Blastro News

by admin // Tuesday, March 23, 2010 // News, Upfront // 0 Comments

Brrrrrrrr!  That's right - after three beautiful days at SXSW, Saturday turned arctic, which means (in Austin terms) temperatures between 35 - 50 degrees and high winds  WTF??  On the bright side, it didn't rain.  Thank you, weather gods!  (It never hurts to stay positive, right?)  So, after bundling up (sure didn't think I'd be wearing my down jacket again until NEXT winter), I made my way to The Dog & Duck Pub for Yallwire's day party featuring Dale Watson, The Gourds, James Hyland, Matt King, Shinyribs, Two Tons of Steel, Max Stalling and The Jungle Rockers - full sets from all artists will be available for streaming on in the near future, so definitely check back!   Due to the cold and my cold/allergies, Dale Watson's performance was the only one I caught.  I like how he's positioned himself as a tattooed outsider in the country music circuit, and his guitar was rad.  Does anyone know what coins are glued to it?

After some time de-thawing, I went to check out Rachel Ray's party at Stubb's, where I saw Zooey Deschanel's indie folk band, She & Him.  Zooey was adorable in her navy trench with white piping and red hat, which her bassist, Mike Coykendall, complimented with his Davy Crocket-esque coonskin cap(?).  Ok, enough on fashion - we're here for the music!  Honestly, She & Him's set was pretty much what I expected from the quirky-cute-girlie persona Deschanel has portrayed in several films.  I didn't leave in awe but enjoyed what I saw.  On a side note, I was too impatient to wait in line for some Rachel Ray goodness (actually I'm not a big fans of hers, but the food did look good), so I left hungry, unfortunately - I know you pity me! 

The show up next was definitely one of my favorites at SXSW this year.  Ahhh, The Slip.  Thankyouthankyouthankyou to the chain of friends that spread the word about this special and super intimate appearance inside of Shangri-la.  I seriously found out about this only an hour or so before it happened, and it was a bright, shiny surprise on this glum day.  I'd never seen these guys before and only have a few live recordings from back in their very jazz-centric days (actually, I vividly remember one such recording that somehow made being stuck in stand-still traffic from San Francisco to Truckee, dare I say, enjoyable), which is still evident in their more avant-rock style these days.  The show was a ton of fun, inside and warm, and our group had the best spot in the house - right up front.  Score!  Definitely check these guys out if you get the chance. 

Also, and rightly so, Santa showed up to see The Slip and spread the merriment that is SXSW.  And then across the street, over the fence, and on the Mess With Texas stage was some hefty metal dude getting (almost) naked.  Good times - love me some SXSW!


getting naked

So after some confusion regarding the Mess With Texas schedule (yet, again, set times went awry - Neon Indian at 6:45pm?  Apparently not - boo!), we trekked over to Lovejoys for some liquid warmth and a nighttime gameplan.  As it turns out, Saturday was the only day that was pretty hit-or-miss for me.  There was a several-hour-stretch that definitely left more to be desired.  We tried to hit up the Fader Fort for Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, but the sheriff decided to show up and enforce capacity.  So that was a no-go.  Then we headed to Relix's showcase at Galaxy Room Backyard for Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights, only catching their last song.  We stuck around for the next set featuring Kings Go Forth, a soulful funk band from Milwaukee that was pretty entertaining (though not what I was looking for).  Next up was The Ganjas, a psychedelic rock band from Chile, at Maggie Mae's.  I wasn't really feeling them either, so we went to Flamingo Cantina for Mishka, the first artist signed to Matthew McConaughey's j.k.livin label (no, a bare-chested McConaughey was not spotted at the show).  Having heard about Mishka last year from some friends, I'd been wanting to check him out.  Take a listen and a look (he is pretty beautiful, ladies) and see what ya think of his reggae-ish style.  Are ya feeling irie yet, eh eh??

Well, to conclude SXSW '10, we checked out Chilean hip-hop I-wish-I-could-be-as-badass-as-she-is artist Anita Tijoux (whose performance reminded me of Mala Rodriguez's from SXSW two years ago).  During the show, a Swedish musician in the audience asked me if I understood what she was saying.  Honestly, I speak NO Spanish, but I tried to explain to him that's not why I was there.  I mean, think about the opera.  Shit, even if it's sung in English, it's hard to make out their words.  And that's because the words don't matter so much as the feelings that they convey.  Anita Tijoux was raw and powerful on stage - a memorable end to SXSW for me.   

Even though I was chilled to the bone by the end of it all, SXSW '10 was definitely another fest for the books.  Much thanks to my company, Blastro Networks, for the badge, and my girls (you know who you are!) for all the great recommendations - none of this would be possible without y'all! 

by admin // Friday, March 19, 2010 // News, Upfront // 0 Comments

When 2,000 bands invade your city - and you're already a music fanatic - it's like christmas.  But way better.  Every venue in downtown Austin, at every hour, offers a little something for everyone, no matter your musical tastes.  And that's not even the half of it.  If you just take a moment to look around while you're hopping from place to place (which can be hard at times when you're always on the go trying to catch the next show), you'll see some crazy ass people all around you.  This is THE people-watching fest.  Hula-hooping guitarists, Japanese-I-don't-know-what-the-eff-they're-doing dancers in the street, New Orleans-style street musicians and everything in between. 

My first showcase on Thursday was at Latitude, featuring UK artists.  Bubbz was a fun way to kick off the night and get the energy flowing in my beyond exhausted body.  His commanding stage presence was complimented by his obviously well rehearsed set and polished appearance.  And though the place wasn't packed, people continued to trickle in throughout the set, and Bubbz was very tactful in bringing people to the front of the venue, easily enhancing the vibe.  Good tip for artists: don't be shy about asking the audience to move in a little closer.  It makes your showcase that much more enticing for the people milling about on the street figuring out their next move. 

Up next was The Whigs - or so we thought.  Beauty Bar annex is apparently not even on the same block as the Beauty Bar, so we ended up seeing Los Angeles' Moonrats.  And, ironically enough, the bassist in the band is Jenny Lee Lindberg (her fourth set of the day) from Warpaint, so that was a nice surprise since I'm really loving Warpaint's psychedelic-infused sounds.  At first, I wasn't really feeling Moonrats, but after a couple songs, they definitely started drawing me in.  SXSW tip: don't make a judgment call on a showcasing band till they have at least ten minutes to warm-up on stage and get all the kinks worked out sound-wise.  Le Loup at Galaxy Room was our next stop and also another prime example of wait-for-it-wait-for-it goodness.  Drawing comparisons to Yeasayer and Animal Collective, Le Loup is a band I'd be into checking out again if they made it back around to Austin. 

Holy F*ck - a phrase used in many different circumstances, including "Holy f*ck, I still can't believe how much good music I'm seeing this week - and always - in Austin," and it's also the name of an experimental electronica band from Toronto.  I actually saw these guys open for The Disco Biscuits in Chicago for Halloween last year, so I was looking forward to their SXSW set.  Unfortunately, so were a lot of other people, so I waited-and-waited in line and finally made it inside to catch a few songs, which I totally enjoyed - though I could've used some more. 

Ahhh, and the infamous GZA, who had canceled his appearance at a day party on Wednesday and was very late (not sure if he ever showed because I left) to the Eastbound & Down party earlier Thursday evening, was to take the stage next.  Would he show?  Well, he did - eventually.  I'm not sure who it was from his posse that entertained the crowd for the next half hour or so until he did make an appearance, but GZA definitely owes this guy, which he should remember when he wakes up from whatever drug-induced coma he's in.  That's right - apparently he had to be CARRIED into The Mohawk for this showcase (we found this out from a little bird after his brief set).  And that wasn't the only strange GZA-related happening.  He was also entranced with someone in the front of the audience and constantly fixated on her ("her" is an assumption but probably the correct one) - with his bodyguard about a foot away from him ready to pounce at any minute - throughout the showcase.  Strangeness.  Also, the bass got so loud that we decided to jet, but right as we were about to exit GZA got ahold of us (not literally :-), so we stuck around till the end. 

By this time, it's about 1am, and we mosey into Club de Ville to check out I-don't-know-who, and then decide to end the night with London/Paris' Dan Black at Dirty Dog.  Great decision!  At first glance, you think "Zoolander" because of his face paint and over-exaggerated dance moves (that were awesome, by the way), and then you mix that up with his pop-y tunes and cheesy choruses (almost Just Jack-ish), and you get yourself a dance par-tay!  I loved seeing this guy and will definitely be up-ing his album to my party mix.  He was highly entertaining on stage, and I'm a sucker for those British accents. 

Cheers!  It was another fab day...on to the next one!

by admin // Thursday, March 18, 2010 // News, Upfront // 0 Comments

First off, I just want to say that I effing love this town and this festival.  I'm a recent SXSW convert after having the most fantastic time last year, which was my second time to attend the fest.  So I kicked off my third year by sitting in on a couple panels at the convention center on Wednesday.  The first was "The Convergence of Music on TV and Online," which seemed to the labels' attempt at convincing artists that they're still a necessary part of the equation for success  However, this message was at odds - at least to me - with the whole emphasis of the panel as there are so many free platforms for artists to promote themselves and build a fanbase.  All in all, I didn't gain much from this one.  It really seemed to me that the labels were on the defensive here. 

My second and last panel of the day was "Working The Press: Intellectual Intercourse and Interviews" with Ali MacLean, an award-winning writer and host of "Ali On The Air."  I found myself laughing out loud several times during this discussion, mostly due to some hilariously awful artist interviews (namely Johnny Rotten and Box Masters, aka Billy Bob Thronton) that Ali streamed during the panel.  If you have any interest in musician interview etiquette, definitely watch these to learn what NOT to do - and get an idea of how to handle these situations as a journalist if they do happen.  Having done several interviews with bands myself, I found this panel to be highly relevant and entertaining.  Also, a word of advice to musicians (and I have run across this recently): answer the questions!  The media is here to tell your story, and you're not "sticking it to the man" by being difficult in an interview - you're only hurting yourself.  Coincedentally (or, perhaps, not), Box Masters' tour was canceled after this interview surfaced.  Just keep that in mind - even if you hate the whole media circus. 

Ok, now on to the music!  My first stop, after picking up my Pure Volume badge, was Los Angeles' El Ten Eleven at Lustre Pearl.  Though musically their sound is much different from that of Benevento/Russo Duo, these two guys, playing their hearts out on guitar and drums, really reminded me of the Duo for this reason: I am astonished that just two people can make that sort of noise.  And I don't mean noise in a bad way!  Check out a couple clips to see what I do mean.

While we were at Lustre Pearl, a rumor surfaced that MGMT was the 7:30pm "special guest" at Levi's Fader Fort, so we trucked over there to get a good spot.  By the time we got there, several other rumors were floating around as to who might be playing.  I think the second one was Snoop Dogg, but I had heard that he's playing Perez Hilton's party (and possibly the Fort) on Saturday.  So I ix-neyed that as a possibility and really did think MGMT was still in the running because their scavenger hunt was held in Austin the day prior.  However, after other chatter of M.I.A. (how awesome would that be!) and Black-Eyed Peas making an appearance, the most viable option seemed to be Nas & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley as they were performing at Emo's together later on that night.  And so it was, and it was definitely my highlight of the night. 

After my third iPhone plug-in (Apple: please release a phone with a replacable battery!), I headed to Club de Ville and briefly checked out Here We Go Magic, but since I wasn't really feeling them, I made my way into line at Stubb's for Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, who was followed by the hyped Broken Bells, which consists of artist-producer Danger Mouse and The Shins' guitarist, James Mercer.  Sharon Jones definitely had the place grooving with her soulful tunes, and I did enjoy Broken Bells - though not to the extent of their buzz.  They just didn't have the energy I was hoping for, but I guess Nas & Damian Marley set that bar pretty high.  I did run into Ali MacLean, the panel speaker I enjoyed earlier in the day, and chatted with her ever-so briefly, which was cool.

Now where to?  Well, I did attempt to see Nas & Damian Marley once more at Emo's (and Warpaint, who I saw recently and really dug, was playing the indoor show), but the line was horrendous.  No thank you.  So I actually made my way to Red 7 to see Roxwel's showcase with Relapse Records, featuring Voivod, and as my coworker said when I arrived - "What are you doing here?" - I began to wonder the same thing.  Trying to familiarize myself with metal?  Nope, not my thing.  So I hopped over to Rusty Spurs to catch Japan's Acid Mothers Temple with my ears already ringing.  The aurora of these dudes is just amazing, and I found myself snapping away with my camera.  But after several songs in, right up front by the speakers, I - or I should say my ears - just couldn't do it.  I have not converted to using earplugs yet, but I do have a pair in my bag now after experiencing some serious ringing when I got back to my quiet apartment.  I did really enjoy Acid Mothers Temple and will probably check them out again while they're here.  Luckily, I have it on my schedule that they're performing in a parking lot today, so that should make their amped-out sounds - and the constant "turn it up" hand gestures - more tolerable. 

Well, it's time to hit the streets again!  More to come tomorrow, but, in the meantime, you can follow me for SXSW updates via Twitter (@crunchyMunckin)!

by Kristilee // Wednesday, March 3, 2010 // News, Upfront // 0 Comments