Thursday, March 20, 2014

SXSW, Rodeo, Birthday Update (mostly in picture form)

So last week was SXSW in Austin, Texas.  I've said this before, but SXSW takes a lot of heat from the locals.  It's too crowded, too loud, too corporate, too drunk, has too much traffic, brings in too many hipsters, and is just generally too much.
I hear all of those complaints.  Some of them have merit.  This year some crazy drunken psycho ran over about 23 people downtown, killing three.  It made the national news, and was absolutely horrible.
But that sort of thing (having some a**hole drive his car into a crowd) could have probably happened anywhere.
I still enjoy SXSW.  There are various aspects of it that will always be subject to debate and criticism, but I actually LIKE the fact that we live in a town that is willing to suffer some major inconveniences for a few days each year in the interest of celebrating live music.  Sure, the thing has gotten a bit corporate, and the big name acts have a tendency to steal the spotlight a bit, but there are still a ton of smaller acts out there every year who are doing their best to get noticed, playing their hearts out and hoping to get a record deal or at least reach a broader audience.
I saw a lot of music this year.
I took off Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for a little while, and I took all of Friday off.  I put my bike in the back of my car, and once I was done working, I would change clothes and go ride around to listen to music (parking is pretty crazy during South By, but shows can be sort of spread out, so bikes are a good compromise).
I saw a lot of music, and I don't want to go into detail about all of it.  I'm gonna post some pictures, and maybe write a little bit about it here and there.


This was the first group that I saw.  I was waiting for my friend Mark to show up.  They were shockingly good.  The trumpet player, Chihiro Yamazaki, was a bouncy, small girl, but she had a big, bright, powerful sound on the trumpet.  They were from Japan, and when I tried to talk to them a bit after their set, I found out only one of them spoke English.  They had at least one gig booked at the Elephant Room, though, so they had a little street cred.

Mark Kozelek at Central Presbyterian.  He plays under the name Sun Kil Moon.  Very cool and interesting.  Sort of a dark sounding singer-songwriter, with interesting lyrics and drums.  Different, and cool. 

Typhoon.  A large band with a big sound.  They were pretty tight, and pulled off some sort of nuanced, complex rhythms for such a large band.  I enjoyed them.

Real Estate.  Pretty cool.  Their music wasn't really slow, but still mellow.  As Amy said, they have sort of a "California sound".
Hurray for the Riff Raff at San Jose.  They do a pretty interesting country/folk sort of thing.  They had some songs that I really liked.

Los Lonely Boys on the roof at Whole Foods.  They're already pretty well known, but I've never seen them.  They put on a good show.  Texas bluesy rock with a little bit of Tejano/Latin flair (especially in the percussion).

Cassidy in the back yard.  Thanks for the fish eye lens, Jean!

SPEAK at Whole foods.  At first I was turned off a bit by the hipster garb, but they were actually pretty good.  Good guitar parts and keyboards.  Good vocals and harmonies.  Tight band.

Josh, me, and Mark in a selfie on the roof at Whole Foods
Dame.  From Los Angeles.  They were pretty good.  Pretty much good ol' fashioned rock.  I liked the lead singer's voice.  Apparently her name is Michelle Armstrong.
Dark Rooms at the GSD&M day party.  Interesting band, but I'm not sure that their sort of brooding, ethereal, electronic infused music was ideally suited for a bright, beautiful, sunny afternoon in ATX

Bone, Fur and Feathers at GDS&M.  They were also pretty good, but maybe not suited to a sunny, mid day show.  They had a bit of a psychedelic, trippy feel.  I was at this show with my friend, Mark.  We met the band's lead singer, LouLou, and found out that she had been performing for many years with Thievery Corporation.  Pretty cool

So I went to see bands on Thursday and Friday afternoons, and on Friday, Amy and I both took the day off and went to see music on South Congress.  We saw Fly Golden Eagle at San Jose (who were okay, but didn't blow me away) along with Hurray for the Riff Raff.  On Thursday and Friday evenings we volunteered at Central Presbyterian.  We checked badges and wristbands and made sure people were in the right spot.  Thursday night we saw Curtis Harding and Typhoon.  I hadn't heard of Curtis Harding.  He was pretty cool.  He played rock, and had a good voice.  Friday night we were there for Sun Kil Moon and Real Estate.  Both acts were good. 
Saturday we took the day off to do errands and chores, and Saturday night we went over to Mom and Dad's house for dinner with our family friends, Aleda and Charlie.  We had a really nice dinner, and it was great to see them.
Sunday we went to the rodeo and went to see Dwight Yoakam.  We had a really good time.  Dwight Yoakam put on a good concert, and we really enjoyed watching the rodeo events as well.  I would definitely be interested in seeing Yoakam again.  He has a really cool voice and good songs.

On Sunday we went to the Austin Rodeo!

Bronco bustin'!!

Amy happily awaits the arrival of Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam!  He was really good.  Definitely lived up to his reputation.  When your only complaint is that you wish he woulda played a little longer, you know it was a good show.

So that was pretty much the weekend.  It was a really good one. 
My birthday was on Monday, but I was a little pooped after South by Southwest and the rodeo and whatnot.  We mostly laid low on my birthday.  On Tuesday we got together with my folks and Jamie and Ryan for dinner at Cypress Grill.  It was a really nice evening.  We had a good time, and I appreciate everyone making it out on a Tuesday night to celebrate my birthday.
So that's about it!  I wrote about some of the local acts that I saw over on my local music blog, ATX Notebook.  Check it out if you are interested!

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