Every year as SXSW ends, the blogosphere explodes with MP3’s and singles from promising artists trying to get signed. Some of them strike gold and get 8.0+ reviews on Pitchfork while others continue to wallow in their musical blue-collar sweat. The track that rests below this chunk of writing is like nothing we’ve ever blogged; it’s a track that sounds comfortable in the clubs nestled along the Jersey Shore, a song that is meant for rebellious teenage car rides with the windows down, and a song by a TRUE underdog. The story of how I encountered the man pointing to himself in the photo above is one that my friends and I will to take to the grave. Without giving too much detail, we met T’Esque during our college Spring Break vacation in Destin, Florida. While walking out of our rooms after a round of cheap tequila and hot pockets, we stood in front of the elevator when it suddenly opened. And standing there, erected like a brazen presidential statue, stood Patron a.k.a T’Esque. He had black rugged pants on, a baggy white polo shirt and a husky black jacket that read “Security” on it; his phone blared Drake’s “Started From the Bottom,” as the badass freestyled a few bars over its intro, until disappearing down the hall. A few hours after our mythical encounter with Patron, we found ourselves drunkenly inviting him into our room to get his story. And maybe it was the cheap tequila or maybe the intoxicating redundancy of Hot Pockets, but damn this guy was an inspiration. Fresh out of a prison sentence, T’Esque is naive to the power of the internet and public forums like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. While pacing back and forth around the halls of an Embassy Suites, he writes and develops his catchy Top 40 bound music with the dream of making it big to support his son. “My Way” does everything that made this guy so uniquely special.
This year’s SXSW was surely the best experience I’ve had while living in Austin. The only thing that was missing was my partner in crime Ryan (The guy that writes the majority of posts on this blog), his bad decision to leave Texas and go to Oklahoma for college means that his Spring break is a the week after SXSW.
Surprisingly, I saw the majority of the bands I featured on our 10 band South-by preview, and enjoyed all of them very much. Here’s a chronological summary of what went down. Prepare to be amazed!
Visited the Mohawk, my favorite Austin music venue, for the TUMBLR party. A few recognizable names were on the bill, I was most excited to see Cloud Nothings however Austin’s own Ume turned out to be my favorite act of the night. Ume, fronted by Lauren Larson, played urgently like they had something to prove to the packed Mohawk audience. It was energetic, sweet, and a little messy…..Just what I was looking for to kick-start my week.
I returned to the Mohawk for the Barbarian Group Party which included a joint operation with neighboring venue Club Deville. Murder By Death immediately took the outside stage, they played Americana/Folk tunes with a punk attitude, and I was sold after they played the drunken sing-along “As Long as There Is Whisky In This World”. Austin rockers Hundred Visions delivered a wonderful set that featured the majority of their bad-ass 2012 release “Permanent Basement” on the Mohawk’s inside stage, the bouncy tunes gave me a serious calf workout. Next, Surfer Blood took the Outside Stage and surprised me with an entertaining set that featured some new songs, crowd interaction, and a kiss between lead singer and guitarist. I concluded my night by squeezing into Club Deville to catch a fun Neon Indian DJ set. Alan Palomo’s psychedelic/trap inspired beats attracted both cute hipster girls and UT frat bros, a dance party ensued on stage.
Tuesday 3/12: Didn’t make it out of bed and decided to take a day off.
Hit up the Thrasher Death Match party at Scoot Inn on the east-side. I caught the last half of Trash Talk’s set which was brutal, the patented Trash Talk pit was in full effect. The real highlight of my day was the LA garage punk group Pangea. Simply put, these guys fucking rip. Wavves followed with a solid set and introduced some songs from their new album which were pretty good. I found it very interesting to see front-man Nathan Williams a bit off to the side, acting as if he wasn’t meant to be front and center. This is not a bad thing, it did in fact make Wavves seem more like a legit punk rock band, and not just some kid with three other unimportant band members backing him up.
Thursday 3/14 DAY:
The day started off wonderfully thanks to a great set by Mac Demarco at the Pitchfork day party. Mac and the band cheerfully played memorable songs off his latest release “2”. His strange but hilarious comments between songs made it feel like a musical/comedy fusion set, and topped it off with a “Du Hast” cover by German pyro-metal band Ramstein. I would totally pay to see him do some spoken word/stand up comedy! Next I headed over to The Side Bar off Red River to Austin punk legends The Midgetmen’s day party. Sadly, I missed The Midgetmen do their thing but I did catch kick-ass rock n’ roll from Spider Bags; their heavy bar-rock sound went along with the setting of The Side Bar perfectly. Diarrhea Plane came next, in what was surely my favorite set of South-by. For at least 30 minutes I was trapped in punk rock bliss listening to songs about being young and dumb, soaked in drunken angst. Luckily I was able to quickly walk over to the old Emo’s and catch Beach Fossils’ 5 o’clock set. I expected to hear urgent, energetic, moshable versions of the mellow Beach Fossils recordings, and that’s exactly what I got. Dustin Payseur knows how to put on one hell of a show. Shots of Jameson were delivered to the stage, more punk rock commenced, finally they were shut down for playing a few seconds over their time slot. I commend Dustin for the big “Fuck SXSW!” at the end, artists really need to begin standing up to the corporate bastards who control these parties.
Thursday 3/14 NIGHT:
I spent a little time chilling out at my house after the long day and eventually went back downtown with a group of friends. It just so happened that Pangea, that great band I saw on Wednesday, Tweeted an andress to a house party going down on the east-side of town. Once I figured out young Chicago band The Orwells were playing too, I was pretty damn excited. My friends and I walked in on The Orwells’ killer set in the backyard of a small house. I quickly learned there was free beer, great music, and it was all free. I completely lost my shit when The Orwells did a cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, it was definitely one of the raddest things I’ve ever witnessed. Somewhere along the way I learned maybe through Twitter or in person that the party was put on by a guy named Eddie O’Keefe who runs the awesome blog The Teenage Head – theteenagehead.com/blog, mad props for putting that together bro. No corporate bullshit, free, and fun as hell.
I took a break Friday afternoon but did attend The Flaming Lips at the Auditorium Shores stage that night. To be honest, I wasn’t too excited for the massive crowd and the Lips themselves. Turns out they performed their entire new album which took up the majority of the set, and I did enjoy what I heard. The sounds were very strange, a lot of droning synthesizers and bizarre vocals from Wayne, the visuals were amazing too. They closed out the set with hits from Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. Wayne also convinced the crowd that Justin Timberlake was coming out to sing Do You Realize with him, however it was a prank and the so called JT turned out to be Jim James who performed prior to The Flaming Lips. Overall, an entertaining performance. Listen a recording from the show of the entire new album“The Terror” below!
At this point I was pretty burnt out and didn’t feel like doing anything in the day at all. Luckily, Top Dawg Entertainment announced a free show featuring the TDE crew (Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock) in a fenced area at the corner of 6th and Red River. By the time my friends and I got there the line for the show was already around the block, and the realization that we wouldn’t get into the show settled in. I knew this might be the last opportunity I would have to see Kendrick Lamar live before he moves to huge arenas around the country, and I was ready to do anything to get into this. So, I let my young, dumb instincts take over and easily scaled the fence. I jumped over just in time before security came around, quickly blended into the crowd. My friend who followed me wasn’t so lucky, he was pulled by the neck and thrown out by security. It was a great conclusion to the week, and I was excited to beat the system.
If you had the balls to read all this, congrats! Check out the bands I mentioned and I appreciate everyone who takes time out of their day to check out the music we love and what we have to say about it.
And no, Daft Punk never played (BUMMER).
Fresh off the release of “The Exhale” EP, New York rapper Thewz delivers an ambitious effort backed by the soul-sampled production of SXMPLELIFE. The Exhale illustrates the 19 year old’s aspirations of fame and the never-ending party that comes along with it. Of course, no party is ever entirely perfect. You almost always encounter that hole in the wall, that one song, that one girl, that broken bottle on the ground, and of course that lurking depression as your friends begin to disintegrate from the setting. Depression is a sober reality for Thewz; however he’s not afraid to flaunt the awesome naked photos on his phone, the girl he has banged, the girl he will bang, and his underdog status. This collection of songs displays some nice flows, dynamic production, and an honest, fun expression of youth. Look out for this kid in the future. Stream the title track below and the entire EP here: https://soundcloud.com/thewz/sets/the-exhale
There was once a time when men were men. They didn’t care about the clothes they wore, the shape they were in; they swore, grew beards and drank whisky. They owned family heirloom six-shooters, smoked Pall Malls, and worked in car garages. None of these people attempted to be cool, for them, coolness was innate. Today, not single follower of underground music can deny the fact that contemporary musicians are desperate for a unique hipness or even worse, “relevance.” After a while, musical culture goes through a recycling process—reducing the music to redundancy. It takes innovation, creativity, and bravery to shake the shackles of musical boredom and make unique, clever, and hip art. Austin’s very own, Cartright, embody just that sense of game-changing bravery. On “Third Time,” the band sounds fierce and frightened all at the same time, like the first wave of men at Pickett’s Charge. Vocalist, Ben Russell, leads the song into an arpeggiated acoustic attack, yelping, “I’m not satisfied, all them wolves are stalking,” with a bourbon soaked growl. The catchy melody of “Third Time” is backed by a militaristic, pounding bass drum, giving the song a passionate, drummer boy edge. Cartright sounds as if The Dirty Dozen got together and made a band; they make music for men, by men—and they don’t wear their grungy coolness on their sleeves, it’s hidden deep beneath the layers of the rough acoustic bullet barrages.
There’s something about the pulse of a synthesizer that is so dreamily romantic. The synth swirls of Flock of Seagulls‘ ‘80’s electronic ballad, “Space Age Love Song,” are exact representations of the warm high of love, the intoxicating synth riff of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” feels like that first moment when you let your guard down and allow affection to take hold of your mind and body; these two songs are perfect examples of the unique romance birthed by electronic music. Edith Beake’s pensive synth-ballad, “Always in Love,” is saturated with heavy reverb, pulsating synth beats, and ethereal vocals. Beake’s siren-like voice is crisp enough to cut through “Always in Love’s” dense layers of MIDI effects but not strong enough to sound threatening; she’s eager and desirous, yet ultimately forlorn. The song’s nostalgic tone and pensive attitude work well with Beake’s romantic nostalgia, and the two elements blend together masterfully, trapping listeners into their syrupy slew of batted-eyelashes and sentimental synths like a lonely, seaside siren. Edith Beake is sure to be stirring up the blogosphere with this gushy number.