This may be a little late, but in keeping with my absolutely DIY trip (I had no badge, no wristband, no hotel room and no plane ticket) it's appropriate that my SXSW recap was delayed all last week by Internet issues.
Read my entire belated take on the annual Austin insanity after the jump.
As for the biggest buzz-band of the week, I never saw Peter Bjorn and John but I did walk by an insanely long line leading to one of their shows. I was actually told by one of their label reps that they sucked live and not to bother. So I didn't, catching Brandi Carlile instead, who wowed with her amazing voice and endearing stage banter as usual.
While I didn't get to see the other huge story of SXSW, Amy Winehouse, and I also managed to miss some of the other acts on my hit list (Land Of Talk, Malajube, Chetes, Dr. Dog, Tita Lima, Lily Allen, Architecture in Helsinki), listening to all of them on the way down to Austin has kickstarted my new new music loves for 2007.
Not playing a show this year (I'd played in the past with Josh Rouse, Neilson Hubbard, Garrison Starr and Kate York) felt a little odd, but it did allow for absolute immersion into other people's work, which, for the most part, was a pleasant experience.
I was at the mercy of free shows, guest lists and ninja-swift sneakiness, but I was still able to catch The Polyphonic Spree, The 1900's, Elvis Perkins, Brandi Carlile, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Kings of Leon, Bang Bang Bang, Whitestarr (truly one of the worst live music experiences of my life), The Honorary Title, Ferraby Lionheart, Midlake, Colour Revolt, Stephanie Dosen, Fionn Regan, Youth Group, Tacks, The Boy Disaster, Howie Beck, Blackberry Smoke featuring Slash, Mute Math, Office, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, The Pipettes, The Rapture and probably a dozen more blurry bands whose performances failed to break through the haze of free booze and sleep deprivation. Nothing was overwhelming (The Pipettes were particularly underwhelming) but Elvis Perkins was far better than his record would lead you to believe. Midlake were almost as good as theirs and The Good, The Bad and the Queen were just plain cool.
Nashville was well represented, with every Music City act I saw turning in quality performances to receptive crowds. Slash was in attendance at Bang Bang Bang's official showcase. Murderballer Mark Zupan was also hanging with Slash pre-Bang. Also seen strolling down Sixth Street was Dennis Miller, wearing a "please don't talk to me scowl" on his way to see—I kid you not—Bloc Party.
In other Nashville news, everyone in attendance raved about Lambchop's set with the Tosca String Quartet (I couldn't get in), and word was that AutoVaughn turned in their strongest set in months. De Novo Dahl made a spectacle of themselves wearing their signature striped pajamas in the middle of Sixth Street while handing out flyers. Several TV cameras and reporters surrounded the band as did curious onlookers, one of whom walked away from the fray, looked down at the flyer he had just been given, looked back at the band, and said "I don't get it." The DND guys and gal also hit the stage at their showcases wearing brand new, matching Nudie-style Western suits (thank you Roadrunner Records) which elicited love-it-or-hate-it reactions from the industry crowd. I thought the suits were incredible and am now insanely jealous of the dinosaur one.
Even though the band had a few different appearances throughout SXSW week, DND got stiffed on their biggest show, a huge outdoor-stage-event sponsored by PureVolume. It seems the programmers forgot to fill out some city paperwork and were shut down halfway through the day leaving DND to play to a miniscule crowd at 3:45 p.m. instead of their original 7 o'clock slot. The Bomb played well at their official showcase but maybe the best area act I saw at SXSW was Cortney Tidwell, who turned in an inspired performance on Wednesday night.
And frankly, that's about all I can remember. Well that, and the new band Flock of Whores that Meredith Kotas, Nicole Keiper and I have formed. First single "Cheap Canadian Cockring (Rubber Band)." It's gonna be hot.
The SXSW peeps probably don't want to hear this, but you really can catch a truckload of music and have a nearly complete Austin experience without ponying up the $600 for an official badge. It helps to have a few friends at labels and PR companies, but if you do your homework, you can get on plenty of guest lists for unofficial day and night showcases (most bands play at least three shows) and successfully navigate the stream of SXSW freeness.