Hitch a ride, music advertising on the side.

Hitch a ride, music advertising on the side. (photo)

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Attention, SXSW-goers, welcome aboard the “Together” bus, with complimentary shuttle service from the airport to downtown Austin. Please enjoy the free bar. We have stuff for mimosas, Bloody Marys, and bourbon & cokes. For your listening pleasure, we’re going to blare the new New Pornographers album, “Together,” out May 4 on Matador Records. The band isn’t playing SXSW, but this is the first time a fan can hear the album.

“If you’re not gonna like the album under these circumstances — a free ride and booze — then you’re not gonna like it,” says Gabe Spierer from Beggars Group, a parent label comprising 4AD, Rough Trade, XL, and Matador.

“[Matador founder] Chris Lombardi wanted to buy a ’71 Cutlass and park it on Sixth Street and let people hop in and out, and listen to the record,” colleague Adam Farrell adds. “But imagine having that car parked out there that long.”

The “Together” bus is one of the guerrilla-style marketing campaigns prevailing at SXSW, where making an impression on the swarm of festivalgoers already desensitized by Twitter memes, Gowalla updates, and a billion other messages competing for brain waves is no easy feat.

But Spierer and Farrell boast of early success aboard the school bus converted into something approximating the Merry Pranksters’ Further, equipped with inside walls aswirl in orange, blue, purple, red and green, and a bitchin’ stereo system. They say on their first run, at 9:30am, they got all of their passengers plus half the cab line. “We’re crushing SuperShuttle right now,” Farrell says.

On the 11 o’clock ride, the second of five total runs on Wednesday, the bus is packed with approximately 20 people. On board is the Matador band Fucked Up. Bystanders outside the airport terminal, and on the street en route back to downtown, are definitely scoping out the banner on the outside of the bus. Although they’re probably wondering what the hell a New Pornographer even is, the music playing inside is doing the trick on its target market.

“I’ll buy this record just because of this bus,” says one loud-mouthed, tattooed longhair. “I promise, dude.”

03192010_ThirdManRecords.jpgMeanwhile, across town, another innovative marketing tactic is also cutting through the noise. At the gourmet hot dog restaurant Frank, Jack White’s Third Man Records is setting up a “pop-up” shop, the fourth of its kind in the past year for the Nashville-based label. Prior cities include New York, Los Angeles, and London. The idea, first and foremost, is to extend the White Stripes brand.

“We have a really strong, hardcore fan base because of the White Stripes,” says Ben Swank of Third Man. “We want them to know this is a label for the fans, where they can come in and meet us and talk about music.”

The pop-up is situated in the back of the dining room, where for $8.50 you can order a White Stripes hot dog, topped with red pepper strips, BBQ sauce, and white cheddar. Two boxes of pins — one with “I ♥ Jack” and one with “I ♥ Meg”–rest side by side on a counter, along with other odds and ends.

But vinyl is king. The serigraphs made especially for this occasion say, “Y’Alls Turntable Ain’t Big Enough.” Indeed, Third Man has pressed special Texas-sized vinyl — 13″ instead of 12″ LPs and 8″ instead of 7″ 45s — that fellow Third Man label head Ben Blackwell says are “the perfect match for the tens of thousands of music industry schlubs descending on Austin like locusts.”

Beginning Friday, the first 50 customers to purchase a “The Ghost Who Walks” single by Karen Elson, Jack White’s model wife, will gain admittance to Elson’s concert upstairs at Frank on Saturday night. (The Dead Weather are in Australia, so don’t expect a surprise visit from White.) Third Man is also pushing a reissued vinyl of the Jon Wayne album “Texas Funeral.”

“It’s an amazing lost Texas record,” Swank says.

“That record is why I moved to Texas,” adds a customer who overhears Swank.

03192010_XXBus.jpgOf course, some bands or entities aren’t about loud statements like these two. The handlers for the London band The XX, who are playing multiple SXSW shows in support of their narcotic, minimalist self-titled debut, have taken a downright subliminal approach. XL Records, also under the rubric of Beggars Group, whose marketing efforts are also handled by Adam Farrell of the “Together” bus, bought bus-tail wrap ads on the back of two Capital Metro buses, featuring the band’s single “X” logo.

“The XX’s allure and power is in the subtlety of their music,” Farrell says. “Our marketing campaign has never been about overpowering that.”

But how is the success of a campaign like measured? Farrell says, “If our marketing campaigns were subject to any sort of quantifiable return on investment, I would have been fired years ago.”

[Photos: “Together” bus, Michael Hoinski, 2010; Third Man Records, Kathy Hoinski, 2010; The XX, Beggars Group, 2010]


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.