The Motion Sick: SXSW 2010 Day 1

The Motion Sick elected not to go down to SXSW this year (as we had the past two years). It just costs too much money and probably isn’t worth spending for unless you’ve got a high-buzz showcase (which ultimately means you spent a lot of money promoting your showcase). The band Fucked Up wrote a pretty excellent piece about the economics of SXSW. That all said, Sophia and I made the journey down to Austin to work on building connections for our new music licensing venture Launch Over – a Boston-centric music library for film, TV, commercials, etc. We had a blast meeting industry people at the panels all day for Launch Over and then stayed out all night going to shows. We mostly tried to catch up on the hottest bands of 2008 and 2009 so we could avoid crowds and catch up a little bit. My overall impression is that we’re now stuck with a lot of bands who have beautiful arrangements and incredible harmonies, but can’t write a song to save their lives. It’s kind of like fool’s gold or something. I think most people can’t tell the difference sadly. Another thing is that when you see 6 or 7 bands a night, you mostly only remember what stands out. Most of these bands didn’t leave much of an impression. In fairness to all of these bands, they are performing in the least hospitable environment – everyone is distracted and running between shows, trying to catch as much as possible. So, it’s easily the case that I have misjudged a band here, but these are my quick impressions.

Here’s a brief summary of what we saw:

Hesta Prynn (of Northern State – a band that 3 of the 4 of us opened for during our stint in the band Okay Thursday) – her new dance rock thing; nothing like Northern State. Not bad. Didn’t blow me away.

The Coolness – they are cooler than you, or so they say. Over-the-top tongue-in-cheek rock. Funny. Decent. Can’t remember much more

Doll and the Kicks – dancy British rock. Fun, energetic show. Songs all kind of blended a little, but they were pretty good anyway

Choir of Young Believers – Fool’s gold maybe? Was a little distracted during their set, so I owe them a second look.

Fanfarlo – I like The Arcade Fire because of their songs, not because they can overarrange every moment. People must only like Fanfarlo because they can overarrange every moment…fool’s gold!

We Were Promised Jetpacks – had heard good things about them, but was totally unfamiliar with their music. They totally delivered with an awesome wall of sound and vocal intensity. I was really impressed.

Frightened Rabbit – love their recordings, loved them more than I would have expected live. They are not the most technically proficient band, but they totally deliver heart and convey that they believe in their songs. Awesome!

Billy Bragg – I love Billy Bragg, but the venue was terrible and they didn’t give us badge priority to get in, so that put us in a bad mood to begin with. Some video we took of him at SXSW in 2008:

In addition to some great panels, we had also caught an interview with Lemmy earlier in the day, which was really awesome. It was partly inspired by the fact that Lemmy the Movie was premiering at SXSW and partly probably just because Lemmy is awesome. We didn’t actually go to see Motörhead, but they did play a bunch as well.

Day 2 coming soon…