SXSW - Half Time Report
I've been in Texas for almost three days now, and I've hung out with a man called Bill who drives a hearse for fun; rubbed beer into Har Mar Superstars thighs and seen Jonny Tiernan from AU Magazine stripped to his ballhuggers.
God Bless America.
For those that don't know anything about SXSW or to give it it's full title - The South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals - essentially this is a mass convening of the music industry for five days of panels, workshops, showcases and bands playing in the most unlikely of bars along a single stretch of anarchic, alcohol-soaked tarmac in Austin, Texas. It is very unique.
Getting here from London is very straightforward - two flights, cost me about $400; the music delegate pass (get one of these) is $400 if you book it early enough and if you stay on a Craig's Listed appartment (everyone rents out rooms to the festival go-ers) you are probably looking at about another $100/night. So essentially on a budget you can do this thing for about £800. That might sound like a lot, but honestly - this is probably the best festival you could go to in terms of the volume of bands that you can see. There are literally thousands of gigs that you could go to - it's mental.
DAY 1: It kicks off with The Kills at The Fader Party - not for me it has to be said, I thought the drum machine needed turning up; Saul Williams looked very dapper and spat his verses in an equally elegant manner; Ra Ra Riot are Vanessa Mae mud-wrestling with Death Cab For Cutie - go electro cello!; Ed Harcourt is wondering why JPL Raife (his drummer) is going to punch fuck out of the stage manager whilst he's playing his set (no mean feat)?; Johnny Foreigner are revalatory in front of eight people and remain my tip for world domination; The Lemonheads play "It's A Shame About Ray" from start to finish - that lad is a good singer, he should think about doing it professionally; The Blow are the experience of the night - sexy, provocative, funky and in your face 'Thanks for dancing, that's really nice - can you just do it down there, you're in my personal space' is the perfectly polite put down one over eager stage invader gets -
I leave thinking that Human Robotic Dancing should be on the National Cirriculum; The Black Keys wrap up Day 1 for me - they sound like Led Zeppelin still - without a bass player and a singer, anti-climatic after The Blow TBH - bad call Ferris!
DAY 2: I go to the Mall! I get an aforementioned Massage! I go out of town and eat a BBQ! I listen to Johnny AU tell me about how tight his trousers are and that he needs to change his underwear because he is 'so chafed' - KIDS WEAR LOOSE FITTING PANTS - you're endangering future generations.
Oh yes the music - FM Belfast are party hardcore from Iceland I think - they have a song about going to 'The Caribbean' and give out Olympic style gold medals; we then get dragged to some singer song writer bloke that is signed to Kiefer Sutherland's record label, he's shite; we go to the NME party which is housed in a ridiculous surf-themed bar and watch Dan Le Sac - it's not going well we need a plan... we conspire to stand in a queue to get into MGMT, this is never happening - KIDS DON'T QUEUE FOR ANYTHING EVER - so we leave with tails between our non-guestlisted legs.
Diplo starts to pick things up for us dancehall styleee - but then the PA blows up FUCK!; Tokyo Sex Destruction at the Primevera stage are incredibly good on all levels, they're RFTC mixed with the good bits of The Hives - band of the night; Har Mar Superstar is the only person that can finish this thing - he's fantastic and plays a song that he wrote for a Disney series that never made it 'But you know - I'm glad because it's way creepier when I sing it' - quote of the night has to go to HMS - 'Here's another Har Mar Superstar song - and it's a fucking gem!'
I have to agree.
Head hurts - need to drink water - no... more... red meat....
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