After the jump, have a look at my coverage from Friday and Saturday, which includes my thoughts on Aesop Rock, Shad, Kimya Dawson, Screaming Females, Wye Oak, The Strange Boys, the unfortunate injuries sustained at OMD’s performance (along with a video), the madness of Death From Above 1979’s “secret” show and much more.
I spent most of my daylight hours on Friday blogging and recuperating, but finally ventured out in the late afternoon to meet up with Nashvillian songstress Tristen and her bandmate/lover (haha, ew) Buddy Hughen — they were at some sort of artist hospitality jump-off on Congress, and had wrangled a freebie or two for myself and fellow Creamer Adam Gold. High on entitlement and still in search of more free shit, we ventured up the block to the Noisey.com launch party, which was to feature performances from JEFF and Ariel Pink later. We turned up a bit early and thus just snacked and boozed heavily, though the website — described by its creators as “a video-driven music discovery platform [curated by VICE], documenting the most talented emerging musicians from around the world” — seems somewhat intriguing. We couldn’t really hear a word of what the site’s founders were saying, however, and Cream Cap’n Steve Haruch was soundly sushed by a very serious young man who told us to go outside if we were just there to talk. Pardon our buzz-induced discourtesy, but since we couldn’t hear anything, I mean, we kind of were just there to talk, so we went outside. Anyway, site looks cool, no hard feelings, blah blah.
Then it was over to The Parish for the Merge Showcase, where I caught the last two tunes from the reunited, dense, heavy-hitting indie-rockers VERSUS. The place was somewhat sweltering by this point, but I was just excited to be standing a mere 10 feet from crush-worthy Indie-Rock Queen Carrie Brownstein — I’m pretty certain she spotted me eyeballing her a bit too hard, by the way. I stuck around for the spacious but compelling sounds of Wye Oak, whose dreamy, ethereal rock tunes filled a remarkable amount of space for a two-piece. Someone should probably coin a phrase like “dream pop” to describe these guys or something. Only kidding. Anyway, drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack gets the MVP award for his dexterity alone.
At this point, I was coaxed back to Stubb’s by new wave expert Adam Gold, who insisted I see synthpop originators Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark while I had the chance. (If, like me, your exposure to these under-sung post-punk heavyweights is somewhat limited, trust me: You’ve at least heard “If You Leave” and “Electricity.”) What ensued as OMD hit the stage, however, seemed more like a surreal nightmare than anything else. Just after 1 a.m., a camera boom reported by PopEater as weighing 350 pounds — the sort of jib that sweeps over the audience during outdoor shows to get those cinematic crowd shots — plummeted from its position onto several fans near the stage. Alongside The Tennessean’s Dave Paulson and fellow Creamers Adam Gold and Seth Graves, I watched as barricades were moved to block off the crowd and emergency workers tended to the injured, of whom there appeared to be four. Two of the victims — one man and one woman — appeared to at least initially lose consciousness and were eventually carried out on stretchers. One of the two was placed in a neck brace, though we noticed that they both maintained movement in their limbs and were responding to questions. A third victim exited on her own feet — though she had sustained a nasty head wound — and a fourth appeared to not require serious medical attention. Each individual exited to a respective round of applause, blood was washed from the gravel, and the barricades were moved back in place. See OMD’s response at Spinner, and see footage of the actual accident below. The Cream’s Adam Gold can be seen at the right of the frame at 2:50.
Despite the evening’s unforeseen turns, OMD began their condensed set — seven songs, all of them hits — at 1:30 a.m., and transcended the madness with their cathartically vigorous performance. They dedicated their set to those who sustained injuries. Adam Gold will have a more thorough report on the performance itself. Also, this guy was there.
Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears’ performance down the street at South by San Jose — as sparklingly tight as their slow-crawling blues-soul sounded — was unbearably crowded, so I returned to Home Slice in time to be caught off guard by the incredibly sharp wordplay and stamina of Canadian MC Shad. His DJ was on point, and Shad had more puns than an English major, with charisma and wryly self-aware flow to boot. Standout surprise of the day. Next was Aesop Rock on Home Slice’s second stage. I’m an Aesop fan, but The Man’s concerns about noise violations kept the volume comically low — like, the volume at which I set my record player when I’m folding laundry. That low. Anyway, he probably did a hell of a job.
A couple of friends and I discovered that the Beauty Bar show had reached capacity long before (the club only held 200), so we slipped around back to see what we could make out. There we found scores of restless fans who’d begun to scale and rock the fence of Beauty Bar’s back yard, as DFA played their set out of sight beneath a tent. Some attendees climbed atop a parked car — another watched from atop the roof of a building across the alley — and the Beauty Bar back fence was eventually pulled down by the crowd, sending staff and security into scramble mode. At one point, the fence was righted, but mounted police still showed up to control the crowd. There were reports of both pepper spray and either stun guns or Tasers being used, and while I remained just outside the fray, I did in fact hear the telltale “ZZZZAP!” of some sort of electroshock weapon being used. I have to say, though: Hearing DFA’s “Black History Month” set to a scene of such unbridled chaos … well, there’s no other way to hear it, really. I slipped away to catch my shuttle back to the hotel at that point, though I hear talk of Adam Gold being forcibly removed from a VIP party. Stay tuned for that report.
Of my two SXSW experiences, I must say this was my most eventful. Also, Nashville rock on the national playing field? Looking pretty solid right now, folks. I was proud. We should all be proud.