So the moderately anticipated Lady Gaga SXSW keynote speech was a disappointment yesterday. And not just because Gaga didn't make her entrance into the about-halfway-full, sterile downtown Hilton ballroom dressed like a pig roasting on a spit, as she did for her junk-food sponsored SX gig at Stubb's BBQ the night before. (Instead, she hit the hall dressed like a modern-day Marie Antoinette in what looked like a puffy wedding gown fashioned out of lace and down comforters, with platinum dreadlocks to match.) The speech was disappointing because it wasn't a speech at all, but rather a run-of-the-mill Q&A with former MTV News and current Fuse News guy John Norris.
Aside from whatever time went in to designing and garbing up in that outfit (which made the singer look like a head floating in a cloud of crumpled wrapping paper from Crate & Barrel when shown in close-ups on the video monitors), Gaga really didn't have to put a whole lot of time and effort into preparing for this, which is even more of a letdown in light of Dave Grohl's job-well-done when he did last year's keynote, or Bruce Springsteen's orator's masterclass the year before — both those guys clearly put a lot of thought into their speeches. I wanted to see something as special and unique as that; I can watch a softball interview with Lady Gaga anytime. And was it ever a softball interview, with Norris — who, with his frosted, swooping, Vintage Bieber hair, looked unintentionally more ridiculous than his Q&A subject ever intentionally has — gushing and truckling at every aspect of Lady Gaga's very existence, in between bouts of Terry Gross-style naval-gazing, opining and anecdote-sharing. (We don't care how many shows YOU saw at the Roseland in the '80s, John.)
Friday is when SXSW starts to find its rhythm, the streets flooding with the largest crowds they're going to see, lines stretching for a block apiece and audiences reaching fever pitch at show after show. It could be that the biggest news item of SXSW Friday was that perpetual troublemaker Tyler, the Creator nearly incited a full-on riot.
But for your old pals at the Cream — who caught Against Me!, Reigning Sound, Fucked Up, Obnox and Protomartyr, among others — the best trend was that everywhere we turned, we saw a little bit of Nashville.
Well, the headline of SXSW Thursday may very well have been Lady Gaga’s Doritos-branded showcase at Stubb’s, for which “she was carried onto the stage trussed to a horizontal pole in black underwear, looking like she was a pig roasting on a spit.” Which sounds like it was … lovely. But there are great shows and weird, special moments tucked in every corner of SXSW, and among them yesterday were top-notch sets from Dum Dum Girls, Real Estate and Potty Mouth, a poignant moment from OFF! frontman Keith Morris, and a collaboration between The Midgetmen, Melissa Etheridge and Diarrhea Planet.
Yes, that last part is true.
In honor of the anime classic Akira showing midnight this weekend at The Belcourt, here's a video of clips set to Kanye West's "Stronger," with the vintage Kanye video below for comparison. As music-vid homages go, it sure beats this one.
You may recall that 88:88, the 2012 album from purveyor of evocative electronic soundscapes Matt Pusti, aka Makeup and Vanity Set, grew out of a collaboration with filmmaker Joey Ciccoline. Pusti's initial brief was to score Ciccoline's sci-fi short, but the characters' world took on a life of its own and evolved into a full-length album, a movie for your ears that began where the film left off. Earlier this week, Pusti and Ciccoline announced that they're working together on a new project, but this time, the creative relationship is reversed. The forthcoming Makeup and Vanity Set album, Wilderness, revolves around a dystopian backstory in which a brother tries desperately to find a cure for his sister's mysterious illness. Working with screenwriter Daniel Shepherd, cinematographer Blake McClure (whose work you've probably seen in many places, but most definitely on Comedy Central's Drunk History shorts), and an enthusiastic cast, Ciccoline is turning the story into a film, Eidolon.
88:88 was made with zero budget, and turned out to be pretty impressive. To make the Eidolon/Wilderness project as rich and immersive as possible, they've launched a Kickstarter to fund production and release costs. There are some sweet incentives on offer, ranging from copies of the finished product and associate producer credits to actual software files from the production. If you ever wanted to learn how MAVS puts a track together, or how Ciccoline composites his effects shots, here's your chance to go straight to the source. The campaign runs through April 11, shooting begins in May, and the album and film are slated for release in the fall.
Sadly, the biggest news of SXSW Wednesday was a terrible late-night car accident that reportedly left two dead and 23 injured near The Mohawk on Red River. Thankfully, Team Cream and all of our Nashvillian associates remain safe and sound, but our thoughts are with those affected.
NPR's showcase at Stubb's on Wednesday night served as a sort of a de facto kickoff for the week's big-name events, with a bill that would seem curiously incongruous were it not for the fact that all five acts have one thing in common: NPR loves to sing their praises. Blur/Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, art-pop star St. Vincent, R&B songstress/erstwhile chart-topper Kelis, post-punk Brits Eagulls and noise punks Perfect Pussy graced the Stubb's outdoor stage before a Lone Star-swilling crowd, some of whom were wearing hats and scarves in the face of 50-degree weather.
In anticipation of the show, the Scene talked to Numan via email about the legacy of his signature hit, struggling with depression, the musical inspiration that’s seen him through, the aggressive nature of his must-see stage show and more. See the full interview after the jump.
Pop Is Prologue: Dum Dum Girls are adept at re-creating the past, personal as it may be (Playing March 18 at Exit/In)
Summer Jam: Ronnie Milsap's new album is a blue-eyed stroll down memory correction lane (Summer #17 is out March 18 via Legacy Recordings)
Cosmic Desert: Tuareg blues ambassadors Tinariwen want to 'feel the interconnection between everyone' (Playing March 18 at The High Watt)
Rhapsody in Rock: Nashville Symphony presents the world premiere of rocker Ben Folds' Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (March 13-15 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center)
Birthday Bash: Blair School of Music marks its 50th anniversary with a celebratory concert (March 16 at Blair School of Music's Ingram Hall)
In The Spin: Freakin' Weekend V, St. Vincent at Marathon Music Works
Plus Critics' Picks on That's My Kid, Eric Brace and Peter Cooper, Tipper Whore, Remedy Krewe, Adam Faucett, Windhand, Miniature Tigers, The So So Glos, Solids, New Bums, Cut Copy, Each Other and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Young presented his case on Tuesday afternoon, coinciding with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. The goal of said campaign was to raise $800,000 by April 15; when I checked a few minutes ago, the pledge tally approached $1.7 million.
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