Sadly, my seven-year streak of attending SXSW came to an end this year. No live music for four straight days (sigh), no warm weather for an east coaster looking to escape a winter that doesn’t want to end (sigh), no discovering a handful of promising, up-and-coming indie rock bands (sigh), and no gnawing on a big Texas rib from Iron Works BBQ (sigh). My body does thank me though–I didn’t stay up past 2AM one time last week, and come to think, I don’t think I had to wait in any long lines either.
(left: Bang Bang Eche, said they were 18 years old, but looked even younger.)
Just cause I didn’t attend SXSW this year, doesn’t mean that I didn’t send spies. Oh don’t you worry, I had some eyes down there in Austin peeping the action. Equipped with a love for music and a digital camera, I had blogger/music aficionado, Sarah Pesin, capture the four days of action that I missed. Besides being wowed by sets from The Cheek, The Proclaimers, and Illinois, here are Sarah’s other top picks from SXSW 2009:
Bang Bang Eche, at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop
New Zealand’s incredibly young Bang Bang Eche were my favorite discovery at SXSW. For such a young band they have more stage presence than musicians two, three, and even four times their age. Their sound is a unique blend of pure raw energy, mixed with dance and hints of hardcore–allowing fans of various genres to enjoy their sound. I liked them so much, I saw them three times over the course of the festival!
The Whip, at Filter Cedar Street Courtyard
I think I have to go so far as to say that The Whip make the best dance/electronic music out of any act in their respective field–they actually make the music themselves, with instruments, instead of solely relying on computers and sound-effect loops. Also, they were able to get the jam-packed courtyard–in outdoor Texas heat–to dance and pogo, which is a feat for any band. If you’re in the New York City area, make sure you catch them live. They’re playing with Late of the Pier at Bowery Ballroom on April 1 and Studio B on April 3. (I can guarantee you a great time!)
Playboy Party, at Safeway
As the second night of SXSW came to a close, I headed over to the 10th Annual Playboy Party. By the time I got there I already missed Kenan Bell and Calvin Harris, and the place was packed. Although the party took place in an old Safeway, it had an industrial elegance to make it perfect for a Playboy party. Having bars on both sides and a huge stage in the center was an ideal setup for California DJ Bassnectar, who brought the right mood to the party by getting everyone to dance. At 1:30am, the newly reunited Jane’s Addiction took the stage to a very eager audience. Having over an hour set (a rarity for SXSW), the reunited foursome played some of their greatest hits. After their incredibly energetic set, A-Trak took the stage, but by this point in time my SXSW-legs had given up the will to stand, and I headed back to my hotel after two very long days in Texas.
(top to bottom: The Whip, Lissie Trullie, The Postellles, and Hockey)
Lissie Trullie, at Fader Fort
On day two, I headed to the Fader Fort to catch one of my favorite female vocalists, Lissy Trullie. Her androgynous sound and live vocals are incredible, and not only is she extremely talented, but she’s also smoking hot with an attitude fitting of a New Yorker!
The Postelles, at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop
Starting off night three were, The Postelles, who are basically the perfect blend of The Kooks and Vampire Weekend. They remind me of the the real version of that band The Oneders (or The Wonders) from the movie That Thing You Do.
Hockey, at Peckerhead’s
Hockey are one of the best American band’s I’ve seen in a while. They remind me of a less pompous version of Razorlight, with the lead singer even looking a little bit like Johnny Borrell. Hockey’s songs are more Vampire Weekend-pop than Razorlight-rock, but they still have a similar feel to both bands’ sound.
Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, at Fader Fort
To start off day two of SXSW I decided to see the ridiculously named, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, who were outrageous and not ashamed of it. They’re a dance band looking to have fun, and if that involves making fun of themselves along the way, then so be it. If interested, they’ve got an upcoming US tour with Lily Allen.