Seeing such immense Oklahoma talent at The Buffalo Lounge in South by Southwest reminds me that it’s time again for The Woody Awards.
Change the oil, pack the car and cue up the playlist, because it’s time to head down to Austin for Music Christmas South by Southwest. I’ll be down there Tuesday night all the way to the end in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Here’s an audio and video approximation of how excited I am.
You can expect loads of SXSW coverage here at the OKSee blog. I’ll be spending Tuesday, Wednesday and the first half of Thursday covering the Oklahoma Film and Music Office’s The Buffalo Lounge. The fantastic people up at OF&MO have put together a lineup of 28 Oklahoma bands that I’m really excited to see. Expect photos, audio clips (of talking — music clips from my teeny recorder would sound like this), interviews, reviews, news bits, the whole nine yards. It’s gonna be a blast.
I’ll also be tweeting up a storm at twitter.com/okgazette.
From 6 p.m. Thursday onward, I’ll be kicking it all over Austin, trying to catch the best and brightest new music the smorgasbord has to offer. I have several priorities (one of Braids’ 9 shows, Typhoon, Matt and Kim, Rocky Business, Givers), but I’ll be all over the place, reporting it as I hit it. I may even drink coffee to get me through this. My stimulant of choice is Red Bull, but at 10:30 a.m. Friday when I’m trying to get to a Chris Bathgate show at 11, I may have to call in the big guns.
Here’s a whole bunch of SXSW info for those going/lusting:
• Official site
• Last.FM band aid, which will run your Last.FM account against the listings to tell you who you should see, which will make attendees drool and lusters weep
• Guardian complete band listing, with vids, streams, bios and more on each
• Bandcamp visualizer – about a fourth of the bands have music downloadable/streaming/available for purchase here
• Free iTunes playlist
Thanks to Pitchfork for alerting me to a couple of these links.
The final event at The Buffalo Lounge was a Tate Music Group/Variance showcase. After treating listeners to a swanky food spread and free drinks, the music kicked off with Michelle Buzz. Buzz's piano-based singer/songwriter tunes fit in very neatly next to staples of the genre like Fiona Apple and Michelle Branch. Her stage presence was very pleasant and inviting, as she talked comfortably to the audience between songs. She's very young (still in college), so she has a long songwriting career ahead of her if she keeps on.
Justin Cross played next, bringing some acoustic folk to the room. He caught my eye by rocking a Woody Guthrie t-shirt and a harmonica for a few tunes. His fingerpicking kept my ears tuned in. There's few things I like more than a good fingerpicked acoustic guitar, and Cross, along with his second guitarist, kept me pleased. Even when his set veered toward poppier grounds, the songs were still quite strong.
Scarlitt Redemption's pop/rock set was a contrast with hard rock act We the People, which followed. The former employed five people, the latter just two. Scarlitt had a relatively static stage presence, letting their music do the heavy lifting; the guitarist for We the People headbanged, swung his hair, and moved about. Scarlitt's set was heavy on hummable melodies, while We the People went for heavy riffs and pounding rhythms. Their disparate sounds created a diversity in the lineup that I thought wouldn't be able to be continued.
That is, until Snorlaxx took the stage. Snorlaxx is a hip-hop act from Tulsa that consists of two bassists, a drummer, a rapid-fire rapper and and another absent member. ("He's in China," the rapper said, "with his cat General Meow.") I love bass, rhythm and hip-hop, so I was stoked as soon as I heard what they were about. And as soon as I actually heard them, I was hooked. Their bassists play off each other, making complex, melodically interesting constructions for the rapper to go nuts over. And he takes their energy and feeds it back, barking, speaking and shouting his way through the raps as if his life depended on it.
The crowd swelled with every song they played; people were coming in the door even in the last song of their two-song encore (one band was unable to make their set, leaving extra time for Snorlaxx after people yelled for them to keep playing). The members could have played longer, time-wise, but they had run out of material. They performed everything they had written in their set, and they left everything they had on stage. The guys bounced around the stage like pinballs, with the rapper occasionally leaving the stage to work his words in the audience.
It was an electrifying set, and it left me wanting more. Snorlaxx is on to something, and I suggest you hear what it is they're on to before everyone else does. It was an incredibly fitting end to The Buffalo Lounge at SXSW. More please!
I'd never heard Modern Rock Diaries before their set at Buffalo Lounge, so I didn't know what to expect. They were listed as indie/ambient on the press materials, but that name. But, happily, the name is a complete misnomer: this band has about as much to do with Nickelback as Modest Mouse does.
The band, instead, truly does skew to the ambient, atmospheric side of indie rock. At their most upbeat and indignant, the vocalist can import an Isaac Brock-ian edge to the tunes via his delivery. At their most atmospheric, however, Other Lives is a better touchstone; the keys/violin/bass/drums configuration allowed for towering crescendoes.
In between, however, was "September," which saw one member pull double duty on violin and keytar. (Yes, they totally went there.) It's a unique mix of latent aggression (anti-corporatist, anti-political lyrics about being stuck in a cubicle), dancy rhythms, pulsing speed, and haunting atmosphere. It was easily the high point of the set, a song that I'll remember after this evening (and hopefully after the festival). Their widely varied set was still coherent and consistently entertaining; their new EP is definitely on my must-hear list.