A slightly belated report from SXSW 2008.
Because what the web needs right now is another report from South by Southwest. So here's a few musical picks that Dazed managed to fit in between tacos and margaritas.
Arrive, go straight to Miss Bea's – a small beer shack slightly off the beaten track, which isn't actually part of the festival but seems to have been overrun by a colourful gang of kids putting on acts in the car park. Tonight, it's programmed by Brooklyn promoter Todd P, and a one-man electro-rap whirlwind called Juiceboxxx quickly impresses by managing to semi-destroy the roof by clambering up and immediately putting his leg through it. Almost castrating himself with a lighting cable on the way down, he leaps to the floor, shouting frantically throughout, and immediately pogos dementedly into the crowd. Score. And it's only the first gig. Also on this night are crazed squelch-funk duo Free Blood (one used to be in !!!), who party like they mean it, and Telepathe, who are great and of which more later. Tacos, bed.
Start the day with a bracing blast of soulful garage rock from the fantastic White Denim. They win themselves another clutch of new fans – read their first UK interview in next month's Dazed, out April 14. Among the day's bands are Frightened Rabbit from Glasgae (pretty good), The Mae Shi (mental), then later Ohio's Times New Viking, who have a neat line in slacker noisepop, and Yeasayer, who for some reason everyone is very excited about seeing but sound like Spinal Tap does Genesis. Also catch MGMT, who seem to be playing everywhere. Even tomorrow's Playboy party – which everyone is going to, and few will actually enter – has them with Justice and Moby. Tacos, margaritas, parties.
Clear the cobwebs with a scouring blast of epic psych rock in the sunshine, courtesy of local band the Black Angels at Roky Erikson's Psychedelic Ice Cream Social, an annual local musician benefit gig. There's time for tacos and a chat with White Denim, and then a ride in their truck to our photographer's metal party in a 5th street mansion, where J Mascis's mighty Witch and a bunch of other metal bands are rocking out in someone's front room. Later, beat the queue in time for the rather good El Guincho, who has just signed to XL/Young Turks. His sunny one-man Panda Bear-goes-carnival party starters make for some welcome relief amid the grinding guitars – get on him.
Telepathe are three cute girls from New York, half-singing, half-chanting, half-dancing (that three halves), and generally looking quite spaced out to some unusual dubby / Gang Gang Dance-y beats that may or may not have been touched by the hands of TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek. Really interesting, and definitely worth checking out, even if we might stop short of XFM's Jon Kennedy's subsequent suggestion to "make them the next cover stars" for just now. I spend an hour or so by a hotel pool, interviewing indie rock legends The Breeders, who are all quite lovely and fun to hang out with – "Chantix is the drug if you want to give up smoking" is Kim's message to you all. Again, watch for them in next month's Dazed. Later, the wonderfully hypnotic Sian Alice Group, who still sound great even if Sian later complains of losing her voice after a relentless schedule of gigs. Nip off to catch Santogold's epic pop-rap-rock, and then zip off for an evening of Cool Kids, Chromeo, A-Trak, Kid Sister, and Clipse. Head to an illegal late-night party on a pedestrian bridge over the river, which is insane, hundreds of kids flinging themselves around to what might have been Fucked Up playing, but I couldn't get close enough to see. Eventually retreat to safety.
After yet another jalapeno omelette breakfast (gotta love Texas), head off to the Black Angels' sprawling house in south Austin to do a video interview, which is only slightly marred by the fact that six-sevenths of the band aren't there – spend a pleasant hour sat in a gazebo in the back garden with the singer Alex, with their enormous Great Dane trotting around. Return to catch Toronto experimentalists Holy Fuck being amazing, and then off to a free festival where The Breeders are headlining, along with the likes of Neon Neon and Ice Cube, and then catch Atlas Sound (interesting solo project from the Deerhunter singer), before heading off to an all-night warehouse bash, where we run into Neon Neon's Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip, who are delighted to see the feature on them in the copy of Dazed I have in my bag. Athens psych-jazz-punk nutcases Dark Meat take to the stage and chaos ensues. Fadeout.