Let me start off by saying that I probably saw 1% of possible bands to see at SXSW, and none of them were the bands everyone is talking about. I didn’t bother waiting in line for She and Him. I left a venue Hole was playing right before they came on twice. I don’t give a crap about The Black Keys or Broken Bells, and my feet hurt too much to watch Miike Snow (which I actually kinda regret). My point being that my awards are highly subjective and only the opinion of me, Marie. A special thanks to YouTube for making these awards possible.
So, on with the awards!
Best Dressed: Marina from Marina & The Diamonds
I saw her twice and both times she was in homemade overalls and four inch heels. The first time, at her extremely crowded showcase at Lamberts, she was wearing Planet Hollywood ones. For the opening and closing songs she also wore a yellow hooded cardigan; the kind where when you put the hood up your head looks like an animal face. It was a pig. A yellow pig. The next day at Levi’s Fader Fort she wore Mickey Mouse overalls and the same ridiculous heels. I’m really not sure what the heels were about. Maybe the pain helps her hit the high notes? She didn’t seem short, like 5’5″ – ish? She didn’t need the extra height. So obviously she is completely mad. And I love her for it.
Best at Overcoming Technical Difficulties: Ozomatli
Anyone who’s been to/read about South by knows that the sound sucks. There are too many bands playing much too closely together for anyone to have a perfect set. So what separates the real professionals from everyone else is their behaviour in these situations. Ozomatli dominated despite pretty awful sound. When Rapper/Percussionist Justin Poree grabs the mic you can barely hear him, so what does he do? Grabs another mic and raps into both. Vocals crystal clear. And when all the mics go out? The band doesn’t get angry and leave the stage, they come out in the audience and make it a real party.
Here’s a video of the aforementioned mic grab during “City of Angels”:
Best Cover Song: Macy Gray covers Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up”
The last thing I was expecting while watching Macy Gray perform was enjoyment. But she brought the fun, helped along with some well chosen covers, specifically Arcade Fire’s anthemic “Wake Up”. When I heard the first notes I turned to Gordon in disbelief, a look of horror on my face, expecting Macy Gray to start singing some other song over Arcade Fire’s wonderful music. What I got instead was the best singalong of SXSW. I wouldn’t have believed it happened if I hadn’t been there.
Hottest Male: Travis “Travie” McCoy
Okay, so this guy comes out on stage in jeans with suspenders, a white belt, neck tats, a lot of facial piercings and starts singing these soothing sexy hip hop jams. He takes turns making eye contact with the females in the audience. I feel something akin to what my mother and her friends must have felt watching Elvis’ hips wiggle. Okay, maybe I have a soft spot for neck tattoos and septum piercings, and it even helps that every once and a while he makes the face of an insane person, eyes bugging out of his head. I’m embarrassed that I am smitten, but I work up the nerve to ask Dakin who we’re watching. “Travis McCoy, the guy from Gym Class Hereos”. Oh, that guy. Fuck you Katy Perry you stupid bitch. Cause Russell Brand is not looking good these days.
I couldn’t find a video of the show, but you know, he has real videos.
Best Voice: Nicole Atkins
If you had asked me before SXSW who the best singer I was going to see was I probably would have said Rose Elinor Dougal. I would have been wrong. Nicole Atkins can sing the pants off anyone I’ve seen live in recent memory. Honestly, her music is a little on the adult contemporary side of being awesome, but with a voice like that, who really cares? No one else can play a set at SXSW of one slow, moody, heart wrenching song after another and still hold the audience’s attention like Nicole Atkins voice can. You are quiet and still because you don’t want to miss a second of its glory. At the end, you stand there a little in awe and a little in love.
Best Dance Party: Alphabeat at La Zona Rosa
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club may have played 45 minutes past their set time, but the 70 people waiting to see Alphabeat until 1:40 AM were there to dance! It was only a 20 minute set, but it was the most intense fun twenty minutes ever! Sometimes, when your feet hurt so much you think you might cry, the only thing to do is dance like a loon until nothing else in the world exists except you and the music. Alphabeat took us to a magical place that night and, unfortunately, it was one of those once in a lifetime perfect moments I will probably never feel again. But maybe if you see them in a dark club in the middle of the night, you can feel it too!
The sound on this video is really crappy, but by the male lead singer’s dancing you can figure out what it was like in the audience. Best. Crowd. Ever.
Best Eye Contact: Becky Ninkovic of You Say Party! We Say Die!
You Say Party! We Say Die! is a lot of fun to watch, but the best part is how lead singer Becky Ninkovic makes you feel important. She takes her time while dancing around wildly and singing her heart out to look each and every person watching in the eye. If you’re really into the music she might dance with you. Or give you a big smile. Or touch you gently on the head like a blessing. No matter what you know that she sees you and is glad you are there.
Best Stage Banter: Eddie Argos of Everybody was in the French Resistance… Now!
Eddie Argos is a reason to see a band. With his other band Art Brut he told funny stories and began every song with “Ready Art Brut?” Now in his current project Everybody Was in the French Resistance… Now! the music may not be as great, but Eddie certainly is. In between every song is a lengthy humorous explanation of what you are about to hear. Sometimes there is also commentary on his mental state, or how he thinks the show is going. If you haven’t seen Eddie Argos perform, it really is a must. Unless you have no sense of humor or tolerance for silliness. Though then you probably shouldn’t be reading this at all.
Girl I Want to be When I Grow Up: Kestrin Pantera of (RV)IP Lounge and his Orchestra
Kestrin Pantera plays the cello, sings, acts and is co-owner of one of the coolest ideas ever, the (RV)IP Lounge and Karaoke Cabaret. It is an RV that picks people up who are waiting in long lines outside events and invites them on board for karaoke and fun. This was their third year at SXSW, and I never did catch the RV, which is one of my top five SXSW regrets (is that another post I’m forming?). So, Kestrin Pantera: full of awesome fun idesa, in one of my favorite bands, dresses well, has cool hair… Can I stop now? I’ve proven my girl crush. Let’s move on to the fact that the (RV)IP made The Wall Street Journal this year.
And I’ll let Kestrin sell herself:
Best Performance All Around: Foxy Shazam
I was watching Patrick Stump and I was bored. Then he said the next band was going to eat cigarettes, so I decided to stay. That was my best decision of SXSW. Foxy Shazam was a powerhouse of theatrics and music. I like gimmicky show bands in theory, but too often there is no musical talent to back up the spectacle. But with Foxy Shazam you get it all. There is the hyper drummer, the crazy looking bassist, a keyboardist who alternates between angelic smiles and jumping up and down on the keyboard; is that enough yet? There’s also the guitarist who can balance a guitar on his head and an insane trumpet player/back-up vocalist, all capped off with a dark and violent singer. I was enjoying myself until a choreographed move where the singer and back-up singer were standing next to each other singing, then the back-up drops to his knees, then the lead vocalist kicks his mic stand just right so the mic is perfectly in line for the back up singer. Then somehow in all of this madness the other mic is tilted downward so that all the back-up singer has to do is tilt his head back and he’s playing the trumpet into the mic behind him. It made my head explode in joy, though it probably makes more sense if you watch it: