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SXSW 2008: Day One Recap

March 13th, 2008 Posted in Music, sxsw 2008

SXSW 2008 MusicWell, here we are again sitting at the hotel room after a long first day of SXSW.  We arrived in Austin in record time and looped around the convention center trying to find parking.  Thanks to Dani’s hidden parking tip two years ago we were able to score a spot so we could register for our badges.  Once we got into the conference hall the badge line was almost non-existent and we quickly had the group registered and badges in hand.

We headed out to check into our hotel that is a few blocks farther off of downtown then ideal, but then again <<start sarcasm>> I waited until October to book the hotel <<end sarcasm>>.  After once again not getting the room we wanted, they were out of King rooms (this is becoming a habit with SXSW hotels), we settled in and started the ever evolving music consumption strategy. For those of you that have not been to SXSW, you receive a booklet that breaks down the day’s lineup by venue and then shows you the time for each act.  The first time you see the booklet you truly get a sense of how many acts are playing all at the same time (1700 this year).

The way we run it is we scan the list for the day and pick out all the bands that we want to see then try to find a venue that has the most acts that are on the list or are close to each other.  In the past it was possible to wander from show to show but nowadays the lines are crazy even for badge holders.

Note: As you will see some of the photos are high quality and some where taken on my shitty phone.  It appears that SXSW has a photo badge policy for all “pro” level cameras, i.e. removable lens.  This means that we are not supposed to take pics with Xina’s camera at official showcases.  We will try to get as many quality pics as possible but expect some crappy ones to fill the set.  I blame myself since I told Xina not to worry about dragging along her smaller camera… d’oh!

We figured out that the best bet for today was to head over to the Levi’s/Fader party to warm up, then go catch Earlimart and then head to Antone’s to catch Lightspeed Champion, Sons and Daughters and The Kills.  We packed up our gear and headed out to the Fort to catch the day show.  After a quick jaunt across Town Lake we made it to the Fort where a large line of people where waiting to confirm their RSVPs.  The line was processed quickly and we got in to catch Ruby Suns setting up for the set.

The Fader/Levi’s day parties have been legendary for the last few years, mainly because they are one of the few day parties that has free alcohol that lasts more then the first hour.  This proved to be true for they had a massive supply of Bass Ale and SoCo.  We grabbed a fist full of Bass and headed over to the bleachers to pop-a-squat.

The Ruby Suns, from New Zealand, set up just completed as we sat down and they played a fun and energetic set.  They tagged off on instruments each one playing different ones as the set continued.  Sampled drums, bass, flute, guitar, keys, kazoo, it was all used at one point or another during the set.  After Ruby Suns, Chikita Violenta from Mexico played a very energetic pop driven noise set that was enjoyed by the crowd.  This was their first time in the States and they were very excited to play here.

After their set we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed out to catch Earlimart at the convention center.  They were playing a set for DirectTV and SXSW which was broadcasted live in HD.  Earlimart played a fantastic set and we were front row center to catch the entire action.  After they played the show we headed out to meet my friend Alexandra for a late dinner.

From dinner, we walked over to Antone’s where we found a long line of badge holders waiting to get in.  After about 15 minutes of waiting we got in the door just as Lightspeed Champion hit the stage.  They were an amazing act and the interplay between guitar and violin really created a wonderful sound.  If you get a chance to catch him live do so, it is very, very worth it.

Next up was the Glasgow based Sons and Daughters.  This four piece is full of energy and each member has a very distinct persona.  The drummer had thin suspenders over a plaid shirt and super straight jeans.  The bassists had a black dress and a nearly stone like expression.  The guitarist had the perfect quaffed hair and the open shirt with the large chain.  Finally the front woman had on a gold frock like dress with fake green and gold eyelash extensions.  It was a good set but from where we were set up (front row again) it was hard to take in their sound.  Niki, who was farther back, was a little disappointed in the set. He was he was familiar with their sound and had higher expectations for the show.

The final act of the night for us was The Kills.  I had heard a bit about them and was interested in hearing what they were like live.  The crowd was packed by this time and many where very excited to catch a highly anticipated act.  It was an intense set put on by just two people.  The energy was palatable from both the crowd and the band. Niki was very impressed by them, as both Xina and I were, but his point of not expecting the energy really hits home.  This is a band you have to see to fully get what they are about.  You don’t expect two people with a sampler, two guitars and mics to put on such an intense act.  They both understand how to work a crowd and put on a good performance.

After The Kills we tried to get into the Black Keys but were denied by a huge badge line. By then it was 1:30 and we decided to call it a night.  This was an excellent way to kick of SXSW ‘08 and we are looking forward to the NPR day show and showcase tomorrow.  Until then…

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