Today, I don’t have any plans to stay up until 4 am, drink cheap booze, eat copious amounts of meat or breakfast tacos and race around Austin, TX to watch 2,000+ bands play on a bridge, some steps, in a bar, church, garage, house, backyard, or in a burger joint… it’s weird. SXSW is officially over.
Although the mayhem of a music festival is utterly exhausting, it’s also rejuvenating in the sense that you fully submerge yourself into the deep end of a music-worshiping pool. At SXSW, you’re surrounded by thousands of bloggers, musicians, music industry folk, podcasters, writers, celebrities, and most importantly, but simply, fans. During these 6 whirlwind days, you’re immersed amongst a concentration of people who all share the same love and appreciation for music as equally as you do. It’s refreshing.
The festival exposes you to so many surreal opportunities, chances, music discoveries, and connections that you’d most likely never experience otherwise – It’s a truly magical experience. With that, here are 8 phenomenal highlights from SXSW 2013:
K-X-P at the Karma Lounge + Bob Boilen (Creator and Host of NPR’s All Songs Considered)
Helsinki’s goth LCD Soundsystem trio, K-X-P was absolutely electrifying and their performance was by far my favorite of the SXSW experience. Donning goth gear in the form of black capes and studded leather dresses, K-X-P pulsed long, intensely dark synth and heavy beats throughout the bar at 1 am. I also spotted Bob Boilen from NPR’s All Songs Considered in the room and introduced myself, as I’m a big fan. Quite extraordinarily, Bob mentioned me in his podcast that night, and coco stereo in his SXSW wrap up – Truly an honor! You simply never know who may rock out next to at SXSW!
K-X-P – Melody
Empress Of at the Hype Hotel
12 pm is early by SXSW standards, but it was Empress Of‘s first appearance on the festival circuit and it was well worth the price of a little lost sleep. Empress Of is not only adorable, but possesses a magnetic voice and purges raw, refreshing talent that made her performance appear seamless. Her voice quavered when introducing herself, but she happily bounced along to new electro-pop gems we were all eager to hear, as she currently only dons three. Humble, yet extremely talented, Empress Of stole the hearts and ears of many.
Empress Of – Don’t Tell Me
M for Montreal /Arbutus Records Showcase at the Swan Dive
I could write a novel’s worth of blog posts purely about this showcase as I never left, and it was 7 hours long! The lineup included Mac DeMarco, Sean Nicholas Savage, Majical Cloudz, Pat Jordache, Blue Hawaii, Doldrums, and Braids. If it wasn’t already obvious that Montreal is kicking serious ass in the music realm, it should be now.
Though Mac DeMarco, everyone’s favorite goofy crooner/rocker isn’t an Arbutus Records artist, he is from Montreal and a dear friend to these musicians. This was the 3rd time I’d seen DeMarco (who was still wearing the same garbs) at SXSW, and not purposefully, he just seemed to be everywhere. However, this was by far his best performance, as he seemed to be in true bizarro form amongst friends. At one point mid-performance, DeMarco scrambled up a wooden beam and began swinging from the ceiling rafters which throughly pissed off venue owners, yet pleased the crowd to no end.
Mac DeMarco – Ode to Viceroy
The intriguing, ever-ecclectic and highly talented singer/songwriter Sean Nicholas Savage got on stage with just a keyboard and a microphone. He took his shoes off, swayed his hips, sang his best hits and the audience melted, or maybe that was just me.
Sean Nicholas Savage – Lonely Woman
Blue Hawaii‘s performance was by for the most surprising and mind-blowing for many. The duo filled the white washed venue with pulsing synth and Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s sweet, melodic, falsetto voice strikingly resembled Grimes. The crowd danced hard, especially Devon of Majical Cloudz who was front and center.
Blue Hawaii – In Two
With a drummer and two keyboard/synth backups, Doldrums ferociously played his hypnotic, experimental electro beats (out of a suitcase), belted lyrics while crowd surfing with ease, and placed a dance inducing spell over the entire audience. Never had I seen such a massive conglomerate of pulsating, jumping and gyrating humans at SXSW. Everyone in the audience completely lost themselves in the music and it was incredible to witness/experience. The energy was at an all-time high.
Doldrums – Egypt
The most endearing aspect of the showcase, however, was witnessing the camaraderie, support and love each of the Arbutus and/or other Canadian artists showed for each other. I also spotted DeMarco obviously, as well as Born Gold and Mozart’s Sister amongst others. The entire venue was filled to the brim with artists who watched, cheered and danced harder than most to their fellow musicians’ music.
Rhye at the Pitchfork Day Party
I had the guilty pleasure of proving multiple people wrong at the Pitchfork Day Party, by exclaiming “Rhye‘s a guy y’all!” when many were smacked with the realization that Rhye is indeed a man. I mean, his name is Mike Milosh and he owns that dreamy, silky, seductive and sultry voice. Rhye explained that he and his band, including a phenomenal violinist and trombone player, had just flew in from Berlin and were on their 40th hour of being awake. Yet, they still played an astonishing set of what Milosh referred to as sexy “night time music” during broad day light.
Rhye – Open
Girls Names at the Flamingo Cantina
Though their faces were quite complacent, Girls Names rocked long and hard, and not an eye could pry away from their quint essential post-punk Brit rock, (they are from Belfast, after all). There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, crazy, or gasp-worthy necessary to make this a successful set, Girls Names simply provided steady, hefty, refreshing rock n’ roll.
Girls Names – Hypnotic Regression
Ólafur Arnalds at Peckerheads
I was completely unaware of this ambient Icelandic group/producer until my good ol pal, Bob Boilen had suggested the show. The bar, rightfully named Peckerheads, was clamoring with noise from happy drunkards and thumping beats from below, but Ólafur Arnalds urged people to take a seat and enjoy the beauty he was about to embark upon us. Accompanied by an intense violinist and cello player, Ólafur’s soothing, melodic and beautiful instrumental music quieted the crowd and made people exclaim, “wow.”
Ólafur Arnalds – Only the Winds
Giraffage on the Exploded Drawing Party Boat
I somehow managed to start day 1 of SXSW, typically the tamest of all, in the most blissful way. A crowd of people piled onto the Exploded Drawing double-decker party boat and we floated down the river into the sunset, all while sipping on cucumber/kale margaritas and dancing to the seriously sweet beats of 10+ DJs. Giraffage, the moniker of San Francisco-hailing producer, Charlie Yin, had the quickest, and most nimble fingers of them all, and he induced everyone to jump up, and all the ladies to get down.
Giraffage – Close 2 Me
Parquet Courts, Merchandise & Destruction Unit on Pedestrian Bridge at 3 am
Granted, this was technically a Chaos in Tejas event put on by BrooklynVegan, but racing to watch indie punk rockers Parquet Courts, Merchandise and Destruction Unit rock hard on a bridge at 3 am seemed so utterly SXSW. The bridge was literally rockin’ while the crowd was rollin’ into each other during a frenzy of excited mosh pits that lasted well into early morning.
Parquet Courts – Stoned and Starving
In the effort to make this wrap up reasonably succinct, out of the 50+ bands I managed to see, other stand out performances included: Baths, DIANA, Autre Ne Veut, Mozart’s Sister, CHVRCHES, Austra, Ryan Hemsworth, and MØ. And while everyone in attendance may be missing SXSW already, it’s never too early to plan for next year. Until next time, adios Tejas!
The anticipation and chaos for this year’s SXSW music fest in Austin, Texas (March 12th-17th) continues to grow at great lengths. The amount of parties, new bands added, RSVPs, lineups and showcases consistently flow in at alarming rates; and it certainly isn’t over yet. The increasing excitement is contagious and overwhelming, especially when you envision just how much amazing music (and people; 60K to be exact) will embark upon the Tejas capital, and all at once.
To contribute to the ever-growing hype, here is a compilation of (40+) absolute must-see acts/bands at this year’s SXSW. Granted, no one’s ever gonna see ’em all (one can only hope!), so these top 6 absolute must-sees are ones you should seriously kick yourself if missed:
p.s. coco stereo will be representin’ in full force at SXSW, March 7th-16th – Let’s get our dance on together!
As a toast to Sean Nicholas Savage, the eccentric pop artist and vital key to Montreal’s continuously growing music scene, Arbutus labelmates and Canadian cohorts have compiled a 17-track compilation covering Savage’s songs. The collection, entitled: Taste of Savage – His Pupils Sing His Music features Doldrums, Majical Cloudz, Mac Demarco, Mozart’s Sister and more – All of our favorites in one!
According to Arbutus, the tracks, “ranging from anthems to obscure gems – are anthologized on this release. As the first act ever to release on Arbutus, a community has developed surrounding Savage, his songwriting, charisma and his social philosophies.
It is a true honour to present such a mix of genre and creative thought – and this is what’s captivating about the compilation. A group of artists brought together not by genre but by circumstance: a shared home, one which Savage represents as a primary character in the Canadian music scene.”
Stream Taste of Savage below, and download all 17 tracks over at Arbutus:
Taste of Savage – His Pupils Sing His Music
The days are cold (at least in San Francisco), and the new music flow is kinda slow. But (!) despite these hurry-up-and-wait times where new music production seems to be on a fierce hold, I present to you a fresh track roundup! Let’s get on with it:
Foxygen is on just about everyone’s radar. They’ve been deemed a “band to watch in 2013” by many, and all ears are open. The singer/songwriter LA-based duo consists of Sam France and Jonathan Rado. They’re young, yet create the essence of a Velvet Underground/Bob Dylan/Kinks persona.
Foxygen‘s latest release, “No Destruction” will be found on Their forthcoming album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, out January 22nd via Jagjaguwar.
Best line of the song: “There’s no need to be an asshole, you’re not in Brooklyn anymore.” Enjoy:
Foxygen – No Destruction
Mike Tucker, the blonde, giant (almost 7 foot-tall) producer also known as Blood Diamonds (and one of Grimes’ many BFFs) has collaborated w/ex-A$AP member, Dominic Lord. The result? Some seriously funky hip-hop. Have a listen to “Barcode” now:
Blood Diamonds – Barcode ft. Dominic Lord
*This track’s apparently been put on ‘Private’ now – Don’t you just love that? Listen to it on SoundCloud then.
Karen Marie Ørsted aka MØ, the Copenhagen-hailing electro-pop princess who’s made serious waves amongst the blogosphere with just a couple of tracks, has graced us with, “Glass,” yet another gem. Some are calling her the ‘Scandinavian Grimes’ though I think the two have sounds, and personalities entirely of their own, both of which are still entirely addicting. Have a listen to MØ‘s third song to date:
MØ – Glass
I can hardly contain my excitement for Doldrums‘ upcoming album, “Lesser Evil” (out 2/25 on Souterrain Transmissions/Europe, and 2/26 on Arbutus Records/North America). Airick Woodhead is the Canadian mastermind behind Doldrums, and he’s stead-fast to producing some of the freshest, most interesting experimental/electro music out there. “Anomaly” is Doldrums‘ latest release from his highly anticipated forthcoming album:
Doldrums – Anomaly
Brothers in Law is a new lo-fi, shoegaze, indie-pop outfit out of none other than Pesaro, Italy. According to The 405, Brothers in Law have recently gone from duo to trio and will soon release their second EP, Gray Days, on 7″ vinyl, limited edition, via We Were Never Being Boring, CF-records and MattaLab. “Holy Weekend” can be found on Gray Days due out February 16th. Stream below:
Brothers in Law – Holy Weekend
I stumbled upon Widowspeak via Captured Tracks, and boy, I’m glad I did. The “western-tinged” indie-pop/rock n’ roll group composed of Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas transcends you into a dreamy bliss. Their second LP, “Almanac,” is due out January 22nd, (but you can stream the entire album on SoundCloud right now).
Windowspeak – Thick as Thieves
Flight Facilities is a funky electro pop production based out of Australia. Remember their 2011 jam, “Crave You” featuring Giselle? Regardless, the duo has recently released, “Clair De Lune,” a breathtakingly beautiful track featuring Christine Hoberg, with haunting video to match:
Flight Facilities – Clair De Lune (ft. Christine Hoberg)
It’s been a weird and heavy week full of road trips, suburbia-ville, hospital visits, uncertainty, and a general lack of enjoyable jams via local radio. Hence, there’s no better way to bring this bizarro week to close with a round-up of new mind-melting tunes that’ll thrust you back into reality, or a lack-there-of.
Montreal-based Airick Woodhead is the experimental brainchild behind Doldrums, and he’s producing some of the freshest, “mind-melting” music around. His latest jam, “She is The Wave” is from a 7″ to be released via Arbutus Records in November. The new jam contains that consistently catchy electro/experimental beat full of synth, scratches, noise, disembodied vocals and screams – It’s Very Animal Collective-esque and once again, unbelievably addicting. Seriously hoping this launches the creation of a full length album – We all want it!
Doldrums – She is The Wave (feat. Guy Dallas)
San Francisco-based Mikey Maramag is the “dreamy folktronica” phsychadelic wünderkind behind Blackbird Blackbird. His latest hypnotic release “All” comes from his highly anticipated EP, Boracay Planet, slotted for release October 16th.
Blackbird Blackbird – All
Southern Shores, the synth-pop Nova Scotia-by-way-of-Toronto “summer heroes” has released an EP, New World. The latest album (similarly to the last one) via Cascine is full of dreamy, tropical beats. Stream the entire EP on SounCloud here.
Southern Shores – Sankasa
Luis Vasquez aka The Soft Moon is the beloved darkwave noise experimentalist from San Francisco and he’s releasing his new album (via Captured Tracks), Zeros, on October 30th. “Insides” hails from the anticipated album and is the latest goodie rupturing from the depths of darkness:
The Soft Moon – Insides
The ridiculously talented and charming “Jizz jazz” weirdo, Mac DeMarco has a new album (hurry already!), Mac DeMarco 2, due October 16th. Captured Tracks has been slowly but surely releasing jams from the (do you sense a theme?) highly anticipated album. You’ve already heard, “My Kind of Woman,” so feast your ears on DeMarco’s jam dedicated to his fav brand of cigs:
Mac DeMarco – Ode to Viceroy
This week I saw Quilt and Young Magic play at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. I was oddly surprised there was little-to-no line when I arrived, ‘cus tickets were being sold at the door only and um…. these bands are pretty fuckin’ electrifying. Regardless, I walked in, bought a Red Stripe (it’s cheap!) and Quilt immediately hit the stage. Rockin’, psychedelic, trancey folktronica and dream-pop trip hop thus commenced:
Quilt, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Boston psych-mantric blues-folkers consist of Anna Fox Rochinsk, Shane Butler, and John Andrews. The trio announced it was their first time in California, and the audience gladly accepted their right of passage to the West Coast via an amazing stage presence. Their sound possesses a psychedelic, 60s hippy rock nostalgia and they certainly know how to jam; They’re a must see if you like to rock. Listen to their entire self-titled LP on bandcamp here or Spotify here.
Quilt – Young Gold
Quilt – Cowboys in the Void
Young Magic consists three Australian and/or Indonesian ex-pat nomads (Isaac Emmanuel, Michael Italia & Melati Malay – also of New Moods ) now living it up in NYC. Their sound is a mix of dreamy shoegaze, electro-experimental “trip-hop.” Their set involved theatrical drumming and bad Egyptian film footage. I dig! Listen to their entire LP Melt on Spotify here.
I have a un/healthy addiction to You with Air. It’s repetition, sweet beat and haunting vocals put you in a trance of experimental music bliss.
Young Magic – You With Air
Young Magic – Sparkly
Doldrums – Egypt (Young Magic Redux)
Purity Ring – Grandloves (feat. Young Magic)
…and I say in my best Chris Farley Gap Girl impression “GAWD, this is GOOD!”
I discovered this song today, and while listening to it during my dismal 9-5 morning commute, I was awoken with an outer body experience in which I could actually envision myself creating music, and in doing so, the sounds equated to something as fresh as this. Wait, and the download is FREE on Soundcloud. Trippy beats, retro throwbacks, and throaty, lyrical screams have me quivering at the knees:
Doldrums – Jump Up
(Oh!) also, here’s the Chris Farley clip, ‘cus it’s so damn good: