Gordon Answers Your SXSW 2010 Questions

by Gordon Elgart on March 24, 2010

I have the set-list napkin Eddie Argos is holding here. I've tucked it into a copy of Booster Gold, no joke. (All photos on this post from my iPhone unless noted)

This year at South By Southwest Music, I lost my voice and my glasses, drank tons of free booze, walked for miles, collected paper wristbands, failed at my attempt at seeing a house party show, and saw a whopping 2.6% of all showcasing acts! (Remember, even an inspired effort will get you, at most, 6% of the acts, so when you see a Top 10 list, it’s working off of a small sample.)

In keeping with the tradition I started last year, I will now answer your important questions about SXSW Music 2010.

1. Who did I see playing on the street four different times?
2. Which Canadian band was my big Wednesday afternoon surprise?
3. What band got a $100 tip in their guitar case?
4. Who tested the stage to make sure it was OK to jump up and down on it?
5. Who took way too long to set up, but then made it worthwhile?
6. Of all the bands that “killed it,” which one killed it most often?
7. Who’s gonna make me skip Hot Chip?
8. What band should have said its name more often so I’d know to miss them in the future?
9. Which act seemed to appreciate my personal enjoyment of them more than any other?
10. Who made 50 people at a 1000-person venue feel like a packed house?
11. Which act finally made me lose my voice for good?
12. What was the best totally improvised, organized-on-the-fly event?

1. Who did I see playing on the street four different times?

San Francisco’s very own Battlehooch kept playing and playing, all while giving out free CDs and condoms. It seemed from the time I first saw them at the line for the Levi’s Fader Fort until I last saw them Saturday afternoon on 6th Street that they were everywhere. And after a while, I got to walking by them and yelling “Battlehooch! I fucking love you guys!” Then they would remind me about their show on April 17th at Bottom of the Hill. When I finally said that I’m seeing Yeasayer that night, they remarked it was the second time they had heard that excuse.

Battlehooch

Battlehooch entertaining a giant line of people. (Photo by David Price)

2. Which Canadian band was my big Wednesday afternoon surprise?

A Canadian band I never heard of before called Hollerado played at the Canadian Blast BBQ. They came on right before the band I was there to see (You Say Party! We Say Die!), and by the time I left this event, all I could talk about was Hollerado. Their set was a fun blast of power pop, and they really know how to work a room, from the time they leaped up on stage until their set closer, an in-the-crowd cover of “Rockin’ in the Free World,” which we were all invited to sing. This was a badgeholder party, and was thus pretty tame, and it’s a shame I didn’t see them another time this week.

Rockin' in the free world!

3. What band got a $100 tip in their guitar case?

On Wednesday night, I went to catch Doll and the Kicks play their official showcase at Emo’s Jr. The sound was turned up too high, the audience wasn’t moving much, and it was hard to get into it. A couple of days later, I caught them on Red River playing an impromptu street show, and it was way better. I ate my dinner while watching them, and as they were picking up after the show, one of the Kicks pulled a $100 bill out of the guitar case, wondering whether or not someone had made a mistake. A friend (manager?) explained to them, “people don’t make mistakes with $100 bills.” I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but this was one particularly lucrative busking experience for them. Way to go!

Doll and the Kicks, right before they found their c-note.

4. Who tested the stage to make sure it was OK to jump up and down on it?

Well before the band’s microphones all failed, causing them to start their usual center-of-the-crowd antics, Ozomatli started setting up their equipment. Before actually playing the show, the band tested out the stage, making sure they could jump up and down on it without breaking anything. And jump up and down they did. The band seemingly exhausted all the energy they usually do in a 2-hour set into their 30-minute set in the Galaxy Room Backyard. The night was filled with technical difficulties and imperfect sound, but Ozomatli was at the top of their game. A great time was truly had by all, except maybe some of the people waiting for Fanfarlo were a bit scared.

Ozo

Good thing he tested the stage first! (Photo by David Price)

5. Who took way too long to set up, but then made it worthwhile?

Honeycut was one of my favorite bands to see live, all due to the keyboard wizardry and dancing feet of Herve Salters, the awesome Frenchman who mans the keys for them. They’ve been out of sight for a few years now due to the success of General Elektriks, his other project, which is making quite a name for itself in France. In fact, a month from now he is headlining the Olympia Hall in Paris, a legendary 2500-seat opera house. Honeycut wasn’t really getting to those numbers back here, so I understand the decision. It’s a shame, though, that General Elektriks hasn’t caught on here because it’s amazing. The first time I was due to see them, they had a problem with a fuse and they were about an hour behind. Since I had another chance to see them, I left. Later that night, at Ghost Bar, way out on 4th St, I saw their official showcase, which was also slow to set up. But as soon as the music started, whoa. It was the first and only time I have ever tweeted the phrase “killed it.” Go listen to the band now and make some sort of U.S. tour worth it for him.

You can watch him dance below. My phone records crap audio, so please turn it down! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

6. Of all the bands that “killed it,” which one killed it most often?

Seems like I couldn’t go five minutes without reading someone on Twitter talking about Bay Area favorites Wallpaper (period) “killing it.” I saw their first SXSW event at the Bay Area Takeover, and it was only the beginning of three solid days of party-making. From their own tweets talking about this other show they were playing before the next show they were playing, it seemed like they kept adding more and more events to their schedule as the week went on. And finally there was some sort of celebratory Saturday night blowout at the Beauty Bar that I missed. All I know is that they call themselves a “non-buzz band” but the buzz around them should be starting any day now. I dare anyone to go see them and not dance, and not smile.

Wallpaper's first murder.

7. Who’s gonna make me skip Hot Chip?

I tend to schedule my shows weeks, sometimes months in advance, making choices that are set in stone. Sometimes I come to regret those choices, and I feel like that’s coming. I decided to see the known quantity, Hot Chip, over the unknown quantity Miike Snow. Oops. I caught the last twenty minutes of their set at the Galaxy Room Backyard on Wednesday night, and was surprised by their look, their sound, their energy. For some reason I expected button-down-shirt-wearing bored Swedes, and instead I got dressed-in-black-all-’70s-synth-pop-looking energetic Swedes. My preconceptions were totally wrong. Now I want to see this show, yet it’s sold out. That hardly ever stops me, so I won’t let it stop me again.

img_8022

Want my guitar? C'mon! Take it! (Photo by David Price)

8. What band should have said its name more often so I’d know to miss them in the future?

I was at the France Rocks event, having just seen the immensely fun electro punks Dead Sexy Inc and I was excited to next be seeing General Elektriks. The band that was on between was mentioned on NPR, and they seemed fine back then, although I never could remember their name. And then they came on stage and bored the heck out of me. Also, one of the singers was so flat it ruined their harmonies. I sat on the balcony, worked through Twitter, and scowled. And still the band never said their complicated name. I’ll tell you so you know not to bother going out of your way to see The Bewitched Hands on the Tops of Our Heads.

This is Dead Sexy Inc. Do go see them if you get the chance. Remember their name, please.

9. Which act seemed to appreciate my personal enjoyment of them more than any other?

My horrible mood of Thursday morning (why does Juan in a Million put bacon in everything?) was cured by a direct message from @MySpaceMusic telling me I had won tickets to see the Muse/Metric show at Stubb’s the following night. I wasn’t even worried about seeing Muse as I knew it simply wasn’t going to happen. But now, because of this, it was! And with priority entry over badges to boot! The Muse laminate line was packed with Muse contest winners, all of the Muse superfans who came to town just for this show. So when the opening band Metric came on, and I started singing along with “Twilight Galaxy,” I felt very much alone. So I decided I was going to have to show myself as a Metric superfan, just to make sure the band knew they were loved.

At the beginning of their set, there were about four Metric fans at the front of the room. By the end, there were clearly many, many more. As much as I enjoyed Muse’s set later (I screamed half my voice out), it was a pretty average Muse set. On the other hand, Metric played the best set I have seen them play. Since I was about two people back and am really tall, the entire band took turns smiling and nodding at me in thanks. At least I think that’s what it was. Well, whatever it was, you’re welcome.

I was this close to Muse. It's nice to hear each individual instrument, as this show was much rock and little pomp. The hundred-or-so Muse superfans made this superfun.

10. Who made 50 people at a 1000-person venue feel like a packed house?

I got to La Zona Rosa in time to watch Black Rebel Motorcycle Club finish their set, and then they kept finishing it and finishing it for what seemed like an hour (because it was). So they basically played through Alphabeat’s setup time, and we were left with a 20-minute Alphabeat set, which sucked for two reasons: because Alphabeat deserved a full set and because I don’t like BRMC. That said, the crowd went from about 900 people to about 50 between the two bands, and I was thinking “I need to dance like 20 people right now.” I’m happy to say that the other 50 people in the audience felt exactly the same way, and this became the most joyous jumping and dancing crowd I may have ever seen. There was no one there who didn’t really want to be there, and the energy was amazing. Although Alphabeat was cut down to five songs, by the end I was totally spent. It was awesome.

The entire set was like one giant group hug. (Photo by David Price)

11. Which act finally made me lose my voice for good?

I waited in line outside the Galaxy Room to watch Andrew W.K. perform a silly little solo piano set which featured a somewhat aborted attempt at a singalong to “I Get Wet.” This was just enough of a teaser to get me to out to the MWTX (NOT Mess With Texas due to a lawsuit) party to see Andrew W.K. and his full band, something I’d be trying to do all week. (The late night party thing was a total bust, as finding where the actual show was at the 21st Co-op was like trying to find somebody in a hall of mirrors.)  And when the band kicked in with “It’s Time to Party,” the pit was on. And it was crazy. Rather than sticking to the new stuff, which I had expected, this was all material from the now-classic I Get Wet album with only “We Want Fun” and one new song thrown in. It was definitely perfect for jumping around, slamming into strangers, and shouting the rest of my voice out. I missed the Andrew W.K. party; I thought it was dead, lost in a sea of piano improvisations and motivational speeches, but as the man says, you cannot kill it.

Long live the party!

12. What was the best totally improvised, organized-on-the-fly event?

When in the car on Thursday morning, I saw a tweet from Zoe Keating wondering if Anton from local string metal legends Judgement Day checks his Twitter during the day because she was trying to put together a “cello tweetup.” So I texted him and told him to check his Twitter. So at 6:00 that evening, we were treated to an improvisational string performance by Zoe, Judgement Day, Break of Reality, and assorted others on percussion and supporting instruments. There was some Beethoven, some jams, and a whole lot of applause. It’s rare to find a quiet corner of Austin during SXSW, somewhere where you can just sit and listen to pleasant music, and this definitely was a treat.

Some cellists and friends, for love not money.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer March 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I was searching for more pics of Hollerado’s Canadian Blast BBQ set because I was one of the folks joining in on Rockin In The Free World. I can see my mouth in the lower left hand side of the photo. Thanks !

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Gordon Elgart March 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm

There’s more pictures of this show in the Wednesday photo gallery already up on the site, and these will also appear in our Best Photos of SXSW Gallery, up later today or tomorrow.

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Ben March 24, 2010 at 1:55 pm

It sounds like you had an insanely good time. Let me know if you need an official SP photographer next year? Not that I have pro equipment or skill, but I could fake it if it meant catching all those shows with you!

Reply

Gordon Elgart March 24, 2010 at 1:58 pm

We already have an official SP photographer, so you’re probably just going to have save up a few hundred bucks and come along. (Seriously, that little. This is one of the cheapest things I do.)

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