SXSW Day 4-Pitchfork Party Gets a 6.4, Due to Highly Derivative Partying
A Pitchfork party without Sparks? That's like Eliot Spitzer without whores: fatigued, thirsty and miserable. And rest assured, Sparks flowed like the River Ganges, even going as far to sponsor the bash, which wasn't really as bad as it was boring. A bunch of people sitting in bleachers trying to look affected and disaffected all at the same time. Granted, I arrived late and didn't stay long, but this had to do mainly with Yeasayer and my aversion towards their Spin Doctors brand of hippindie rock (caused by a collision of the hipster and hippie comets sometime around the year 2006). Inside, Times New Viking delivered a set of ear-drum fracturing noise, but as I'd seen the Matador-signed trio absolutely kill it the night before at the Siltbreeze show, I had no need to stay.
That's the thing about festivals like this, you've got to approach them with the mentality of a baseball player, where hitting safely three out of ten times makes you a Hall of Famer. But there's something about being surrounded by all this great music that leaves you impatient and fidgety. It's the same iPod phenomenon of having thousands of songs at your disposal, none of which you want to listen to longer than 90 seconds. Accordingly, Day 4 was dominated by a supreme case of Musical ADD. Or I as saw it, I was taking the buffet approach, not a very difficult prism to assess things through, considering all my childhood Sundays spent at The Soup Plantation.
With no amount of Sparks capable of carrying me through the Yeasayer set, I bounced in favor of Oakland, Ca-based Anticon act, Why?, whose new album Alopecia, has pretty much not left my car stereo since I got it a few weeks ago. It's a weird, often off-putting break-up record sung by a nasally Jewish guy named Yoni, so I can see how it might not be for everyone, but it's probably my favorite record released this year. I'd seen the band at the Natural History Museum shortly before skipping town but this set was far better, with the acoustics perfect and the band's folk-skewing indie hip-hop sounding much more brilliant than folk-skewing indie hip-hop should be capable of sounding.
The Soup Plantation: Useful For More Than Just Soup and Salad
At night, this dilettantish streak continued, with the ADD seemingly worse than before. Out of some weird sort of journalistic responsibility, I felt vaguely obligated to see Vampire Weekend's headlining performance at Antone's. Then I realized mid-way there that I've already written about Vampire Weekend twice now and the last thing the world needs is another absurd declaration of their genius nor another mean-spirited screed about them being rich kids that invoked the phrase "prep rock." The end.
Moving on, I popped my head into a set from a lamely named group called The Parisians from you guessed it, Paris, France. If they had been from Paris, Texas, their nomenclature would've been outstanding, but the show was about as original as their name. They played some competent meat and potatoes guitar rock that was nice but no different than any one of the 24,321 bands playing here this weekend. After two songs and a cursory scan of the room for any sultry French women, I rambled on, ducking into a dingy but very cool bar, hoping to catch the end of Mika Miko.
Unfortunately, they were done and instead, I caught the first 15 minutes of San Francisco-psychedelic outfit, Clipd Beaks. Like many of the Smell bands they're associated with, they seemed to operate under the principle that louder=better, a decent theory when conducted properly and despite their youth, the group seemed to understand what they were doing, even if they didn't really understand what they were doing. Moving, I next stuck my head in at Eagle Seagull, a group from the music metropolis of Lincoln, Nebraska, who have recorded a few songs that I really like. Unfortunately, their lead singer sounds just like Win Butler and since I immediately wanted to put on a dark black suit and expatriate. As that didn't seem like much fun, I decided to leave.
The Parisians Wondering How You Say Hipster In French
Booking it to the Sub Pop showcase, I caught 45 minutes of Pissed Jeans, a band who I will never be able to appreciate because of the fact that I strictly can't be down with a group named Pissed Jeans. Sorry. However, the mushroom angus burger with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and grilled onions that I devoured while they were playing was delicious. My compliments to the chef. Sub Pop: Putting Out Zach Braff approved indie As Well As Hamburgers Since 1986. By now, everything was starting to blur and I really wanted something off the beaten path. Off a tip from editor Randall Roberts, via Voice boss-man John Lomax, I stomped back down 6th towards The Elephant Bar, buried in a small cellar on Congress.
The reason for the jaunt and the night's sole revelation was New Orleans brass band neo-revivalist, Glen David Andrews and the Lazy Six. I'm too short on time to really dig into the logistics (and hey, their full bio is right here), but essentially the band, featuring a bellowing Sousaphone player, faithfully channels Louis Armstrong, with a little bit of Cab Calloway scatting, and modern lyrics about needing Sony Playstation's and Jack Daniels to survive. Glen David Andrews is a master showman, moving the seemingly staid crowd to its feet, heading down the aisles to serenade women, his voice at 27, a booming tuba blast, a rich foghorn wail t that sounds more than a little like the ghost of Louis Armstrong. If Amy Winehouse can win a Grammy dusting off the Girl Groups of the 60's and mentioning Nas and weed-smoking in her lyrics, these guys deserve at the very least some notoriety. So check them out if they come through your city, you won't be disappointed. In the meantime, I've got one more day of this madness. Tallyho.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.