Austin Powers Late Night Hours at SXSW
I have officially been up 45 hrs straight sanzzzzz dormir.My blood type must be RB+. (Red Bull plus extra caffeine).
I used to think that SXSW was just a bigger version of the NXNE in Toronto. But they are 2 completely different animals. In Toronto you can hardly tell there's a music festival going on. While in Austin, the entire city parties like its New Year's eve on a Fat Tuesday. Every 2nd phrase I hear is "free beer." Though that may just be a side effect of not sleeping for 45 hrs.
If music is my adrenaline I think overdosed my first night in Austin and still remain in euphoric bliss. I admit that Chatmonchy was the first Japanese band I fell in love with. I've seen them multiple times in Tokyo, Osaka, Tokushima, Akita, Otsu and Aomori, Japan. These girls are like the freaking Beatles in their home country. BIG TIME celebrities. That's why I always dreamed of when Chatmonchy might come over to the US where they'd have a degree of anonymity and would feel comfortable chilling with the audience after a show. Kinda like this: woot! Finally corralled that elusive unicorn of a picture with Chatmonchy. Now all I need is for them to introduce me to Aoi Yuu. hahaha. (inside joke).
Witnessing Chatmonchy's 1st ever performance on US soil was rather fun.. if not.. fun-ny. After all these girls sold out 2 consecutive nights at the Budokan and then end up playing their 1st US gig at a welfare house.
j/k! (the owners of the house are really cool folks who do alot of grassroots work to support the local art and music community.
The sound system was sketchy though as you'd get better fidelity/acoustics from 2 styrofoam cups attached by string. Nevertheless Chatmonchy put on a fantastic show. Set list: 1. Kaze Fukeba Koi 2. Last Love Letter 3. Hana no Yume 4. Koi no Kemuri 5. Daidai 6. Shangri-la
My only critique is that Chatmonchy might have chosen songs that appeal more to a North American indie crowd instead of the pre-teen mallrats that normally flock to their shows in Japan. Shangri-la was the first song I heard by Chatmonchy but it was songs like Hotaru Hotaru, Demo Koi, Saraba Seishun and Hitori Dake that made me a diehard fan. They should have at least played Renai Spirits. But don`t get me wrong, the girls were awesome as always.
After Chatmonchy came Maps & Atlases at the Yard Dog. It was my first time watching this esteemed quartet of virtuoso musicians. These guys are so badass my mandibular joints remain in permanent subluxation (No. That is not some sexual euphemism!). Their performance was sheer brilliance that could only be topped if they had played my 2 favorite songs "Stories about Ourselves" and "The Most Trustworthy Tin Cans." After Maps I took the shuttle back to my hotel for a quick respite from the baking sun. Didn't manage to get any sleep but I showered, checked my email and had a quick bite to eat before trekking out for what was arguably the most popular showcase at SXSW on the 18th:
Holy Fuck / the Gza / the xx @ the Mohawk Patio.
I was beginning to think I'd get more use out of a paper mache life preserver than my SXSW music badge until I realized it can get me in, out and back into any music venue faster than you can say "Fuck queues" This came in handy due to the fact that a bunch of bands I wanted to see were playing at approximately the same time at different venues within walking distance of each other on Red River St. I started my night at Mohawk Patio watching Holy Fuck. The band name is definitely a propos since I'm sure these two words came across every spectator's mind at least a dozen times.. in capital letters... followed by a few exclamation marks. Even more blasphemous than their band name is the fact I live in Toronto and this was my first time seeing them live (me --> dumb. fuck.) Anyhow, these folkers succeed masterfully in magically brewing sublime post-rock out of heaping piles of effectors and Inspector Gadget's replacement parts. (Though in hindsight, after watching Youtube clips of their SXSW performance.. i don't get the same sense of awe).
I stuck around to watch most of the GZA's set. It was disappointing to say the least. Read this hilarious review b/c I couldn't write a more accurate and humorous synopsis if I tried.
After leaving partway through the GZA's "drunken style" debacle I shimmy shimmy ya'd my way over to the Red Eyed Fly to catch a bit of Phantogram. I fell in love with their song "When I'm Small" so I wanted to catch them even though they were playing at 1am... same time as Maps & Atlases and the xx. I arrived in time for the start of their set. Holy cow does Sarah Barthel ever look fit. I only watched them perform 2 songs. Not enough to establish an accurate assessment of their live performance but I find it difficult to envision their type of music lending itself to any sort of engaging stage act. The studio work is lush and amazing with some underground hip hop grittiness that I love but I'm not convinced you get much added value seeing them perform live. However, I will definitely go see them again if they show up in Toronto and hope they make me eat my words.
I wanted to stay and watch more of Phantogram but not at the expense of Maps & Atlases. Thus I ventured further south on Red River towards Emo's Jr. Luckily they were behind schedule so I managed to catch the start of Map's set. Here they are performing "Witch"
I wanted to stick around and see if they'd play "Stories.." or "..Tin Cans" but halfway through the set I scooted back to Mohawk Patio to catch the xx. I had no problem getting in but the place was packed tighter than fat Oprah in skinny Oprah's panties. Couldn't see too well from the back but my camcorder allowed me to zoom in for a decent view. Similar to Phantogram, the xx's studio recordings set the bar so high that it's difficult to derive much more enjoyment watching them perform live. They're not the most dynamic band on stage that's for sure but the crowd was extremely enthusiastic (which doesn't say much considering how apeshit they went for the GZA's uninspired performance.) Kumiko (Chatmonchy) told me the next day that they managed to catch the xx's set and were really impressed. Unfortunately, they didn't get there in time for Holy Fuck who I thought were the best act that night at the Mohawk. I wonder if Chatmonchy would dig Maps & Atlases, I'm sure Ecchan might.