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Reviews: SXSW Part 1 (Tuesday 3/16 and Wednesday 3/17)

March 25, 2010

Because I was working during SXSW, I didn’t make it to quite as many showcases as I would have liked.  Still, I saw quite a few bands and attended a bunch of parties during the week and I thought the easiest way to handle reviewing everything would be in time order.

I’ll be dividing the posts up into 3 parts for my sanity and yours.  Welcome to part one where I’ll be covering SXSW Tuesday and Wednesday!

We’re continuing to work our A’s off on the ME-TV special (watch for the really awesome promo here!), so stay tuned for all of that in the upcoming week or so.  Isn’t it great to continuously relive two weeks of your life over and over again??  I thought so.

Anyway, on with the reviews!

Tuesday, March 16th

5:00 pm – ADEC ME-TV Party at the Gibson Showroom

Sean and I hit up the ADEC ME-TV party for obvious reasons – free food and beer!  Oh right, and we were working for ME.  The party itself was a success; there was free Red Bull, beer on tap from NXNW and food from Red’s Porch.  Being that it was our first “night-off” from working (which only involved shooting and editing the video above), we were pretty happy to just hang out for a while.  As for entertainment, ME boasted an impressive line-up, beginning with Austin singer-songwriter Suzanna Choffel.  I had never seen her or heard her music, and I honestly really enjoyed her smoky voice and tunes that went beyond the ordinary guitar-strumming and acoustic indie rock.  Playing with a full band, her songs were catchy and fully-formed in a way that is sometimes lacking from Austin singer-songwriters.

8:00 pm – SXSWi Closing Party at Mohawk

We made it to the Mohawk in time for the doors to open.  The bar was also open here, so we took advantage.  After having spent nearly 3 hours at one party before we got to Mohawk, we were feeling a bit jumpy and wanted to do some wandering around.  We decided to leave before the first band even took the stage; otherwise known as SXSW Mistake #1.

9:30 pm – live.create.lounge sponsored by ZonePerfect

Does this image look familiar?  Because if it doesn’t, you probably weren’t actually at SXSW.  We’re still snacking on mini and full-sized Zone Bars over here.

Anyway, we decided to go to the live.create.lounge for one very specific reason: chocolate.  Last year at SXSW, the lounge was one of my absolute favorite experiences – there were FREE chocolate martinis, people!  I’ve been talking about it ever since.  Plus, they’re responsible with providing us with our gigantic refrigerator magnet that literally says “AWESOME.”  So, naturally, we were looking forward to getting back there this year.

Except, when we walked in things looked different.  A) it was completely empty inside.  No band, practically no people.  We approached the bar, where we quickly discovered the next problem when B) The guy tells us, “It’s going to be $4 for the Lone Star and $6 for the chocolate martini.”

I was really surprised that they were charging and obviously, that it was so much.  With absolutely no incentive to be there, why would people pay?  Maybe that’s a bad attitude and sure, no one deserves free drinks, but oh well.  We promptly left.

10:15 pm -Mohawk fail

We tried to get back into the Mohawk to absolutely no avail.  People had been waiting in the capacity lines for an hour.  And this is why leaving in the first place was mistake #1.

Click the jump to read Wednesday’s recap!!  Includes Damian Marley & Nas, The Levi’s/FADER Fort, etc!

Wednesday, March 17th

4:30 pm – Levi’s/FADER Fort

After wrapping up interviews and editing for the day, Sean and I hit the Levi’s/FADER Fort with our equipment to take in the action.  Despite a bit of drama on Twitter, the Fort lived up to its reputation and then some.  It was easily one of the best parties of SXSW, and it’s impressive that they can set up and keep organized such a massive operation for so many days.

We were introduced to the wonder that is Southern Comfort and black tea, and then caught Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks‘ set.  I’d heard a lot about them, but you know, bands with clever names like that are sometimes a toss up, so I had no idea what to expect.  They.were.fantastic.  Their brand of rock infused with indie and post-punk energized the Fort and us for our long car ride home to take care of our dog.

9:30 pm – Official SXSW Music Showcase at Emo’s Austin

We arrived at Emo’s for the wait until Damian Marley & Nas would take the stage at midnight.  I’m not the biggest fan of Emo’s, but we secured ourselves a good spot behind two chicks with irie vibes on the platform in the back of the room, and with Lone Stars in hand, we waited to take in the show.  After all, this was one of the showcases I recommended.

Mariachi El Bronx was up first.  Coming from San Antonio and being Latina, it’s an understatement to say that I’m pretty familiar with Mariachi music.  And I have to say, for a band combining Mariachi with rock, the music was pretty damned good.  I also appreciated that they went all traditional with the outfits and the official instrument of Mariachi music (as far as I’m concerned anyway), the Guitarrón.  I found Mariachi El Bronx to be altogether endearing.

Next up in the showcase was The Dillinger Escape Plan.  I’d vaguely heard the name before, but couldn’t recall anything I’d ever heard.  Soundcheck went normally – I could tell things were about to get rowdy, but I HAD NO IDEA.  The video above of them taking the stage pretty much explains it all; people hanging from the rafters, crowd-surfing, equipment bashing and what-not.  And those irie chicks?  Yeah, The Dillinger Escape plan made one of them freak out and vomit several times.  Luckily, she went forward and not back.

Being from San Antonio, again, I’m quite used to metal and metalheads.  It’s part of the thing.  The Dillinger Escape Plan actually seemed pretty great in comparison to most of the bands I saw in SA…but sorry, scream metal just isn’t my thing.  The stage antics were single-handedly the best part of the show.  That and my earplugs.

Finally, it was time for Damian Marley and Nas.  Or at least, it was time to wait for them.  Their soundcheck went for an extra-extra long time, and they were about 20 minutes late to start.  When they finally did get on the stage, they were terrific.  I think they bring out the best qualities in each other – with Damian’s mission-driven focus on lyrics and Nas’ flow, these two can’t go wrong working together.  The crowd went nuts for them, especially when they played “Road to Zion,” their collaboration from Damian’s album.

The only thing that sucked was that because they came on stage so late, their set was really, really short.  Like 6 songs short.  Because we’d been waiting specifically for them for 2 and a half hours, it was a little disappointing, but nevertheless, it was a fun and highly entertaining night.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – coming up ASAP!

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