Monday, March 18, 2013

SXSW 2013, Saturday

So, another SXSW is in the books. It was a great one on many levels.. I had a great Saturday night. After seeing the fine film Downloaded, which chronicled the history of Napster in detail, I saw some great acts. I finally caught a Capital Cities set. They are an extremely high energy band. I see the disco trend growing with the kids. Then for a change of pace, I stopped by ACL Live to catch the True Believers reunion. This is a group of Austin legends, including Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Dee Graham, who played together a few decades ago. Big fun.

I decided to close out my night by seeing a couple more local acts, including SPEAK, who seem to be more rockin' than pop these days. They have really matured since the last time I saw them, and I see big things in their future. My last set of the festival was with my buds from Quiet Company, who were great, always a good time. They had a big crowd for the 1am show at Buffalo Billiards.

Lots of people got tickets to special shows. SXSW let badge holders enter multiple lotteries this year for tix for Green Day, Depeche Mode, the Sound City show, Prince and Justin Timberlake, among others. I entered all these drawings and was 0 for 5, giving you a sense of the luck I've had lately. Very frustrating. I am extremely jealous of all who got to see these shows, particularly Sound City, Prince and JT. Those are once in a lifetime events. But I had a great couple weeks. It's going to take some time to come down, process and assimilate all that I have experienced across SXSWEDU, Interactive and Music. Until next year, folks!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

SXSW 2013, Friday

Friday was another great day, a chance to see favorites and some new bands. The Convention Center is always a good place to start. I finally got to see Divine Fits, featuring Britt Daniels of Spoon (one of my all-time favorite acts). This is a side project, collaborating with members of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs. It's not a departure from his Spoon stuff, but it just offers some sharing of lead responsibilities. 

Then I traveled to Whole Foods to see Rick Springfield play on their rooftop patio. Yes, you heard that right. It was the Rick Springfield of Jessie's Girl fame, General Hospital's Dr. Noah Drake, who was playing at Whole Foods. You can't make this stuff up. He looked and sounded great in this short acoustic set.

The convention center featured Dawes and Vampire Weekend later in the afternoon. Both put on strong sets. Vampire Weekend has a new album coming out soon.

Leagues is another of those bands I know from Sirius/XM. I really like their song Spotlight.

I had a chance to drop in to see one of my former students at his showcase. Zeale is a talented rapper. Definitely check him out when you have a chance. It's a high energy show, with a DJ and live drummer. Rockin'.

I ended my day seeing Ed Kowalcyzk. Ed was the lead singer of the band Live in the '90s.  Before my current obsession with 2000 bands like Wilco, Spoon and Old 97's, I'd say that after Barenaked Ladies (trust me, they're great. Not as silly as you think when you listen to their catalog) Live was my favorite band of the '90s. I saw them many times when I lived in Ohio, had my one and only crowd surfing experience at their show in Columbus, and loved their albums Mental Jewelry and the big one Throwing Copper. Ed is so talented, and it was great to hear him play old and new songs in this intimate setting.

So, for my last day at SX, I think I will take in a film and then see if I can try to get in to see Prince or Justin Timberlake. Right... We'll see how that goes. At least there's lots of others to see!

SXSW 2013, Thurs.

The past two days have gone by in a blur. I have been at times exhausted and others inspired and exhilarated. I've seen legends and new acts, the beauty of SXSW. Thursday was one of those days where you just couldn't believe what you got to see. It started with the Dave Grohl keynote. Before Dave went on, the SXSW Music staff paid tribute to SXSW pioneer and inspiration Brent Grulke who sadly passed away last year. It must have been a difficult event for them to plan without him, and the film they showed demonstrated Grulke's profound mark on the festival.

That set an emotional tone for the day. Grohl's keynote was amazing. It was one of the best things I have seen at SXSW, including Springsteen's keynote last year. It was fascinating to learn of a young Dave growing up in Virginia, being inspired by his punk-rock cousin in Chicago and then ultimately ending up in Nirvana. When he spoke of Kurt, starting with a long pause, there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

I just watched his Sound City film that he screened this week, and it is a beautiful tribute to the creative process.


That could have been enough, but then after growing impatient with a panel entitled "Silicon Valley Isn't the Enemy Anymore," I stumbled into a talk celebrating 50 Years of the Beatles. It featured Rodney Crowell, Ron Sexsmith and Robyn Hitchcock. I could listen to these guys talk about the Beatles forever. Legends talking about legends. So nice. 

The Day Stage in the convention center is the place to be (if you have a badge). You can see all kinds of acts in a comfortable, uncrowded space. Above is Cayucas, a band I had heard on Sirius/XM. I like their song High School Lover. And then I could have called it a day. But there was one more legend in the mix - an interview with Stevie Nicks. Her music both with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist featured prominently in my childhood and teenage years. It was incredibly fascinating to hear about how she became a part of Fleetwood Mac and how her life changed after making Rumours. She is an incredibly gracious, smart, talented and inspiring person. 

At this point, I was a little overwhelmed with what I had experienced. I went home and didn't see any shows, hoping to save up energy for a big Friday. Stay tuned.

I got a little of the Dave Grohl keynote, but you really should watch the whole thing!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

SXSW 2013, Wednesday

It's just beginning, but I've already had a great first night. I started with Billy Bragg at St. David's Church. At SXSW, we have shows anywhere, and if you can see an intimate set like this, I highly recommend. Billy has a new album coming out next week, but his new stuff rings of his classic, with songs about love and politics.

Next it was on to Bar 96 for Wake Owl and Royal Teeth. Both were good, high energy pop bands. Royal Teeth especially. They're as adorable as a team of Biebers and have really good songs. I saw them at ACL Fest and loved the song below "Please Pick Up the Phone."

So, that's it. Today has an early start with the Dave Grohl keynote, and then an afternoon of panels and parties. The week should hold some surprises...