When Milind moved to Austin, TX, we said that it would be a great idea for me to come down and enjoy SXSW. Last year, I wasn’t able to go because I was in the middle of training and couldn’t leave my desk, let alone the city. This year, however, I did actually make it. Our schedule for three days straight was basically this: get up at 11:30am, get to downtown by around noon, party and listen to music until 2am, go home and sleep and do it again. In our time there we saw about 25 acts. I was amazed by the consistent good quality of the bands there. Rather than give you a full description of of every band we saw, I’ll just give you what I see as my “best of.” If you can make it down next year, I highly recommend it.
- Best Show:The Whip. This band out of Manchester, UK put on a simply spectacular show. Kind of electronica/dance/rock. Extremely high intensity. Their album came out in the UK on March 24. Luckily, you can find it on iTunes.
- Second-Best Show: Delorean. This electronica/dance band out of Spain was our first show of the festival. We were lucky to have wristbands, as people without them or badges were not allowed. Was a high-energy start to our festivities.
- Best Cover That Wasn’t Really a Cover: “Guerrilla Radio” performed by Tom Morello. Why is it that Rage Against The Machine songs done in a completely different way work so well? Tom Morello prefaced this song by saying it was a song of revolution that has been sung throughout history. As he’s strumming along on his acoustic guitar playing this very nice, folky song, he sings “more for Gore or the son of a druglord…” It is at that moment that I realize what he is singing and I stare in amazement. Song was complete with a harmonica solo.
- Most Pervy Performance: Son of Dave. Former Crash Test Dummies member in a smoking jacket with an array of harmonicas, a loop machine, and a microphone by his foot. A little into the show, he says he’s getting lonely, so he invites a couple of people up on stage to sit next to him while he takes off his jacket and mentions it’s getting a little “pervy in here.”
- Most Awesome/Awkward/Random Show: YB. We see a disproportionally large number of Asian people waiting in line. Hoping we might find some Jpop, we walk in. Instead, we get to see Korea’s most popular rock band. It seems they have already sold over 2 million records. The show was basically a history of the last 50 years of American rock as they moved through many different styles. They thankfully skipped disco. Most people in the audience were singing along in both English and Korean. Only felt slightly out of place.
- Band Member Most Likely to Get Me Slapped By Randa or Make Me Feel Inappropriate: The cellist from Ra-Ra Riot. Nothing more to say on this one…
- Craziest Live Performance: Foxy Shazam. Keyboard player continually jumped on top of his instrument. I’m also pretty sure his sideburns have their own zip code. Of the albums I’ve purchased since going to SXSW, this is probably the one I’ve listened to the most.
Just for the sake of completeness, here is a list of just about all the bands we saw: Delorean, Peel, Saul Williams, Scouting for Girls, Foxy Shazam, Sixpence None the Richer, Black Before Red, Elevation, YB, Son of Dave, DJ Rekha, Tom Morello, Serj Tankian, Billy Bragg, Ben Harper, Ra-Ra Riot, Le Loup, Oz.Eagle.Lion.Man, In Case of Fire, The Cribs, Sia, NERD, Manis, The Whip, Rascals, The Wombats, James Yuill, The Teeth, X.