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Tales from SXSW – Day 4 (the finale)

March 19th, 2006 Posted in General Media / Stuff, Music

The last day of SXSW has now come and gone and it was a non-stop whirlwind of amazing music. Saturday started out a little later then usual so we grabbed a quick cup a coffee, a snack for breakfast and headed to Waterloo Records to catch Nada Surf and Rouge Wave.

We arrived at Waterloo just as Nada Surf was getting on stage. They were doing an acoustic set and they played almost all request for the 30 min set. Niki and I talked after the show about how Nada Surf was written off many years back when they had their big hit “Popular”. The issue about their hit was that it was so different then the rest of their music and this caused critics to call Nada Surf a one hit wonder.

The thing is that Nada Surf is not a one hit wonder and they are very talented and intelligent music makers. It looks like the critics are finally coming around, are starting to see through the Popular fiasco and are finally giving respect were respect is due.

After Nada Surf, Rogue Wave came up and also did an acoustic set. Honestly, I had not heard much about Rogue Wave but Niki is a big fan so this was a must see. As I mentioned yesterday we tried to catch them at Red Eyed Fly but it was not meant to be. They played a great set and Matthew Caws, the lead singer of Nada Surf, came up and sung harmony for a few of their songs. They mentioned that Nada and Rogue Wave toured together for a while so they are all friends.

Once the set was done we picked up camp and headed into the heart of Austin for our last round of shows. I was especially excited for tonight because Sia was playing at 8pm. I have come to terms with the fact that I am a Sia fanboy, but at least I don’t promise love and devotion on her forums… yet. grin

Anyway, when we got down to the Parish they were not open so we headed to the Shoegazer Hacienda put on by Anglophile Music. We got there just as Local Division was wrapping up their set. What happened next will live in infamy in both Niki and my minds. The band up was Sianspheric and then Adam Franklin from Swervedriver fame would join them and play some songs.

The problem was that the drummer from Sianspheric was in a wee bit of an inebriated state. He could barely sit on his kit let alone keep a beat. Sianspheric started the set off and near the end of the song the lead singer/guitarist started yelling at the drummer to wrap it up but the drummer kept drumming. After a full minute of yelling and still no drum stoppage (the rest of the band had stopped playing by this point) the guitarist then throws the guitar into the drum kit. This finally gets the drummer attention and he looks up and finally stops.

At this point, we figure the set is over but it gets even weirder. The guitarist starts packing up his rig and then walks over to the bass and starts setting up. This is when Adam from Swervedriver starts setting up to play guitar and the host claims the show will continue. At this point the drummer requests a jack and coke and then fucking falls off his drum throne. The drummer gets back up and starts tweeking his kit and the show starts. Now, once the song gets going you can see that the drummer is trying to keep the beat as hard as he can, you can just see it on his face, but try as he might he can’t hold a beat.

After the song ends, Adam looks at the bassists and other guitarist and shakes his head, they then start another song. At the end of the second song Adam starts yelling “What the fuck is wrong with this guy!” On the third song, the drummer just can’t deal with the beat, totally loses it and at that point everyone calls it quits. It was the most fucked up rock and roll classic moment we had ever seen. It was a total disaster, one for the story books.

Once this was over we wander over to the Parish to catch Sia. There is a huge queue building up already and we get in line. They finally open the doors at 7:50, ten minutes before Sia is supposed to go on. They split the line into badge holders and wristbands and this was the only time I decided to take advantage of the badge. Unfortunately this means I have to leave Niki in the other line but he is a good sport and most understanding.

Sia actually started around 8:15 and it ends up that she is one of the most quirky and funny little aussie I have seen on stage, which is a crazy juxtaposition to the soulfulness of her voice. She played a few tracks off her album, a couple of Zero 7 tracks that she sang on (which is where I first heard of her) and then she also played a brand new song. So new in fact, that she had to hold the lyric sheet. It was a brilliant set and Niki got in for the back half of her show.

We now faced a dilemma. We wanted to head over to Antone’s to catch the Camera Obscura set but with the issues of getting into venues we faced last time we didn’t know if it was best just stay at the Parish or to head out into the crowd.

I decided to take advantage of my badge again and then head over to Antone’s to see if there was a line. If it was to long I would head back and then try to get back into the Parish. Luckily, there was no line at Antone’s so I called Niki and he headed over.

We settled into Antone’s about midway through Annie Hayden’s set and as Niki was wandering through the crowd he saw his good friend Brandon, front man for the Earlies. I met up with them at the end of Annie’s set and we had a drink and chatted. Brandon was just in for the day and was checking out shows. He and a few friends left to catch another show and we got a nice spot of Essex Green.

Essex Green is a 5 piece that sounded a lot like a more mellow countrified New Pornographers. They were talented musicians but not exactly a moving set. They held my interest for the whole show but I felt like they were not enjoying playing at all. If they held more energy they might have been a much more fun show, but then again I could be wrong.

After Essex Green played, Superchunk came up and rocked the joint. It was a packed venue, at max capacity for sure. Once their set was over David Cross jumped on stage and shouted out props to Superchunk about how they were the pioneers in the rock scene and how many bands imitate them.

The next band up was Camera Obscure out of Glasgow. They were the real reason we were their and Niki had peaked my interest. They are a 6 piece (keys, percussion/horn, drums, singer/guitar, guitar/backing vox, and bass) with the similar Glasgow throwback sound ala old Belle and Sebastian. They had some feedback problems and two of the members were pretty ill with colds, but I was enthralled by them. One of their lyrics haunted me “She’s a heartbreaker, but does she have one?” I highly recommend them and if you get a chance check them out for sure.

We were down to the last band of the evening and we headed next door to the Fox and Hound to try to get into the We Are Scientists show. Luckily that was no problem. The problem was the horrible sound. It was a massive system but the bass was devastatingly boomy and created a pretty shitty musical experience.

They are definitely talented musicians but I wasn’t that impressed. I think that a lot had to do with the fact that the current musical genre they fit in (dance punkish) is super-saturated with the same sound. They can totally execute, better then a lot, but I feel it will be tough for me to say I like them at the moment.

After the show wrapped up the rain began to fall and it was time to call it a night for SXSW’06.

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