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South by Southwest Awards ’09

March 25th, 2009 | Comments Off | Posted in Entertainment, Music, Personal, Photos

This is the last SXSW post for a while, I swear, but it’s the only one that really matters. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great honor to present to you the second annual (last year’s awards are here and here) SXSW awards, which I am hereby affectionately dubbing “The Rutty Swesties.” Get it? Too bad. Let’s begin with…

Best Suprise

Monotonix (Tel Aviv, Israel)

Holy moly. I’m not even sure if I’m that into these guys’ tunes, but you cannot help but be completely hypnotized by their antics. They seriously spent more time crowd surfing or climbing up the walls than standing on the stage, and most of the time they were playing their instruments on top of the crowd.  Did I mention the fifteen minute drum solo while they changed an amp that they blew in the middle of the show? I’ve pretty much never seen anything like this, and what a way to close out the trip.  If only they did fire tricks… OH WAIT:

The “I Can’t See These Guys Enough” Award

Gil Mantera’s Party Dream (Youngstown, OH)

Two clinically insane geniuses who strip down to their banana hammocks while simultaneously dancing their asses off, playing the shit out of matching Lucite guitars, and blowing everyone’s minds with their incredibly catchy electro-pop (which is drenched in vocoder vocals, brain-crushing hooks, and Stevie Nicks covers). Just go with it.


Runners up: Marnie Stern, Still’ Flyin

Most Overrated

Vivian Girls

My take on the Vivian Girls record was that it was highly mediocre, so I was sure there was a reason these ladies were getting so much attention.  I figured the live show was the key, and I really wanted to see what they were all about.  Turns out they are all about: being somewhat cute, wearing short shorts, and not being able to play their instruments (or faking as such, which is even worse).  I’ll take Marnie Stern’s sick chops any day of the week over this derivative slop.

Worst of the Worst

Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band

THEY ARE CALLED KEVIN DEVINE AND THE GODDAMN BAND.

Best Show of the Festival

Titus Andronicus

The Titus Andronicus debut The Airing of Grievances is an odd and invigorating combination of erudite wordplay and punk rock sensibility; these guys have no problem quoting a few lines from an existentialist philosopher and then closing a song by screaming “Fuck you!” at the top of their lungs.  It’s weird, and kinda great. But walking into a show after hearing an album like that, it’s tough to know if you are going to get the punks or the professors.  About five seconds into their set, it was clear that the punks had come out to play.  The setting was perfect: no stage, just a cleared out corner of a parking lot at a backyard barbecue. The crowd was stocked with uber-hipsters and gutterpunks alike, and everyone in attendance was treated to a simple, unpretentious, and completely furious ass-rocking.  Kudos to you, Titus Andronicus.  You win SXSW.

Runners up: Mojo Nixon, Monotonix

Technical awards:

  • Most Likely to Die in a Horrific Stagediving Accident: Ami Shalev of Monotonix (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • The “Nastiest Chops” Award: Marnie Stern (New York, NY)
  • The “Prima Donna” Award for longest and fussiest soundcheck: The Rosebuds (Raleigh, NC)
  • The “Please Don’t Ever Hang It Up, I Don’t Care HOW Fat You Get” Award: Mojo Nixon (Chapel Hill, NC)
  • Shortest Shorts: Hutch Harris of The Thermals (Portland, OR)
  • The “Nice Job Pissing Off The Meatheads In Front of Me” Award: HEALTH (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Most Judy Garland T-Shirts Per Capita: Abe Vigoda (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Most Brew Grooves Jammed: Still Flyin’ (San Francisco, CA)

And if you think I am going on about Marnie Stern’s chops too much, suck on this:

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SXSW ’09 Band Photos are up!

March 24th, 2009 | Comments Off | Posted in Music, Photos

I’ve posted all my favorite SXSW artist shots from this year on Flickr. I selected about 130 out of about 6000.  I think I did OK; not as good as I’d hoped.  I think I need to be more pushy in the front row, but without a camera tag, I feel guilty squeezing in there.  I also had to leave my camera at home for most showcases (aka nighttime shows) on the worry that the larger venues wouldn’t let me in with an untagged camera.

I also have some really great shots of friends, food, interesting people, etc, that I will sort through and post shortly.  I wanted to get the artist shots up ASAP.

Anyways, here are some of my favorites from the week, in case you don’t want to look through them all, followed by the full slideshow.

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I’ve Been Robbed

March 27th, 2008 | Comments | Posted in Music, Personal, Photos

DSC_1579Some of you may know about my “shoes project”, which I came up with after last year’s SXSW festival, where I happened to get a few great shots of a few bands’ shoes as they were playing.  The idea behind the project was to take a shot of the shoes of every band I saw this year at SXSW (whenever humanly possible) and make them into a framed collection of cool shoe shots to put up on the wall, with the name of each band represented in the collection.  On the right, for example, you can see the triumphant shot I took of the band Blitzen Trapper.

I was quite proud of myself for coming up with this idea, because, seriously, it’s awesome.  Which brings us to the today; here I sit, feeling pleased and quietly developing pictures of band shoes, when out of the blue, I get a phone call from Jesse:  “Hey buddy… I’ve got some bad news.”

08326_160251_BlocPartyshoesL200308Thus enter French electro-popsters The Shoes and their new single, “Knock Out”.  Apparently, they have pressed 300 copies of the 7″, and each one comes bundled with a Polaroid of (guess what)… shoes.  And here’s the kicker; they (being significantly cooler than I) have far more famous friends than I could hope for (although I do sorta know the drummer from Lady Genius and one the guys from Altman).  Each Polaroid is of someone indie-famous and is signed by the aforementioned semi-celeb; notable notables include folks from Bloc Party (left), CSS, and The Darkness.

So what’s the moral of the story? Apparently, it’s “never try to do anything cool or fun or awesome, because someone will just rip off your idea and flaunt it all  over the internets”. Internets like NME, Pitchfork, and MixMag. Well, crap.

What do you guys think… should I go ahead with the project or toss it in the fail bin?  Jesse has already made it clear where he stands (and I’m paraphrasing here): “I dunno, man. I was just worried you’d have someone over to your apartment who would see the pictures, yell, ‘Hey, that french band The Shoes already did that!’, and then burn the place down.”

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SXSW Pics

March 26th, 2008 | Comments | Posted in Music, Personal, Photos

I’ve finished developing and uploading my SXSW pics, so here’s the final set:

Listening to: Rush – Rivendell
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