SXSW 2005: Like A Record, Baby (Tuesday)
Day Zero: You Spin Me Right Round
Austin, TX, March 15, 2005 - If it's March, this must be Texas. If it's March and Texas, this must be South by Southwest. If it's March and Texas and SXSW, then we must be the proud tired owners of humbled ringing ears and achy breaky feet. We're probably also stuffed to the rawhide with barbecue. You'll have to take my word for it, but the answer to all of the above is "Yes."
This is the 19th annual outing for SXSW, which reigns with even-handed dignity as the biggest and indisputably the best music conference in America. That's a lifetime, in musician years. Several other mainstay festivals have faltered and failed over the past few years, but SXSW prospers. What was always a good-time good show has become a colossus, purring away in sleek repair, helping stoke (as the Sage might have it) the starmaker machinery behind the popular songs. Or the popular downloads. Or the popular podcasts, or ringtones, or BitTorrents. The starmaker machinery is clanky and worse for wear as we move through the Noughties -- Paris Hilton, anyone? -- but no matter. SXSW abides.
We're here a day before the party starts, a habit of some years now. The extra day is welcome, the better to catch a Texas breath, to have a meal or two in peace, to scan the horizon for signs and portents. This has been a year of increments in the music business, more notable for what didn't happen than for what did: we didn't prosper, exactly, but we didn't fall apart either.
Status quo: new gadgets spawned new listening fads; outmoded law that ignores the realities of an Internet-driven world was not addressed. Status quo: radio became less relevant than ever; ClearChannel explained once again how handy it is to have those messy airwaves run by their single company. Status quo: we didn't smarten up, we didn't vote with our wallets, we failed to get mad as hell and not take it any more. But we did realize at last that Britney is a fruitcake, so that's something. And, to be fair, major label execs churned out inattentive product and bagged disgraceful cash as usual, but the strongest independents brought a hint of the good fight to their doors at last. The score? Good Guys - Some, Bad Guys - The Rest.
Charlie Robison at BMI's dinner shindig at Stubb's.
Yesterday's News: Our first stop is BMI's evening party at Stubb's BBQ, where Texas homeboy and Dixie Chick husband Charlie Robison will sing us through the first chowdown of the week. As the main courses dwindle, I join a few locals for fork-in-hand SXSW chat. The topic turns out to be bloggers and their geek-show presentations of eager technological brio at the Interactive conference a few days before. I've been coming here since 1998, and this may be the first time I've heard anyone make mention of the SXSW sisters, apart from a few celebrity-spotting boasts about stars at screenings. The thrill at the table is electric, with no trace of jaded exhaustion. I join in happily. The last time I was this excited about music rather than blogging, we were talking about Napster and the incredible cultural future it put in easy reach of us all. Note to self: Where have all the flowers gone?
Robison's set is a background matter, never rising to salience. We're ajitter with time zones and jets in here, gruntling about the chilly weather, wishing Hile and Merry-Greet-the-Day to friends, and lining up to demolish the barbecue buffet. It's hardly a fair fight. Robison has a round, affable voice, and to his credit he's unruffled by the background chatter. When I step down front to listen, the music feels tight and pressed, fine fabric in a conservative, tasteful cut. But it's a fashion that will look better on someone else, so we head out to the Hole in the Wall to dig through a wider wardrobe.
Spottiswoode at the Swollen Circus. His Enemies are nearby.
The Swollen Decade: For 10 years now -- numbers like this creep up on a fella -- Walter Salas-Humara and The Silos have hosted the Swollen Circus Erev SXSW pre-showcase, a coming-attractions salon of quick musical appetizers, a nighttime dim-sum sampler drawn in large part from the music of the days ahead. Performers step up to the stage for two or three songs and a quick wave, best foot forward and then make way for the rest. The short midway set by The Silos is always a loping Americana high point, and tonight's decade marker keeps that tradition intact: the band is rock-steady and tight with an acoustic center, slipping easily into that sweet spot that gets your blood up and spreads the rest of the night wide with promise.
Steve Wynn and the Miracle Three make more out of 20 minutes than anyone might imagine, tossing chips of melody into webs of rhythm and shaking, stirring, and otherwise agitating until the room seethes with kaleidoscopic joy. It's hard to imagine anything happier than this. New York's Spottiswoode and his Enemies spin daft and dark by contrast, with a few obsessive numbers that might have been penned by Andrew Lloyd Weill for a ragtag draft of Phantom of a Night at the Threepenny Opera.
Paul the Girl, hurting so good.
Deepest of all is a roaring solo set by London's Paul the Girl. In the naked company of a loop pedal or two, Paul's it's-only-fun-until-someone-gets-hurt songs launch her on a staggering trip of feedback and splintered sound. This is music for razor blades and regret, for absinthe laced with laudanum, for a mournful gaze you can't escape. You've had nights like this, but you forgot them by morning. Paul the Girl is a howl just beginning to find her breath, and when she abruptly turns everything off the room practically quakes in the absence of sound.
SXSW - http://2005.sxsw.com/music/
Paul the Girl - http://www.paulthegirl.com/
Charlie Robison - http://www.charlierobison.com/
The Silos - http://www.thesilos.net/
Spottiswoode & his Enemies - http://www.spottiswoode.com/
Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3 - http://www.stevewynn.net/
For more information and to contact the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page.
» CISAC 2018 Annual Report
» Pop Artist Ava King Releases New Single
» Puma Unveils Drum Machine Inspired Sneaker
» Is Podcasting the New Radio?
» Streaming & Listening Diversity - Spotify Case Study
Insider Scoop Directory
» [2018-06-23] The 2018 MIDEM Silk Road International Music Alliance Signing; International Music Industries Signing Of A Mutual Resource Sharing Agreement With Shanghai Conservatory Of Music & The China Records Group
» [2018-06-06] Screen Music Connect To Explore The Music Of Film, Television And Interactive Media; Created By James Hannigan, Award-winning Composer And Game Music Connect Co-founder, Screen Music Connect Builds On The Success Of The Sold-out Game Music Conferences
» [2018-06-05] Fred Casimir To Develop BMG's Global Recordings Business; As Well As Building BMG's European Infrastructure, Casimir Was Instrumental In Developing BMG's Recordings Business
» [2018-06-03] 13 Music Label Sold To MTN; DSN Music Spins Off Record Label To Albuquerque Music Entrepreneur's New Group
» [2018-06-02] CISAC 2018 Annual Report; A Comprehensive Overview Of The Confederation's Work To Serve 4 Million Creators And 239 Authors Societies Across The World
» [2018-06-02] MusicDish Announces A Love Electric 2018 China Tour; The Tour Will Crisscross Through China With 12 Shows In 8 Cities, Including Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, Kunming, Jiaxin, Wuhan And Beijing
» [2018-06-02] Darcus Beese Named President Of Island Records; Renowned U.K. Music Executive To Join Universal Music Group's U.S. Label Leadership
» [2018-05-17] Avant-Garde Label Maybe Noise Launches In Beijing; The Official Launch Will Be On May 26 At Magnet Theater With A Performance Supporting Its First Vinyl Release: Píng Zč
» [2018-05-04] Award-Winning Lithuanian Rock Band Colours Of Bubbles "She Is The Darkness" 2018 China Tour; The Tour Will Kickoff In Shanghai Where The Band Will Represent Lithuania During The Country's Signing To The Silk Road Music Alliance
» [2018-05-01] Hollywood Heavyweights Launch New Christian Music Label; Their Debut Release, Firma Collective - Songs For Every Soul, Was Produced By Mgrdichian And Mixed By The Legendary Brian Reeves
» [2018-04-30] Pop Artist Ava King Releases New Single; Paris-born Ava King Decided To Move To Beijing Where She Wrote For One Of The Biggest Chinese Movie Production Companies, HuaYi Brothers
» [2018-04-27] NetEase Cloud Music Sign Distribution Partnership With B2 Music; Chinese Music Streaming Service To Release Billboard "Best Of Asia" Album Series
follow MusicDish on