By Amrit Singh & Brandon Stosuy
The last day at SXSW is always tinged with a depressing end-of-the-summer vibe. (Or maybe end of the school year?) However you want to frame it, once the Saturday sun sets, the remaining hours of four short days feel like the end of something bigger. Pass a hankie. Seriously though, even if SXSW didn’t introduce you to any new bands, if none of the panels figured out how to save the music industry (or even a dollar), and if the whole thing basically served as a fun (and elaborate) way to get some sun and see people you only ever see at festivals, it’s still a bummer. This 2009 edition was the most fun we’ve had at a SXSW in ages. Maybe it was because with less bands and fewer lines you had more time to talk and hang out with people. The folks who listen to similar bands as you. You know your — gasp! — community. That’s right, a slightly depleted SXSW brought things back to their basics … and we had a blast. In that spirit, we decided to fend-off the blues by spending the last day with a few excellent friends, cramming as much music as possible into the finale.
It all started with a couple songs by BTW Real Estate at the Hot Freaks party, where we also checked out the mellow, perfect-for-the-early-afternoon songs of ex-Grandaddy Jason Lytle (indoors at the Mohawk) and ran into our good friends Gorilla Vs. Bear, My Old Kentucky Blog, and You Ain’t No Picasso. San Francisco’s Girls worked well in the bright sun, doing their acoustic-tinged psychedelic neo-grunge (maybe it’s just the hair) in front of the sharp cliff at the outdoor Club De Ville stage. We also caught a bit of Vivian Girls, who were talking about the bad tattoos at SXSW, and the people who get them.
From there it was off to the FADER Fort to see Wavves for the third time. It’s not that we love Wavves enough to see him three times in as many days, but the guy was everywhere … and so were we! Afterward, we stuck around to watch Theophilus London, who has a nice stage presence and demeanor, but pretty forgettable songs, even when they include guest spots from Beyoncé’s kid sister, Solange.
If we’d been able to sit still, the best lineup stretch was at Ms. Bea’s for Todd P’s Woodsist-curated event. This time we caught the full, breezy, and excellent Real Estate set. “Budweiser Sprite, do you feel alright?” Yes. It was also a treat to watch/see the faces behind recent favorites the Ganglians. Fresh & Onlys brought an autumnal Sticks & Stones vibe to the back porch, and it would’ve been great to stick around for Christmas Island, Kurt Vile, caUSE co-MOTION!, and Psychedelic Horseshit, et al, but the chance to see Dirty Projectors again, this time outdoors behind a church for the Press Here Garden Party, was too much.
The crowd for the DPs was the usual spread of indie rock luminaries, alongside those to whom word of the week’s blistering SXSW shows had spread. This time the set of Bitte Orca songs included a more straightforward duet with Dave on acoustic and Angel Deradoorian taking lead vocals, amongst a few others, but again the kings of the set were “Cannibal Resource,” “Remade Horizon,” and “Stillness Is The Move.” The MP3s of those that you need until the album’s out are here and here. Also, there was a killer, electric David Byrne-less “Knotty Pine.” Great times. Special band.
From there we headed over to Kanye and his Levi’s for his G.O.O.D Music label’s showcase at the FADER Fort, which you’ve already read about at length. One thing we didn’t mention previously: As easy as it is to hate on West, watching him grin from ear to ear on the side of the stage, away from the action, as his his proteges and friends performed, it was hard not to respect the passion he puts into his music … even when he’s out of tune. All of that said, Badu coming out with Common, and Common’s South By flavored freestyle, were among the festival’s most memorable moments.
We’d planned to catch Blank Dogs at 11:20PM for Sacred Bones’ showcase at the Music Gym, but the schedule was switched around, and he wasn’t on until 1AM, so we bailed. That’s right, we didn’t see Blank Dogs on the previously proclaimed “Blank Dogs Day.” That’s OK, he’d like it best that way.
Amrit, Abbey Braden, and Linda Flores visually documented the conclusion. Enjoy the gallery. For more coverage, including lots of fan-uploaded vids and photos from the fest, check out the Buzznet SXSW page. This crowd-clip of Beach House’s Victoria Legrand doing her first-ever live performance of “Two Weeks” with Grizzly Bear from Friday night’s Cedar Street show would be a good place to start.
OK! No more SXSW posts! Until next year. Thanks, Austin. (Get better cell reception for next year though, please.)