by Dan Gibson
Local DJ and Tucson Weekly contributor Casey Dewey is hitting Austin this week for SXSW. He is providing daily dispatches of the experience for your information/angry jealous rage:
Starting your first SXSW adventure by sharing an elevator with the legendary singer-songwriter/Love Boat regular Paul Williams is not a bad sign. After the smooth and easy badge pick-up and the Williams encounter (he’s a sweet and funny guy) I was on my way to the roaring streets. This being my first time at SXSW, I don’t think I had even a close idea of what to expect. Throngs of hungry and eager music fans and musicians alike roving downtown Austin in search of great tunes, cheap beer and awesome times. My first stop was a Thrasher Magazine party at the seedy and gritty Scoot Inn. I felt at home and wanted to start off the festival by paying respect to my roots; some skate-punk and and a few cans of Lone Star would treat me right. Caught a band from Venice, Ca called The Shrine. These guys definitely grew up on a healthy combo of DRI, The Circle Jerks and a litte Dio thrown in for good measure. Perfect soundtrack for the kids shredding on the half-pipe next to the stage. After buying some choice Thrasher sunglasses I took off and wandered around downtown a bit, keeping my ears open and soaking in the electricity in the air - the first tip I received about SXSW was to pace your self, young man. Looking forward to some amazing shows tonight, from the triumphant stoner rock of Black Tusk to the Tangerine Dream-like soundscapes of Brooklyn duo Blondes, I’m in for a whirlwind. Over and out!
His recap of today's events so far is below the cut:
You know what I wish I had right now? A brand new pair of shoes with some of those Dr. Scholls comfort pads. No, scratch that, I want a brand new pair of feet. I don’t want to call out my age, but boy howdy! But, the discomfort I feel today was totally worth it. I saw some truly amazing bands last night. Here’s a little sample platter-
MonstrO - Black Sabbath has written the blueprint of slowed-down metal, there’s no doubt about that. And there’s a lot of new bands taking that formula and sticking with it. However, MonstrO sounds like they spent more time playing D&D in the basement with Rush’s “2112” rather than Sabbath’s debut album. Lots of prog rock interplay, and the vocalist really does sound like Geddy Lee when he hits those high notes. Leave no doubt in your mind though, when MonstrO attacks - they attack, HARD. These guys were a great surprise, this was my first exposure to them.
Zola Jesus - Fog machines. Electric violin. Synths. Tribal drumming. Roadies wearing Einsturzende Neubaten t-shirts. And a striking blonde siren in the middle, The Bad Seed daughter of Stevie Nicks and Diamanda Galas, wailing away and contorting like every minute was her last before she was to be burned at the stake. A hypnotic and downright beautiful performance, even if I did sneer a little bit at the “trenchcoat” crowd.
Psychic Ills - The one show I saw when I wished my Lone Star beer could be replaced with a few peyote buttons. This 5 piece played a half hour set of reverb-drenched jams, with distant shortwave radio signals fading in and out, whispered vocals barely there, it was like a scene out of El Topo if the Butthole Surfers had provided the soundtrack. Trippy and drippy, I hope to see this band again...with some “native” plants.
Blondes - This electronic duo closed my night out. Hailing from NYC, Blondes are one of those bands like Fuck Buttons or Wolf Eyes that I refer to as “dudes with gear”. Setting up all of their various samplers, pedals, soundboards, a mini-Casio, and one large synthesiser ON THE FLOOR, these guys played on their knees their entire performance. Being front and center, and watching them twist various knobs and push random buttons, Blondes were taking cues from the Philip Glass/Steve Reich minimalist school of repetition while throwing a massive dance beat behind it. The curious crowd became engaged dancers in a span of two minutes tops. It’s not techno, it’s not dubstep, their sound hasn’t been branded yet. I predict Blondes are going to receive some massive press soon.
Alright folks, thanks for listening. I gotta get back to the grind, there’s no stopping at SXSW. Sorry feet. Over and out!