SXSW 2012; March 14-20; Austin TX
Year four. The list worked so well last year I’m going to use it again.
Most amazing showcase set- M. Ward at the Congregational Church on Wednesday. I drank way too much at the Guitartown/Conqueroo party early in the day but miraculously sobered up enough to make it over to the church for M Ward that night. He did several songs solo, many of them new, before calling out his band for the rest of the set. Highlights were new song “The First Time I Ran Away” and the always awesome “Chinese Translation,” plus bonus guest appearance from Chris Scruggs. Being badge-less and wristband-less I got there two hours before he played to make sure I got in. It wasn’t necessary, but I did get to see terrific sets from truly awesome and adorable Tristen (yes, a girl) and handsome and charming Irishman Foy Vance.
Most amazing day party set- Zeus at the Dizzy Rooster on Thursday. Zeus was my must see at this year’s SX. I fell in love with them when they played a show in Madison with Jason Collett (they used to be his backing band) and I’ve been waiting to see them again ever since. It was a short set, day parties always are, but I sang along to nearly every song. The ones I didn’t know will be on their new record Busting Visions which comes out March 27. Their CD release tour will keep them in Canada, but it might just be time for a road trip north. I did give one of them my card, and implored him to play my basement, after all Madison isn’t that far from Canada.
Best party line-up- Tough call, I didn’t really stay in any place long enough this year. Guitartown/Conqueroo was theoretically great, Jon Dee, Hobarts, Silos, Steve Poltz, and even Thomas Dolby, but like I said, I drank way too much. A random stop at the Blurt party at the Gingerman on Thursday resulted in the solid line-up of Joe Pug, Jon Langford and Skull Orchard, Rosie Flores and Garland Jeffries.
Best party- Bloodshot party at Yard Dog on Friday. I love selling merch, and luckily the nice folks at Bloodshot like to let me sell merch. It was a little weird without my boys Ha Ha Tonka there, but I still had a blast. Plus, being merch girl got me to the front of the line every time I needed a beer.
Most disappointing party- I want to say Rachel Ray’s Feedback, but the truth is even though we stood in line for two hours and never got any food, we did have three margaritas and a beer and we got to see Imagine Dragons. They weren’t the Features, but they were quite enjoyable and they did have the biggest bass drum ever… which they offered to give away to the first person who got completely naked. No one did, but I’m guessing after a few more hours of free booze they would have had some takers. No, the biggest disappointment was the Bloody Mary Morning at the ACL Live Moody Theater. We did get a decent breakfast taco but they ran out of Bloody Mary tickets right before we got in, only to get more as we were walking out.
Biggest disappointment- Being stranded on the sidewalk in line outside the Belmont for almost all of the Features set at the Do 512 party. If I’d realized they were giving away free booze all day I would have gotten there earlier. To drink some of it of course, but also to make sure that I saw more than the last song.
Band I saw the most- I wish it had been Zeus or the Features or Great Lake Swimmers, but surprisingly I didn’t see anyone more than twice and those were all Bloodshot bands. Without a focus like the Wrens or Ha Ha Tonka I think I distributed my time better.
Band I wish I’d seen- Shearwater and Ian Moore. They were the only ones on my list that I didn’t see at all. I had just seen Shearwater here a month ago, but that was why I really wanted to see them again, they were awesome. I did see Moore, but only on the sidewalk outside the Continental on Sunday. He didn't play as much as past years, and his showcase was Tuesday night before I even got to town.