Charles v. SXSW 2015 (an absentee perspective) Charles v. SXSW 2015 (an absentee perspective)

So, this year I didn’t attend SXSW and the more I think about it, the more it bums me out because lord KNOWS when I’ll be able to catch CHRISTEENE, B L A C K I E and The Dillinger Escape Plan on the same day over hot pork and cold brews across a city overblown with civic potential but bummed as I may be, I am happy that Ms. Maggie was able to get in the grist and report back to us on the daily because she saw all manner of sounds I would never have dug in myself and so, in deference to her know how, I’ve taken the last couple of days to go through her gig selections to get better acquainted with the new noise on the lips of the tastemakers and hegemonic shape-shifters. There’s a whole lot she shot (all below photos are hers) that plays with genres I don’t know well and might never but SXSW is nothing if not home to uniquely personal sonic upheaval. So here we go. Me, alone (and/or with sleeping dogs) trying to make sense of the many proffered by Ms. Maggie. All rites reserved, all wrongs reversed. All in for the win, kid. Rockit.


Day 1

Amason: A decidedly shaggy love-in vibe with flutes and keys horns and lady sings the blues while the bearded dude with the hair conducts his aural hope revival ritual like a man too-well-attuned to the urgent dust of American roots rock gone pond hopping. Think Ed Sharpe sans recovery and swelling.

Blossoms: Well aren’t there so many Blossoms these days? Gives hope for the hopeful. Shoegaze for the rest.

Milky Chance: Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if a pinched tenor with a flat base is a sort of post DMB affectation or a true voice risen from the many rabbled overemphasizers so let’s just say that Milky Chance possesses a distinct twinge over campfire barrio hooks and Dresden buskers on a hostel honeymoon.

Parlour Tricks: A swelling pop consortium of (not TOO) pretty people playing post-50s Americana swagger somber like a loose gong strapped to the tail of the last Greyhound out of town.

Ryn Weaver: I keep thinking this is D.a. Knightly from SKYES going all crazy pop legitimate siren so I can make a mint on my familiarity with her performance style but it isn’t, is it? I should reappraise my priorities.

San Fermin: Soulful, adorable and all the kinds of right overwrought you need on a Sunday subway, 3am from the trumpet to borderline harmonies that remind a man that he might just find a woman of his dreams one day, if only he could sing.

BØRNS: If Taylor Swift loves him, my temperament is crazy null. Still, “10,000 Emerald Pools” is big, big daydreams.


Day 2

Bee Caves: Hefty folk for elliptical electronic purists struggling against their unspoken support of the singularity. Actually, really good.

Boogie: 24 years removed from SoCal and I’m still not fucking with a Compton MC.

Courtney Barnett: You’ve already heard a shit ton about this Aussie siren and you’re going to hear a ton more because Ms. Barnett is pretty fucking great and will continue to be even after next year when the internet’s sniffed out a new phase of singular, feminine empowerment or snuffed out it out with more stories about that dude from Blink 182 and/or more Meredith Graves.

Palma Violets: Pretty decent on the front end of their records but I hear that, live, they are a wiled-out rock and roll megathon. Not sure why I’ve always missed them. Guess I’m better off wasting my sweat chasing dogs.

Shamir – Androgynous party-crashing hip hop mavenesque. Do you have any idea how rare it is to encounter a counter tenor? I’ve known one and he blew his range on Paris back in the late 90s. It’s a sin.

Stromae – Quietly devastating Belgian electronic hip hop in a bowtie and a clean crop. This dude is a mystery, slowly unfurling into megastardom overseas and well due for a frothing American niche.

TV on the Radio – They play “Trouble” like 20 times an hour on WFUV and though Klosterman said something about there not being any TV on the Radio worth hearing that didn’t dedicate itself to wolves, that song is pretty goddamn touching. Also, the band’s live chops have grown slowly, furiously impeccable.


Day 3

Priory: I judge Portland too harshly because I am stuck in an NYC rut with a bum job and a dud eye and a series of obligations I just don’t understand worth a damn but this band with their big harmless charm on electropop weekend gym jamming honestly has me reconsidering a detour to the land of a thousand rains because I need some dumb paycheck fun for a living.

Seinabo Sey: There are very few voices that stand out in the rabble grapple of white-washed pop emotives that play like the gold bull for the dim dreams of hopeless youth but Seinabo Sey, man…she’s got the grit of old souls rattling her pipes to swell up and blow the faders all the way, way back to the rust age. Not that she’s show-boating. Far from it. She’s just true and the beats and the creeps that underly her talent are all cold dusk and amber shade.

Wolf Alice: Big fuzz blues lady up, roll over and crash all the good way down. If this band isn’t a hype magnet, I’ll eat Mason’s ashes.

Big Data: I have a soft spot for this electronic project since the clip for “Dangerous” all but forgave the eight years of self-loathing I endured under the glorified shit spin of advertising. Ugh. And people wonder why I work in construction.

Family of the Year: Heart strung plucking LA folk incursion that’s been an under-appreciated fixture in the new hope scene for a good few years now. Glad Linklater finally got them paid, though I’m sure they made a decent penny off of Advil as well. That statement is not cynical. Being broke and right fucking sucks.

Zella Day: The whisper wail of all the ex high school theater girls disenfranchised by Mr. Patinkin’s bearded turn to television. Truth be told, I thought she’d be a lot more hippie than sultry electro dance woe queen.


Days 4 & 5

Houndmouth: Jingly jangly pop rawk blues with one seriously creamy blue-eyed front man.

Jamestown Revival: Americana belongs to the young now, don’t it? I guess it has to. Mad decent twang on these boys but that moustache has got to fucking go.

Snoop Dogg: Wait, wait. Wasn’t he just Snoop Lion? Mary Jane por vida, I suppose.

The Ting Tings: I have no idea how I feel about this band. That Apple commercial was great and all and there were a few tracks of note of their last record but I just don’t think they have any idea who or what they want to be so I have no place for them in my spectrum. Suddenly, I wish they were Tilly and the Wall.

Hudson Mohawke: Double points to this fine young wonk and skronk party-up-now solo DJ endeavor for the reference to Bruce Willis’ second most egregiously failed act of vanity. It will always be too soon to reference Bruno.

Joywave: Okay, okay. I will set aside how decidedly un Trip Metal Joywave’s clip for “Something New” is and the screaming insult of that adolescent whisp and instead suggest that, yeah, this kid is on to some errant Rochester electrorock underbelly that few in this cold world had any idea existed.

Kevin Gates: I don’t know if this MC is hard as fuck or totally full of shit with the teardrops and the coke nails and the grill but seeing as he’s a son of Rouge I’m better of not wondering any further. Also, he hates Obama for some reason.

Palma Violets: (See Day 2)

Timbaland and Tink: Hip hop institution and his new protege. Like Prince and Carmen Electra with more pushups and mad money and way less Svengali go go dancing. Champagne rooming, maybe but we don’t talk about that.

Travis Scott: Travis Scott is either a prefab thug or an enfant terrible or a MO City kid how got bummed hard before stumbling wild into outrageous fortune. Bonus points for the man sporting a Bonded by Blood shirt on celluloid because Exodus, man…Exodus.

Twista: This motherfucker once pronounced 598 syllables in 55 seconds! I can get with this chopper shit but quick. GET IT?!?

Zella Day: (See Day 3)

Kali Uchis: Pretty sure this is one of the only artists (OF EIGHTEEN!) I suggested that Ms. Maggie photographed (I actually offered her five clams to shoot B L A C K I E) and I’m glad she did because this little pop queen has got the hard-knock saddle shoring her up for something good and glamorous.

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