SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2007
I had an awesome time at South by Southwest this weekend. The best part was meeting up with some old friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, but the music was great, too. I even had a little incident at one concert which I reported to Idolator. (I’m JedTheMime… big bonus points to anyone who can place that music reference.)
The rest of the story is: those girls left after Amy Winehouse’s set, promising they’d be back for the next band, Razorlight. Then, my friends ran into them in another part of the club and proceeded to shout at them some more in my defense. The girls never came back to where I was. Maybe my friends shamed them into fleeing or maybe they just didn’t like Razorlight. But I like to think they were afraid of me… just a little.
And after that show, I read in about a hundred places that Kirsten Dunst was dating the lead singer of Razorlight, Johnny Borrell. So naturally I kicked myself for not spotting her during the concert. And then… guess who was on my plane back to LA Sunday night? Yup, Kiki herself. Flying solo… in coach… in a middle seat. Stars… they’re just like us.
Artists I saw:
Pete Townshend at a showcase presented by his girlfriend, Rachel Fuller. Apparently, he played with Mika before I got there, but I was in time to see him jam with Martha Wainwright. (Luckily, I caught Mika the next day… see below.)
Bloc Party. I’ve never been a huge fan, but I thought they put on a good show. My friends weren’t into it, so we left early.
Seth Lakeman. A British folk-rocker. Never heard of him before, but he was an amazing performer who shredded his violin bow by the end of the show. Go see him if you can.
Scott Matthews. Every time I go on vacation, I feel like I miss some big piece of news. This time, that news was apparently a big ice storm in New York, which kept James Morrison from performing. Matthews was his fill-in. Too bad. I was really looking forward to James.
Amy Winehouse. I love the singles, but to be honest, she seems like she’s still gaining her footing on stage. Her terrific voice was overshadowed by her terrific band and backup singers. She’s obviously very talented, but I have a feeling she’ll be a better live performer in a few years.
Razorlight. They don’t get much critical respect in the U.S. And before the show, I probably would’ve admitted sheepishly to liking a few of their songs. Now, I’ll proudly call myself a fan. They put on a truly rockin’ show. Memo to Kirsten’s boyfriend, though: please put a shirt on and look into some looser-fitting pants. No one likes a heroin chic showoff.
Mika. He was long and spindly like a puppet, and he bounced around stage feverishly chirping his catchy songs in his adorable falsetto. I kept thinking of him as Sanjaya with talent, energy and charm. Already a consummate showman… and he definitely, definitely knows it. He’s sure to be a huge star. In the U.K., at least.
The Nightwatchman. This is the solo performing name of Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine. He played an acoustic set of rage-filled protest songs in a Presbyterian church, a setting that made for some funny between-song banter. His new songs were rousing if generic anti-establishmen anthems, easy to agree with but hard to remember afterward. He got a standing ovation for an acoustic version of “Guerilla Radio” and another standing O at the end. The concert sponsors at the church asked him to keep his cursing to a minimum, so he censored himself except for one well-placed, whispered “shit”.
The Procession. I was hoping to stumble across a set by at least one band I’d never heard of whom I’d end up liking. And this was that band: a fun, quirky pop group with some very catchy songs. A friend summed them up best: “They seem like a band from Sesame Street.” That’s high praise in my book.
The Honey Brothers. Another casualty of the ice storm. Three-fifths of the band got snowed in, so the other two found some musicians at the restaurant where they were having lunch that afternoon, spent a few hours teaching them their songs, and they all went on stage that night. That’s the perfect anecdote to capture the spirit of SXSW to me, and it was a fitting end to the musical portion of our weekend.
Some bands I wanted to see but missed:
James Morrison (snowed in), Aqualung (couldn’t get in), Spoon, the Stooges (we didn’t even try), The Good The Bad & The Queen (heard they weren’t good anyway), the Mae Shi, the Broken West, Gruff Rhys (showed up on the wrong night).