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Thursday, March 15, 2012

SXSW day two: In which Live Music is heard

Posted By on 03.15.12 at 03:30 PM

Cheaper and more plentiful than water
  • Cheaper and more plentiful than water
One difference in the SXSW experience if you're a performer rather than a regular attendee is that it's even more impossible to stick to a schedule of shows you want to see. That's especially true when you've got a gig off the main 6th Street drag, which forms the Lone Star-drenched, brand-ambassador-clogged heart of the festival—as my band Mannequin Men did last night. We played a showcase on the University of Texas campus, several miles from downtown.

But to paraphrase my least favorite John Lennon platitude, SXSW is what happens when you're busy making plans to get to the next buzz-band showcase. Yesterday afternoon we wandered over to the very cool LGBTQIA-friendly venue Cheer Up Charlie's to catch Chicago disaster punks Football at a showcase for clothing line CMR TYZ (which we're scheduled to play tomorrow). Their set was a burner, but I had an equally good time running into Flosstradamus, who were being followed around by a film crew from Nylon and who had just come from Diplo's studio, where they were working on the biggest remix commission of their career to date. (Details are still under wraps, but it's an A-plus-list performer.)

During the act before Football—a synthy dance-punk band from Seattle that managed to work in every vaguely annoying quirk that Seattle dance punk has to offer—Josh from Flosstradamus explained that this set was a perfect example of the broad genre he and Curt refer to as Live Music. The hallmarks of a Live Music band include a sound mix arrived at in less than five minutes by an engineer who's already mixed 20 bands that day and who couldn't care less as well as a lack of personality that makes them blend in with the thousands of other unspecial bands playing the festival, no matter what genre they think they're working in. Live Music is in the background wherever you go here.

The bands at the showcase we played last night were for the most part exceptions. Mouthbreathers, a band from Lawrence, Kansas, that we met up with on the tour down here, make great, uncomplicated garage rock. Fellow Chicagoans Heavy Times—featuring Reader freelancer Luca Cimarusti—burned through one of the something like a hundred sets they did yesterday. The big surprise of the night was Barcelona quartet Mujeres, who if I had to pin down I would probably describe as ye-ye Krautpop.

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