BGray’s SxSW Reflection

I had my camera. I took almost 4,000 pictures. That seemed like a lot, but once I factored in the number of bands, the odd things that have to be documented, the friends gathering for shenanigans and the eight long days involved, it really wasn’t surprising. I haven’t done the final tally, but it would be fair to say that I saw part of a set from around seventy bands.

It is my turn to give a rundown on bests and worsts of The Conference. The many highs were tempered by very few lows. I chased that BUZZ that drives the relevant music fan. My summary will be a little different because I did the whole damn thing; twelve movies, several Interactive and film panels and of course all the music.

So, plenty on the movies, panels and bands and a flurry of pics to accompany all that 411 after the break…

Last year I caught the flu and missed much of the film festival. While the weather sucked, it did make sitting in a theater far more appealing. Of the twelve movies seen…

Best Feature: TieCABIN IN THE WOODS – Whedon does his thing to the formula of the horror movie genre of kids camping, Drew Goddard directs. The opening sequence was enough to let everyone know that this was going to be a twisted kitchen sink of homage and parody.
THE RAID: REDEMPTION – Whoahooolly crap them are some serious fight scenes. Have you ever been to a movie when action sequences are given standing ovations? Well you missed it.

Worst Feature: By far, the loser was MODUS ANOMOLI. Ugh. Just bad film-making, funniest movie vomit scenes in years.

Best Documentary: MARLEY – Feel like I have to give it it’s props. It was a well-paced, very dense two and a half hours of “oh, I didn’t know that” about an icon. Celebrate the music.
Honrable Mentions: JUST LIKE BEING THERE is about Gig posters and the evolution of screen-printing and features a great soundtrack and you might just see yourself in concert footage from FFF6. DEGENERATE ART – THE ART AND CULTURE OF GLASS PIPES proves glass-blowing’s leading edge of creativity is driven by wants from weed smokers. When you see what some of these artists are doing, jaws will be dropped. SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS had Spike Jonze volunteer for cameraman duty. Saw it in a venue with BIG sound. Free beer made it even better. GIRL MODEL looked at the sad industry of plucking young models out of Siberia.

Best Panels: A Conversation with Seth MacFarlane – The best thing to ever happen to obscure pop culture references talked about coming up, Family Guy’s hiatus and his feature film directorial debut, TED. Mark Wahlberg joined Seth on stage and they shared the first eight minutes of the movie and the official trailer. TED is gonna be funny.
Honorable Mention: Top Chef Panel – Tom Colicchio and Andy Koen with production peeps answering questions from twitter.

So on to music…

Best Performance: Solander – Sometimes things just work out. They played their first show on US soil in a church to a small crowd. With great acoustics for the layered shoegazer-folk sound, genuine goosebumps popped up a few times. Beautiful…
Honorable Mentions: The Men are brutal. Chairlift’s Polacek has an amazing voice. The Jesus and Mary Chain were loud, combative and loud. Snowmine, I saw them twice. Bad Sports played to a street clogging Beerland patio audience. Blondes gave a killer set despite being in the worst venue. Young Girls get props for kicking our Friday off right.

Worst band (and worst booking): The Arkells – Canadians are so nice so I feel bad blasting this band. But let’s examine the line up: Cold Showers (gaze), Night Beats (psych), The Arkells (eh?), Titus Andronicus (smart-rock), Jesus and Mary Chain (feedback). The Arkells should not have been there and I guess management paid their way in. They are modern cheese rock at its worst with a posturing keyboard player, coordinated jumping jam breaks and lyrics like “I am John Lennon” and “we’re stuck in the nosebleeds, baby”. I made some new friends that are in the band Cosmonauts as we bonded while being (admittedly) dicks.

As Expected: The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks are just plain good. I’ll see either anytime I get a chance.

New stuff/Under the Radar: Breton – Dancy jams, serious, but fun, something for everyone and very talented.

Still in review: Howler‘s set at Latitude 30 was pretty bad ass. Superhumanoids make this list because I saw them in a weird setting, the empty Warby Parker Circus.

Best Party: Duh, ours. I had random friends and co-workers show up. They were all impressed that every band was so damn good. ..and that was because they all were. It was old school house party (albeit with great beverages), like SxSW was just a few years ago. Big ups to friends, bands and sponsors…

Saddest thing: Sixth St. – Maybe it is just happy recollection of my college years, but you have turned into a pervy, filthy cesspool of desperation. Pick yourself up and return to glory. Ah, I miss the days of a red snapper and a Newcastle at Shakespeare’s, Steamboat for some Joe Rockhead and Black Cat for PBRs and hot dogs.

More pics coming over the next couple of weeks along with a few mini-reviews…

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