toronto's Woodhands and Kill the Noise, among many others.
Live vicariously via 140-character updates @LoseControl2009.
I'm freaking excited!
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