Sophia’s Rock Beat: SXSW 2011 edition!

Sophia’s Rock Beat is where I blog video of local Boston bands that I saw the week before. (previous Rock Beats). This week is a bit of a departure because I’m going to include video of all the bands we saw at SXSW – which is mostly non-local.

There will be a follow-up post on my thoughts on the panels that we attended and my thoughts on how SXSW could improve – from a badge-holder’s perspective.

Michael and I spent last week in sunny Austin, TX for SXSW. I’m going to go in order for the 38 bands we checked out.

Wednesday, our first stop was the Boston Phoenix party where we saw a few moments of Cincinnati band, The Seedy Seeds. Then we shuffled off to the Convention Center to catch two songs of Daniel Johnston –video 1, video 2. He performed after a panel of close friends/family spoke about his career – I found his songs to be moving and sad.

We went to a panel on the Asian music market and we found out about a showcase of Korean bands that night and so that was our first stop of the evening we caught a really awesome band from Seoul called Galaxy Express – they were by far one of my favorite discoveries at SXSW – leather jackets and Misfits t-shirts- they rocked so hard the power literally went out (I saw the sound guy flip the breaker back!) Video one below, video 2.

After this electrifying set we caught a few moments of Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr. at the KEXP party – we were too far away and it was too packed to tape anything. We headed out to catch Liam Finn (who I wasn’t into – seemed like a lot of posturing to me – video) and caught some of British band, Dry the River – who we really liked – video 1, video 2. After this we headed down the street to catch Duran Duran – but first had to suffer through Raphael Saadiq – which was really the most unenjoyable thing I saw all week – it felt like a 60th wedding anniversary party – I like motown/soul/50s numbers but I really didn’t get the point of Saadiq’s interpretations. Duran Duran were as you might expect – fun but nothing surprising. They played about 5 of their new songs and some of the hits – I was pleased they opened with my favorite, “A View to A Kill.” – we got two videos from far away – 1, 2.

Thursday we started off at The Weekly Dig/Converse party and caught a few moments of Mystery Roar and Bodega Girls. Later we saw Awesome Tapes From Africa (a Brooklyn DJ that plays what his name says) who went on right before David Wax Museum. Somehow we’d never managed to see DWM in Boston – they were awesome (I’m in love with that donkey jawbone) Video. Then we hopped over to a courtyard to catch a few moments of Smoosh and The Bangles – it took about an hour for the Bangles’ stage hands to sound check everything – which included several tambourine soundchecks – which is ridiculous. They came to the stage with bodyguards – and even though they took forever to set up the sound was terrible – we left after a few songs. We ended the night with Owen Pallett – I’m not big on the whole making music with looping – but Owen is one of the best I’ve seen at it. I’m not crazy about his songs but he’s an immensely talented violinist. Video 1, Video 2.

Friday we started the rock off with Aloud at the Berklee party (video). Then we caught some of City & Color – who I really did not like – but maybe they just weren’t appropriate for Stubb’s (a 2000 person outdoor venue) – especially during their solo-acoustic numbers. The went on just before Airborne Toxic Event – who had some of the most embarrassingly bad stage banter I’ve heard in awhile –video. Then we skedaddled to catch The Submarines (video) and Okkervil River (video)- both of whom I really enjoyed – though I was hoping for more _Stand Ins_ material from Okkervil – though they did close with “Lost Coastlines.”

Saturday, we started with rock for breakfast, catching Versus (video), an acoustic set from our friends in Sleepy Vikings –video (sadly did not get their cover of “Skulls” on video) and Joan of Arc (video). Then we were off to the Ryan’s Smashing Life/Organic Artist Agency party where we caught Dave Godowsky/John Shade, Golden Bloom (video 1, 2, 3), Kingsley Flood (video 1, 2), and Kasey Anderson (video). Saturday night we went to the Chimera Music showcase – which is Sean Lennon’s label. Photo/Video was very strictly patrolled at this show so we didn’t get any video at this showcase. His band with his girlfriend, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger opened – they were really cute indie folk. Then his girlfriend sang a few songs as Kemp & Eden (a project with a high school friend of hers, presumably before she went off to be a model in LA) – they were okay. They were followed by one of the worst bands I saw all week, If By Yes – really terrible vocal jazz – but the singer was really awful (though someone said she was sick later). Either way, once she started singing in 4/4 over a 3/4 beat I had to leave during their set and get a veggie burger at the food truck next door. I came back in time to catch Consortium Museum – a psych noise project with Lennon and Greg Saunier from Deerhoof. Following them was Fig, a project from Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto) and Nels Cline (of Wilco) – I didn’t find them to be terribly memorable. Next was my favorite band all week, Mi-Gu! Mi-Gu is a Japanese duo fronted by a girl-drummer (already, I’m swooning) who is just insanely good while also being kind of experimental in her drumming – her and the guitar player would rock out and then pause for her to recite something. My favorite song was, “there’s a spider in my room, WHAT SHOULD I DO?!?! We can’t kill it, it eats small bugs.” Then Tuneyards came up to do a Yoko Ono cover of “We’re All Water.” Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band headlined the evening and they were really awesome – comprised of musicians from all of the previous bands (including Sean), 78 year old Ono totally rocked. It was amazing to see. We taped audio of their set which for now is posted here. Definitely a highlight of my SXSW.

Sunday, we caught up with a bunch of Boston bands that we’d missed at their other showcases all week. We stopped by the Wadzilla party and caught Stereo Telescope and Static of the Gods (video 1, 2). And then we popped by Momo’s and caught a song of Visions (which was enough to make us want to catch them again!) and a set by Caspian – really awesome instrumental ROCK (video 1, 2).

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