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SXSW 2002: South by Over the Rainbow, or Notes from Down Under(ish)
Day 4
By Linus Gelber, Home Office Records
(more articles from this author)
2002-03-17
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Dateline: Saturday 3/16, Austin, TX: If you had a post-primitive skew-punk neo-Dada theatrical comedic word-salad sly-winker of a band, would it suck? Well, yeah, probably. But that wouldn't be the point. So it is with New York's unlikely Antifolk heroes Moldy Peaches, the strange-days duo of Adam Green and Kimya Dawson that ambled out of the City's downtown Sidewalk scene and ended up on Rough Trade Records and on several hi-fi 10-Best lists for 2001.

The Peaches have packed the Mercury above Sixth Street pretty tight, and the choir here is long since converted: there's palpable disappointment when the bunny suit and the Robin Hood outfit that have been staples of Peaches coverage (and Peaches shows) do not materialize. Instead we have a drummer in dark goggles, a guitarist with his nose painted black, Kimya in a homespun sort of full-body death metal Vampirella's-Mom outfit. And thus the Peaches, chanting things like "Who mistook the steak for chicken / who'm I gonna stick my dick in" and generally having a goofy good time.

Knights of the Order of Earplugs: Your Mr. Cyrano and MC Webmaster Pierre donned the holy implements last night, saddled up, and rode out into downtown, for a change. Local slam-poppers cruiserweight are doing their third show in three days, and it's been a pleasure hearing lead singer Stella Maxwell lose her voice by degrees from day to day. Tonight's outing is rough and sweaty, but good to the last drop. Minus the Bear out of Seattle makes a nice vigorous noise, rendered notable by the intricate hammered-guitar stylings of someone whose name I would know if it were on the band's web site; Austin's Black Lipstick mix partythumper attitude with the cool froid of 70's art bands like Television; and The Revs from Dublin, Ireland clang out ringing, spritely pop in a crowded Maggie Mae's, with curious and pleased bystanders gathering by the open window to listen, hop and cheer.

At the Clay Pit, a venue perched on the top floor of an Indian restaurant a bit north of the main drag, we've turned out for Ontarian Kathleen Edwards, who impressed us in a drawing room at an earlier afternoon party. She's even better in a club setting, charging through a flirty set of carnally-pastoral material. Amy Rigby's closing show is a delightful contrast to her brief pre-SXSW solo appearance at the Hole in the Wall; she is equally alluring as the uncertain waif with her acoustic guitar and as the confident in-the-groove hellion with a crack backing band and some stories to damn well tell. And tell damn well. When the late-night crowd surges up for a standing ovation at the end of Amy's set it's an organic spill of warmth, admiration and the sudden need to holler.

But the Little Children Understand: If someone out there can explain to me why Bowling for Soup out of Denton, TX is not a household name, dinner's on me*. Their early open-air show at the river stage is a gem, an economy pack of wacky stage antics (that corn dog will never be the same), clever mock-rebel drawls, amiable tattoos, nudge-and-wink menace, down-home chat with the audience, and tough, crisp, and crunchy rock. Their agenda pretty much covers girls, trying to meet girls, trying to forget girls, and the occasional beverage. Often in the context of girls. At the end of their set a starry-eyed child of perhaps four is handed up to the stage from the audience, and he waves thumbs-up to an adoring throng.

* No it isn't.


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