Wrapping up SXSW
Since there were so many of us blogging SXSW Music (not to mention Leonard Pierce’s film coverage), there’s probably a solid chance you missed out on some of it. In the interest of boiling things down, all of the music writers summed up their experience below. If you’d rather get the undiluted version, go here. And as a bonus: a whole bunch of pretty pictures to look at.
Oh, and I was interviewed about our party over at wired.com; check it out.
The best band I saw was: Tough to say, but probably Future Of The Left. Somebody needs to foist these angry Welshmen on the world. Jane’s Addiction wasn’t the best, but it was pretty damn fun.
The overall vibe this year was: Crowded but friendly. I saw more non-industry types (and families!) than ever, and Sixth Street was a total madhouse every minute.
Bands I’m bummed I missed: Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, who played a bunch of times—all conflicting with something else (except the one show I bailed on due to fatigure). Also The Asteroids Galaxy Tour and We Were Promised Jetpacks.
Resolution for SXSW 2010: Continue to keep plans incredibly flexible for maximum overall enjoyment. Make The A.V. Club party as fun as this year’s.
The best band I saw was: Dirty Projectors. Talk about delayed gratification: On the last big day of SXSW Music, I kicked around the French Legation for a little under five hours to be met with a tight, energetic set of songs from the upcoming (and very promising) Bitte Orca. Still floored by the band member's live chops, instrumentally and vocally. Be prepared to be sick of "Stillness Is The Move" by year's end.
The overall vibe this year was: Impatient. Though I'm coming around to the "just show up for the good stuff" philosophy, I was surprised at how many faces I'd see at the end of the night that were there at the beginning.
Bands I'm bummed I missed: Devo (though I caught the spuds in Cleveland back in 2005), Kanye, The Decemberists, and Peter Bjorn And John.
Resolution for SXSW 2010: Refrain from treating my body like a receptacle for beer, Best Wurst, and Kebabalicious; do a little more research into showcasing artists before the festival; and take greater advantage of the fact that for four days, every usable space (decomissioned supermarkets, piles of dirt) in my hometown is hosting live music.
The best band I saw was: It's really a tie between Grizzly Bear and Devo, both of whom I enjoyed for very different reasons, and both of whom put on shows I'll remember forever. But since Devo's show could have happened anywhere, I'll give it to Grizzly Bear in the Central Presbyterian Church, which is one of those magical shows that will probably never happen again.
The overall vibe this year was: Insanely hyped. It seemed like every famous musician and big-name band in the world was here, and after a while every rumor, no matter how wild (The Jonas Brothers are playing this after-party! Radiohead might show up!) had the ring of truth to it.
Bands I'm bummed I missed: Wavves, Angel Deradoorian's solo set, Dirty Projectors' NPR set, and Vivian Girls (whom I heard weren't that great anyway, but still).
Resolution for SXSW 2010: Whatever pink fruity shit Perez Hilton serves at his party next year, cut myself off after one glass.
The best band I saw was: Honestly? Metallica. They totally killed it, and I'm never gonna be that close to them, or see them in that small a venue. I feel like that's cheating, though, so the best indie band I saw was Asobi Seksu, who not only made me want to pick up the new album, but revisit Citrus.
The overall vibe this year was: Familiar. Everyone seemed to expect restraint thanks to the shitty economy, but restraint was nowhere to be found. The festival obliterated a forest's worth of trees on fliers and postcards, the booze flowed freely, and no one seemed hampered by the collapsing financial world.
Bands I'm bummed I missed: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Although I've mocked their name, I keep hearing how great they are. I'm also sad I missed Eyedea & Abilities and P.O.S. at the Rhymesayers showcase—luckily, P.O.S. tours all the time, so I'll have more chances.
Resolution for SXSW 2010: The same resolution I had for '09, '08, and '07—PLAN BETTER. Every year, I'm RSVP'ing for everything, then trying to figure out my schedule on the flight down to Austin. And every year, I'm one notch above totally winging it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing down here, but I always feel like I should've planned better.
The best band I saw was: Metallica. I know that it's sort of lame to go to a breaking-bands festival and see one that formed in the early '80s, but I have no regrets checking out these metal titans. I'd never seen them before, and they blew me away the way I had assumed they'd stopped blowing people away. ...And Justice For All was my first and is still my favorite Metallica album, and to hear songs like "Blackened" and "One" (I almost lost my shit during the latter) while a seriously scary pit churned right next to me more or less fulfilled my 13-year-old fantasies.
The overall vibe this year was: Surprisingly similar to the past few years: crowded, crazy, and as fun as you wanted to make it. I sort of thought the shitty economy would keep people home the way that Sept. 11 turned 2002 into a pretty easy year, but it felt just as crowded this year as last. (That's why I was kind of surprised my wristband worked so well this year--everybody thought I was a fool for thinking I'd get into Metallica without a badge.) There seemed to be a ton more food carts near the intersection of Red River and Sixth, which made it a lot easier to see lots of bands without feeling famished.
Bands I’m bummed I missed: We Were Promised Jetpacks and Hello Seahorse. These were simply timing issues, but I'm especially bummed because they're both foreign (Scottish and Mexican, respectively) and don't seem to have any San Francisco dates on the horizon. But I wouldn't have my Metallica story to tell the grandkids if I'd seen We Were Promised Jetpacks, and in place of Hello Seahorse I saw The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, who would have made this list if I hadn't caught them on Thursday.
Resolution for SXSW 2010: Figure out a way to stay fed and drunk without spending any money. This year was probably my best year of getting free food (which, being a vegetarian, isn't all that easy in BBQland), but I know I can do better.