The Real Side of SXSW

So I could leave Patrick to tell you about all the cool indie bands he and the rest of the crew are probably seeing (not totally true but I think I am the only one who is going to venture off to a rap show this week) but in my right mind I just cant do that. 

Coming to Texas in the first place is a little strange. Its a Northerners’ nightmare and Geography majors place of interest. How does this pertain to music…well it doesn’t I am just going to talk about it. Growing up in the good old Yankee blue state of Minnesota any child knew that when you make a joke about the south it generally refers to Texas. Well years of that imagery have piled up and here I find myself in what feels like almost another country. Second about the Geography there is so much to enjoy in this state. From the changing terrain across the state to urban sprawl on crack to the worst examples of city built for ever (Dallas). 

Thus sets the stage for the arrival to the festival. Anxious about how the week would pan out and also about the sheer gun to person ratio of the state we set out this afternoon amongst the sea of fixed gear bikes, amps, and press cameras that made the state feel a little more like what I think Brooklyn is like. 

Since there aren’t too many day parties that appeal to my exact interests I decided to walk it out with the people who seemed to have some idea of what would be good. The day started at Red 7, a neat little communist themed venue that had some interesting acts perform, of which I am only qualified to write about one of but here it goes.

WAVVES

This due from San Diego I believe but on a good show. Can you tell I am not qualified to write about them yet? Shit was aight. Some indie stuff with a little beach influence mixed in and some good drumming. That is all.

Shout Out Out Out Out

From Canada, this group was pretty much like a version of Soulwax but with more gimicky lyrics, and it worked out pretty well. At one point 4 out of the 5 members were playing bass guitar and it had some good sound and minimal symbolic value but it worked out pretty well. All is well that sounds well and they bring it together quite well and they also gain points in my book for having a collaboration with Cadence Weapon. All in all worth checking out.

Max Tundra

All I have to say: omg wtf. 

Damaged Good$

And yes it is “D-A-M-A-G-E-D-G-O-O-D-Money sign” as made clear at the end. How they infused crunk with Chicago style remix bass and just yelling has yet to settle in my mind but there it was in all its glory. Crunk ass beats with some Hollywood Holt sounding shit and then just yelling and jumping. The songs on their MySpace does not do the performance any justice. All you need is this group for a party and you are set. Big up themselves.

At this point it was time for me to explore the city a little and see what else there was in Austin. First stop was the great statehouse of Texas. Outside the historical center they state the Story of Texas quite plainly “Land, Identity, Opportunity (this one had a picture of an oil well)” Errythang is bigger in Tejas. They also love the legacy of the six flags of Texas: The Kingdom of Spain, the Kingdom of France, The Republic of Mexico, The Republic of Texas (it was actually a real country once), The Confederate States of America, and the U$A. They also love their part in the confederacy. On the walk up the the Statehouse (which is quite magnificent I wont lie) there is a monument to the states who left the “statehood pact” to defend states rights and to get away from the North’s “coercion” I shit you not. They don’t tell it that way in the Midwest. 

After wandering through the main chambers of the statehouse, stopping for a moment of silence and inner laughter at Governor Bush’s portrait, and seeing someone from Odessa praise the longhorn heavens by putting up his horns at the dome of the statehouse and basing in the Lonestar’s glory, I walked out the other side and proceeded onto the University of Texas campus. 

I didn’t believe everything was grander in this state till I saw this campus. It is similar to Wisconsin except they kinda have us beat in grandeur of all our main attractions (we are still better though). The campus itself is beautiful and the buildings are nice to be around. It was a pleasure to enjoy the campus I wont lie. Our Union is better, much better. Wanna know why? At least our food doesn’t come from a Wendy’s bitch.

However their football stadium is in the heart of the campus and is one big mofo. A warlock if you will. Its something to behold. And their four national titles are pretty sexy. 

Their main building quaintly titled Main Building dwarfs our beloved Bascom Hall, by about 14 stories I reckon. 

 

It is something. Oh and their version of Bascom Hill has a giant statue of horses and gods and shit.

But don’t despair too much in Madison. We still run train. 🙂

And are you asking yourself WTF why aren’t there no music information on this post? Well for me it is important to get my bearings in a city as a discover it. Also its kinda shitty if you come here and don’t discover all of Austin or Texas culture while you are around. When am I willingly going to come down here again? All in all my journey was well worth it and quite enjoyable but back to why you are all here.

The next showcase I ended up at was the Agency Groups hip-hop line-up. I got to see Doomtree for the fourth time this year and although it wasn’t as good as at First Avenue in Minneapolis it was still legit, minus the impromptu terrible sound check and awkwardly small stage for the 6 person group. If there performance was a message about the entire festival, it would be that the whole thing seems to run off of groups jumping on stage and doing what they have to do. 

U-N-I for Inglewood, CA followed them and the seem to have the new wave of hip-hop figured out pretty well. Its just mixing a little bit of REAL HIP HOP (and yes this was one of those shows where that message was made plain by yelling it out over and over) with some quasi hipster shit (mainly in the dress) and some different beats. Was it bad, not at all. Their down tempo beats seem to harken back to an older day of Cali rap but calms it down and brings it into a new era of where hip hop seems to be going industry wise these days. And it seems to work as their video has progressed from the MTVu circuit to MTV Jams to a premier spot on the MTV main stage. Congrats.

Oh and don’t forget to check them out at der Rathskellar on April 17 (i heart shameless plug)

The last act I saw there was Blu and no discredit to him but same as above 😉

After that it was off to check out a DJ I had been following on the HypeMachine and Palms Out Remix Sunday pages for a while, Bird Peterson. He has several remixes I enjoy while biking to Science Hall in the early mornings, none better than “Keep It Hood” by none other than Project Pat. However the venue was near empty capacity when I got there and the jamz matched the atmosphere. Classic Common and some Mary J soothed the mellow group there and I would have to rest easy with the hype I knew he could produce. 

This venue however was a split place and I wandered into the Sounds of Columbia showcase to find two guys with helmets which had bike wheels attached to the top playing electro-pop fused with a little hint of cumbia which came out quite spectacularly. This group, Monareta, could be one of my best finds thus far and one of the easiest and more enjoyable shows to watch.

All in all I think that being down here is striking a balance between planning to see all the acts you want to see and just going with the flow and ending up with something you wouldn’t expect, for better or worse. There is just too much to see and as much as I enjoy seeing acts that I have seen before, or even styles which I have been around for a long time, it may be even better to venture out into the unknown and dig up some treasure which you wouldn’t expect to. I got profound vocab!

Well I leave you all sitting on the pool deck on this brisk Texas eve enjoying the company of bands from Spain and elsewhere wishing you all and you likely terrible weather the best. TTYL.

– Matt Forrest

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