Posted in music on March 31, 2009

by Bill Pearis

I saw upwards of 50 bands during the four days of SXSW. These were the most memorable. I think.

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1. Pete and the Pirates (Emo's Annex, 3.20.2009)

Pete and Pirates

Easily the best band I saw at SxSW this year. Of course, as their album Little Death made my Best of 2008, I already had a predilection to like them but Pete and the Pirates so nailed their great songs live -- the harmonies, the guitar interplay, everything -- that I just had a big grin on my face the whole time. My only regret: not seeing them more than once.

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2. The Evaporators (Ms Bea's, 3.21.2009)

The Evaoirators

One of the amazing things about Austin during SXSW is there are so many day shows, you can stumble into something great by accident. After a botched attempt to catch L.A.'s Blue Jungle, I wandered past Ms Bea's, where Todd P and Woodsist were throwing an all-day party, just as Vancouver punk legends The Evaporators were starting. This is Nardwuar's band, by the way, and if you're only familiar with his celebrity interviews you should see him front a band. Of the many crazy moments, Nardwuar gathers the crowd to catch him as he stage dives, and then "drives" this bed of people around Ms Bea's patio. (I shot video of it, it's at the bottom of this post.) The most genuinely fun show of the week.

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3. Hot Leg (SPIN party at Stubbs, 3.20.2009)

Hot Leg

On a similar yet entirely different note, Justin Hawkins mounted a roadie's shoulders for Hot Leg's final song, "Cocktails," and rode him through the audience while playing a guitar solo. It's a stunt Hawkins also did in his old band, The Darkness (whose first album I still listen to regularly), but it actually seems more appropriate here with the even more over-the-top Hot Leg. Where the Darkness were more Thin Lizzy, Hot Leg is the Sunset Strip circa 1986, complete with hairspray, makeup, and a studded leather jumpsuit. And posing. Every second of their performance was a photo op. That said, the band are tight and can really play all that stuff live. The songs, unfortunately, are a little to jokey this time around, even for Hawkins who wrote a love song to a genital wart. But as live spectacle, Hot Leg are something else. (Video below from a different SXSW show.)

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4. Thee Oh Sees (Ms Bea's, 3.21.2009)

Thee Oh Sees

It was kind of hard to leave the Todd P/Woodsist party on Saturday as the line-up was just so solid - like San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees, leaders of the Bay Area's scene that also includes Sic Alps, Ty Segal, and newcomers The Fresh & Onlys. Everything is drenched in buckets of reverb and echo. Frontman John Dwyer is an intense dude, a "mike-eater" and prone to abusing his 12-string guitar that miraculously never seems to go out of tune. Great songs too. Thee Oh Sees will be in NYC on April 4 - 5, don't miss em. (Video below)

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5. Dananananackroyd (The Dirty Dog, 3.18.2009)

Dananananackroyd

Glaswegians with a ridiculous name, but what a performance. Kind of like the Mae Shi or Los Campesinos!, with lots of shouted choruses and clapping, Dananananackroyd just want to spread the love. Two singers: one of whom spends half the time on a second drumkit; the spends half the time in the audience. The latter finishes the show by hugging nearly everyone in the crowd individually. Doug from Sky Larkin claims they're the best live band in the UK. And I can understand his reasoning. (Video below)

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6. The Fresh & Onlys (Ms Bea's, 3.21.2009)

The Fresh and Onlys

One of many bands doing only unofficial shows, I was unaware the Fresh & Onlys were in Austin at all until I saw them on the hand-scrawled schedule stapled to the gazebo/performance space at Ms Bea's. Like a less-intense, more melodic Oh Sees, the Fresh & Onlys crank through a great set of harmony-laden garage and psych, despite some technical problems, like the bassist's strap malfunction that had him playing laying on the ground for a few songs. The band has a 7" out now on Kelley Stoltz's new label, Chuffed, and are releasing two albums this year: one soon on John Dwyer's Castle Face, and one later in 2009 on Woodsist. (Video from their show below.)

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7. Fanfarlo (Central Presbyterian Church, 3.20.2009)

Fanfarlo

I was already a massive fan but the band's delicate and swooning tendencies were amplified by the church's natural acoustics. If you ever have a chance to see Fanfarlo somewhere like this, don't pass it up.

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8. WAVVES (Ms Bea's, 3.21.2009)

WAVVES @ Market Hotel in NYC (more by Lori Baily)
Wavves

Easily one of the most insane shows of the week. By this point in the evening there are proably 2000 people at Ms Beas: the patio, the parking lots behind band beside the place, in the bar, etc. And most seem PSYCHED to see WAVVES. The crowd goes apeshit. There is a mosh pit made up, seemingly, entirely of hot girls. Crowd surfing in the gazebo. People in trees, hanging from the rafters. Their records are distortion-fests but live you can really hear the songs, even when standing behind the band watching the mayhem in front of them. (A couple of pics in my last TWII post, Video below)

editor's note: the WAVVES show I saw at Emo's on Wednesday afternoon was nothing like that - it was ok because I knew a bunch of the songs, but overall nothing crazy with the large crowd just standing around.

editor's note 2: WAVVES also just finished a three-night, post-SXSW run in NYC.

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9. That Petrol Emotion (Elysium, 3.20.2009)

That Petrol Emotion

There's always one band at SXSW that makes you do a double-take when you see them on the schedule. For me it was That Petrol Emotion, who were popular in the late '80s (on college radio at least) and broke up in 1994. They were the band 4/5s of The Undertones formed when Feargal Sharkey left in 1983, recruiting Seattleite Steve Mack for vocals. The crowd to see them at 1AM was sparse, but included Bell House / Union Hall booker Skippy, Britt Daniel and Andrew Bird. Sound was a bit of a mess, but the band played great - Steve Mack was still manic as ever, and they played my favorite TPE song, "It's a Good Thing." (Video below.)

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10. A Classic Education (Rusty Spurs, 3.19.2009)

Melding all sorts of influences ('90s indie rock, '80s Flying Nun, '60s baroque/psyche), Italy's A Classic Education make music that seems tailor-made to my tastes, but they are genuinely a joy to watch. Singer Jonathan Clancy is clearly a big music nerd, knows his influences but is a good songwriter too, and the band are just tight enough while retaining a bit of shambolic charm. Hopefully they'll come back to the States soon. (Video below.)

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Pete and the Pirates - "Blood Gets Thin", SXSW 2009

The Evaporators - "I Don't Need My Friends to Tell Me Who My Friends Are," Todd P/Woodsist Party, Austin 3.21.2009

Hot Leg - "Whichever Way You Want To Give It"=," SXSW 3.21.2009

Thee Oh Sees, Todd P/Woodsist Party, Austin 3.21.2009

Dananananackroyd, SXSW 3.18.2009

The Fresh & Onlys, Todd P/Woodsist Party, Austin 3.21.2009

That Petrol Emotion - "It's a Good Thing," SXSW 3.19.2009

A Classic Education - "Best Regards,' SXSW 3.19.2009

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Comments (34)


Themselves was the highlight for me

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 4:11 PM

man look how wasted Edan is in that Oh Sees video!

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 4:26 PM

totally with you on Dananananakroyd. that show was amazing.

Posted by EF Matt | March 31, 2009 4:29 PM

Wow... this is the lamest list of no-talent hipster bands I've seen in quite some time. Why don't you try and diversify your musical tastes when you go to an event featuring the up and coming acts from all over the place instead just reporting on crappy bar bands who will just be playing brooklyn parties on saturday nights

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 4:50 PM

Pete and the The Pirates ruled! I posted my SXSW highlights on my new blog:
http://bandloop.blogspot.com/

Posted by Nick Bandloop | March 31, 2009 4:50 PM

hipsterrrrrrs

except fanfarlo is really good.

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 4:52 PM

VULTURE WHALE!

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 4:56 PM

oh, and out comes that old chestnut: the "hipster" accusation.

I'd rather be a happy "hipster" listening to intresting music made by my peers, than some bitter wanna-be loser who can't get laid to save his life and blaims everybody else's cool points for his predicament.

Face it, the people you dismiss as "hipsters" are just people whose lifestyle you wish you had access to.

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 4:57 PM

zing!

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 5:10 PM

"There is a mosh pit made up, seemingly, entirely of hot girls. "

bahahahah

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 5:15 PM

I think poster above is referring to the fact that every band mentioned in this article seems to be dressed in some crappy vintage t-shirt or thrift store dress shirt, their sounds are all just screechy guitar sounds with whiny lyrics, the fans all have the same haircuts and clothing as the bands and just drink the cheapest shittiest beer they can find. I agree... these bands above are absolute crap.

I was at the Pete and the Pirates, That Petrol Emotion and The Fresh & Onlys. I left all three of those shows after 2 songs because the band, music and crowd were lame... try and change up your reports on music... the bands above is like listening to the same thing 10 times

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 5:20 PM

""""I think poster above is referring to the fact that every band mentioned in this article seems to be dressed in some crappy vintage t-shirt or thrift store dress shirt, their sounds are all just screechy guitar sounds with whiny lyrics, the fans all have the same haircuts and clothing as the bands and just drink the cheapest shittiest beer they can find. I agree... these bands above are absolute crap.

I was at the Pete and the Pirates, That Petrol Emotion and The Fresh & Onlys. I left all three of those shows after 2 songs because the band, music and crowd were lame...""'

HA, nice try! freakin liar. Maybe if you didn't pick That Petrol Emotion to put in your list, you MIGHT sound believable. (now go get a life)

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 5:41 PM

"The bands above is like listening to the same thing 10 times"

Most uninformed (and grammatically incorrect) comment of all time. Congratulations!

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 5:44 PM

pretty lame list.


Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 5:44 PM

wow people are bitter

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 5:48 PM

More like Pete and the butt pirates

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 5:48 PM

Bang Bang Eche was by far the best part of SXSW. I can't believe this isn't in your highlights.

Posted by Kevin Lyman | March 31, 2009 6:18 PM

@Kevin

Bang Bang Eche were on my list and just didn't make it happen. I also really liked Seattle's The Intelligence a lot, more garage-i-ness that I'm kind of obsessed with these days.

Posted by bill p | March 31, 2009 6:55 PM

@Anon 5:48

More like me fucking your mother while she screams my name and you watch helplessly :)

Posted by Ray | March 31, 2009 7:12 PM

Anonymous | March 31, 2009 5:20 PM = moron of the day

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 7:16 PM

@ Bill P

I just found this online. This is the show I went to. I saw them on accident at a warehouse party and then went to see them again next day.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtFo8rAmRjA

Posted by Kevin Lyman | March 31, 2009 7:52 PM

Dananananakroyd are amazing. I was at that show too. It's worth noting that this show was about 12.15 in the afternoon on a Thursday, when the stereotypical "hipster" is supposed to be in bed.

But this band went balls to the wall and everyone who was there to see it left with a big smile on their face. Nice one.

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 8:18 PM

I thought the WAVVES show at Club 1808 w/ No Age, Mika Miko, Abe Vigoda was great since there were probably only 200 people there instead of 2000.

And the dudes who own this trash ghetto bar in the middle of East Austin know how to BBQ with real oil drums.

Posted by Anonymous | March 31, 2009 9:47 PM

Pete & the Pirates @ Cedar Courtyard = refreshing. DNCKroyd and Grizzly Bear didn't do it for me.

Posted by Raizza | March 31, 2009 10:10 PM

This is a really great top ten list, this makes me really upset I wasn't able to get to Austin this year. I was bummed to miss Thee Oh Sees, which it looks like you were able to catch, they are awesome in person and in a small venue. you can post this to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and then link back to your site. We are looking for top ten lists and our users can track back to your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

Posted by Vince | April 1, 2009 1:01 AM

Just because you want all of these bands to be the same to somehow justify your bitterness doesn't make it so. The proof that you are wrong is literally right in front of you in a handy list. Are your eyes and ears broken?

Posted by Anonymous | April 1, 2009 5:56 AM

saw pete and the pirates and found them OK but not astounding, thought the emo's annex performance by fanfarlo was better than the church performance, did you miss Micachu, slow club,fight like apes, rolo tomassi and general fiasco all of which we loved. Loved Dana both here and at their show the night before the two shows showing how they deal with a full crowd at their showcase and this crowd of mostly ASCAP posers. oh and we were blown away by Bang Bang Eche at their Tuesday night show at Friends.

Posted by Anonymous | April 1, 2009 8:07 AM

@Anon 5:48

HAHahha

Posted by Digger | April 1, 2009 9:28 AM

pete and the pirates were rad at Ms Bea's on Wednesday

Posted by Anonymous | April 1, 2009 10:32 AM

Dananananackroyd?? How am I supposed to prounce this IRL?

Posted by Anonymous | April 1, 2009 10:45 AM

It's easy-ish

Dana-nana-naykroyd

Posted by Brianna | April 2, 2009 2:03 PM

I've learned to spell it correctly (four Ns) but I always mess it up when it comes to saying it.

Posted by bill p | April 2, 2009 2:21 PM

I like rock concerts, but I don't know any of these bands. I don't really know, if I should visit it.

Posted by Mary Moreland | January 19, 2011 8:43 AM

i'm not sure what to say other than i will be keeping an eye out on your further blog posts... this is really interesting reading !!

Posted by mcse certification | March 31, 2011 5:52 AM

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