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The Best of SXSW 2009

Jennifer Nies' legs are about to fall off and bleed BBQ sauce but she still found the will to muster up the best of what went down at SXSW.

My legs are going to fall off and when they do, I'm going to bleed BBQ sauce. So much walking/running, so much food, too much music!  Is it even possible to see 13 bands at 8 different locations in one day? I've tried for a couple days now and despite strategic planning, have failed. I did see a shit ton of music in the process.  

Here is the best of what I saw at SXSW 2009:

When I was fifteen, if you would’ve told me I'd be standing 10 feet from Graham Coxon while he played brand new songs I would have peed my GUESS? jean shorts. His performance was really awkward and clunky, which is just what made it good. Watching him finding his way through these simple new songs he'd only played only once before, just seemed really special and intimate.

Despite only having one show here this year, it occurred to me Matt & Kim might be the perfect SXSW band. They’re the powerful punch of positivity I need to overcome exhaustion and get hyped to conquer the rest of the shows. Like pounding a sugary Red Bull right when you need it. So much energy! So much happiness! I wish I could have seen them every day to feed me my second wind.

The only thing that energized me more was Janelle Monae. Feeling a little depressed by the overwhelming amount of mediocre indie rock blasting from every door way on the street, it all just seemed so gray then she simultaneously came from the future and past and blew my mind. It was awesome to see something a little more on the spectacular stage show side, with costumes and this otherworldly dancing. She’s a bit of Outcast sound alike but in such a good way and her presence is completely original.

Dirty Projectors is who I fell deepest in love with. I've heard a lot of talk about the Dirty Projectors forth-coming album. A LOT of talk, so I made a point to check them out and now I fully believe in this band. If the record is half as good as their show there will be animal collective vs. dirty projectors music nerd street fights as to which album is better.
I was staring at the stage trying to figure out why they were so good. Crack the magical mystery of what made them so much better than all the other bands I had been seeing. They are using the same elements, guitar, base, drums, male vocals, female harmonizing and there is no obvious gimmick to point to, yet somehow they do something so right, it makes all these old tools fresh again. It’s punchy and weird in all the right ways, with hints of Taking Heads, Squeeze, Rufus Wainwright and Pavement. If their new album is half as good as the songs live, it’s going to be inciting music nerd street fights as to whether it's better than the new Animal Collective.

Finally I have to mention Wavves mainly because it seems fated. I don’t know if they were stalking me or I was stalking them but every party/showcase I seemed to wander into they were playing and I liked them more and more each time.  By the final 3am show at the Vice party their surfy Pixies noise had won me over completely and was the perfect final noise in the noisiest of noisy 4 days.