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SXSW 2008: Day Three Recap (serendipity)

March 15th, 2008 Posted in Music, sxsw 2008

SXSW 2008 MusicWe got up early this morning, not to catch a day show but to snag the complementary breakfast.  Nothing like a steamer tray of eggs, sausages, bacon and biscuits to start the day off right.  After a brief post-breakfast nap we packed up and headed out to the Hot Freaks day show put on by a huge collection of music blogs and media.

We got to the venue to catch the last few minutes of Nicole Atkins.  The sun was starting to beat down and we settled in on the mid-deck at Mohawk overlooking the outdoor stage.  After cracking a cold one we listened to the Hood Internet play a tag team set of Hip-Hop / Indie Rock mashups.  The Hood Internet would provide the between set beats for the rest of the day.

The sun started to really blaze (high of 95 degrees today) and we wandered down from the deck and into the welcome shade of the tent.  The Dodos, from hometown SF, took the stage and rocked with a drums/guitar duo configuration interspersed by a third member on xylophone and gong.

Once their set was finished we decided to brave the sun once more as Cadence Weapon set up. By this point the humidity had dropped to 11% and the sun went from grueling to a very pleasant heat.  Cadence Weapon dropped a tight but remarkably short set due to their Numark CD turntable failing in the heat.

Since the set was maybe 15 minutes long we headed inside to catch the start of Cameron McGill’s set.  A country meets folk sound was filled in by a large 6 piece band packed into a little stage.  They had a great sound with multiple part harmonies and blues lead guitar tones.  We then headed back out to catch the next outdoor set.

In the comfort of the shade tent and a Shiner in hand, White Denim, from Austin, tore up the stage.  High energy in the strides as the Who this three piece laid it down.  The nice thing about this kind of show is that if you don’t recognize the names on the bill you place your faith in the fact that the people putting it on have good and esoteric tastes.

We missed the last few minutes of White Denim’s set to get a good spot inside for the Bowerbirds.  Recent reviews of their showcase claimed they put on a fantastic show and from what I heard online I was looking forward to it.  The first two songs by the Bowerbirds were a little loose and didn’t really hook us, but the third song grabbed us and we were sold on the act.  This is a fantastic band to see when they swing through your area.

After catching the whole set we headed back up to the deck, now covered mostly in shade. With a Tecate and lime to keep us cool, Blitzen Trapper rocked the stage.  The next act was both the closer and headliner of the Hot Freaks show.  They had managed to get British Sea Power to close the joint down.  And close it they did.

British Sea Power took the stage and dominated the crowd with driving riffs and intense energy.  They kept building it up and up until finally the stage manager had to frantically wave them down to stop playing because the time was up. The venue had to close to get ready for the official showcase.  Bravo to the Hot Freaks team for putting on an amazing lineup and allowing us to catch nine acts in such a short period of time.

We hiked back to the hotel to drop off the camera and to relax for 30 seconds.  We then headed back into the heat and attempted to find a place to eat. Once feed we headed to the Parish to catch the Merge Records show.

We walked in just as Wye Oak started their set.  This kind of perfect timing is exactly what happened with Jens Lekman last time we walked into the Parish.   I first heard about Wye Oak on Done Waiting.  I viewed a few of their live videos and listened to a few tracks.  That is all it took and I was excited to see them.  They did not disappoint.  The drummer plays his kit, the bassline on a keyboard (with his left hand) and on most tracks he also sings harmony.  It was a beautiful show and I recommend them highly.

The Radar Brothers were up next, another band that both Niki and I have heard via the internet and was intrigued by their sound.  They played a very mellow set but we fully enjoyed their presentation.  I will be adding their album to my collection, another SXSW find.

The Shout Out Louds (who we missed at the NPR day party) were up next.  When we came into the venue Xina saw two of the guys we stood inline with for the NPR day show.  They were both really looking forward to the Shout Out Louds and were glad to see us again.  As we shot the shit the topic of Subterranean and Niki’s knowledge of a specific video came up.  Work with me here…  it will all tie in in a second.

Rewind back to when Xina and I arrived at Niki’s place on Tuesday.  We watched MTV2’s Subterranean show that happened to be the one episode where they never displayed any of the video’s information.  Kind of sucks when the point of the show is to BREAK NEW ARTISTS!!  How the hell do you break them if you don’t tell anyone who they are?  One of the video’s we saw had a carnival scene and it was really catchy, it stood out yet we didn’t know who made it.

Now, jump to waiting in line for the NPR dayshow on Thursday.  The two guys we met (who we saw again tonight) brought up the subject of the stupid episode of Subterranean that had no labels.  One of the guys specifically wanted to know who the carnival video was buy.  Niki at that point told them he knew but couldn’t recall the name.

Back now at the Parish, just before Shout Out Louds take the stage.  The guys ask Niki if he has recalled since yesterday the name of the band which he could not recall at the time.  As they were talking about it the Shout Out Louds took the stage.  A few songs into the set they play their song “Impossible” which at that point it hits everyone that the band in video is in fact the Shout Out Louds.  Way too serendipitous.  They put on a hell of a show and I was glad to be there.

By this point the venue is packed and She and Him take the stage.  She and Him is the recently buzzed about band fronted by M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel (the actress).  They have been getting good press and we all wanted to see how they did.  Honestly, they sound amazing but (and this is a big but) Zooey really needs to learn how to entertain while on stage.  She just stood there and sang.  She belted it out and it was great to hear but the energy of the room was just enough to keep it from emptying out. Anything would help, even a simple smile.  She just stood their like a statue and sang.  Maybe she just needs more practice as a frontwoman….

The last act of the night was Destroyer.  Destroyer is Dan Bejar’s (New Pornographers) project.  Psychedelic Indie Rock with stream of conscious lyrics fits the bill.  It was an okay set that was riddled with technical difficulties.  From an improperly configured digital piano to a guitar that wouldn’t hold its tune; the set just stumbled along with long pauses between the songs.  On top of that it was poorly mixed by the soundboard operator which just added to the lackluster feel of the final act. Destroyer’s music is interesting and if they played again I would probably catch them to give them another shot because it was clear that the deck was stacked against them this round.

Tomorrow is the last day of music for us… and also at trip to Saltlick BBQ.  Oh baby yeah.  Also, I am too wiped out to deal with processing all the pics from the Hot Freaks Party.  I will try to get them up later today (its 3:30am right now). ‘night.

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