Levitation and Glee
While waiting to speak with Bon Iver at Emo's here at the SXSW music festival, I heard that the F**k Buttons were playing in an adjacent room.
It always makes me laugh when publicists pitch me for an interview on All Things Considered for bands like Berg Sans Nipple or Shat. What are they thinking?
I walked into Emo's, and was met by sheer loudness magnified, and a sign that read "NO PROFANITY."
I love this world.
Later, a text message (it is the only way to communicate here) from Song of the Day's Stephen Thompson:
"At Maggie Mae's Gibson Room -- a Chinese woman from New Zealand is about to sing AC/DC covers!"
I won't steal his thunder, but I will say that, without trying, her version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was trippier than the original.
One of my missions was to hear the band Fanfarlo. Out of the 788 bands' worth of music I listened to before I left for Austin, this was the unknown band that made the music I loved most.
Fanfarlo's members are London-based, with trumpet, keyboards, violin, drums, and guitar. The nearest touchstone from the little I've heard is Arcade Fire.
Their show at the Wave Rooftop Cafe was a bit of a nightmare for them technically, but through it all, they sounded fresh. They kept their graciousness and humor, and handed out free CDs while saying, "If you want to hear what we really sound like, come take one of these."
I'll listen, and perhaps put a song on the show.
I also saw one song from The Dodos -- lousy name, but a fierce sound.
Sera Cahoone, Stephen's pick on our preview, played good music, but bad sound distracted the players throughout the set.
Land of Talk from Montreal had many bright moments, especially when they strayed from a Crazy Horse sound (which I like) and played a more jagged style.
She & Him is a new project with M. Ward and Zooey Daschanel. It reminds me a bit of LInda Ronstadt's oldies projects (which I never liked), but then there's M. Ward's sound, and the two of them mostly avoid the pitfalls of simply reminiscing.
My night had a perfect ending with music by Let's Go Sailing -- gentle, melodic music, well-played.
And just as I was going to get a cab back to the hotel, I heard the sound of rhythmic handclaps, and I followed it to a group of Qaawli musicians with tablas and harmoniums. I was mesmerized, even levitated, and then I went home, leaving thousands of people still in the streets of Austin at 2:30. For many, the night was young.