There’s no word yet when Kanye West and Jay-Z collaboration set “Watch the Throne” will finally drop for sure, but live, things are definitely underway.
[More after the jump...]
There’s no word yet when Kanye West and Jay-Z collaboration set “Watch the Throne” will finally drop for sure, but live, things are definitely underway.
[More after the jump...]
Gambino aka Donald Glover gets paid to talk, but he'd better watch what he says at his next high-caliber event: the rapper claimed that all hands were on deck for the Village Voice's South By Southwest show featuring Wu-Tang Clan, but at least three major names were missing from that legendary roster.
Not to bash on the bash: the legendary New York troupe made for one of the biggest names at the Austin festival, headlining music hall and sating hundreds of fans, cheeks rosy from sun, the great North American amateur hour known as St. Patrick's Day and Austin's entire armory of weed. It was Wu-Tang's night, but nothing feels as low as undelivered high expectations.
Yelawolf performed as though it was his, though, as he howled through a satiating set of Southern rap party anthems and laments. The 'bama native gradually worked his way through a knit cap, then his plaid, then his T-shirt to reveal his infamous canvas of tattoos, the script "Heart of Dixie" ironically and prominently featured on his stomach.
"F*ck that bitch," he spewed after sending some heat to the "Abercrombie-wearing" squares that always seem to land The Girl. "I just wanna party," then launching into the "Trunk Muzik 0-60" (Interscope) track of the same name and spitting with the speed that put him on Eminem's Shady Records' map.
And a word of advice, for that new major label future: to borrow from your yearbook, never change, stay the same and keep in touch. He picks up the dude-ish banner that Kid Rock left behind, with all the lightning-fast raw talent of pre-Bieber Luda, those Southern gents that took a good thing and made some money off of it. "Love Is Not Enough," "Daddy's Lambo" and "Good to Go" are enough to get fans laughing and wailing.
After was Fishbone, whose legacy of more than 25 years has caught up with them. Granted, where Yelawolf would throw his hands at the crowd, Angelo Moore would throw his entire person into the crowd, three times, surfing like it was ska's hey-day.
The funk/soul/reggae/rock troupe peaked with "Alcoholic" and "Everyday Sunshine" but with the increasing mania opted for the feel-good tunes than the socially-conscious. The setlist veered toward tracks like "Fat Chicks" and a cover of Sublime's "Date Rape," causing some second-guessing my own credibility in the fact that I knew every word.
One by one, enter the Wu. Starting on schedule (and on schedule, I mean an hour late and around 1 a.m.), U-God stepped out to a sea of Ws, fingers pointing up and a swirling crew of superfans hugging the barriers. Taking a cue from between-set DJs Eclectic Method, Wu-Tang pushed the big numbers, for about two minutes each from there on out.
Missing was RZA (check), Method Man (who's been nurturing his recent solo effort lately) and Raekwon, and I'd like to hear his excuse. But there were hot minutes of all big hits and some small, from "Bring Da Ruckus" to Ghostface's "Winter Warz" to Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode" and "As High As Wu-Tang Get" (with green lighting, natch). "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F*ck Wit" got its spare minutes, sending the stoned crowd into an elbowing frenzy before the horn sample sounded and Cappadonna came in with something that wasn't as fun.
What was fun was a cameo from Erykah Badu (who was on hand to DJ the after-hours), as she aided on "Chechez la Ghost."
Wu-Tang's appearance overall wasn't the "Triumph" that they sent everyone home on: they sounded like business and less like pleasure, perhaps fueled by the predilection that all nine weren't on hand. But they said hi to Method with "Method Man" tipped their hats to Nate Dogg and to the late Ol Dirty Bastard with "Shimmy Ya." They did the hits, which showfolk like Duran Duran (from Wednesday) have taught themselves to do: that repertoire, plus the given rapport with their die-hards, ain't nothing to f*ck with.
Day two at the South By Southwest Music Conference has finished and I am convinced that, were the truism "you are what you eat" a reality, I'd be a street meat edible of some sort, either a taco or a hot dog.
If I were in a band based on the mish-mash of music I consumed today (March 17), it'd be a mutt of dance-pop, hip-hop and droning guitar rock. Actually, I would have liked to feel more rocked, period, which was a job for The Strokes, who disappointed in many regards.
Free and open to the publc, the show was held away from the strip, and was instead at Auditorium Shore at Austin's Lady Bird Lake and it required a shuttle to get there. Many more than 20,000 people actually made the trek, but the capacity was apparently around that number and many were turned away. The result was hoards of people jumping and crashing the fence, climbing on top of port-o-potties to scale to the other side.
And their wiles were to a mixed end. I'm all for a dry, too-cool detachment from frontman Julian Casablancas, but there are times when that snotty attitude feels like a gift. He clearly was in no mood to be giving anyone anything at all on this warm Thursday night, nor was the rest of the band. Albert Hammond, Jr., would stalk about but only what looked like out of boredom. No thank you, no hey Austin, no funny asides about the sound troubles from the wind.
The setlist still borrowed heavily from The Strokes' first "Is This It," despite that their new album "Angles" is out in Tuesday. They played five of those tracks, including the deceivingly old-school "Under Cover of Darkness" and "You're So Right." And frankly, it's fine that it was that way: those first two records are hard to equal, and to be a fuddy-duddy in advance, I'm non-plussed by "Angles," which is streaming now in full on the band's website. Tracks like that first single were the rock act's winning formula, but those new wave and electro influences that plagued Casablancas' tiresome solo debut last year have segued into this fresh set, and the result is a multiple personality disorder.
Now, this was a first for me, to see more than even 10,000 revelers at a SXSW show, and the Strokes will be playing to arenas and festivals of more than that all summer. Songs like "Take It or Leave It," "Last Nite" and "You Only Live Once" still blaze, but this overall anti-climactic combination of an uneven recorded effort and wet blanketed showmanship aren't good early omens.
I'll be pulling out my thoughts on the Village Voice showcase featuring Wu-Tang, Fishbone and Yelawolf separately, but I do want to point out that the schedule for this one ran behind -- which surprises me none, though the former headliner went up close to 1 a.m., an hour later than their slotted time. I felt primed and happy, though, even with the wait, due to the high-energy of Yelawolf, who has more than a few famous friends (um, Eminem anyone). One of these includes Justin Timberlake, who could be seen on the wings of Austin Music Hall's stage expanse.
The "Social Network" actor and musician has apparently been bumming around Austin even with the film conference over; he attended to help promote one of his new films, "Bad Teacher."
Another stand-out (and standalone) act of the day was The Antlers, performing their second show of the fest, but playing their forthcoming new album "Burst Apart," out in May. I'll be going more in depth on this one, too, but I will say off the tip that this performance beyond impressed me and has me looking forward to the recorded version. The Parish was cool and dark during this NPR day party, and many patrons exited looking sated -- perhaps the free PBR helped. Or they were still crushing on The Joy Formidable, who played before The Antlers. While these London-by-way-of-Wales pop-rockers don't make the kind of music that makes my usual rotation, they did manage to have a full room of hangover recoverers smiling and moving, and perhaps composing love letters to platinum siren Ritzy Bryan in their head. Great stage chemistry.
My day bowed with Alex Winston, whose "Sister Wife" I'd heard a few times last year and concluded that this New York-based singer can be rather cloying. Her eight-piece band battled the metal showcase next door, though, and her pure, showy voice pierced that conception, and even with her Stevie Nicksian ensemble, I felt endeared to her music much more than I did when I heard her mp3s. Color me impressed.
I had skip Hunx and his Punx because after about four minutes of that flailing and vamping I was feeling stabby.
Class Actress, who I've already highlighted, did their electronic best against the mid-day heat and the dust bowl conditions of Moby's Vegan BBQ at Cheer Up Charlies. They were followed by someone named Jeffrey Jerusalem, who played on a number of electric toys and threw down some slick, crisp and sensual original beats mixed with samples. For as tiny as the crowd was, he worked his ass off, bounded around with joy, and would have put those Strokes guys to shame.
AUSTIN -- If my math is right, this marks my fourth visit to Austin for South By Southwest, but pacing will always remain a problem. With day parties kicking off at noon, I felt already behind by time I was off a plane and unloaded into a room by 3 p.m.
First stop included the eMusic party, with a straightfoward set from Ty Segall and then the Obits, whose volume and whiff of nostalgic rock singed the eyebrows off the first row. It was about this time that the Lone Star began to flow.
This is the part where I'd joke that if Michael Cera's band sounded anything like Michael Cera's acting, they'd only play one note. But Mister Heavenly was actually pretty decent. Nick Diamonds, fronter for Islands and formerly the Unicorns, sings just as loud and as well as Kings of Leon bro Caleb Followill. The Sub Pop-signed band is rounded out by Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer and Honus Honus from Man Man, who I love like no other.
Cera's on the docket on bass -- a hexagonal one at that, which has the sound to fill an arena. But the group, alas, was only at Emo's and had to gently tolerate screams from young girls whenever the flannel-shirted "Scott Pilgrim" actor showed anything other than a motionless bass-face.
Sam Amidon is a treasure.
Duran Duran are were hokey as hell, but they certainly are "Wild Boys." Opening with "View to a Kill," they really stepped up on "The Chaffeur," "Notorious" and, of course, "Hungry Like the Wolf." ""There's nothing you can say about the next song, is there?" Simon Le Bon smiled as he introduced the latter.
The line in was egregious and crowd skewed older, unsurprisingly, though at least one particular attendee brought some more esteem. Mad Man Jon Hamm was in queue in front of me after I dipped out of Stubb's, and he and girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt headed next door to Red Eyed Fly (for Pulled Apart By Horses or Pete and the Pirates?). The Bangles were in the house as well.
I caught next to nothing from Raphael Saadiq, but he is one good-looking man.
Meanwhile, I caught about an inch of Sharon Van Etten, who in the latter part of her set said, "I'd like to thank you all for not seeing Duran Duran tonight" Tough, Sharon, tough. Her album 2010 "Epic" has held up pretty well from last year, and in person, she doesn't try to overpower the room -- she becomes part of it. Her voice is easy going, slipping into high registers and floating like someone who's lived a charmed life. Check out "For You" and keep your eye out for her next effort, which is being produced by The National's Aaron Dessner.
My current favorite indie label trifecta (trio? triumvirate? trilogy?) of Secretly Canadian, Dead Oceans and Jagjaguwar hosted their showcase at the two stages at Red 7 and really highlighted their somewhat diverse roster. I was able to catch a hot minute of 2010 album faves Small Black, who were far more dance-heavy of a live act than I thought they'd be.
Okkervil River has been carefully poised to get to that Next Level, with their last album "The Stand Ins" the most commercially successful so far. And if the numbers of fans pressing together in the concrete yard is any indication, there are plenty of fans willing to help get them there. Will Sheff's mouthfuls of lyrics were suddenly singalongs, the first ten rows gently bobbing and mouthing in tandem.
The frontman always looks like a Muppet to me as he sings, his big ol' mouth and mop of hair swinging easily and cartoonishly around the mic. I've liked what I've heard to the new one "I Am Very Far."
The same could be said for Parts & Labor's "Constant Future," out earlier this month. This loud band took the banner home for tonight's Best in Show, in my opinion, as they've honed their noisey nature down into a tight set that punctuates the hooks at times more than the recordings do. BJ Warshaw can really play the hell out of his instrument.
Last call is at 2 a.m. on a school night here. The gently sleeping couple of drunks that were posed outside the door when I went in had cloned, and now a couple dozen gutter punks and bleary-eyed teens had set up sleeping bags on the sidewalk, munching on pizzas and rubbing their feet. I asked what they were all congregating there for. They said they were waiting for a show. What show? "I dunno, like, 17 really good bands." Perhaps nobody had told them that the whole rest of Austin was flooded with 1,700 good bands elsewhere.
Two more days and something like 1,400 artists will infiltrate Austin for the South By Southwest Music Conference and adjacent events like Fader Fort.
While I'm personally looking forward to tacos, beverage and sunshine, there's also a slew of acts new and old(er) worthy of some extra minutes.
Rather, Secretly Canadian's Little Scream -- whose debut is produced by Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry -- is up again musical Wallpaper., who made the ultimate party silliness last year with a remix of Das Racist's "Pizza Hut & Taco Bell."
The poppier side of Kill Rock Stars is encapsulated in Thao with the Get Down Stay Down. Lift to Experience's Josh T. Pearson has himself a long lament but is balanced out by the bouncy joy of tUnE-yArDs (let that be the last time I oblige to type it that way). And yes, Smoking Popes are still at it.
SXSW Music runs March 16-20.
Thursday's mix included O'Death, The Dears and Class Actress.
Friday featured Liturgy, Joan As Police Woman and Omar Rodriguez Lopez.
Here is the tracklist for HitFix's 2011 SXSW Music Podcast No. 3:
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, "When We Swam"
Little Scream, "Cannons"
Smoking Popes, "Punk Band"
Josh T. Pearson, "Women When I've Raised Hell"
The first time I ever laid eyes on The Low Anthem, they were playing on a bill with Midwestern troubadour Joe Pug at Chicago den The Hideout. They had what seemed like two dozen instruments on stage to share between the three members, each played with an equally mystic hand, hrmmming in harmony with the raspy voice of Ben Knox Miller, the angelic Jocie Adams and the background rumble of Jeff Prystowsky. They covered “Cigarettes & Whiskey” against the summer heat at the end of their set and the packed house sang, many with tears in their beers.
As we trudge closer to the opening of the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, we unveil Podcast No. 2 in our 2011 series.
Included on this Friday is one selection unintended for the faint of heart, Brooklyn's experimental metal outfit Liturgy. It's buttressed by sloooow surfgaze (yeah, that's a word) troupe The Diamond Center.
The shoulder-dancing contingency may be sated with sultry Joan As Police Woman and painfully hip We Are Enfant Terrible. The esteemed Omar Rodriguez Lopez -- frontman for At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta -- and Southwesternly broken-hearted David Wax Museum round out the list.
Thursday's mix included tracks from Class Actress and The Dears.
I will continue to post mixes now until the start of the fest, on March 16, with hopes to showcase some of what to expect from the eclectic event.
Here is the tracklist for Podcast No. 2:
Joan As Police Woman, "Magic"
David Wax Museum, "Born with a Broken Heart"
Omar Rodriguez Lopez, "Locomocion Capillar"
We Are Enfant Terrible, "Filthy Love"
The Diamond Center, "Caraway"
Liturgy, "Ecstatic Race"
Vinyl and Foo Fighters lovers rejoice: The rock act is releasing an entire set of covers in honor of Record Store Day this year.
"Medium Rare" boasts 13 tracks, from "Band on the Run" by Paul McCartney & Wings to "Darling Nikki" by Prince, and drops exclusively on vinyl LP on April 16. Foos have a long history of covers, having released some as B-sides, others as live set staples and bootlegs, the ilk. This is the first collection of this kind for them, and is the bow of two previously unreleased takes on Thin Lizzy's "Bad Reputation" and The Zombies' "This Will Be Our Year."
I'm particularly tickled to hear Hüsker Dü's "Never Talking to You Again"; I am mildly disappointed there isn't one single female musician in the list.
The announcement comes within the same day Dave Grohl & Co.'s new music video to "Rope" dropped. Check out what HitFix's Melinda Newman has to say about it here.
Foo Fighters' new Butch Vig-produced set "Wasting Light" arrives only a few days before "Medium Rare," on April 12. A documentary on the band, cleverly named "Foo Fighters," makes its bow during the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film festival in Austin this coming week.
I've been pleasantly surprised, so far, with the Foos' promotional campaign for "Wasting Light," with "Medium Rare" being one helluva pleasant surprise. As Britney Spears' snippet and full-song leaks continue, and Lady Gaga's slow world takeover rages on, the band has packed their spring with a lot to be proud of. While I have yet to hear the new studio effort, "White Limo" raged pretty hard (if at least with its Lemmy-starring video) and I'm intrigued about the inclusion of Krist Novoselic in the tracklist. The band proved again it could have fun as a crew with "Rope." Their take on the rock doc -- which may overshadow their more boring album contributions (*cough* "Echoes" and "One by One" *cough*) -- could be a great snapshot of a rock band in its testy middle age.
Here is the tracklist for "Medium Rare":
1. "Band on the Run" (Paul McCartney & Wings)
2. "I Feel Free" (Cream)
3. "Life of Illusion" (Joe Walsh)
4. "Young Man Blues" (Mose Allison)
5. "Bad Reputation" (Thin Lizzy)
6. "Darling Nikki" (Prince)
7. "Down in the Park" (Gary Numan)
8. "Baker Street" (Gerry Rafferty)
9. "Danny Says" (The Ramones)
10. "Have A Cigar" (Pink Floyd)
11. "Never Talking to You Again" (Hüsker Dü)
12. "Gas Chamber" (Angry Samoans)
13. "This Will Be Our Year" (The Zombies)
While there's somewhere between 700 and 1,000 acts showing up in Austin for official South By Southwest showcases, a number excess of that is far more accurate. It's overwhelming, on purpose.
HitFix is heading down to the Texas capitol again this year, and it's my pleasure to help parse some of the clutter.
Each day leading up to March 16, SXSW Music's kick-off, I'll be posting a podcast featuring a handful of acts I'd recommend checking out.
Today (March 10) includes tracks from rockers Ice Black Birds, Nashville newcomer Tristen, dream-pop troupe Class Actress, Canadian imports The Dears, killer live act O'Death and Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Kokayi.
SXSW runs March 16-20.
Here is the tracklist for HitFix 2011 SXSW Music Podcast No. 1:
Ice Black Birds, "22.22"
Tristen, "Eager for Your Love"
Class Actress, "Careful What You Say"
The Dears, "Blood"