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SXSW Music: The Best Of The Rest

SXSW Music: The Best Of The Rest (photo)

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We tried to cover as much ground as possible in the four jam-packed days of the SXSW music fest, but let’s face it – you need twelve ears, six arms and zero hours of sleep to even break the surface of all that was worth reporting on in this marathon of musical mayhem. Here are some of the shows we saw that we didn’t have time to cover in-depth – all artists worth checking out on record, or if you’re lucky enough, in person.

Eddie Spaghetti @ The Red Eyed Fly: If you haven’t ever experienced the badassedness of the Supersuckers’ silly brand of 90’s American rock and garage punk, you probably would have passed right over this show by the band’s bassist and longtime front man, Eddie Spaghetti. With a full pit of beer-guzzling fans to cheer them on, Spaghetti and his band picked out songs from his new record “Sundowner,” including spirited covers of Dean Martin songs, obscure AC/DC tunes, and even the Dwarves hit, “Everybody’s Girl.” Spaghetti is beyond charismatic – in a cowboy hat with a handlebar mustache, he crooned his cow punk tunes, imploring the audience to throw up the devils horns after every song, to the cue of a spirited, “Cha Cha Cha!” Who were we to disobey?

Noah And The Whale at Stubb’s: The well-mannered chaps from London played twice at SXSW, and we caught them at Stubb’s, in a showcase with Portugal. The Man and TV on the Radio. The quintet, named after a not-so-subtle combination of film, “The Squid and the Whale,” and its director, is on tour to promote “Last Night On Earth,” their latest album of gushingly cinematic indie pop numbers. The band pulls off their folky compositions with a delightful energy, the band providing a lively backdrop for bandleader Charlie Fink’s stoic, Tom Petty-style narration and deadpan delivery. Extra credit for having two band members rocking the best curly pompadours since Lyle Lovett.

Andreya Triana @ The British Embassy (Latitude 30): We caught the tail end of Andreys Triana’s soulful set at The British Embassy (Latitude 30) “British Music Launch Event,” and just three songs was enough to win us over. With a silky voice and calming aura that called up India Arie, Triana belted and bluesed out tracks from her debut album, “Lost Where I Belong,” released this past September. To end her night onstage, Triana hopped down into the audience, microphone and all, to deliver an intimate cover of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody,” her glorious voice and a single electric guitar leading the chorus to a song so infectious, mimes must sing along. Down on the floor with the people, all of us singing and clapping, the club felt like a house party – an organic setting befitting the earthy singer who we’re sure to hear more from in the future.

Sharon Van Etten @ The IFC Crossroads House: Sharon Van Etten played in our own IFC backyard, and was another one of the quiet surprises of the festival. A little lady, with a big red guitar and a bigger attitude, Van Etten dug into songs from her sophomore LP, “Epic,” full of heartwrenching tunes like the pleading “Don’t Do It,” in which she begrudgingly acquiesces, “If you want to do it, you are going to do it.” Her husky voice lost its whisper and gained strength as her set plunged forward, the effects of an earlier Merge showcase receding as her pipes began to warm up. Van Etten’s stage demeanor is shy, her sense of humor, coy and endearing. “One day I’ll have a spinning bow tie and I’ll be a lot more entertaining,” she said before launching into a song called “One Day.” Forget the squirting flower, Miss Van Etten, we’ll take you as you are.

Bourne

Bourne to Run

10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Movies

Catch The Bourne Ultimatum this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.


10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.


9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.


8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.


7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.

Universal Picutres

Universal Pictures

Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.


6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.


5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.

Universal Picutres

Universal Picutres

Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.


4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.


3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.

Eon Productions

Eon Productions

Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.


2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”


1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.

Warner Brothers Television

Warner Brothers Television

Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.

The Head And The Heart Woo At Antone’s “Review”

The Head And The Heart Woo At Antone’s “Review” (photo)

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The buzz has officially kicked in. The Head and The Heart – a band that self-released their debut album and broke big while opening for a series of Vampire Weekend dates – packed their third show at the SXSW festival with fans eager to clap along to the Seattle quintet’s unique mixture of harmony-driven, indie rock, folk, and bluegrass. The group met at an open mic night, which explains the diversity of their skills and sounds, and their self-titled album, which was re-released by SubPop in January, showcases the merging of these talents into an alt-Americana masterpiece.

The group welcomed the audience to their show the only way they know how — with an effusive, three-part harmony. Co-frontmen Josiah Johnson and Jon Russell took turns in the lead vocal/guitarist role, while husky-voiced Charity Thielen peppered in her husky backup vocals and violin accompaniment. The three singers’ perfectly enmeshed voices immediately telephone thoughts of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, as well as the larger harmonic indie groups of late, like labelmates, Fleet Foxes, but with a more overtly melodic center, a bluegrass bent, and a commitment to stage dancing and hand-clapping that inspires audience participation. Like many groups whose greatest thrill lies in vocal harmony, it’s “ba da daaas” and “oooh ooohs,” you look forward to most, well-mixed vocal effusions building to high crescendos that reach up and flow over into the codas like waterfalls.

The lyrics of the songs anchor them in the classic Americana space, while leaving room for stylistic genre crossover. On “Lost In My Mind,” lyrics like “Is your bridge getting built? Are your hands getting filled? Won’t you tell me my brother?” combined with the feverish follow-along hand claps, and Thielen’s snap trap voice, brings the group into gospel. And on poppier songs like “Honey Come Home,” the three vocals meld into one, while Kenny Hensley holds the infectious melodies on the keys, Tyler Williams brings a bouncing beat, and Johnson, Russell and Thielen jump up and down, intoning the repeat line, “Just want to be with the one I love. Just want to be with the one I love.” Forget the corny, ten-piece cover bands singing “Turn The Beat Around” – The Head and the Heart should play at your wedding. Their happy singers would dance over to each other’s microphones, shaking tambourines and whooping to the skies, and no guests would be able to stay in their seats around the tables of $100/plate chicken dinners. But at this rate, with the packed house at Antone’s turning away wristbanded concertgoers by the dozens, by the time you want to hire them, they’ll be well out of price range of mere mortal lovers.

The Artists of Flatstock: Peter Cardoso

The Artists of Flatstock: Peter Cardoso (photo)

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This year marks graphic designer and poster artist Pete Cardoso’s sixth time showcasing his Ghost-Town Design work at Flatstock, and when I ran into him he was celebrating, not a run in with a musician, but with another kind of rock star. “I was at The Sounds’ show with my girlfriend last night and we met Jon Hamm. My wife wanted to say hi, and I was like, ‘I mean, of course. It’s Don Draper.'”

Cardoso strikes me as a fellow who would have done well in the Mad Men days of advertising — he is a man of varied inspiration, with diverse applications for his talents. In addition to his posters, he designs apparel, merchandise, and album covers. It’s not very punk rock for a poster artist to talk about their day job, but Cardoso proudly speaks of his full-time graphic designer gig at Reebok — like Draper, he understands that behind every shiny corporate image is a valuable creative brain that helps construct the message. Refreshingly upbeat, Cardoso is an encouraging, mentorly voice in the small, competitive world of gigpostering. Talking to him, you know he believes with a little talent, and a lot of perseverance, anyone can break into poster making.

How long have you been making rock posters?
About 12 years now.

And how did you get started?
I learned from this gentleman here (referring to the man in the next booth over), Mr. Mark Medina, in a little arts community center in Rhode Island called AS220, which was one of the country’s only free arts centers for a long time. It was an incredible opportunity. I think I was Mark’s only student. But that was where I learned how to print.

Who was the first band you ever did a poster for?
My first poster was for the The Mr. T Experience. It has an image of Marilyn Monroe on it. I talked to Frank Portman (lead singer of Mr. T) and he said, “I found this great old image of Marilyn Monroe, lets put it on a poster,” and I was sold.

How many posters do you churn out a month?
I do about 2-3 jobs a month, which is a lot, actually. I work a lot with Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel and the Met Cafe, both clubs in Providence. And I work with a variety of bands who hire me. But I try to work as much in New England as possible. I try to keep it as close to my home base as I can.

How would you describe your signature style?

Pop with a punk aesthetic in there. I think I default to design tactics, but would love to do more illustration. I usually use a combination of the two. I love the use of typography and really old imagery. A lot of my poster design heroes did that early on. Art Chantry is definitely one of my favorites. And the guys at Methane Studios — I’m really inspired by them. And Mike King. I sort of look to those guys for inspiration.

When you’re making a poster for a particular band, draw the inspiration for your ideas from?
It pretty much come from the overall feeling I have about the band. I love a lot of different kinds of music, so there’s not just one thing that I listen to or gravitate towards. I love folk, I love punk, I love jazz — I actually own a ton of jazz. A lot of times I just go to bookstores and the library and look through books and old catalogs of images I’ve never seen or are long forgotten that might match up with a feeling I have about a particular act. I have a collection at this point of images I’ve uncovered and thought, ‘Wow. That would go great with this type, and this image, for this band when they need it.’ It’s definitely like a puzzle for me.

Do you have any words of advice for people trying to break into poster-making?

Definitely make friends with your local scene as far as various artists and various bands. When I started out it was just about working with the clubs close by. Because you never know — bands go on tour and they put you in touch with other bands. And all of a sudden you have groups calling you up, saying, ‘We love your work — can you do something for us in Boston or New York.’ Your ability to network helps you get bigger and bigger from there. And the other thing, is just study design history. Look at a lot of things form the past. Look at books and posters and paintings. I got to a lot of museums for inspiration. You should pay attention to your peers in the present too, but you know, trends are trends.

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