Doing SXSW is encountering this dilemma every single waking moment: you’re there to work, yet the time and energy required for such work may just drive you further into the ground. Or maybe that’s just my excuse for hitting you with days 2 & 3 on day 6.
PWR BTTM (Stubb’s | NPR Showcase)
Another first time live experience and first time experience with many of the tracks played. Welcome banter both proceeded the set and fell between each rendition, the messages ranging from crowd safety (don’t worry, SXSW crowds barely move), “assholes like Donald Trump,” and anyone who had ever been made to feel ridiculous over gender or someone they love. Playing a poem designed to “kill fascists,” “Trade” closed the set, while the band asked the crowd to “sing it so loud a certain man in a certain house goes away.” You can watch the whole thing, here, and you can also catch MV staffer Michael Escanuelas laughing so very loud. Concise, meaningful bursts of power pop, PWR BTTM, along with the ferocious tearing-open-of-the-dress-and-coughing-up-of-glitter conclusion, made for one of the week’s best sets.
Sigrid (Antone’s | Universal Showcase)
With only one track on Spotify (a really great track! but still), Sigrid was certainly one of the bigger mysteries we caught. She would not disappoint. We got 5-6 tracks of incredibly active pop music, no simplistic, basic beats in sight (a ballad got close before its culmination). Her biggest potential hit could be a track that concludes with a call to the heavens, an exclamation of “let me go.” Bounding across the stage, calling out fans she knew had traveled far and wide, this was one clearly happy to be in Texas. It also appears to be the Norwegian’s first U.S. appearances. You’re certainly dealing in relationship/romance tracks, but the instrumental ambition is what’s worth watching. Great set.
Note: This is where my body really started wearing down. It took me 2 days to hit this point.
Jimmy Eat World (The Gatsby | Pandora)
Basically a greatest hits set (with a few new tracks tossed in) Jimmy Eat World, at this point, is just a seasoned, sharp rock band. It was my first time seeing them since the Futures days (the American Idiot tour in particular) so it was a personal highlight, if nothing crazy illuminating. The setlist: “Bleed American,” “Big Casino,” “I Will Steal You Back,” “Get Right,” “Work,” “Pain,” “Lucky Denver Mint,” “Always Be,” “A Praise Chorus,” “Authority Song,” “Sure and Certain,” “Sweetness,” and “The Middle.” Hearing the new tracks live has prompted a revisit, I found myself thinking about “Pain” and its status as Futures single (have we underrated or overrated that track?), and they all wore black T-shirts and black jeans. I fully plan to make that our Modern Vinyl Podcast dress code from now on.
Jay Som (Cheer Up Charlies | Polyvinyl Showcase)
A big highlight comes in “The Bus Song” and that exclamation of “But I like the bus!” If you haven’t listened to Everybody Works, rectify this immediately.
Pronoun (Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room | Rhyme and Reason Records + Bar None Showcase)
A suggestion from Mike, the Alyse Vellturo-led outfit is refined rock with a side of dream. A rendition of “It’s The Way” was preceded by an explanation of how proceeds from purchasing the track go to Planned Parenthood. And as Vellturo stated, that’s not about being political, it’s just about being a good human being. A extremely slowed down take on pop hit “Crazy” is another highlight.
Vagabon (Sidewinder | Ground Control Touring Showcase)
A rough listen given the setup. Doors would open, punk music would flood in, Vagabon’s glorious vocals would be drowned out. I’ll have to catch her at a real show.
— Status of Absinthe. We never drank it! I felt bad about overextending my Airbnb rights. Plus I didn’t want to die.
— Drink count. At some point, the tallying stopped as the embarrassment mounted. But here’s a count.
2 vodka/sodas, 2 IPAs, 3 random beers, 3 screwdrivers, 2 tall boys, 2 bud lights, again James was counting his drinks in ounces for some reason so 56 ounces of beer, 3 beers, 4 “liquor drinks,” 1 wine, 1 more beer, another beer, 3 more “liquor drinks,” 3 tall boys, 3 jack and cokes, 2 more jack and cokes, a lifetime of shame. Maybe this is why my body was breaking down?
— The shows! We actually went down there to do some podcasts. The first, on Thursday, was the first ever live episode of Pilot Study. We talked about Flight of The Conchords and Tenacious D in a super-sized episode. The Modern Vinyl Podcast took on “Vinyl: The Next 10 Years,” with special guest Mo Shafeek. You can watch that, here.
— At Urban Outfitters, we also recorded our shortest ever podcast, 4 minutes, right onto a 7″ lathe (with live rendition of the theme song). That audio will get out somehow, once I extract it from the lathe. Thank you to Audio Geography for carving us out some time.