2007 was a stellar year for SXSW. With over 2000 bands populating 40-plus venues on a crowded downtown Austin, Texas you’re bound to run into some great … and not so great live shows. As musical émigrés for your SXSW experience, SLUG Magazine is here to present the hit-and-miss list. Five bands “hit” and five bands “missed.” You’ll be surprised who makes what list and what awesome things we saw in our one week of music, meat and booze.
A little-known band out of Finland whose recorded output is amazing, but live, they really disappointed. Recorded, they sound like a great mix of Velvet Underground, Son House and the Buzzcocks with a keyboard, but what started out in the 1980s as a punk band with the fast and simple ethics of the Minuteman has turned into butchered country songs, a drunken keyboardist and a lackluster performance live. I saw these guys at a Finnish music showcase at Bourbon Rocks. Now I know why they’re not so well known in the States. –Erik Lopez
Four Seasons Hotel
So what if Willie Nelson’s kids play in this band? They still blow. Equal parts (unfortunately) of reggae, country and Led Zeppelin, this is the first release off Willie’s new label, Paderales Records. They ended up playing in a plush ballroom in the Four Seasons Hotel catered with chicken wrapped in bacon. The only “plus” of this band? Willie’s kid (the one not playing drums) sounds like his father and when he gets his head out of his ass, he will probably be really great. –Erik Lopez
Emo’s Annex: Hydrahead Records Showcase
Big Business’ Jared Warren and Coady Willis moonlight as the other half of The Melvins–occupying the coveted slots of “new” bass player and second drummer. Yes, that’s right–the Melvins now have two drummers. If you have not yet seen this latest incarnation, YouTube the shit right now!
One can tell that the Big Business Boys are no strangers to the rock scene, with their past resumés boasting time in influential bands such as: Karp, Tight Bros from Way Back When, The Murder City Devils and Dead Low Tide. These two musical masterminds played such a destructive live show that my head nearly exploded midway through their set. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Dale Crover (Nirvanna, Altamont The Melvins, Porn) joined the jam on guitar, finishing out the band’s 45 min performance. –Angela H. Brown
While these guys produce solid, interesting albums, live they are prima-donnas and sound just like the record. They wasted all of their time setting up their gear and sound-checking (the band is comprised of only three people!) and only played three songs. I waited an hour in line to see them at a sold-out Antone’s. Needless to say, there were plenty of pissed-off people. Next time, if there is a next time, I hope they get off their pedestals and just play like the rest of the bands do, with what they got. –Erik Lopez
Misses Bees: Curated by Todd P NYC
The name says it all—Dynasty Handbag. Sounding more like a Gucci knock-off or a more DIY, lo-fi Peaches, Dynasty Handbag amazed me because well, she looked like a mom with a pill-popping problem, dressed in green and black 80s dance tights, lip-synching her own songs from a laptop. I saw Dynasty Handbag on the “main stage” of Misses Bees. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is. –Erik Lopez
Fujiya & Miyagi
Austin City Limits: KEXP Live Broadcast
SLUG Mag neighbor and poet, Brett Bryant, introduced me to Fujiya & Miyagi just weeks before I caught wind of their intimate live performance for Seattle’s KEXP community public radio. For three days the radio station set up camp in the television studio of Austin City Limits, broadcasting live performances from their favorite artists playing SXSW. The ACL studio, located on the Austin University campus in a generic six-story building, was a $10 cab ride from 6th Street and Fujiya & Miyagi’s set made it worth every penny. This UK-based electronic duo recently turned trio, released their second full-length, Transparent Things, this past January. Their short, six-song set was pulled from this release (which is actually a collection of singles the bands has recorded and released separately over the past four years). What made this show so fantastic (besides the amazing production and sound quality of the venue) was the band’s ability to recreate the trance-inducing dance melodies found in their studio singles. Note per note and whisper per whisper, their live incarnation lured all the ladies on the dance floor … setting them off in a down-tempo dancing frenzy. –Angela Brown