Posts Tagged ‘Little Dragon’

SXSW 2014 – Quick Thoughts

March 17, 2014

We had such a blast last year, we headed back to Austin in 2014 for the music portion of the SXSW festival.  Like last year, we got badges.  Unlike last year, we went a day earlier and got a full day of music on Wednesday.  Here’s some quick thoughts, and then I’ll get more into the 51 bands we saw last week.

1. Last year was the year of lead singers going out into the audience.  Not one lead singer we saw went into the crowd this year.  Instead, this was the year of choreographed dance moves by lead singers.  I’m sure there’s some great insight to make about that, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

2.  If you have a badge, take advantage of the “fast pass” option.  Each day, you can go up to the 4th floor near the Radio Day stage and get a pass to one venue that will get you to the front of the line.  We used them Thursday-Saturday for the venue we planned to stay for the night. We got to the front of the line right before they opened for the night and were the first in and got our spot or seat of choice.

3.  The other theme that I noticed this year was the long soundchecks and adjustments that needed to be made after sets started to get the sound right, or at least listenable.  They should have handed out foam fingers to bands because they were constantly pointing index fingers up to get more sound in their monitors.  This culminated in a horrible sound job all night at the Bungalow on Saturday.

4. Seeing new venues is a fun part of the experience.  We did revisit a few places like Mohawk and Stubbs, but hit new places like the aforementioned Bungalow (it’s a nice space but couldn’t recommend because of the bad sound), The North Door, Red7, Parish and Empire Garage.

5.  A few of the shows that I really liked: St. Vincent’s set at Stubbs was probably the best thing I saw over the four days; Little Dragon’s sunny afternoon set at Red7; Hold Steady’s rollicking set at the Radio Day Stage; Angel Olson’s hypnotic performance at the Central Presbyterian Church; Cody ChestnuTT battling through the terrible sound at Bungalow with a fierce performance.

6.  The accident that happened early Thursday morning definitely put a damper on moods on Friday and was the subject of conversation with anyone we talked to during the day.  We were down the block at Stubbs that night and the only inclination anything was wrong was a circling helicopter between sets.  3 people have now died from injuries and there are still several seriously injured.  There was a moment of silence during the show at Parish on Friday night that was repeated at venues throughout the city.  It was a nice gesture that paid respect to the victims as well as announcing a fund to raise money to the victims.

Note that Jenn Wasner read during moment of silence Friday night.

Note that Jenn Wasner from Wye Oak read during moment of silence Friday night.

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Looking Back at 2011

December 19, 2011

It’s been a good year for listening to music.  I felt like I listened to a lot more new artists (at least to me) this year than I have since I was a teenager.  I also rediscovered a lot of old albums that I hadn’t heard in awhile.

Best (and worst) music platform – Since it came to our shores earlier this year, I’ve been a big fan of Spotify.  One of my recurring posts this year revolved around recounting what I’d been listening to on Spotify.  Easy to use with a huge library, it was a great way to listen to new albums in their entirety as well as catch up on old albums I haven’t heard since I had a cassette player.  So why’s it also get a worst nod.  A few weeks ago, it started crashing my computer any time I tried to run it.  Like total freeze-up crash, have to manually power down and restart the machine crashes.  In trying to find an answer, I’ve uncovered a wealth of problems others have with the app.  I also found that customer support is spotty (sorry).  I finally found a customer support email; I did finally get a response after two weeks, asking me what version of Spotify I was running.  We’ll see if they can come up with a solution.  Wonder if the expansion to the US has overextended the service and its employees?  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, I’m going to be checking out turntable.fm and rdio to see what they have to offer in 2012.

Best Concert – Ben Folds at The Wiltern.  I loved the stage banter, the energy, and the music was phenomenal.  I went in with only a little bit of knowledge about his music, but I left wanting to hear more and learn more about him.  That’s the mark of a good concert.  Honorable mention to Portishead and to John Vanderslice.  I didn’t write about the Vanderslice show, but I’ve seen him three times now and each show has been distinctly different.  And his drummer, Jason, was amazing to watch.  I ended up missing the Bon Iver show, but Sarah told me that it was very good (I believe her).

Favorite Album – Rome by DangerMouse and Daniele Luppi.  I feel like a lot of year-end lists become top heavy with material released toward the end of the year, which I understand since the songs are fresh in reviewer’s mind.  Rome came out in May, which is a long time ago in today’s millisecond attention-span world.  I also am also only basing my choice on albums I actually listened to in their entirety, which I admit isn’t a lot.  But, I come back to this one because, like his collaboration last year as Broken Bells, as an entire album, the songs meld into a cohesive unit and he can just really create a vibe.  Here, he’s wisking you away to the set of spaghetti westerns with a tribute to the soundtrack sound of that era (most notably Ennio Morricone).  Honorable mention to Little Dragon’s Ritual Union, for the same reason basically.  A lovely arrangement of electronic music that makes you stop thinking of individual songs (much better than the sprawling and Pitchfork-loved M83 album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming).

Biggest Surprise – The Whole Love by Wilco.  After Sky Blue Sky, I kind of lost interest in Wilco and didn’t even bother to listen to their next album.  They seemed to have lost a lot of their bite, both lyrically and musically, from previous records.  I had heard nothing of their new album, but decided to give it a listen when NPR was doing a free preview of the album.  To my amazement, I heard the rockin’ Wilco from Summerteeth days.  I’ve seen Wilco twice, now I have a new reason to go see them a third time other than Jeff Tweedy’s amusing stage talk.  Honorable mention to the Beastie Boy’s new album, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2.  Another group that I had just lost some interest in, but this re-ignited interest.

Best Music Book – Read the super comprehensive history of the Velvet Underground put out by Rough Trade.  Not knowing much about the band other than the songs on their greatest hits albums, this was a good and thorough introduction to the band, as well as the solo careers of all its members.  Can be a bit overwhelming, but overall a good read.

I’ll try and come back with a few more year end thoughts before the year actually ends, but if not, have a great new year filled with good tunes and good times.

Spotify My Soul –

August 12, 2011

Hopefully a running item, here’s the albums I’ve listened to in the past few weeks on Spotify:

  • Bon Iver, Bon Iver – Was giving this a listen to start getting pumped for our September date with Mr. Vernon and friends.  Really good, a lot more musical depth than their debut.  Some may not like this change; the kind of people that didn’t like when Bob Dylan went electric.
  • Lykke Li, Wounded Rythms – Also gave this one a listen before Li’s show at the Greek this week.  The two opening tracks, Youth Knows No Pain and I Follow Rivers, are spectacular.
  • Little Dragon, Ritual Union – Had heard some touting of this band on NPR’s All Songs Considered.  As I said on Facebook, this is a relaxing, chill album.
  • Iron Maiden, Iron Maiden – Ok, this was the first cassette tape (yes, I’m old) I bought with my own money.  As a 12 year old boy, how could I resist this cover:

I was curious whether I would still like it as much as I did all those years ago.  You know, it holds up for me.  Great guitar riffs, and Paul Di’Anno’s pipes are sharp (I’d forgotten Bruce Dickinson wasn’t with the band yet).

  • Funkadelic, Maggot Brain – I’d never listened to this whole album.  The long instrumental-heavy tracks were a great soundtrack as we washed our car on a sunny weekend afternoon.

So what are people listening to (on Spotify or otherwise)?