I left SXSW before most of my intrepid NPR compatriots. I flew home Saturday morning, right as the storm rolled in. But, in my defense, I had been there an entire week, growing ever more tired of the resurgence of the li'l black leather jacket, and very close to flinging myself under the wheels of a pedicab if it would make women in bikinis stop hula-hooping in the streets. (I used to see hula-hooping as a childlike and innocent throwback to the '50s, but, thanks to SXSW, I now see the hoop as a stripper pole curved into a circle.)
I did manage to see Quasi on Friday — twice, no less — and to take in a whole lot of rock 'n' roll over the span of a week. If there was one common theme I witnessed throughout SXSW, it was that musicians are reclaiming and celebrating raw power. Perhaps it's a reaction to the clean guitars so lauded as of late, or due to the fact that you can't as easily drown out drunk chatter or ignore the faces of 500 cellphone cameras and the electric glow of a text message with an acoustic guitar. So, as I walked from venue to venue, I felt like I was attending a lot of basement shows: garage rock, surf beats, fuzzy synths and a ton of unpolished but still melodic goodness.
I'm going to take a day to listen to a few records I purchased in Austin. Back tomorrow with some non-SXSW news and information.
Listen to Quasi live at SXSW: