Arts Desk

SXSW Recap: Wednesday

Endless soft tacos, a five mile bike ride, and a lot of standing in line. Somewhere in there I saw some concerts, too.

Tennis System: Apparently Tennis System had a rough trip down to Texas. According to guitarist/singer Matty Taylor the band's shows in Richmond and Lexington were shut down by the cops before it could finish its first two songs. Noise complaints, apparently. That's bad news gas money-wise, but it's great for myth-building, I guess. The sound-guy at Rusty Spur, Tennis System's first SXSW gig, wasn't exactly draconian about noise, but he did make the band back the volume knobs off of the Dinosaur Jr.-setting. Some dude who looked like Kid Rock's younger, skeezier, brother sat at the bar four the first few songs and bobbed his head.

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Hozac Records, The Walkmen, and Flying Lotus after the jump.


Hozac Records Showcase (Rayon Beach/The Girls at Dawn: Everybody at this showcase, held at Austin's Trailer Space Records, looked kind of like a Peter Bagge drawing. That's appropriate, though, given Hozac's catalog of slanted and gritty garage-rock singles. Austin-based trio Rayon Beach opened the show–delay drenched vocals trying to muscle their way through a wall of fuzz. If a better there's a better band riffing on The Urinals' legacy right now, I cannot name it. The Girls at Dawn played some O.K. teen-girl-zombie pop, too.

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The Walkmen: Apparently the New York City-via-Washington, D.C. indie-rock band has been hard at work on its fifth record. They dropped a few new songs into the set at Stubbs BBQ last night, but had lead singer Hamilton Leithauser not called them out as such, I would not have noticed. The Walkmen's schtick–heavy reverb guitar, heavy reverb organ, super-solid drummer–is still intact. Leithauser's singing still strives to locate the middle ground between Bob Dylan and Frank Sinatra. Not bad.

Beaches: Five Australian women–three guitars, bass, and drums–playing scrappy instrumentals after a whole afternoon spent drinking. Sort of like listening to three copies of The Clean's Compilation simultaneously. In my book, if you band has three guitars, you can't fail.

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Warp Showcase (Flying Lotus):
Overheard while waiting for Flying Lotus to take the stage: "These guys are the Dream Theater of electronic music." Those words–spoken by an audience member at the Warp Records showcase–are pretty right on. If Warp's recent crop of beatmakers has anything in common with prog rock, it's that they share the credo "More is more." L.A.'s Flying Lotus, who headlined, packed his 40-minute set with dense instrumental hiphop run through a laptop Cuisinart. It's hard to look like a rock star while you're working knobs on a computer, but Flying Lotus kept a good rapport with the audience, periodically halting the onslaught to tease a crowd predominantly composed of journalists. "Make sure you tweet that Flying Lotus is killing shit right now," he said.

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