Amanda Went To SXSW. PART2

by | May 4, 2010 | MUSIC

TO READ PART 1 CLICK HERE

I meet a friend for lunch and we end up getting drinks at my hotel bar. We head out to the East Side to an Indian restaurant parking lot where they are serving three dollar tacos and beer and a bunch of local bands are playing. It’s an unofficial showcase and there are small children in attendance running around and dancing in front of the stage. My friend ends up leaving before I do. I become interested in a band that listened to way too much grunge and shoegaze, and don’t seem to mind the odd combination. The Austin skyline is lit behind them and it’s difficult not to fall in love with everyone around you.

TO READ PART 1 CLICK HERE

I meet a friend for lunch and we end up getting drinks at my hotel bar. We head out to the East Side to an Indian restaurant parking lot where they are serving three dollar tacos and beer and a bunch of local bands are playing. It’s an unofficial showcase and there are small children in attendance running around and dancing in front of the stage. My friend ends up leaving before I do. I become interested in a band that listened to way too much grunge and shoegaze, and don’t seem to mind the odd combination. The Austin skyline is lit behind them and it’s difficult not to fall in love with everyone around you.

I head back downtown to touch base with another friend. We decide to meet at Mohawk for Miike Snow later. It’s getting late and I realize that I am behind and haul ass to yet another far away venue, Club 1808 to see Zola Jesus, again on the East Side, but farther east than I knew. Half way there I start looking for a cab. There are none, but there is a dead cat lying stiff in someone’s yard. As I walk people start telling me to “be careful” and “watch out, girl” – not exactly things that I want to hear.

When I arrive Zola Jesus has just finished. I find lead singer and mastermind, Nika Roza, and ask if she is playing any other shows this weekend and if she has time for an interview. She tells me to show up the next day before her set at The Trailor Space and she should be able to give an interview.

I luck out and catch a cab that has just dropped someone off and head back downtown. I ask the driver if the East Side is really that “dangerous.” And he asks where I’m from. “Richmond.” “Then no, no it’s not dangerous,” he assures me. Apparently it’s only dangerous in that it’s the poor side of town, it lacks the drugs and violence that so often shower the front pages back home.

He drops me off at the Mohawk and I make my way inside. There are $6 shot/tallboy specials. Paris based electro-hiphop princess Uffie is on stage. She dominates that stage and the audience is dancing. And dancing. And dancing? This is not something I’m used to at a show. Mind you, when I dance, it’s more flailing than dancing, but these guys and gals know how to move their bodies. She continue to seduce the audience until the following act Fashawn joins her on stage. The set moves into his set and he continues the hip hop side and the audience is equally receptive. There isn’t an awkward pause between sets, it flows and the crowd gradually gets more excited (drunk?) as their anticipation for Miike Snow increases.

Miike Snow of Stokholm, Sweden takes the stage. He’s wearing a white mask. The audience has been waiting all night for this. The place is packed. And I have found a corner with enough room to dance. He isn’t really hip hop, or rock, or pop, or electronic, but somewhere where all of those things come together. He’s from Sweden, this genius is in his blood. I had heard that he was good, but not this good. Everyone is feeding off each other’s energy. It’s high, and most of them got here early to ensure a spot inside for this set. The communal dancing (grinding?) commences and everyone has lost track of everything else around them. The crowd briefly slows down for a sing along during ‘Silvia’ but starts up again as soon as he moves on. His hour long set includes all of the fan favorites and he closes with ‘Animal’ – his most well known single and is a hit among everyone in attendance. He ends and everyone blank-facedly wishes that he had more to give, but he’s sung everything and they must find their own party elsewhere to continue the night.

I find myself some tacos and eat them in bed before calling it a night.

Saturday is cold. It’s been in the seventies all week, and today it’s windy and in the low fifties. No one anticipated this it seems and everyone has layered the best they could to deal. I have looked up the Trailor Space where I’m supposed to meet with Zola Jesus and I walk around for awhile trying to find a cab. Apparently everyone is cabbing it today because of the weather. I finally find one and head east once again.

We head in and she starts to set up. The entirety of the record store head towards the corner where Zola Jesus has set up. She mumbles, “I’m Zola Jesus, this is my band,” and quickly her voice fills the tiny space. To see her tiny person produce such a big sound is startling. She opens with ‘Night’ and begins pacing. She quickly becomes a black blur as she moves in every direction. She spends time climbing on the amps and monitors and up to a window sill where she stays for the duration of ‘Run Me Out’ there. ‘Trust Me’ is the most haunting – her presence is visible, but she seems to be somewhere else and has left the rest of us in awe of her intensity. Her ability to completely ignore the audience may ostracize some fans, but not anyone there. By the end of the set she has removed her socks and shoes and scarf and is rolling on the floor, but her voice remains steady. I have never seen anything quite like it, and when she finishes she collects her composure and acts as though we didn’t see anything.

I need to head back downtown, but don’t feel like calling a cab, so I take the bus. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It wasn’t. It took me much farther East than I had anticipated. I finally got off and hoped that a bus going the opposite direction would be by soon, but better, an empty cab came to my rescue.

I finally made it to the Red Fez where The Mynabirds were scheduled to go on. Unfortunately they were running over an hour behind. Finally they take stage.

They open with ‘Numbers Don’t Lie’ her first single. Her presence is slight, but her voice is present and she swings into ‘Let the Record Show.’ It’s not all Motown, as Laura had hoped, but it is inspired and delivers more like Motown infused southern rock. She’s not from the South, but fakes it well. He soft, alto voice brings the listener into the melancholy of her love and lost love tales.

I make my way to The Beauty Bar to see Marianne Dissard. I’m running late, as has been the theme this week, and so I grab a cab. Not two minutes in and BOOM! Someone pulling out of a parking spot from our left (I was seated on the right) apparently didn’t notice that traffic was not moving, and there just happened to be a bright yellow taxi in the space he was trying to fill. I’m not sure what to do, so I stay put. The driver of the other car give my cabbie their info and we drive on, without reporting the accident to the police. The cabbie calls the company he works for to report it and they ask if he has file a police report…I’m really regretting getting into this cab. We eventually get to the venue and I give him my info incase he needs it for insurance purposes. It’s just a dent, and no one was hurt so I continue on to the show. By the time I get in, Marianne Dissard is down to her last song.

A few blocks away is The Phoenix where Class Actress is scheduled to go on, but I wrote the time down incorrectly, but I like the band that’s playing so I stay. Crystal Fighters are an electro-folk outfit from Spain. They use synthesizers, guitars, and instead of drums they have several two by fours of various lengths laying on a table. They hit this two by fours with what looks like pieces of dried bamboo or dried out reeds. They are spastic and excited on stage. It takes a couple of tunes, but by the third song the audience is there with them. Their single, ‘I Love London’ is particularly popular. The male trio present produces a different sound than that on the album where it’s predominantly female vocals. This set turns into a full dance party by their last song ‘Xatic Truth.’

Elizabeth Harper of Class Actress takes the stage in a boyfriend button-down under a leather jacket. She doesn’t just create 80’s New Wave influenced pop, but she dresses the part. Her range isn’t developed, but she whispers in a sultry way that makes you forgive her. ‘Journal of Ardency’ resonates with those who have been on the rebound, “you think I’m living, living, living it up/it’s all lies.” She moves across the stage with ease and pure, but understated, physical sexuality. Her hair, her gyrations on stage, it’s all sex. ‘Careful What You Say’ really starts to get the audience’s attention. Where they had been dancing for Crystal Fighters had been filled with cocked heads is now returning to the dance party that Crystal Fighters left. The electro-pop has been done several times over, but she gives it new life. She closes with ‘Let Me Take You Out’ and we’re taken home to each of our cities, each of our unique, but similar, late nights out.

I leave in an attempt to see Surfer Blood, but the Mohawk is at capacity and after half an hour in the cold I give up and attempt to get into Beauty Bar for Best Coast. Beauty Bar is also at capacity and as I wait through the one-in-one-out I can hear Best Coast start and finish from the line. I grab a hot dog at one of the many stands and call it a night. Class Actress, was the perfect ending to a nearly perfect week.

Sunday is spent watching and playing softball at the official SXSW. Upon my return from Kreig Fields the festival ‘s road blocks and signs are being removed and every hipster in the country is making their way to the itty-bitty Austin-Bergstrom airport. I leave Monday morning and get caught in the traffic through security and subsequently miss my flight.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.




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