The Last Drop

Reviews and Clues on Music That Matters (to me)

SXSW 2011: Day 2

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Day 2. Much better. And a lot longer. 11 more bands. A star sighting (or two). And my first breakfast taco. ┬áLet’s get to the rundown.

Who Did I See
Diamond Rings (1 song , but that was enough)
Doomtree
Das Racist
The Cults
James Blake
tUne yArDs
Matt & Kim (ne Odd Future in the background…)
Who Made Who
The Chain Gang of 1974
French Horn Rebellion
Miami Horrors
Flosstradamus

I know. It WAS a lot. It felt like a lot. And there were definitely highlights (and lowlights) to the day.

The Good
Even though it was merely a brief interlude – I was walking with pace, head down, determined to see Das Racist before the inevitable crowds and lines. No thought of any other band was even registering and along comes this tender yet driving melody – Diamond Rings left me with a mighty positive impression. I came for his last song. I left with a giant grin. Doomtree was equally as impressive. Again, I am reminded of how blatantly good (and overlooked) the Minneapolis rap scene is. A group of MCs with different flows, equally talented, and terribly good live. And who knew POS has turned from Atmospheric pupil to de facto crowd pleaser. Needless to say, I hold extreme jealousy for my MSP friends who get this level of excellence on a more timely basis.

 

Yep, Doomtree even has a fresh lady who spits hot fire

James Blake. Lots of buzz. Super huge and sweaty crowd. Worth it? Sort of. He does sound good. And it’s a sound I want to hear. But not well suited for this type of festival. Still, he’s patient and thoughtful with his sound. Nice to see in a lad of 21. On the flip side – metaphorically and physically as I literally walked 200 feet to the next show – tUne yArDs relished the size and well stage of the outdoor venue. Fists clutching drum sticks, mouth wide in full on yell, she stood proudly owning her sound and the audience. I want more! And more I got with Matt & Kim. Energy at it’s most raw form. Giddy pleasure for a roaring 35 minutes. Balloons! Crowdsurf-dancing! Guest appearance from Erykah Badu (on tambourine)! Exuberance never goes out of style.

The run-up to Flosstradamus produced a few outstanding moments – WhoMadeWho kicked off the party. Scandanavian dance pop, my achilles heel. The French Horn Rebellion furthered the eclectro pop brilliance – with an actual French horn. Somewhat ironic, actually quite helpful. And finally, Flossy. Flosstradamus killed, as expected, in spite of a reduced (read: ignorant) crowd. It helped that I met both Curt and Josh and now we are best friend.

The Less Good
Das Racist – not really bad, but their reliance on staying high while performing did not instill my confidence in their long term viability. See for yourself – the blurred images are the product of performance rather than my unsteady hand.

 

The Chain Gang of 1974 also left me wanting. A lot. They spent more of their time on the sound check than on actually playing.I do recognize that the world was conspiring against them – a mic that was broken, a power outage midway through – but the songs were a lackluster impression of an indie rock band trying to make pop like music that “matters”.

Counter to the sentiment of the crowd, Miami Horrors was a picture of a TV ready dance rock band as opposed to an actual good band. To quote my friend Raoul, it was a band full of Gavin Rossdale’s – lots of look and very little substance. They were loud, so I guess that’s cool. They had synthesizers and you know that is always awesome. But there was little else that added anything unique for their sound. But when you’re Gavin Rossdale, do you need substance?

I’m starting to get the hang of this festival, so more to come on Day 3.

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