SXSW '11 Day Three Recap

More than 2,000 bands perform in Austin during the week of SXSW. The NewsHouse will not cover them all, but these were among the most ear-catching Day Three artists.

And the beat goes on, and the beat goes on…

Coping To Aging Is For The Weak

For Keith Morris, OFF! isn’t his first walk in the park.  As the founding singer of Black Flag and the Circle Jerks he knows a thing or two about punk.  That happens when you wrote the book.  Still, punks don’t usually go to 55-years-old. He still sports his signature dreads, but his balding head is become noticeable.  Does that slow down Morris and his aggression?  Not one bit.  Ripping through a slew of sub-two minute songs, Morris barked with more ferocity than up-and-comers one-third his age. This elder statesman shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

TV on the Radio

Kings of the Critical Mass


As TV on the Radio took the outdoor stage at Stubb’s for their first SXSW ’11 performance, the air was thick with anticipation.  After all, TVotR have garnered as much praise as any band this side of Radiohead and Arcade Fire (and even that’s debatable).  Anything less than a stellar performance would seem like a letdown in the face of the hype and all the other great music in the Austin ether.  But the band delivered.  The band wailed their way through cuts of Return to Cookie Mountain and Dear Science, as well as grooving to new jams from the forthcoming Nine Types of Light.  When it came time for the stirring final number “Wolf Like Me,” the packed crowd released all the joyous energy the band had been sending their way in a furry of spastic dance moves.  It was the crowds way of showing appreciation for TVotR – because they earned it.


If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say…

…there’s a good chance it’s because you’re having a conversation about Dom.  Tastemakers have officially taken this ironic stoner surf rock thing way to far.  It is a hipster craze that should have started and stopped with Wavves (who suuck).  There is nothing redeeming about Dom.  And the whole package was on display at their indoor Stubb’s set, from the over reverbed vocals to the mind-numbingly simple lyrics.  Despite this they’ve garnered plenty of buzz over the past year.  Boooooooooo!


Best Cure for The Set Change Blues

Boredom abounds during the time when bands get their equipment set up.  To combat this at SPIN’s party at Stubb’s, DJs performed while equipment was being hauled off and on.  When audience members hear scratches and tightly arranged beats, minds wander away from thinking about how long it will take for a keyboard cable to be replaced.  The DJs were top notch, including Designer Drugs and the Grammy nominated Wolfgang Gartner.  But it was Skrillex that really stood apart from the crowd at this position.  His tracks never let up and made people anxiously waiting for TV on the Radio to burst out in dance.  It’s an ingenious way of killing time, but with good enough DJs it becomes a set of it’s own.


Grrrl Power Goes Wommman Power

Wild Flag is an indie supergroup for the female front, who displayed (as part of the Merge Records showcase) that the combination of members of Sleater-Kinney, Helium, and The Minders can make some damn solid rock tunes.  The Sleater-Kinney influence seems to be most prevalent in Wild Flag’s sound which is both a good thing and perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise (since Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss made up two-thirds of the Portland legends).  Long story short, if you’re looking to kick out the jams but want to avoid cock rock, Wild Flag is just the band for you.


Rabblerousing for One

Ted Leo needs not The Pharmacists to put on a killer show.  Armed with just his electric guitar, Leo ran through a career-spanning set of everything from late-80s solo work to more current fan favorites.  Most any guitarist would cop to how hard it is to sound good playing an electric solo show (especially fast power chord tunes), but Leo somehow managed to pull it off during his set as part of the A.V. Club’s day party at the Mohawk.  There were moments where some of Leo’s longer songs started to get a bit repetitive without additional backing, but his charisma and pure effort to make it work carried the tunes past any possible pitfalls.


Ted Leo


Dance Rock Demigods


The Photo Atlas may just be the best dance rock group on the planet.  I know it sounds hyperbolic, but it’s true.  The Denver foursome specializes in back-and-forth licks between the two guitarists but with an aggressive punk-like flair.  The band wasn’t even playing in a comfort zone.   They had quickly come over to Peckerheads after another SXSW gig, and because there was not enough time to haul the equipment over, they played with a borrowed drum kit and amps. They were still to whip the crowd into a frenzy of pulsating bodies clapping along to the beat.  If Bloc Party is a more familiar dance rock reference point, let me put it to you this way:  Bloc Party is a homeless man’s The Photo Atlas.

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