SXSW 2001 Death March

Day One: Wednesday 14 March 2001

SXSW began with an early show at Metro -- The Holland Nix Band (Nashville, TN). Fairly boring middle of the road R&R, with some vague overtones of Concrete Blonde wannabeness.

We left for pizza. Not a good sign.

We came back for King Konga (Hattiesburg, MS), but found it too hootie & the blowfish, but w/ occasional cool afro-carib percussion... Shouldda let the drummer drum.

We jumped to Mercury Entertainment at Jazz. What a screwed up venue name. Anyway, we went to see Mr. Resistor (Austin, TX). Brutally electronic techno-weird world beat reggae Hip-Hop. Kind of sort of Kraftwerk does reggae-funk? Interesting, in the neutral sense of the word.

After they were done, it was across the street for the start of the show by Sexy Finger Champs (Austin, TX). Old school, dumb, poppy punk. Imagine something like Bow Wow Wow doing tunes by the Vapors, but fronted by a chubby ballerina. I think I preferred the original, 'cause Annabella Lwin was cuter, but with enough Pop Rocks in your breakfast cereal, this is good stupid fun.

We split early to make the mistake of checking out Perforated Head (New York, NY) at Buffalo Billiards. Cool when studio produced, but live they're musically questionable, and visually appalling. Imagine some sort of crude Hannah Barbara 60's retro cartoon, dress each band member in a different bad Garanimals color costume as if you couldn't tell the freaks apart already. On second thought, just find something better to do. Eh...

Relative leg length became an issue, as I stopped a few times to wait for my straggler ;) on the way to Emo's. We checked out I Am Spoonbender (San Francisco, CA). Seriously odd, but cool, driving electronica from a Julie Cruise sound-alike leading the landing party of Monster Zero uniformed aliens.

But who we came to see was Call And Response (San Francisco, CA) over at Emo's Jr. Can't think of anything bad to say, but can't think of anything interesting either. A nice yawn. Why the XO@#! are they at Emo's????

Busted ass back to the other end of 6th, to hit Buffalo Billiards for Superzero (Matamoros, MEXICO). Every bit as loud and aggressive as you'd expect a Mexican rendition of Black Flag or Social D. Nicely done rendition, at that. Too bad the crowd was made of wood. Why the XO@#! were these guys NOT at Emo's?

We slowly sauntered over to Maggie Mae's to catch The Peenbeets (Austin, TX). "I remember Joe. He is the dead guy at our school. It seems to happen every year..." Good stupid, stupid, stupid, fun, teeniebopper TV commercial fluff punk.

Popped out with the intention to check out Chomsky, but blew it off because of the line, and instead crossed to street to the Iron Cactus to check out Baboon (Dallas, TX). One song was some sort of loud, ponderous, idunnowhat vaguelly reminiscent, but clearly not up to the speed of some of Lux Interior's derangements. The next some sort of muddy thing alternating between noodling & thash. Huh? Next.

March to the end of the earth, actually just Red Eyed Fly to try catch some of Hi-Fi Drowning (Garland, TX). Caught just the last song. Some sort of fairly cool whirling feedback-fuzz guitar & vocals. Not enough to remember very well, though. (I'm doing this write-up days later.)

Then over to Stubb's to wait for Flickerstick (Dallas, TX). The obviously full of himself and a few others, cocky SOB guitarist is being taped while he soundchecks. This is not a good sign.

First song was a ponderous p.o.s., but the second one had top of the charts writ large all over it. Third song... time to check out another venue. Way too full of themselves. And what's with everyone having projection screens tonight?

Down the block to Room 710 for Solar Coaster (Winston-Salem, NC). Pretty unaffecting fast & loud wall of guitar noise followed by some pretty unaffecting swirling shoegazer guitars followed by some pretty unaffecting fast & loud wall of guitar noise. Next.

Across the street to the Red Eyed Fly for Foot Foot (Austin, TX). Pretty weird shit. I'm not used to a punk band in what look like Mu-mus. Verged between dumb & real dumb. Oh. How nice. We're now venturing into cow punk. Uh... Next!

Trotted over to Buffalo Club to catch the last of ST 37 (Austin, TX). Cool swirling, whirling, up-beat spacemusic. But jeez, that last one sounded like it took advantage of more than fair use of the Red Elvises tune Techno Surfer. Cool, but derivative, at least on that one. Then cool crunchy guitar hurt by muddy vocals goo. Hmmm... Might be worth it if they had better sound.

Then pizza and waiting at Iron Cactus for Analogue II (Research Triangle Park, NC) to stop wanking around...

Time to dodge out to the Ritz to see Subset (Austin, TX). Earnest punky pop. Vaguelly reminicsent of old Soul Asylum, but only vaguelly. Can't figure out the other influences. OK, but not compelling.

OK, I'm back at Iron Cactus and they're still wanking around at 1:15. Hrrrm... OK, here we go...

Ponderous Stereolab-wannabees. Eh. Next.

Across the street to The Drink to see Clumsy (Dallas, TX). Pretty OK power-pop-punk stuff. Slower tunes were competent, but not nearly as soulfull as they intended.

Wandered next door to Maggie Mae's for Pong (Austin, TX). Electronic noodling white-boy funk. Eh... Didn't like 'em last year, either. So much for giving folks a second chance.

Having given up, thinking that this was the worst SXSW opening night I've been to, I stopped by Soho on the way to my car and checked out Kat Jones (Houston, TX). Ah, this is kinda cool. Some sort of dark, swelling, ethereal something situated somewhere between the vocals of Sade & sort of flute & strings techno-jazz. Very nice. Enough to redeem the night? Not really. Still one of the weaker nights I've had at SXSW, and what troubles me the most is that Wednesdays are usually a good night. Hrrrm...

Wednesday's Score:
33 Interesting-sounding bands (not all listed here)
20 Actually seen/heard for more than 60 seconds
0 Outstanding, really want to see 'em again, get the CD, etc.
5 Pretty good
4 Pretty decent
10 Eh... Find something better to do, soon
1 Total wanker

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