SXSW 2011 Day 3 : Ted’s Recap

<img src="" alt="SXSW 2011 Day 3 : Ted's Recap" />On my biggest day of SXSW, able to hit up pretty much everyone I needed to all festival -...
SXSW 2011 Day 3 : Ted's Recap
SXSW 2011 Day 3 : Ted's Recap

The massive music industry festival that is South-by-Southwest fell into some bad timing this year, coming right after the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis, and right before the United States and her allies joined the fight in Libya by bombing Muammar Gaddafi (Day Two of the festival was also St. Patrick’s Day, but SXSW knew that going in…).  It all threatened to make the festival, and music in general, seem irrelevant, what with the world going to hell in a handbasket.  But ensconced in the cocoon that was downtown Austin, on your smart phones and Twitter, with wristbands and free drinks galore, SXSW proved to once again be an engrossing, all-encompassing musical clusterfuck of an experience.


At South-by-Southwest, there are two types of acts that you want to make sure to see: highly-hyped up-and-comers who are playing tons of shows, so you can see if they justify all the praise & say ‘I saw them when,’ and bigger acts who are promoting their new record by playing tons of shows, so you can see if they’re still good and because it’ll be harder to see them on their regular tour.  Usually that requires lots of running around, from showcase to showcase, but SPIN managed to get most of my must-sees into one place for their great daytime party at Stubb’s on Day Three.  My evening was diverse in a much different way, between longhaired country-rock and this dubstep thing that everyone’s been talking about.


[Note: QRO had a number of correspondents at SXSW this year; this is just the Day Three recap from Ted Chase; click here for Amanda Krieg’s Day Three recap, click here for Tammi J Myers’, and click here for Robin Sinhababu’s]


SPIN party @ Stubb’s

The Vaccines, 2:30 PM
The Vaccines

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SPIN Magazine took over Stubb’s during the day on Friday, but unlike last year (QRO recap), I didn’t make it there right at the start.  Still, began the day with an English act that I had been hearing much about, The Vaccines.  They sounded good, if not amazing, but I was distracted by trying to find my photo pass, the oppressive heat, whether or not the wristband that I was given, which had tabs, meant only two drinks – and then my computer lost all of the landscape (wider than they are tall) shots of this band & the next.  But no one ever pulled off the tabs on my wristband, so it’s all good.


DOM, 3:00 PM

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DOM is from New England, not England, and had seen them before, but they are another highly hyped young outfit.  They were playing indoors at Stubb’s, but it was at ultra-capacity, leaving one poor staff-security guy to man the one-in, one-out entrance and to try in vain to get people to form a single file line.  But did eventually get in, and have to say that DOM did finally live up to the hype for me.  Fun without just being fun, and not too garage like so many young acts these days.


OMD, 3:30 PM

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On the other end of the spectrum was a band that was anything but young, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, a.k.a. OMD.  But the group that was trying to squeeze “33 years into 30 minutes” had the most energy of anyone at Stubb’s, possibly at SXSW!  And this was despite the band playing as only a duo, without their drummer – but singer/bassist Andy McCluskey was alive & exciting.  He was also quite funny, joking about not just their age, but also how the best-known track “If You Leave” only charted in America after it was in a Hollywood hit (thank you very much, John Huston…) – and the next song only charted in their native U.K.

MobyIt could all make one feel a little sorry for the ‘other guy’ on stage, keyboardist Paul Humphreys, who was tied down to a stationary instrument (McCluskey sometimes had a bass, sometimes Paul Humphreyshad his hands free), but he got his chance to shine when McCluskey left for, “a cuppa tea,” as Humphreys took over vocals – and taking over bass was none other than the one-and-only Moby!  The well-known electronic artist was in town for SXSW, from a DJ set on Day One (QRO photos) to a ‘vegan BBQ’ (an oxymoron, but whatever…) on Day Two, and had introduced OMD.  Still, it was a surprise that Moby joined OMD, and for not one, but two songs, as McCluskey returned to the stage for OMD’s final number – with two bassists (take that, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin…)!  You didn’t have to be a Moby fan, or even an ex-bassist, to appreciate one of the best sets of SXSW.
McCluskey & Moby


Young the Giant, 4:00 PM
Young the Giant

Young the GiantClick image for full gallery

Again indoors at Stubb’s was at capacity from the minute the outdoor act ended – this time saw not only Moby walking (the other direction) through the packed waiting to get in line, but also a staffer at Stubb’s carrying an open cardboard box with stacks of bills…

Like DOM on the indoor stage before them (see above), Young the Giant is another highly-hyped young act, and was another one that lived up to it, despite the tight surroundings & the smaller stage (the latter about which the singer joked, “Small people are people too…”).  Still, it was tough not to be distracted by the setting, including security that later in the set didn’t let people out via the way they came in (flashbacks the fire hazard PureVolume House on Day One – QRO recap), which confused the staff at Stubb’s, especially/though one could leave the same way if you went through the bathroom…
Young the Giant


The Kills, 4:30 PM
The Kills

Allison MosshartClick image for full gallery

Certainly one of the most famous bands at South-by-Southwest, or at least with most famous members, was The Kills.  Singer Allison Mosshart and guitarist Jamie Hince made a very big splash in as part of the big-name U.K. garage-rock revival that predated today’s Brooklyn one.  Then Mosshart joined Jack White of The White Stripes (QRO live review) to form The Dead Weather, yet another White group in his hiatus from The White Stripes (which recently became permanent when the Stripes’ announced their dissolution).  White started on drums with Mosshart at the fore with Dead debut Horehound (QRO review), before evening things out on Sea of Cowards (QRO review), but it still raised Mosshart’s profile considerably – and you could tell it at Stubb’s, as the packed photo pit was especially thick on her side.
photogs heart Mosshart

Allison MosshartUnfortunately, it wasn’t an easy return for The Kills, as technical problems during their first song drove Hince to distraction, with Mosshart left as an observer of the troubles before both exited the stage.  However, they did return, though the sound never got really great.  Mosshart is an effective frontwoman, like a throwback to the seventies rock star songstresses such as Janis Joplin (okay, not that good, but few are…).  She also looked like a rocker version of ‘girl next door’ actress Sprague Grayden, so unsurprisingly there were male shouts from the crowd of, “I love you, Alison!” – or, read another way, “I’m a stalker, Alison!”
The Kills


TV On the Radio, 5:30 PM
TV On the Radio

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But as high profile as The Kills are, there was no band that was more of a must-see at SXSW 2011 than TV On the Radio.  They were one of the biggest breakouts of the Brooklyn music explosion with Return to Cookie Mountain, following it up with the equally excellent Dear Science (QRO review).  They were even on The Colbert Report!  Of course, what could follow after that but a hiatus for solo- and side-projects, such as guitarist Kyp Malone’s Rain Machine (QRO photos) and revived pre-TVOTR act Iran (QRO live review), or guitarist/producer Dave Sitek’s Maximum Balloon.
TV On the Radio

horns in TV On the RadioSo is TV On the Radio ready to resume their spot as one of, if not the, best/biggest bands in indie-rock?  In a word, yes.  In two words, definitely yes.  They were everything that you remembered about TVOTR being great, with the new material from the upcoming Nine Types of Light fitting in with the old stuff just as Dear Science did when it was new.  They even had a horn player!  The photo pit was somehow even more packed, and TV On the Radio totally deserved it.
photogs focus on TV On the Radio




Odd Future, 7:30 PM
Odd Future

Odd FutureClick image for full gallery

Ran from Stubb’s right after TV On the Radio’s final notes, crossing I-35 and heading to FADER Fort for Matt & Kim – to be faced with an enormous line.  This wasn’t the line to pick up your wristband; this was the line of people with wristbands who wanted to get in.  FADER Fort was at capacity for Matt & Kim’s Odd Future‘openers’, the über-hyped hip-hop act Odd Future.  Was able to skip that line, but still had to wait in the press side of the press/VIP line – and wait.  Wait so long, in fact, that all but one of the press people in front of me left the line that was getting much longer behind me, while the only people entering were friends of über-VIPs inside – you’d see someone come out from FADER Fort and into the entrance area in front, raising your hope, only for them to get security to wave in their friends.  The only upside was that none of the ‘regular’ people were getting in, either – saw the same people at the front of that line the entire time I waited.
Odd Future crowd

Odd FuturePatience paid off as five press & five VIPs were eventually let in (as were at least those people at the head of the ‘regular’ line all that time), to be greeted by a packed FADER Fort as The Smith Westerns (QRO photos) played their final song.  Instead got a beer – a beer, as the harried bartender at the packed bar explained that she could only give one per Odd Futureperson, no “It’s for my friend” (a couple in front of me tried to do that for a friend a few people behind me, only for the lady next to me in the scrum to tell that couple that their friend can just wait like everybody else…).  After that, tried to make my way to the photo pit for Odd Future – got close enough to ask the security guy near the side to let me in, but he just threw up his hands and admitted that it was catchers-catch-can as the pit had been overwhelmed by fans waiting for Odd Future.
Odd Future

face of the Odd Futureface of the Odd FutureAnd I’m pretty thankful that I wasn’t able to make it in there, as when Odd Future took the stage, the first thing that was said was, “What’s with all these cameras?!?”, and not only threatened to take the photogs out, but promised that the fans would back him up (later ran into a shorter bald photographer, who I kept accidentally tapping on the face of the Odd Futurehead with my camera when trying to shoot over him at TV On the face of the Odd FutureRadio – that head now had a small gash, thanks to the pit at Odd Future).  There were also chants (and even a sign) of “FUCK STEVE HARVEY” (the name of an Odd Future release), and general hip-hop chaos.

Odd FutureI’m not the person to review a hip-hop show, but can certainly say that Odd Future had the crowd at 110%-plus.  There were also some pretty awesome faces made by the outfit.  They definitely look set to get big, if not so already, but are they going to, “do to hip-hop what Nirvana did to hair metal”, as someone said?  Not so sure – especially when one thinks about all the other acts that have been called the ‘future of hip-hop’…

When I was finished with my beer, was finished with shooting, and thankfully the line at the end of the bar closest to the stage was non-existent.
Odd Future crowd


Matt & Kim, 8:30 PM
Matt & Kim

Matt & KimClick image for full gallery

But I didn’t make it over to FADER Fort for Odd Future, no matter how highly hyped they are – was there for Matt, was there for Kim.  Did I really need to see them for a second day in a row, after catching them on Day Two (QRO recap) at Red River Garage (QRO photos)?  Probably not – but fuck it, this is Matt & Kim!!!

Matt's baby bluesKim's booty dance/crowd surfIt was odd to be at a show where the crowd would calm down for Matt & Kim, at least to the point where you could enter the photo pit (leaving was another question – but FADER had no song limit on its pit).  Much of the set list and banter was similar to the MTV show at nearly the same time the prior day, but there was one key difference: whereas that had been ‘all ages Matt & Kim’, this was ‘21+ Matt & Kim’ (where, as Troy McClure would put it, “It gets a little blue…”).  There was still the joke about Kim showing her “ASSet”, but Kim added in at one point, “It’s Day Three of South-by-Southwest – drummer from TV On the Radio?if you haven’t gotten laid by now, you’ve really gotta step up your game!  Matt & I did it his morning…”, closing with a fist-bump with her band/life partner.  Kim also did her ‘booty dance’ while being held up by the crowd, and they closed their show (which also featured a guest appearance by another musician who’s done a nude video, Erykah Badu) by both crowd surfing – preceded by many, many fans, and (I think) the drummer from TV On the Radio (see above)
Matt & Kim



Jim Beam party @ Speakeasy

Ty Stone, 9:30 PM
Ty Stone

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Ty StoneAfter all the must-sees at Stubb’s and craziness at FADER Fort, went a very different direction for my evening showcase – the only thing similar was that I stayed in one place.  Jim Beam and Kid Rock were hosting a showcase at Speakeasy, and didn’t know when I’d get another chance to cover Kid Rock (anyone who’s been on The Simpsons is worth catching).

Turns out that Kid Rock was just ‘hosting’ the event, but the whiskey was free, and it was a nice change of pace.  Ty Stone was aiming for a more country John Popper, including a song where he a bit shamelessly name-checked his older influences, though his referencing of the late Stevie Ray Vaughn didn’t get nearly the appreciation it should have had in Stevie Ray’s hometown of Austin.
Ty Stone


Leroy Powell, 10:00 PM
Leroy Powell

gotta love that suitLeroy PowellClick image for full gallery

After the larger ensemble of behind Ty Stone, Leroy Powell was just a trio, with some wilder country-rock.  But mostly remember the bassist, who was the best-dressed man in Austin thanks to his white suit (akin to last year with Johnny Hickman – QRO interview – of Cracker – QRO photos at SXSW 2010).
Leroy Powell


Taddy Porter, 10:30 PM
Taddy Porter

Kid RockClick image for full gallery

Kid Rock did make an appearance (QRO photos) to introduce the headliner of the night, who he admitted to not actually knowing – Taddy Porter was recommended to Mr. Rock by the owner of a record store in Flint, Michigan (the worst economy in the country, but still has given us Michael Moore & The Flint Tropics).  “So I don’t even know this guy, but he’s got long hair and plays rock & roll…”



Hype Machine party @ PureVolume House

Clock Opera, 12:45 AM
Clock Opera

Hype MachineClick image for full gallery

Had to end the evening with the free late night drinks & music of the PureVolume House, even though I knew only a bit about the bands playing there that had been lined up by Hype Machine.  The first was supposed to go on at midnight, but the witching hour came & went with nothing, and it wasn’t until 12:45 AM that Clock Opera came on.  Apparently next scheduled band Baths (QRO photos) cancelled, bumping Clock Opera back.
Clock Opera


Jonquil, 1:30 AM

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The whole night at PureVolume House was stocked with variants on electronica, starting with the brighter sounds of Clock Opera & Jonquil.  They were reminiscent of Passion Pit (QRO album review), like a lot of bands at SXSW, but in their cases, it was in a good way.


Jamie Woon, 2:15 AM
Jamie Woon

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All the acts at PureVolume House were kind of hard to tell apart (they were all all-male, with at least one guy up front pressing some buttons, and another guy up front singing and pressing some buttons, but also with a drummer, etc.), and ran together in my mind at this point of SXSW.  Jamie Woon and Mount Kimbie are figures in the ‘dubstep’ sound coming out of England, which is grounded in more of a wobble bass, or some I’m told.
Jamie Woon


Mount Kimbie, 3:00 AM
Mount Kimble

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Honestly, only ever heard of dubstep when someone told me that James Blake (QRO live review) was “post-dubstep” – he had previously been in Mount Kimbie.  It all seems a bit like a sound so hip it’ll rise and fall without the wider world even knowing (remember ‘shoegaze’?  Remember ‘shit-gaze’?).  But pre-, post-, whatever-dubstep isn’t without its charms.
Mount Kimble



Other notes:

-OMG, who at SPIN decided to schedule OMD right after DOM (see above)?…  Could have been worse – the party could have been sponsored by blog ad conglomerator MOG, like DOM’s CMJ show was.  And we here at QRO are not opposed to triple capitals, including an O…

Workaholics-TV On the Radio was introduced by first the editor of SPIN (okay, it’s his party, he can introduce if he wants to), then the cast of Comedy Central’s upcoming new Workaholics (which looks like a wanna-be It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia for pot-smoking college grads, and the main ‘bro’ opened by trying to crass joke with the crowd, “Who’s sweatin’ their balls off here?…” – can’t expect people to be even politely excited for the unknown cast of a yet-to-air show), and then Yo Gabba Gabba! (totally legitimate, both due to Yo Gabba‘s strong music connections – QRO live review – and the show’s general awesomeness; but with Donald Glover, Yo Gabba Gabba!Danny Pudi, and Yo Gabba Gabba! in Austin, how is Joel McHale not in town?…).

Almost as good as being introduced by Moby.  Almost, but not quite…

-One of the odder and more interesting people-watching sideshows of South-by-Southwest is the inherent tension and miscommunication between SXSW volunteer staff and hired security.  Volunteers are usually pre-, post-, or in-college music fans, invariably white, but of mixed gender, while security is working-class locals of mixed race, but all male (save for a bartender or two).  This is not the regular gig for either, as volunteers are just doing it to earn a badge, while anyone above a certain size can get a job for a week telling music people that they can’t go in there and they can’t do that.  And while both live in the same town, they rarely interact this much, especially on the basis of about equality, both working for roughly the same people, and both handling out-of-towners.

This all came to mind when, while I was getting a rest on one of the benches in the way back of Stubb’s, near the port-a-potties, someone from outside tried to enter via the back entrance that was strictly reserved for people working there/EMTs and the like.  After a pasty volunteer in glasses explained to the guy trying to enter that you couldn’t come in this way, he turned to and started to leave the way he came – only to be stopped by a tattooed member of security who made it clear he couldn’t leave this way (thinking the patron was trying to leave, not failing to enter).  So the guy turned again and promptly entered the Stubb’s area – it was only later that the volunteer mustered the courage to tell the security guy about the miscommunication.

-Resting my legs between acts at PureVolume House, met some young guys who said that someone had told them that Kid Cudi (QRO album review) was supposed to be a special secret guest there.  While I doubted that was true, it at least seemed physically possible.

But then they later said that it wasn’t Kid Cudi, it was David Bowie (QRO album review).  That obviously wasn’t true, but before I could even tell them that it wasn’t, they asked me who David Bowie is!!!  How can you be a member of the Western World and not know Bowie?!?  It wasn’t easy to explain the Thin White Duke to them – if they know Cudi, but don’t know Bowie, it’s hard to guess at what else they do know; ended up by saying, “The only thing better would be if John Lennon showed up – maybe…”

And even though I knew there would be no Bowie, just the split-second thought of him appearing, that moment between hearing that he would and deducing that he wouldn’t, kind of made the rest of the evening unfortunately pale in comparison.


Unfortunately missed:

-Okkervil River (QRO live review), Menomena (QRO live review), Telekinesis (QRO album review), Surfer Blood (QRO live review), Owen Pallett (QRO live review), Hooray For Earth (QRO spotlight on), and Porcelain Raft (QRO photos) @ Flamingo Cantina.  Going to SPIN party at Stubb’s meant missing Under the Radar‘s great party at Flamingo Cantina.  But QRO’s Amanda Krieg did catch Owen Pallett there – QRO recap.

-The Autumn Defense (QRO interview), Bahamas (QRO photos), and Apex Manor (QRO interview) at Jo’s Coffee, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM.

-Muzzle of Bees party with The Loom (QRO photos), Erland & The Carnival (QRO photos), Great Lake Swimmers (QRO album review), Strand of Oaks, and The Luyas (QRO photos) @ 3217 1/2 Hampton Rd., 1:45 PM – 5:30 PM.

-Low (QRO album review), Baths, Chikita Violenta (QRO live review), Sharon Van Etten (QRO album review), Maritime, Wye Oak (QRO album review), An Horse, and Ted Leo (QRO photos) @ Mohawk, 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM.  The Onion‘s A.V. Club & Canvas Media always put on a great showcase at SXSW – but where’s Deadly Chemistry?…

-A Place To Bury Strangers (QRO spotlight on), The Twilight Sad (QRO live review), and Great Northern (QRO album review) @ Annie’s West, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM.

-Kerli (QRO photos) & The Sounds (QRO live review) @ PureVolume House, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM.  Estonia & Sweden in da (PureVolume) House!

-The Smith Westerns @ FADER Fort, 6:00 PM – 6:45 PM.

-Merge showcase with Wild Flag (QRO photos), Wye Oak, Versus, American Music Club, Telekinesis, and Apex Manor @ The Parish, 8:15 PM – 1:30 AM.

-A Place To Bury Strangers, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (QRO live review), and The Joy Formidable (QRO live review) @ Buffalo Billiards, 11:10 PM – 2:00 AM.  Tried to hit it up between Speakeasy and PureVolume House for The Joy Formidable, but line was way too long.

-Okkervil River, The Submarines (QRO photos), and Thao with The Get Down Stay Down (QRO spotlight on) @ Antone’s, 11:00 PM – 2:00 AM.

-OMD @ Stubb’s, 1:00 AM – 2:00 AM.  As great as OMD were at Stubb’s during the day (see above), and this time they had a drummer, glad I missed the falling boom mike before their evening set that sent four people to the hospital (none seriously injured).


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