Sunday, March 9, 2014

sxsw 2014 picks

Hello my friends, it's been a while. I won't go into a lengthy explanation for my extended absence other than to say I moved, which was rather horrible, but I am now reaping the benefits of 12 foot ceilings and same day maintenance and a very large, very luxurious, adult IKEA sofa that I plan to live my entire life on once time permits. Seriously, this sofa is amazeballs.

Sadly, the day after I finally finished hanging the last piece of art, SXSW started. Oh Austin. Hold on to your tits, as I like to say. It's our annual ultramarathon of films and lines and panels and films and parties and amazing bands and parties and lines and awful bands and terrible eating and 16 coffees a day and Red Bull and all the booze ever made and destroyed shoes and broken everything and are we still walking and crying from exhaustion and inspiration and ideas and possibilities and celebrity and seeing old friends and making new ones and OH MY GOD WILL YOU PEOPLE GO THE FUCK HOME ALREADY? We love it. We hate it. But I assure you, it's here again. 

Yesterday, I got to see Tilda Swinton talk about cinema and the capacity of humans to change in a way that makes it seem like the world is simply a beautiful, magical place full of weird unicorns like her. She's elegant and intelligent and articulate in a very British way that I adore. Also, she was wearing this crisp, white button down shirt, with that one extra button undone, which is maybe one of the most weirdly erotic things ever. So not only was everyone in the room completely enthralled with her every word, but we also all wanted to kiss her on the mouth. Or maybe it was just me. 

Immediately following this, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson gave an Interactive keynote filled with astute observations like "Carbon is the slut of the periodic table." and "What if instead of 'Believe', we taught people to 'Question?" That man is a genius and I am so excited about the new COSMOS series. You know I love Carl Sagan. You know this. Carl lives on in Neil. FUCK YEAH SCIENCE!

SXSW is a thing we Austinites take for granted, and because it's so hard, it's easy to be angry about the inconvenience and hassle and arduous process of it all, and overlook the amazing opportunities for learning, inspiration and collaboration it brings to our city every year. And also, all the rocking out, which I plan to get into in a few days.

I think the most important thing about SXSW, whether you're armpit deep into the front lines or taking in the occasional film or band, is that there's no wrong way to do it. We sometimes still have to work at our real jobs, and do real life and find a place to park and eat something not in a taco. We have to sleep and breathe and step away sometimes. This is ok. Everything is ok, no matter how you choose to do it. You will never get to see everything, you will always miss out on some party or secret show or some surprise free pizzatacocronuts at an ultra-exclusive event you were never going to get into. SXSW is as much about keeping people out of things as it is about offering an unlimited array of events and activities so that you never have any excuse to be bored. Don't stand in lines. Go live your life. 

If I've learned anything over the years, it's that the most important thing is to do whatever you're doing surrounded by friends. The best experiences we have at this festival start with building relationships and friendships. I know that's true because all my people are scattered and/or working this year and it's way harder to do this alone. I also know that's true because Tilda Swinton said it was. 

For the first time in six years, there's no one living on my floor this week. Capsula couldn't make it this year, and EO is off on an adventure on the East coast, so really, I've been by myself most of the time so far. If you care to spend some quality time bar hopping for bands next week, let me know. I've got a platinum badge and I'm not afraid to try to use it... within the rules of how that works. HA. 

I've been rather remiss in my usual overplanning for the music festival this year. I don't even have a spreadsheet! What I do have is one robust playlist for you, and some sparse highlights of a few standouts that I really like. Here we go:

English electronic musician, which is kind of what I've been way into lately.

Blouse are from Portland, our weird sister city to the northwest. Dancey, girl led dream pop with that 80s new wave nostalgic wisp I love so much. This makes me want to wear all black and talk on the telephone to boys all night.

We Were Promised Jetpacks
This is another one of those "if you don't know about this band already, I don't know what you're doing with your life" situations. They're Scottish and therefore amazing, obvs. I have seen them countless times at Southby, and they never disappoint. New album coming, which I cannot wait for. ALL THE SCOTS ALL THE TIME.

Savoir Adore
This is a wonderful indie-pop duo that makes music to fall in love to. Trust me on this. So so excited to see them. Don't hold it against them that they are from Brooklyn.

Singer-songwriter acts are not usually my jam at all, but this Irishman is kind of making me swoon. He's got that Ray Lamontagne soulfulness that makes my knees weak. I fell in love with him in like one song. Also, he got his break on reddit. I mean, think what you want about that, but I kind of like it when the internet makes people famous. It's very populist. Right?

Belgian. Electro. If you're looking for me, I'm probably somewhere in the dark, dancing to this. Also, I want to go to Brussels immediately.

Future Islands
Thanks to BTime, my hip, young friend with amazing taste, I saw this band at Red 7 under duress in late 2012, and it was incredibly memorable and emotional. They have so much energy and pizazz, and honestly, Sam Herring is just completely fucking amazing to watch. They just did Letterman, so prepare to get there early to see this one. It will be worth it.

Come on. You know I love anything that sounds remotely like Joy Division. This Swedish band (pronounced Invasion) does that dark, dancey punk sound really well, and they look like fun. Let's go!

Holy Esque
I found these Glaswegians at the British Music Embassy last year, and they blew me away. I can imagine with another year of touring under their belts, they've grown into themselves even more. Lots of dark, fuzzy guitars and melodic riffs to shake it to. Also, I love his quivery, quavery voice. Meow.

The story of how this test tube band was created is fascinating, but even more so is how much it completely works in spite of its lack of an organic origin. I've been wanting to experience this live for a while. Her voice is haunting.

La Femme
Oh France, you sexy bitch. This is French pop at it's best, with a very 60s cinema vibe about it. If you like Yelle, and/or the films of Jean-Luc Godard, you will dig this band.

Aloe Blacc
This guy is actually the fucking man. You can tell everybody. He's got all the answers to your questions. His voice is like real turbinado sugar in a strong cup of coffee. Love.

Semi Precious Weapons
This band can't pay their rent, but they're fucking gorgeous. A festival favorite of mine and EO's for years, their shows are so much fun. We're alive alive! Also, Justin wears high heeled boots and does Rockette kicks like some kind of amazing androgynous goddess. I love them. They are playing at Rusty's at an unofficial showcase on Wednesday night.
RSVP here:

Honestly, I could go on fairly indefinitely, but my internet is jammy and I want to leave the house today and go see some movies. I'll leave you with a poorly researched Spotify playlist and you can decide for yourself what to do. Part of the fun of SXSW is accidentally finding that awesome band you've never heard of. If you're totally lost, go to Red 7 or Mohawk. Rainey Street is a good bet this year as well, especially because Stony's pizza truck is over there now. Something awesome will be happening everywhere. I promise.

I'll be adding to this over the next couple of days, so follow it to stay updated. Have fun, practice self care and do all the things! Go live your life! Let's hang out!

Love you, mean it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just saw this post now in my RSS reader. I'm annoyed, because last year, your SXSW guide pointed me in the way of many many good musical tidbits. And I somehow totally missed that Actress was playing.

Thanks for your blog. You write well, and it's enjoyable to read and you've put my onto some great music.

Hope your new place is nice!