SXSW 2010, Day Four : Ted’s Recap

<img src="" alt=" " />Went into Day Four with low expectations, was frozen by the weather, but heated up thanks to a Hilton party. ...

SXSW 2010, Day Four : Ted's Recap

Went into Day Four with low expectations, was frozen by the weather, but heated up thanks to a Hilton party.


We had a trio of correspondents covering South-by-Southwest in 2010: Ted Chase, Abby Johnston, and Robin Sinhababu.  This is Ted’s recap of Day Four; Robin’s is here, but unfortunately Abby was waylaid by being in a wedding on Day Four.


40 Watt Party @ Side Bar

Camper Van Beethoven, 4:35 PM

Camper Van Beethoven

not Madison Square GardenClick image for full gallery

Before Saturday, the overriding aspect of Day Four looked to be its relative inessentialness – there were no must-see acts or showcases, a marked change from Day Three (QRO recap).  But that was changed in two ways, starting with a new, far more powerful force: the absolutely freezing weather.  Windy with a damp chill, it was a shock not just to those who’d come for the festival (and had brought little in the way of any jacket), but even to the locals.  Was this the same city that had sunburned on Day One (QRO recap)?

Johnny HickmanThe weather, weaker line-up, and general worn-down nature of Day Four kept me from heading out until later in the afternoon, but one band that could pull me out was long-time favorite Camper Van Beethoven.  This was the second time I’d seen them at SXSW, but after the technical difficulties they experienced on Day Two (QRO recap), at least this time there was no complaining – it was too cold.  Camper played outdoors, of course, all in coats, but the look kind of worked for them.  Singer/guitarist David Lowery had problems with his monitor, but unlike his more ornery attitude of Day Two (to put it mildly…), he just ended up turning it towards the crowd, saying, “We’re not at Madison Square Garden (QRO venue review)…” (with which another Camper mock-shockingly replied, “We’re not?!?…”).

kids doin' a jigI waited in a slightly warmer, slightly indoor area at first, but had to come out for “All Her Favorite Fruit”, my favorite Camper song & one of my favorite songs, period (thank you so much, set list – QRO photo).  And if that didn’t make it worth it, got to see Johnny Hickman (QRO interview), guitarist from Camper’s tourmate/Lowery’s other band Cracker (QRO spotlight on), braving the elements as well – even joining some kids in a jig to “Unabomber Song”.  It was really nice to see that Hickman had come out to see Camper, even though Cracker wasn’t playing that day (Cracker bassist Sal Maida was also there, as was drummer Frank Funaro – but Funaro’s also the Camper drummer), and was still stylish in white.  It was also really nice to see young people enduring the weather (and these were underdressed young folks – one in a t-shirt, another in shorts) for a band that’s likely older than they are – Camper celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary last year with a tour (QRO live review), while these kids looked like they needed fake IDs.  South-by-Southwest ain’t just about new bands, folks.

Camper Van Beethoven



MOG Party @ Mohawk

The Black Keys, 5:30 PM

The Black Keys

Dan AuerbachClick image for full gallery

Hit up Aussie BBQ for the food, but it was long gone, so headed to Mohawk for one of the bigger bands playing South-by-Southwest, Black Keys.  There was a line down the block, and this was while the Black Keys were playing – but got in thanks to the party’s sponsor, who also happens to have handled QRO’s advertisements since last SXSW (QRO recap), MOG (I’m still not sure what that stands for, but it’s not like ‘QRO’ stands for anything, either…).

Being a MOGman got me upstairs for the free beer, but with the Black Keys already rockin’, near impossible to see, as people were standing on chairs to get a glimpse over others’ heads.  Ended up standing still above, but behind the duo, at an upstairs spot where they put the port-a-potties, taking shots of the band by stretching my arm out to put my camera under the tarp – the ‘best’ shots came when the wind blew the tarp high up in the air.

The Black Keys from behind



Chop Shop Records/Atlantic Records Showcase @ Brush Square Park

Robert Francis, 6:45 PM

Robert Francis

Robert FrancisClick image for full gallery

Cold, drunk & still hungry, headed to Brush Square Park, which invariably has some sort of cook-out, but the only thing on offer at the Atlantic Records official showcase was free beer – not that that’s ever a problem.  What was a problem was the weather, which had only gotten worse – even huddled under the tent, it was still cold (the bar, of course, was outside the tent…).  Didn’t get an in-depth listen to Robert Francis, as most time was spent out-and-out sitting in front of one of the space heaters, but he sounded very fitting as an opener for Fanfarlo (see below) – it’s rare that a label showcase, especially a major label one, would have such flow between bands (and Francis is heading out on tour with Fanfarlo – though that’s three ‘F’s, the sixth letter in the alphabet…).

Robert Francis



Fanfarlo, 7:30 PM


Click image for full gallery

why the flower girls?There needs to be a new word for this kind of alt-folk with many members & instruments, more fun than stripped alt-folk.  It is certainly booming these days in the likes of The Low Anthem (QRO spotlight on) and Fanfarlo, plus Fan openers such as Robert Francis (see above) or Freelance Whales (QRO photos, opening for Fanfarlo).  It combines alt-folk skill with backwoods multi-instrumentalism, but with the variety of intensity, from soul-bearing to feet-stomping, of indie music.

There were some random flower girls with masks over their heads for Fanfarlo’s set, but never figured out what they were for – they just stood at the back of the stage for part of it, and in the crowd for the rest.  They never did anything with their flowers – indeed, the only time they showed any emotion was their annoyance if you tried to touch their flowers.

Fanfarlo fans



Perez Hilton Party @ The Whitley

Macy Gray, 9:15 PM

Macy Gray

Perez Hilton partyClick image for full gallery

The cold surprised by overwhelming in importance the expected underwhelmingness of Day Four, but that was just during the day.  At night, even the cold was overwhelmed (helped by heading indoors…) by a surprise overwhelming party – that of Hilton, Perez.  Didn’t know who was playing, didn’t care, as there was sure to be enough hyped music & free drinks in one place to draw anyone.

I wasn’t the only one.  Asked people in four different lines to find that none of them were the press line I was looking for (VIP, badge, wristband, and general), discovered the press line literally was just opening when I went by the entrance – all I had to do was wait for the staff to arrange the barricades, and was through, without ever actually waiting in any line.  As I was being waved through by the event staff who had put me on the list, the security staff was telling her that The Whitley was already at capacity – and, upon seeing her wave me through, the older fella said, “So you’re just letting anyone in at this point, huh?…”  Whatever – was in.

Macy GrayAnd it was the ‘in’ place to be.  Say what you want about Perez Hilton – and much has been said about him, almost as much as the celebrity tabloid blogger has said about everyone else – but his forays into the music world, specifically the more independent music world, have been a boon.  Okay, he is responsible for unleashing Katy Perry onto the world, but he also put together a great touring showcase last fall featuring Ladyhawke, Ida Maria (before she melted down, mid-tour), Semi-Precious Weapons & more (QRO live review of NYC tour stop).  His musical taste definitely slants towards the electro-dance-hop, but that’s kind of where it should be, no?

Besides, and most importantly, party kicked ass.  Free drinks, yes, but didn’t have to even tip, and line moved faster than you would have expected.  There was a huge line for the bathrooms, though – someone didn’t get enough port-a-potties.

When I entered, Macy Gray was playing.  Remember Macy Gray?  Me neither – though she was the guest vocalist on “Request Line”, the last good Black Eyed Peas song (a.k.a. the last one before Fergie…).

Macy Gray



Mike Posner, 9:40 PM

Mike Posner

Perez Hilton & ugly sweatshirtClick image for full gallery

I Heart Perez HiltonSomething else to give Perez Hilton credit for – when bands are playing at his showcase, he’s not in the back schmoozing or what have you, but up front (in the photo pit) watching his bands.  He was that way on his tour (QRO live review), and was at the showcase (though in an ulgy sweatshirt – possibly didn’t bring any cold weather gear, and was reduced to wearing a give-away from the local phone company…).

Also like that tour was Mike Posner, who reminded very much of the ‘Perez Hilton Presents’ tour’s FrankMusik (QRO photos) – sure it wasn’t FrankMusik?  But the cold didn’t stop Mr. Posner from taking his shirt off to reveal “I Heart Perez Hilton” written on his chest…

Mike Posner



Alphabeat, 11:20 PM


not MarinaClick image for full gallery

After Posner (see above), I ended up backstage just by walking with other photographers.  While the smokey, smokey back area had serious ventilation problems, not only were there free drinks, but also free cupcakes!  Cupcakes might be the perfect free food at a music industry party – tasty, able to eat with one hand (to leave the other for drinkin’), sugary to keep you going, but also food-y so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach, sanitary (no ‘all hands in the bowl/on the plate’ like for chips/veggies & dip – which were also on offer backstage), something you know, but also special to have, implies baking on-site without actually any baking, no portion questions, etc.  Last CMJ, literally went to a showcase just for the free cupcakes (and drinks – QRO Day Two recap) – at Cake Shop (QRO venue review), naturally…


AlphabeatAlphabeatSo ended up watching Alphabeat entirely from backstage, i.e. behind the band – and didn’t even know their name until Googled their images before posting the photos.  I’d thought they were Marina & The Diamonds (see below), because a) they were female-fronted, but the rest of the band was male (and all kind of dressed/looked alike), and b) Marina’s been getting a lot of hype, and this band seemed like they deserved the hype – their electric dance-rock had the crowd going.  Particularly effective was the frontwoman and one of the guys, who rocked back-to-back at one point, and at another just picked the lady up on his shoulders.

take a bow



Marina & the Diamonds, 12:00 AM

Marina & The Diamonds

that's MarinaClick image for full gallery

My backstage time is fairly hazy, and not just from all the smoke.  I remember saving a cupcake for later by putting it in my shirt breast pocket – not the best idea, but if you’re going to have a stain after a party like this, frosting is hardly the worst kind of stain (and did eat the cupcake later).  I remember running into the singer/frontman for Sum 41 (who, for some reason, had played SXSW earlier that day – a line of kids waiting outside of Emo’s Annex let me know) – super-short, and didn’t take to me telling him his band “needs to be more metal”, inspired by some metal performance they did with Judas Priest (QRO album review) on some MTV awards show ten years ago (a.k.a., the last/only time ever cared about Sum 41…).  Or, as I said in my tweet, “Sum 42 guy’s giving me crap – who does he think he is, Blink-182?” (QRO photos).

But no matter how drunken, my tweets looked sober, which might have helped me piece together the night afterwards, but also made it look like I was serious/straight-thinking when I tweeted that, once Snoop Dogg (see below) entered the backstage area, everyone else had to leave, “because he’s too fragile and a bitch.”  Still expecting a cap in my ass…

Did see a bit of the actual Marina & The Diamonds, but until recently I thought that had been Estelle.  But it would have been tough for her to make an impression on me at that point.



Snoop Dogg, 12:50 AM

Snoop Dogg

Snoop DoggClick image for full gallery

Snoop Dogg was in da house.  What was the hip-hop star doing playing South-by-Southwest (or Williamsburg’s new Brooklyn Bowl – QRO venue review – in April)?  Could he be trying to follow the lead of All Points West 2009/Coachella 2010’s Jay-Z and Bonnaroo 2009/SXSW 2009’s Kanye West, in broadening his appeal/fanbase/market to the indie kids?  Snoop had been slated to headline Langerado last year, before the festival was canceled (QRO preview of what would have been), so the foray into the alternative scene had been planned, and had just been delayed.

Hip-hop in the indiestream seems like a certain money-maker.  You’ve got a bunch of white kids with lots of disposable income who love music – and the scenes around music.  They self-consciously eschew anything ‘mainstream’, but are too liberal and white to think of rap as ‘mainstream’, no matter how financially successful it is, no matter how much it’s listened to in the suburbs by the same kids who lap up Fall Out Boy.  And the indie folks want a break from the crushing morality and downbeat nature of alternative music, all soul-bearing and heartbreak (plus politics), without being mainstream pop – hip-hop can tap into the same outlet vein they’ve been looking for that electro-dance has.  And everyone’s pro-drugs/fuck whitey…

Perez leads the Snoop crowd

devil horns for Snoop Dogg?But before everyone proclaims it a match made in Heaven, some things to watch out for:

1) Indie fans steal a lot of music from the internet, probably do it a lot more than hip-hop’s regular urban & suburban fanbases.  And if they’re file-sharing the work of struggling acts on independent labels (or no label), will certainly feel no compunction about not paying for music from major label artists whose songs can be about how much money they have.

2) Indie fans are a fickle bunch.  What can be hot one week can be not the next.  While that’s certainly also true in hip-hop, perhaps nowhere more so is it true than in the hype-obsessed online indie world.  Until a band moves past its prime and is labeled ‘influential’, they’re ripe for hipster-haters to take down just as surely as they are to build them up (see ridicule aimed at Kanye West after his less-than-well received Bonnaroo appearance).  And who says they’re influenced by Snoop Dogg?

3) Indie fans need to be in a selective group of fans.  Seeing Snoop Dogg at a relatively smaller place like Brooklyn Bowl or a SXSW party is one thing – are they going to see Jay-Z in Madison Square Garden, from a million miles away, with a million other people, when they’re used to a much closer experience?  And a hip-hop star headlining one day of a massive, otherwise mostly indie festival will still have a mostly indie fan audience, that won’t be the case at his own show.

4) Indie fans are cheap, whether or not they’ve got enough money that they don’t need to be.  See stealing music above – but also for hip-hop shows, which can run high in cost.

Snoop Dogg is in the (smokey) house

Snoop Dogg5) Indie fans are mostly white twenty/thirty-somethings.  They’re almost defined by their disdain for the suburban kids who form a large chunk of hip-hop’s fanbase.  And no matter how much of a left-leaning enlightened liberal they are (or at least claim to be), they will still think twice about going to a big hip-hop show – they live in Williamsburg & Park Slope, not Bed-Stuy or Crown Heights

6) Indie fans aren’t just liberal about race & power, but also women, money, gays & everything else (or at leas they claim to be).  Hip-hop is nowhere near as sexist or homophobic or money-obsessed as it’s tarred as, but booty of all sorts has never gone away completely.  See how Jamaican rappers have been blackballed from festivals in U.K. & elsewhere (like Australia/New Zealand’s Big Day Out – QRO Auckland recap), thanks to any anti-gay lyrics.

7) Indie fans grow up to be whitey.  Will today’s hipsters still cherish hip-hop in twenty years they way yesterday’s punks still cherish Sonic Youth (QRO live review), or yester-yesterday’s hippies still cherish Rolling Stones?

Snoop Dogg does have some things going for him.  He’s a likeable, engaging character (though that has also led him to mainstream appeal & even ubiquity).  He’s laid-back about being gangsta, not pushy about it.  And he’s the most prominent pro-weed artist since Phish or even Willie Nelson (and the red-headed stranger’s joint-cred has certainly strengthened his appeal in the indiesphere).

Snoop Dogg



Hole, 2:35 AM


Courtney LoveClick image for full gallery

Did I need to see Hole twice at South-by-Southwest, after seeing her on Day Three (QRO recap)?  No, I didn’t.  And this time, was farther away, in the dark of the warehouse Whitley, and drunk.  But amid the crowd, not high-falluttin’ it in the photo pit or way back, could much more appreciate how much the fans appreciated Hole.  Can she make a comeback?  Only time will tell.  But Courtney Love is giving it her all.



Unfortunately Missed:

– She & Him (QRO album review), Justin Townes Earle & Lucero (QRO album review) @ Auditorium Shores Stage, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM.  How many layers would the tiny Zooey Deschanel have needed to put on to keep warm?

– Letting Up Despite Great Faults (QRO interview), Spells & Middle Distance Runner (QRO spotlight on) @ Austin Moose Lodge, 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM.

– Frightened Rabbit (QRO live review) & The Boxer Rebellion (QRO live review) @ Cedar Street Courtyard, 4:20 PM – 6:00 PM.  Missed Frightened Rabbit for the entire SXSW – and their photo would headline the coverage of the festival by The New York Times.

– Bear Hands (QRO spotlight on) @ Club de Ville, 1:30 PM – 2:45 PM.  Too cold, too tired, and too little else at Harley-Davidson party at Club de Ville to get me out to see Bear Hands open it, and thus missed them completely at SXSW as well.

– Frightened Rabbit, YACHT (QRO spotlight on) & Sweet Apple @ French Legation Museum, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM.  Too cold to travel cross the highway – something else never did at SXSW 2010.

– Roky Erickson with Okkervil River (QRO live review) & Andrew W.K. (QRO photos) @ Galaxy Room, 4:15 PM – 6:00 PM.

– Arms (QRO album review) & Grant Hart (QRO interview) @ Kung Fu Saloon, ? & 4:00 PM – 4:30 PM.  NYC venue Pianos (QRO venue review) was throwing this party (how come no one uses the ‘Piano Bar’ on Sixth Street?), but should have listed times so one could catch these two artists from late, great bands, Harlem Shakes (QRO spotlight on) & Hüsker Dü (QRO spotlight on).

– Demolished Thoughts @ The Mohawk, ?.  Completely forgot that this was the band combining Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth – QRO live review) and J Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr – QRO live review), a.k.a. pretty the two greatest alt-punk singer/guitarists for the past thirty years (okay, I’d say Bob Mould – QRO live review – and others would say Lee Renaldo… of Sonic Youth).  While it was too bad that both Moore & Mascis were at SXSW, but neither Sonic Youth nor Dinosaur Jr. were (both were playing solo/side-projects – QRO Moore live reviewQRO Mascis photos), they made up for it here with a full-on punk show (or so I was told…).

– She & Him @ Stubb’s, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM.  Rachel Ray’s Feedback was throwing its showcase at Stubb’s, and while you know the spread would have been great, it would have also been chilly.  And I was already over-Stubbsed.

– Japandroids (QRO photos), Joan of Arc, James Husband (QRO photos), CasioKids (QRO photos) & Matt Pond PA (QRO live review) @ Galaxy Room, 9:00 PM – 2:00 AM.  Polyvinyl threw one of the few good nighttime label showcases of Day Four.

– Electric President (QRO album review) @ Karma Lounge, 1:00 AM – 2:00 AM.  If you’re only playing one show all of SXSW, and it’s 1:00 AM on the last night, am going to miss it no matter how much I liked your records (QRO review).

– Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson (QRO spotlight on) @ Pure Volume House, 12:00 AM – 1:00 AM.  If not for Perez, probably would have closed SXSW at Pure Volume, but the only good act was the first one.

– J Mascis & Rival Schools (QRO photos) @ Red 7 Patio, 11:15 PM – 1:15 AM.  Curated/headlined by Fucked Up (QRO album review), didn’t want to get stuck in a mosh pit.


Other Notes:

– Before Perez Hilton’s party, stopped off in Convention Center to – what else? – charge my iPhone, plus warm up (and sober up) a bit.  There was some huge line for a film showcase & discussion curated by Joseph Gordon-Levitt – you know, the kid from Third Rock From the Sun

who are you?– While at Perez Hilton party, saw paparazzi taking photos of someone, so figured, “Have a camera, when in Rome…” – not that I have any idea who the celebrity couple is…

– Who was on my flight back?  Courtney Love – ’cause I hadn’t seen enough of her in the two days prior.  She was in first class, but didn’t make a scene like you were hoping for – but did show up after everyone else had boarded (legitimately – wouldn’t want everyone in coach rubber-necking her when passing through first class when they boarded), and the crew found space in the overhead for her luggage…

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