SXSW 2009 : Day Four

<img src="" alt=" " />Everyone was worn down by Day Four, so it was off to see how favorites were holding up. ...

SXSW 2009 : Day Four

After burning at both ends on Days One (QRO SXSW 2009 Day One recap) and Two (QRO SXSW 2009 Day Two recap), and being burnt out on Day Three (QRO SXSW 2009 Day Three recap), the final day of South-by-Southwest was dedicated to two things: catch those I’d unfortunately missed before, and see how everyone else was faring after going full tilt, see what artists could still keep it going and what artists couldn’t.

We doubled-teamed South-by-Southwest this year – continue for Ted Chase’s SXSW 2009 Day Four recap, or click here to go straight to Austin’s own Robin Sinhababu


Ted Chase:


Coffee? No Pants! Party @ Red Eyed Fly

Takka Takka, 1:15 PM

Takka Takka

Gabe LevineClick image for full gallery

Thought I’d miss Takka Takka (QRO photos), but Red Eyed Fly was running late, something that would pay dividends all day long.  Since changing up the band and their sound for sophomore LP Migration (QRO review), the darker & more artsy Takka is less of an outdoor band (QRO photos outdoors), at least during the day on the weekend – still say they Feel Safer At Night, Drew Thurlow, SXSW's #1 fanthough, like The Forms kicking off Day Two (QRO SXSW Day Two recap), they would work outdoors at night.  They still sounded sweet, though didn’t play to that many people – because they were a late replacement for Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed & The True Loves (QRO live review), or because guitarist Drew Thurlow said, “SXSW has become a bloated, completely irrelevant, chaotic experience, and it’s not worth it for any band, anyone looking to scout a band” (QRO interview – though he said he wasn’t speaking for the band…)

Takka Takka @ SXSW


ReadyMade Party @ Halcyon Coffee

M. Ward, 2:15 PM

M. Ward

M. WardClick image for full gallery

Finally managed to catch M. Ward at SXSW 2009!  After missing him more than once on each of the previous three days, made it to the southwest for a packed Halcyon Coffee (just a few doors down from Cedar Street Courtyard) – even snagged one of the free t-shirts they were throwing to the crowd while waiting for Ward to show up.  Though you’d think the alt-folk singer/songwriter would be in his element in a coffee house (which did also serve alcohol and check IDs), playing solo and (plugged-in) acoustic.  But all those shows I’d missed that he’d already played at SXSW had taken its toll – Ward was standoff-ish, and not just because the shades he sported made him look like the ‘Man in Black’, Johnny Cash.

another man in blackFor his last show of South-by (“My vacation starts in twenty minutes…”), he only played four songs (when Will Sheff of Okkervil River – QRO live review – began to set up to follow Ward and asked the host how long he should play, the host just said, “Longer than that…”).  What’s more, one was an extended instrumental – still sounded good, but really needs to earn the right to do an instrumental (maybe his voice was tired).  Yet Ward ended his South-by on a high note with a very fine rendition of “Shangri-La”, from his latest solo record, Hold Time (QRO review).


Coffee? No Pants! Party @ Red Eyed Fly

Harlem Shakes, 2:50 PM

Harlem Shakes

sweaty LexyClick image for full gallery

Did I need to see Harlem Shakes (QRO live review) for a fourth time at SXSW?  No, probably not, but by this point at South-by, pretty much everybody was running on fumes – do you want to see someone for the first time and experience them at their sub-par level, or do you want to catch one more glimpse of someone you know you like?  By Day Four, the Shakes (QRO photos) were tired as well, but still put a lot of energy into their set – singer Lexy Benaim joked that he was sweating pure alcohol, sweatier Joseand you could see the drenching on bassist Kendrick Strauch (QRO interview).  Thanks to Red Eyed Fly Happy birthday!running late, caught most of their set, including them closing out their first SXSW with “Old Flames”, guitarist Todd Goldstein (also of solo-side-project Arms – QRO album review) blowing an blowout, and a great all-stop right in the middle of the song.

Best band of SXSW 2009


Princeton, 3:30 PM


brothers KivelClick image for full gallery

On Day One (QRO SXSW Day One recap), saw Princeton sans drummer at the sit-down Austin Convention Center, which obviously didn’t do them justice (though they did get the crowd to stand up and come close for their final number, “Shout It Out”).  Their sunny sixties-pop fits well in the outdoors, very akin to another act seen on Day One, fellow Californian The Morning Benders (QRO live review), and not just in sound – Benders lead singer/guitarist Chris Chu kind of looks like the half-Asian half-brother of Princeton (QRO photos) twin frontmen Jesse & Matt Kivel, as if Papa Kivel had been up to something in The Far East before settling down with Mama Kivel…  And maybe it was because I’d first heard them both like two years ago on EPs, but somehow, Shakes (QRO EP review) + Princeton (QRO EP review) fit well together.

Princeton - with drummer


ReadyMade Party @ Halcyon Coffee

Annuals, 3:55 PM


not stalking Anna Spence...Click image for full gallery

If I’m gonna see Harlem Shakes four times (see above), can’t object to seeing Annuals (QRO live review) for a third.  The only real problem was that this meant going all the way from the northeast of downtown Austin to the southwest (after having gone the other way, from M. Ward to Shakes – and the same way before that, Takka Takka to M. Ward – see above).  Like the Shakes, Annuals (QRO photos) were still strong, this far into SXSW, and it was maybe more packed on the stage, with six people, including two drum sets (was worried bassist Mike Robinson – QRO interview – was gonna knock over one of his bandmates), than on the stage floor, thanks to some balding, middle-aged cameraman videotaping the whole thing, him and his gear dominating the front of the stage floor.  Being that close did let one really appreciate the drumming from Zach Oden & Nick Radford, especially when they sychronized – though am worried that Anna Spence thinks she’s got a stalker…

synchronized drumming


Filter’s Showdown at Cedar Street @ Cedar Street Courtyard

Flosstradamus, 3:40 PM


Went a couple of doors down to Cedar Street Courtyard to meet a friend, and saw Flosstradamus (QRO photos) leading a dance party – at this point having invited the crowd onto the stage with them.


Coffee? No Pants! Party @ Red Eyed Fly

Titus Andronicus, 4:55 PM

Titus Andronicus

Click image for full galleryPatrick Stickles

There was too long of a line at Rolling Stone’s party at Peckerhead’s, and forgot to put myself on the list for the latest British Music party at Latitude 30, so headed across downtown Austin again (see above) – luckily, downtown Austin ain’t that big – back to Red Eyed Fly for Titus Andronicus (QRO photos).  These real New Jerseyians (think they gave Princeton – see above – a hard time?  Probably not, as the rest of the state doesn’t give a damn about that college town – kind of like the rest of Texas and Austin…) slightly cow-punk/workingman’s punk (would that be farmer-punk?) fit with Texas and even the outdoors, with a thick crowd on hand.

Garden State fresh


Mess With Texas 3 @ Waterloo Park

The Thermals, 5:50 PM

The Thermals

Click image for full gallery

Kathy FosterAfter missing a few other acts I was more interested in – Camera Obscura’s (QRO live review) set at Mohawk Patio ended on time, unlike everything at Red Eyed Fly, and Vulture Whale (QRO album review) never seemed to take the stage at Creekside Lounge – responded to the late afternoon/early evening SXSW lull (when the venues clear everyone out so they can switch from day party to night showcase) by heading north to Waterloo Park, site of the Fun Fun Fun Fest last November (QRO festival recap), for ‘Mess With Texas 3’.  Free, all-day, and on two stages, ‘Mess With Texas’ was the biggest single unofficial event of SXSW (not counting the four days of FADER Fort as a single event), and there was certainly a line to get in – though much of that had to do with the fact that the only sanctioned-for-crowds entrance was all the way up at 14th Street, despite Waterloo Park, and the festival, stretching down to 12th (saw many a punk-rocker doing the DIY ‘jump the fence’ thing – not quite as special at a free show, where all they’re avoiding is a line and the chance to get a 21+ wristband, but let them have their thrill…).

Hutch Harris - not teen MalkmusShowed up for Cursive (QRO live review), and just like on Day One at the similarly outdoors (and even, I think, two stages) free show at French Legation Museum (QRO SXSW Day One recap), things were running late and got the end of The Thermals instead.  Was less annoyed this time (was missing less, and had figured it out on the long walk up the side of the park & festival, and wait in the line to enter), and The Thermals are catchy – certainly finisher “No Culture Icons” (plus, only was there for a few songs).  Bassist Kathy Foster is still annoying, but only because she’s having fun, and maybe dislike singer/guitarist Hutch Harris because he looks like a young Stephen Malkmus (QRO live review), but doesn’t/can’t match that (and shouldn’t really be blamed for it).

The Thermals & fans


The Bronx, 6:05 PM

The Bronx

Click image for full gallery

It was pretty late on Day One when I first caught The Bronx (QRO SXSW Day One recap), and was still thinking about everything else that was going on/was to go on at South-by, so probably didn’t give them the attention they were due – the band’s certainly proving punk’s not dead, despite what David Berman (Silver Jews – QRO album review) said on “Tennessee” (and he’s broken up the Silver Jews, so who’s lasted longer?…).

Look out below!

The mosh pit at the Side Stage was only a handful of people, but a large crowd ringed them, going up a hill.  And got to see at least one stage-diver fall flat on his face.  The Bronx certainly would have fit right in at Fun Fun Fun Fest there at Waterloo Park back in November (QRO festival recap), though with that having been the last time I was in that park, the whole ‘Mess With Texas’ did feel a bit pale in comparison.

mosh pit - and everyone else



Lucero, 6:15 PM


Ben NicholsEverything is o.k.Click image for full gallery

Always more respected than really loved today’s ‘workingman’s punk’ – a little too obvious, a little too mainstream-approvable, and a little too uninventive, but never disliked it, and thought it had authenticity.  Whatever it is, Lucero does it well, with real gravel to singer Ben Nichols’s voice (almost The Boss-like – QRO album review), and it fits in well in Austin.



Green Potato Ventures Showcase @ The Music Gym Patio

Golden Bear, 8:20 PM

Golden Bear

Chris GregoryClick image for full gallery

Possibly the best usage of SXSW is that it gives one the chance to catch small bands you (in the music industry, at least) have heard & liked on record, but who knows when they’ll get a chance to actually tour and come to your town.  And if they’re from Austin?  All’s the better.  So thought it would be a good opportunity to catch Austin’s own Golden Bear, who did well on the recent Everest EP (QRO review).  However, by this point, had been so inundated with music, was hitting bands for nth time (sometimes the nth time of South-by), that I could barely remember what I liked about Everest & Golden Bear, and the band didn’t blow away enough to stick around for the whole set.  Singer Chris Gregory did have a funny line about how great it is to drink a beer when it actually quenches your thirst, as opposed to normal times when you’re just drinking a beer for fun…

Golden Bear


Minty Fresh/Milan Showcase @ Submerged

The Subjects, 9:05 PM

The Subjects

David SheinkopfClick image for full gallery

After having done a great interview with all four of The Subjects last year (QRO interview), wherein they recounted their experience at last SXSW (QRO video of recounting), really had to catch them at South-by this year – even if that did mean they weren’t drunk at that moment.  Submerged is very much not a regular venue – The Subjects (QRO photos) just played in a corner that was cordoned off and only slightly raised, the lighting, such that there was, was nightclub ‘mood lighting’ (including a changing spectrum behind a waterfall behind the band), without any of the spotlight like at Pangaea (QRO SXSW Day One recap), leaving The Subjects (QRO photos) basically in the dark (singer/bassist/keyboardist David Sheinkopf even spilled a beer – and these are boys who value their beer).

Jimmy Carbonetti & Joseph Smith

Matthew IwanusaThey played mostly new songs, including a few that featured drummer Matt Iwanusa singing – always a dicey proposition, but it’s not like you could see anyone else any better.  It’s hard to peg The Subjects (QRO live review), genre-wise – kind of sunny-sixties, kind of indie-pop/rock, kind of garage, kind of something more.  Also, it’s not what you’d expect from the guys by looking at them.

The Subjects


Barsuk/Merge Showcase @ The Parish

Lou Barlow & Imaad Wasif, 10:00 PM

Lou Barlow & Imaad Wasif

Click image for full gallery

Lou BarlowWhile I caught Lou Barlow playing in Dinosaur Jr. the night before (QRO SXSW Day Three recap), had only made it to Halcyon Coffee in time to see him leave the stage before M. Ward (see above).  But he and friend Imaad Wasif were playing the Barsuk/Merge Records showcase at The Parish at night, the must-see event to close out SXSW – arrived & stayed put, and wasn’t the only one amongst a large crowd to do so.  Barlow’s voice is underrated, whether in Dinosaur Jr. (QRO live review), Sebadoh (QRO live review), or here on his own (with Wasif just joining on guitar), and he’s able to pull off this kind of alt-country/folk.  Still, a band playing seated is like an audience watching seated – something is taken away (despite The Parish’s multicolored lighting).  But Barlow was still funny, whether referencing his song “Emoh”, “And it’s not emo…”, or in telling the crowd about his newly finished solo record coming out on Merge, “I don’t know when it will be out.  But when it comes out, it will be out on Merge.  They didn’t know I’d finished the record when I booked this showcase…”

Why don't you take a seat?


Say Hi, 10:55 PM

Say Hi

Eric ElbogenClick image for full gallery

Despite having previously interviewed Eric Elbogen (Say Hi, formerly Say Hi To Your Mom – QRO interview), did not know he had moved to Barsuk, or that he’d just released a new record.  And since he played (QRO photo of set list) the entire new record, Oohs & Aahs (QRO review), was left a little out-of-the-loop, but the new stuff sounded good enough.  Backed by a bassist and drummer, this is the best configuration for Say Hi (QRO photos), and The Parish’s light show certainly helped.  Elbogen wished a happy birthday at midnight to his turning-fifteen friend AJ, and ended his set with the only not-new song, “Northwestern Girls” (from 2007’s The Wishes and the GlitchQRO review).

Say Hi as trio


The Rosebuds, 11:05 PM

The Rosebuds

Click image for full gallery

Kelly CrispMaybe no band has been a friend of the Q longer than The Rosebuds (QRO interview), so couldn’t miss ‘em at SXSW.  Kelly Crisp (QRO interview) still comes out and high-fives the crowd (and, is it just me, or is she looking better, every time seen? – don’t let husband/bandmate Ivan Howard hear that was said…), and The Rosebuds (QRO live review) are a band that both has their live show down, Ivan Howardbut also still really loves doing it.  2007’s more electro-dance Night of the Furies (QRO review) is better suited to a live show than last year’s more stripped alt-country and heartfelt Life Like (QRO review), especially at place with as fine a light show – and as jumping (i.e., drunk) a crowd – as The Parish on the last night of SXSW 2009.

elixir of life


Ra Ra Riot, 12:00 AM

Ra Ra Riot

Yes, we have photos of Ali LawnClick image for full gallery

And Rebecca Zeller in short-shortsEnded SXSW with a band had called back before they blew up, Ra Ra Riot (QRO live review).  The young six-person collective have massively grown in popularity since their initial, self-titled EP (QRO review) to last year’s hit full-length debut on Barsuk, The Rhumb Line (QRO review), but haven’t lost their energy or pure joy at performing – even at midnight on the last night of South-by.  They all still run around like kids on candy (singer Wesley Miles – QRO interview – the most, but only because he isn’t as tied down by his instrument), and were still very happy to be playing a new song, “Too Dramatic”, live for the very first time.  One might say that the band does need a larger staple of songs (at the regular, non-shortened-by-South-by shows, they can literally run out of songs they know how to play – QRO live review), but when every song is as good live as they are, who needs new material?

Ra Ra Riot


Unfortunately Missed:Oh No Oh My

– Explosions In the Sky, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM, and Beach House (QRO photos outdoors) & Fastball (QRO live review outdoors-ish), 4:50 PM – 6:50 PM @ Auditorium Shores Stage on Lady Bird Lake.  Really wished I could have made it cross the river to see Austin locals like Fastball or Explosions In the Sky – or the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn – outdoors in front of a free crowd.

– Oh No Oh My (QRO spotlight on) @ Co-Lab, 1:30 PM  – 2:15 PM.  Never saw natives Oh No Oh My in Austin, either…

– Vulture Whale (QRO album review) @ Creekside Lounge, 4:45 PM – 5:20 PM.  Twice showed up for them, but bad metal bands were playing – was it at the other Creekside?

– Will Sheff (of Okkervil River – QRO live review) @ Halcyon Coffee, 2:50 PM – 3:45 PM.  Missed him between M. Ward & Annuals (see above), but ran into him at The Parish at night (see below) – and told him I’d seen him…

– Rachel Ray’s SXSW Party @ Maggie Mae’s, 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM.  The line was HUGE for the daytime talk/food star’s annual party, and other than Ra Ra Riot (QRO spotlight on), mostly bands other people like but I don’t – The Hold Steady (QRO live review), The Airborne Toxic Event, etc. (and saw Ra Ra Riot at night – see above).

– Camera Obscura (QRO live review) @ Mohawk’s Patio, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM.  Unlike everything else, Mohawk’s was running on time, and only made it there to see them ushering everyone out after Camera Obscura, so they could clean up the place before the night showcase.

– Lady Sovereign, King Khan & The Shrines (QRO live review), & Cut Off Your Hands @ Peckerhead’s, 4:30 PM – 6:20 PM.  The Rolling Stone party had a line almost as long as Rachel Ray’s.

– Kanye West @ FADER Fort, 9:00 PM – whenever Kanye says it’s done.  After Metallica’s (QRO photos) appearance on Day Three (QRO SXSW Day Three recap), there was no ‘big star secretly playing SXSW’ kept less secret than Kanye’s closing of the FADER Fort.  And the line for that, even with a wristband, was probably longer than Rachel Ray’s.  Do you really come to SXSW to see Kanye West?  Didn’t Bonnaroo teach anybody anything?

– Illinois (QRO spotlight on) @ Beauty Bar Backyard, 1:00 AM – 2:00 AM.  Have seen them a ton, especially recently.

– Perry Farrell & The Morning After Girls (QRO live review) @ Pangaea, 11:00 PM – 1:30 AM.  Actually thought about going to Pangaea just to see The Morning After Girls, but wanted to stay put on the final night, and sure there was a big line there, too.

– White Lies (QRO interview) @ Stubb’s, 7:40 PM – 8:40 PM.  Never dared to risk it at the big Stubb’s, but this would have been the best time to go: early evening, not up against anything, band that’s big in Britain but still just breaking over here.  However, they’re playing NYC in a matter of days (QRO live review – of course, so are Harlem Shakes – QRO live review), and was too busy stuffing myself on Ironworks BBQ.

– Hamell On Trial (QRO album review), 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM.  Album did come with DVD of live performance – which only made me want to see him live more.


Other Notes:

– There was some sort of ‘Million Musicians Peace Parade’ going on when I arrived (almost prevented me from catching Takka Takka).  Weren’t exactly a million of musicians – more like some hippies and their kids…

peace parade

Click image for full gallery

– As one goes west on 4th Street, the sidewalk starts to fight the sloping hill by raising itself, making one walk up and down stairs just to make it to the street.  And along the block with Cedar Street Courtyard & Halcyon Coffee, one does that annoying up-down multiple times right in the block.

– The Parish was certainly, as Say Hi’s Eric Elbogen (QRO interview) said during his set, ‘the place to be’: in addition to seeing, in the crowd, artists who were/had performed the showcase like Ra Ra Riot’s Milo Bonacci or ...and half-brother Chu?brothers Kivel...The Rosebuds’ Kelly Crisp (QRO interview) & Ivan Howard, also ran into Will Sheff (of Okkervil River – QRO live review), who said he’s producing the next Rocky Erickson record, M. Ward (QRO album review), refrained from telling him what I thought of his appearance earlier that day (see above), instead referencing seeing him in She & Him (QRO photos) twice (QRO photos), and Jesse & Matt Kivel from Princeton (QRO album review), who loved the idea that singer/guitarist Chris Chu from The Morning Benders (QRO live review) is their ‘half-Asian half-brother’.


Robin Sinhababu:


Class Music Showcase @ Habana Bar Backyard


I thought a band named Leche would be entertaining, but I was wrong.  These four young fellows from Juarez are playing rock in the mold of Coldplay and other homogenized bands.  I could not find much Gouda ‘bout the singer, whose crooning and pretty-boy dancing were lost on me, but the tres Leches backing him played with energy.  In particular, some of the guitar playing was just butter, but it couldn’t make up for the singer’s cheesy affectations.  On the whole, I felt they only skimmed the surface of rock music; they’re more pop.  Well, maybe half and half.  The mostly Hispanic crowd gathered under the milky-white Habana Backyard tent drank it up, but I’d rather have seen a jug band.




Warped Tour Latin America Showcase @ Spiro’s Amphitheater


I thought I was going to see a Japanese garage rock trio at Spiro’s, but I wandered into something completely different.  It was the Latin American Warped Tour showcase, with Guadalajara’s Cuca on stage.  Although I’d just come from Leche, this was a really different crowd than I’d seen all week, so I stuck around.  The audience was huge, and as far as I could tell, entirely Hispanic.  Dudes seemed much more excited about the band than the girls they were with.

The couple tunes I heard were basic Aerosmith-style hard rockers, but the stage banter was much more memorable.  First of all, the banter to music ratio approached a KISS level.  Second, frontman Jose Fors was just killing it, the crowd going nuts after his every declaration.  That I couldn’t understand him only made it better.  I stayed through a long monologue that seemed to be about tequila, which culminated with someone handing him a glass, him tossing the lime to great fanfare, toasting the crowd, and drinking.  Drinking is a very important part of hard rock!


SXSW Showcase @ Spiro’s

ok city ok

Tokyo’s ok city ok were playing indoors at Spiro’s.  They’re a basic garage rock band; the tunes I’d heard online sounded a bit weirder than what I saw at the club; in particular, the psychedelic aspect seemed to have been played up in the recordings.  The frontman, a former Austin resident, played a nice leads-and-rhythm style on a Jaguar, and the Japanese rhythm section was solid and a bit loose at times.  Overall, I didn’t think much of it.

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