best of sxsw 2014, sights & sounds

Here are the bands I enjoyed the most for SXSW 2014:

Panama

Lindsey Stirling 

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Kishi Bashi

MSMR

Moon Taxi

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Bleachers

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Phantogram

So that should get you started on some good music.  I also want to give Honorable Mentions to The Dolls, Haerts, Simian Ghost, The Mowgli’s and Boy & Bear. Most Improved since last time I saw them live goes to: Charli XCX. Most of these shows I owe to Palladia and Pandora; wonderful music selections this year. Other pictures I took can be found on my Instagram.

Happy Listening!! Much Love!!

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sxsw, the rest of the story

After spending Sunday recovering from SX and yesterday mourning its passing, I can finally sit down to process the event. After my Thursday morning post, the return of sxjd, things really picked up for me. Pandora Discovery Den became a home base for me, I met a number of other fascinating people and Lindsey was finally able to make it into town.

The Gatsby played host to Pandora for the week. Tommy Page came through on his promise from Wednesday and added me to the VIP list. Sometimes a VIP badge or wristband is just that, an item.  The things it can get you include some of, but rarely all of, the following: expedited or separate entrance; free drinks or food or both; a separate, often elevated viewing platform. This particular wristband provided all of the above. I think I most enjoyed being able to actually speak with the staff of Pandora and its associates, as well as those that work at The Gatsby. Turns out, I have a number of mutual friends with the owner, Scott Cook. I most assuredly look forward to returning once they renovate and reopen.

Thursday, Lee Fields & the Expressions opened my day up. Mr. Fields soulfully rocked it. While he is  in his sixties, and played during the 60’s, he backed by a band whose members are closer to my age. This show was a gem because it won’t be too long before we will no longer hear this genuinely soulful music live. Generations that follow may try to replicate it and will possibly get away with it because none of them have experienced the real thing, but it just won’t be the same. Following this show, The Coup gave me the best hip-hop performance of my week. Especially impressed by the talents of Silk-E.

For Thursday evening we rendezvoused at Rainey Street. Lustre Pearl had a hip-hop showcase which a friend let us into; incidentally, we returned the favor with our bar tabs. Lindsey, Taylor, Allison and I did not stay at Lustre Pearl long. As hip-hop is not our favorite genre and it takes a really good act to keep us engaged. We ventured down to Container Bar, the newest establishment on Rainey. As the name suggests, the bar is constructed of shipping containers. They were hosting DJ’s for the week by Filter #rethinkmusic; I posted a picture of the place #rethinkarchitecture. We did go back to Lustre for  Schoolboy Q. Though he was significantly better than the acts playing Lustre earlier, I don’t have much to say about him; nor will I see him again.

Friday, Pandora for The Mowgli’s followed by Boy & Bear. Both of these bands fall into a genre of music that I prefer. This beginning set the tone for the day. After Pandora we went to the Cedar Door, a frequent hangout for us at SX. This year’s party was sponsored by Naked Grape. Per usual, they brought in good line-ups. We caught the end of The Dolls, which both Lindsey and I really liked. In addition to an elite musical talent, they also rated high on showmanship. During the MIsterwives set, we headed to Fader Fort then (due to line) decided to meet some friends for dinner and drinks at The Hightower instead. This is an establishment I will revisit in the future. We specifically enjoyed the pickled suspects and pork jowl tacos. For Friday night, we returned to Lustre Pearl, catching the Internet, Panama and LeMaitre, with DJ sets in between. Panama, familiar to me from Spotify,  proved to be one of my top shows for the week.

Saturday, I spent the day with my brothers Joe & Robert and roommate (also considered a brother) Jacob. We spent our entire Saturday at the Pandora Discovery Den at The Gatsby. This is when I realized that Jacob knew Scott and was able to meet him as well. The day shows were all good. Kishi Bashi followed by Lindsey Stirling were both brilliant. After their shows, someone arranged Fireball shots for the entire upstairs VIP bar. This is the largest shot call I have ever been a part of or even witnessed. The final day show was Black Lips. I liked their performance here more than the time I saw them at Fun Fun Fun Fest, where Val Kilmer was the main attraction as some promotional production piece.

Saturday evening, we went back for more Gatsby. Marie Miller led things with a folk/bluegrass set. My brother Joe actually spent a good time talking with her and my photo of her band is now on Entertainment Weekly’s website.  Moon Taxi was up next; an indie-rock band that I look forward to seeing again. They will be included in an additional post which will feature music (or videos) from my favorites of the fest. Little Daylight, the next act, also makes that list. After a stand up set from Albert Hammond Jr., which drew celebrity Macaulay Culken, only one show remained. Bleachers!! Thought some of the acts I saw throughout the week featured bands that have grown and matured over months or years since I last saw them, Bleachers proved to have done the same in just three days. They were bigger, louder and better “better – better – better” than the Palladia showcase. It was a great way to end such a wonderful week.

There will be a supplemental SXSW 2014 post: featuring my pictures and the web’s music clips from my favorite bands. Additionally, possibly most importantly, here is a link to help the victims of the drunk driver that careened into a crowd. SXSWCARES

the return of sxjd

As the winds of SX blow music into full swing, today is a good time to give a little report on my adventures so far. Another way to consider it is, three days down, three to go; even though the next three are supposed to be bigger! For now pictures have been posted on my Instagram & Twitter but I will come back and add some of the better ones here, later on.

On Monday, I started my SXSW with a long line at the Spotify House. Last year, the house was at Cenoté, my favorite Austin coffee shop but this year they moved closer to the action, into a building (and backyard) on 6th street. About 30 minutes into my wait, and 10 minutes away from walking away altogether, some friends of mine sent me a text from @sxspotify that allowed me to skip the line. Inside, free drinks and great music from: Holy Child – Jetta – Phantogram.

After Spotify, my friend Chris and I headed to Scoot Inn for the Applauze party. Check out their app, a way to follow events and even RSVP. This was a party I was looking forward to because MS MR was one the headliner. My phone was near death and I asked a guy near me (who I noticed still rocked the ancient 4s like me; Apple, feel free to send me a 5s) if I could borrow a charger. He said sure, but instead of reaching in a pocket or a nearby backpack, he walked backstage and reached into his luggage. “Oh! You’re playing later?” “Ya, we were supposed to play now but due to noise ordinances we’ve been moved to later and inside.” This is important because I was sitting inside, in between sets of course, charging my phone when I asked a guy with a laptop to update me on the schedule. Apparently, he was in charge; he returned with a freshly printed schedule that he had just finished typing on said laptop. When I saw him later I asked if he’d seen Rich, because I had his phone charger. This seemed like a good time to ask if I could get some guys in that were stuck in the VIP line. Not a problem at all for him. By dropping his name to another staff member I also scored drink tickets for my friends and me. The line-up at Scoot Inn: Charli XCX – Robert Delong – MSMR – RAC (DJ set) – the kind and talented Rich Aucoin.

Tuesday, I started my day with yet another line to pick up my Hype Hotel wristband. That I will need it is yet to be seen. I stopped by the Empire Control Room and caught Stag. After this I ran over to the Spotify House as home base. My text worked again but then noticed others with the text were turned away. Meaning I may not make it back to Spotify this year. After regrouping at a friend’s apartment we all walked to Cedar Street Courtyard for Dyn’s party. Here I became a philanthropist VIP – making sure non vips were having a good time and not spending a ton of money – if anything the bartenders received more of a tip 🙂  Though we were there for the headlining Deertick, we also caught these shows: Tan Vampires – Baskery – STRNGRS – The Felice Brothers – J Roddy Walston & the Business.

Wednesday was to be a day of music rather than party, self-implemented after over zealously VIP-ing it on Tuesday night. Pandora Discovery Den was where I began, another wristband pick-up and most definitely my favorite stage set-up yet. It is held at Gatsby, across 6th from Easy Tiger and right alongside Waller Creek. I caught just one show there this time around: Haerts (yes, that’s how it is spelled:)

I went back to the Empire Control Room because of Tuesday’s success in finding Stag. The lawn party was in full bloom outdoors, drawing a little more of a crowd than the day prior. Indoors, once again, was Simian Ghost.

After spending a bit at Empire I stopped in Parkside to treat my body to better food and drinks. While enjoying some oysters, I was personally able tell this to the man behind the Pandora Den’s vision, Tommy Page. I look forward to visiting the Den again later this week.

My final stop for the night was the Palladia party at Cedar Door. A small stage with big sound hosted a number of talented musicians and voices: Bravesoul – Johnnyswim – Sam SmithPhantogram (again, I know, so worth it) – Aloe Blacc & the Grand Scheme – Bleachers. I was most looking forward to Phantogram, as I knew them, but was very curious to see what the others would have to offer. I was not disappointed; contrarily even, quite impressed with Bleachers as this was their first show ever. Look for more from them in the near future.

Finally, those involved in last night’s tragic accident near the Mohawk are in my thoughts & prayers. I hope that everyone can manage to have a fun and safe rest of the week. Much Love!