So long, and thanks for all the shows

Alas, the blitzkrieg boppers and giddyuppies have packed up, hit the road (again), and left the Austin city limits ’til next year. Indeed, the ringing in the ears of many an attendee has subsided to the point where the neighbors don’t file noise complaints for all attempted phone conversations. And unless my eyes deceive me, Sixth Street has allowed autos to wreak their tyranny once more! Yes, these clues can only add up to the fact that the eavesdropper’s Eden known as South by Southwest has set its last sun for 2007.

So what better way to recap the revelry that was than to award an assemblage alt-rock accolades while the dust is but freshly settled?

Happiest Band

photo / Kristin Hillery Matt and Kim 

Matt and Kim brought their charmingly infectious Norman Vincent appeal to Friday’s Mess with Texas party, giving spatula treatment to any frowns in the crowd and proving that happiness does indeed grow on a tree… in Brooklyn.

Angriest Band

Creetin. Punk rock scowls remained intact – even while covering Elvis – as the band appeared genuinely pissed-off throughout Sunday afternoon’s ghost-town showing. Punk ’tude bordering on alt-rock apathy made the messy set appear to the non-initiated fan as a chicken-scratched shrug; the only bond between band and audience being the unvoiced plea: “Are we there yet?”

Giving Back to the Fans Award

Sunglasses and Mushrooms lead singer tossed most of North America in the verbal garbage disposal – including the bands that had played earlier on the very same Headhunter’s stage (!), then proceeded to literally give the shirt off his own back to a front row onlooker. It appears that the “dis globally, act locally” rhetoric won the day at the 11th hour of Sunday night’s farewell. Happiness is a worn T-shirt.

Most Apologetic Band

photo / Kristin Hillery Metro Station plays Apple Bar– err, The Viper Room 

Metro Station. The show must go on – and SXSW seems to sport a pretty forgiving, open-minded crowd. So there was no need for these Murphy’s Lawful Californians to fully stop short mid-stride, include an awkward, banter-barren wait for the keyboard (and later, a snare drum) to be mended. Needlessly ribald lyrics and catcalls for “brew” from a group that looked hardly old enough to vote on the drinking age evaporated any potential endearment. We all have rough outings, gents, but true rock means never having to say you’re sorry.

Most Unapologetic Band

The Black Lips. Flatly stating that their bassist was “in Mexico” (perhaps explaining the real cause behind Trend #2 below), the Lips offered no explanation or regret for such vagaries, promptly cutting into a disheveled, search-party inspiring set on Thursday afternoon.

Band Most Likely to Take Over When the Justice League Hangs Up Their Tights

Gotham’s Apes and Androids. Flaunting face paint alongside a flair for the operatic and a capella, these eclectic, electricized rockers provide their own costumes, soundtrack in tow, to defend the planet if either half of their namesake should chose to make a bid for power.

Most Curious Band Name

Steaming Wolf Penis. Tagging yourself in honor of a lupine’s libido proved to be a smarmy conversation starter throughout the week amongst chucklesome venue hoppers, generating gimmicky yet tangible buzz for the Seattle triad. No word yet if the thrash-rock vessel only goes on dates during full moons.

Tightest Endings

Once and future Vikings Grand Island rocked out like the Norsemen of the Apocalyspe at Friday night’s Uncle Flirty’s gig, with the Oslo quintent putting in their two cents of sonic wisdom, then stopping on a dime. Never was silence louder. Have it Norway indeed.

Best Moment of Promotional Irony

Mastodon, a band that strummed nary a ballad nor encore handed out lighters prior to their fiery Town Lake showcase.

Strangest Object Thrown from Stage

photo / Kristin Hillery Mika Miko 

Dollops of fake dog poo during Die Rotzzz’s take on “Nuke the Whales,” giving a newfound spin to the phrase “when the shit hits the fan.”

“O! Cruel Irony!” Moment of the Weekend

Lacking the dead presidents necessary to see the Presidents* live. (A capacity filled, badge-only St. Patty’s night show.) Sigh, the only Lump experienced was in my throat.

* …of the United States of America

Trend #1 of the Festival: “Saaay keys!”

Band after band ditched the traditional “just say heck-no to techno” credo and took up the organ trail as more dials than vials were included on the van loading docks. Bringing funk to their noise, a tangible number of axe slingers began to diversify their aural portfolios with a little electronic chainmail.

Trend #2: Bassless Instinct

Taking a page out of Jack White’s playbook, a critical mass of cost-cutting Doors fans look to be giving the F-you to F-clef aficionados. Guitars – or the aforementioned keyboards – often picked up the low-frequency slack. The four-stringers appear to be getting a backseat in the metaphorical tour bus.

Trend #3: Hear them Roar

Grrrl drummers! Though more Black Sab than Meg White, the girls this week expertly flogged the skin tins, sending the Y chromosome the way of the bass guitar.

The Christmas in March Award

The bums of downtown got manna from indie-rock heaven as savvy streetfolk found their way into the ubiquitous free barbecue. Yet any staunch patron of the freeloading arts could appreciate the generous smattering of schwag. If you played your cards right, you could eat, drink, and enjoy live entertainment on the promoters’ dime – sans wristband. Tip for next year: Only pack the T-shirt on your back, and bring an empty suitcase.

Biggest Complaint

A mere 24 hours in a day.


SentientKhan's picture

SXSW is a joke. The bands are about 80% crap, the streets are clogged with strange and callous people that don’t give a shit about austion, and it just generally ruins my entire week.

Good riddance!

- J