sxsw 2009, day 4 (the wooden birds (2x), peelander z, joe pug, lou barlow, say hi, rosebuds, ra ra riot)March 22nd, 2009
The ridiculousness winds to an end…
I started the day at the Artz Rib House with some jumbo beef ribs. Delicious stuff.
After that I headed to Okay Mountain, an art space in what appears to be an old service garage, to see the Wooden Birds. Okay Mountain was throwing a pretty cool party there. Bands playing out of the garage out onto the gravel parking lot. A few dozen people were hanging out and watching the music.
The Wooden Birds, if you haven’t heard of them, are Andrew Kenny of American Analog Set, Michael Bell of Lymbyc Systym and a few others. Their sound is very reminiscent of AmAnSet–which is great because I love that band. They played a really great set. The mix was just about perfect–particularly impressive because there was only a PA for the vocals; the guitars and bass were amplified only by their amps and the drums were unamplified. The band was tight, as were the harmony vocals; the voices mixed well together, too. They performed mostly tunes off of their forthcoming album as well as one AmAnSet tune, “Aaron and Maria”.
Great stuff here. I’m really glad I went to see them.
Peelander Z (myspace) was who was performing there. They’re a Japanese punk band. Honestly the music is crap, but if you take it as performance art, it’s interesting. They have all sorts of antics–the bass player was wearing a giant monster costume when I arrived, for instance. A rotating cast of costumes was to be seen throughout their set. They also did things like invite audience members to play their instruments, go into the audience themselves, crowd surf, do some human bowling (pictured), and have the audience chant song lyrics such as “mad tiger”. It was quite an experience.
Some kids were giving out free hugs. Did you get one?
If you’ve been paying attention, know I like Joe Pug (myspace). I’ve had him on KZSU and loved his live show. Here he played a short set–just four songs–to a sparse crowd, but I was struck once again how good Pug’s songs are. He played a couple new songs–like “Bury Me Far From My Uniform”–and a couple old ones–he finished with “I Do my Father’s Drugs”. The set wasn’t long enough, but I loved the performance.
Wooden Birds were up after I got there. I hadn’t intended to see them twice–when I saw them in the afternoon, I thought I might not be able to get into the showcase. Seeing them twice in a seven hour time frame didn’t diminish how good it was. They put on a similar set and it was similarly great. My notes for the show also include the phrase “rad as f*ck”.
Next, Lou Barlow (myspace) performed with Imaad Wasif (myspace). The two performed on guitars, Barlow on acoustic and Wasif on both acoustic and electric. Only Barlow sang. Sound-wise, it was what you’d expect from that: it sounded like acoustic Sebadoh tracks (or acoustic Lou Barlow solo tracks). They performed Barlow solo tracks and at least one Folk Implosion song–which included Wasif. There was some intricate guitar work and I love Barlow’s voice, but I came away feeling a bit lukewarm about this set.
Say Hi (myspace) was next. I had heard some of their songs but I wasn’t overly familiar with their stuff. This three-piece plays pretty straightforward but rousing indie pop/ rock songs with some nice interlocking melodic lines on the guitar and bass. They played the entirety of their latest (and Barsuk debut), Oohs and Aahs and then one older song (“Northwestern Girls”, I believe). The whole band played well, but the drummer was particularly into it. Overall I liked their set and I would have bought their CD if they’d kept their merch out until later in the show.
Up next was the Rosebuds (myspace). They’re a four-piece that performs synthy indie pop. The sound also leans on their male/ female vocal dynamic. Without an album to promote, they were free to play what they wanted and it seemed, a lot of crowd-pleasers. They played well, though, personally, I don’t see the attraction of their music.
I’d seen Matthew Caws of Nada Surf earlier in the night and around this time saw M. Ward and Britt Daniel of Spoon–looks like these artists came out to support their labels, which is pretty cool.
Ra Ra Riot (myspace) ended the night and, for those in attendance, South by Southwest 2009. Ra Ra Riot performed their bass-driven, orchestrated rock as a six-piece–standard rock instruments plus violin and cello. The set was lively and they played well.
So that’s the end of South by Southwest, at least for this fan.