Wednesday, March 15, 2017

South by Southwest Music Festival 2017, Day 2 (Tuesday)

Event: South by Southwest Music Festival, Day 2 (Tuesday)
Location: Austin, Texas
Date: 14 March 2017

I know Tuesday is usually quiet, but there really wasn't much going on during the day that I was interested in. An easy choice was the She Shreds day party. Unfortunately, the bands I was most interested in were spread far apart in the lineup, but I figured it was worth stopping by. It took place in an empty lot behind Las Cruxes, right next to where the wonderful Vegan Nom food trailer sits.

I first caught some of Dude York's set. The trio were playing standard punk fare, but they had a moment when they were jamming where the guitarist and bassist got near to each other and suddenly switched to fretting each other's instruments for a few bars. It was a nice trick and they managed to pull it off nearly seamlessly.

IAN SWEET is another punk trio, but they leaned more towards post-punk. All three instruments were performed with delightfully interweaving parts that were both melodic and rhythmic. The arrangements were creative, such that they traded leading roles fluidly. The only downside was that the vocals were variable and occasionally yelpy and off key.

[IAN SWEET at She Shreds.]

The last set I saw there was Diet Cig, a pop-punk duo of just guitar and drums. They made a bigger sound than I would've guessed. Their songs had the slightest edge of catchiness, but they stayed a little too straightforward and minimalist.

I then took an extended break. There wasn't much going on in the early evening that interested me, but several things were happening simultaneously later in the night. First I went to Latitude 30 to see Let's Eat Grandma, but the venue was full and there was a line of badgeholders already waiting. There was no hope of getting in with my wristband, so I moved on. I then got in line to see The Bright Light Social Hour at The Main. However, the line for badgeholders only got longer as I waited in the "other" line with my wristband. There was some confusion about who belonged in which line, which didn't help. The popularity may have been due to Spoon, who were set to close the show as part of the first night of their three-day "residency". There were also rumors of a lengthy VIP list.

Eventually I gave up and went to ACL Live at the Moody Theater, where the lineup was topped off with an Erykah Badu DJ set, Thievery Corporation, and Wu-Tang Clan. However, the lines were longer than I've ever seen there and only getting longer. Again, there was confusion about which line was which. After a while of comparing notes with a friend and other people near us in line, a few officials came by and basically said we had no chance of getting in.

In my past three years of attending SXSW with a music wristband, I've never had such a hard time getting in shows. However, this year they made a significant change: now anyone with a film or interactive badge is given "secondary access" along with the music wristband holders. However, it seems many venues are giving priority to the other badges and putting wristbands in the same line as people with cash. Furthermore, the simple increase in attendance numbers because of the other badgeholders appears to be lengthening lines for anything remotely popular or trendy.

My next idea was to see James Chance & the Contortions, an original no wave legend who only had one appearance scheduled, official or otherwise. By the time I finally made it into Barracuda and got to the backyard to see them, it was five minutes after their planned start time and a different band was introducing themselves on stage. I finally found a posted schedule and it very clearly said "No James Chance". I still haven't found an explanation.

After four failures, I was running out of ideas and it was getting late. I stuck around the inside stage for a while to see Creepoid. They were playing standard shoegazer fare, which was reasonably good, but mostly just a guitar assault. They made a pleasant escapist drone, but there just wasn't much depth to it. I was also a bit confused why they appeared to play backing tracks between a few songs, but not during them.

[Creepoid at Barracuda.]

I was about ready to call it done and just go home, but my friend mentioned a show he was interested in just around the corner at The Main II, which might just be a temporary warehouse venue. After a lengthy anonymous DJ set, British rapper Little Simz suddenly appeared on stage. Her style was rapid and energetic, and the beats were bass-heavy and deafening, which made it almost impossible to understand the words. I appreciated her prowess, but I found the beats uninspiring and I couldn't follow her songs.

[Little Simz at The Main II.]

Dude York: C
Diet Cig: C+
Creepoid: C+
Little Simz: C

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