SXSW 2010 – Day 1 – War Paint, Smith Westerns, JJ, The Middle East Etc

Every year Radar travels 4,913.19 miles (that’s 7,907 kilometres for all you spods) to Austin, Texas to meet people like this:

Not exclusively though. His worldly presence is more a happy by-product of our greater motivation; the attendance of the biggest/greatest ‘music conference’ known to the human (and man-pig) race, South By South West.

My SXSW ‘010 had rather a queer start. I had to go meet the guys from Salem at the conference centre (this is the gigantic sterile building where all attending music industry types convene, but is usually used for things like wedding fairs). We were filming this rather odd ‘Behind The Actors Studio…’ type interview for these folks called Studio SX. I’ll post the official video up tomorrow, but safe to say, having never met before and with it being like 11am, to an audience of three, it was a little awkward. We’re all friends now though, so that’s nice.


After we got off-stage I then forced them to sit-down and talk to me again. The mood of conference centres at 11am really is just electric.

Then I took my first walk down SXSW’s main gig-mile, 6th Street, to see the first show of the day. It was Rough Trade’s latest signing, War Paint. They were well ace. They’re from LA’s Smell Club scene, the squatty mess that gave the world: HEALTH, Mika Miko and No Age. What we’d heard to date had been serene and choral, like the fluttery-tummy comedown to their home roost’s carnage. But live it had balls, or rather boobs of steel. The pastoral harmonics were pinned to a strung-out prog timber:

We snuck up real close and got all up in their grill for the last choon

Austin’s a very forward thinking place, as you can see:

For SXSW the whole of Austin is transbondified into a make-shift gig space for four days: public loos, tattoo parlours, STD clinics, you name it. Our next stop was Waterloo Records. It’s only when you travel abroad and see places like this that you starting getting a bit violin-moment about the prospect of computers-eating-record-shops:


Last year they had bands playing inside and I caught Pains Of Being Pure At Heart there. This year they were outside, and coincidentally I was standing in front of the pretty lady from PABPAH whilst we jointly revelled in the presence of Official Coolest Band of SXSW So Far, The Smith Westerns:

We have a total raging Band Crush for these lil cuties right about now:

This song is called ‘Be My Girl’, it’s their ‘hit’. Check out the following elements of their stage show: 1) the bassist’s amp, 2) the frontman and guitarists hiking boots, 3) the guitarists guitar lead, and 4) the drummer’s non-plussed Old Grey Whilst Test stance.

Here’s me being creepily sycophantic with ‘da boys’ after the show.

With the skies darkening, needling brisket from my molars, I commenced some evening shows…

JJ are possibly the most whispered-about act I’ve encountered of the proceedings so far. They played the Iamsound party last night. They make music that’s dually in debt to Lil Wayne’s Sizzurp and the broth of some ancient beardy Scandinavian folk dude probably called something like Johan Telleberg. It’s really, really pretty on record. But they’d never done any interviews/photos, or even played live at outside of Scandinavia, adding no-end to their enigma. They did both of those today (they’re first ever interview will be featured in an upcoming edition of the mag). Everyone couldn’t wait to see how they did it live. As it turns out, Elin the singer wailed over a backing track, whilst Johan ‘the maestro’ stood next to her onstage, smoking a cigarette and looking rather pleased with himself:

Much discussion ensued.

We popped over to Club Deville for the Brooklyn Vegan party to see great new Aussie seven-piece folk troupe, The Middle East. As you can hear, one attendee claimed their track ‘Blood’ is, ‘The Best Song Ever’. Not sure what official grounding that claim has.

We Are The World also played the Iamsound party. They had come equipped with lots of excellent things, like: veils, body socks, strobes, neon strip-lights etc etc. But in all the fracas had forgotten one key gig ingredient; songs. Doh! They knew there was something…