SXSW Music Diary wrapup

Four days spent chasing the dragon in Austin

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MUSIC South by Southwest was completely overwhelming, and my feet are killing me. It's hard to avoid the constant feeling of missing out on something, because you always are. But once you get over that fact, it's possible to have a really good time. Here's a highlight reel from my first time at the Austin festival.

Wed/16 Made it to Dallas on the early-early flight from SFO and found the gate for Austin, a hipster ghetto in DFW's sea of middle Americans. The first musician sighting was Toro y Moi, then it was off to the live music capital of the world. Post-credentialing, we attempted to catch Raphael Saadiq at the much-hyped Fader Fort party ... but the line stretched for hours. The first of many scrapped plans. We then stumbled across the Palm Door, where Anamanguchi was playing irresistible Nintendo-core power pop. Later that eve I saw the sweet Icelandic troubadour stylings of Olof Arnalds and caught an amazing version of "Benny and the Jets" by piano gods Marco Benevento.

Thurs/17 Biked straight to a loft party featuring Brasileira MC Zuzuka Poderosa, who was spitting out Funk Carioca lyrics on top of beats by DJ Disco Tits. Tried to go to the NPR showcase, which was done, then tried to see Big Freedia, the "Queen Diva" of Bounce ... all I got was a taste from the sidelines. Ran into SF local Meklit Hadero as she and her band tried to find the venue where they were showcasing. Saw Boston's David Wax Museum at the Paste party and crossed paths with J Mascis on my way out. Caught the tail end of Meklit's show at Marco Werman's "All Music Is World Music" showcase, then Abigail Washburn's stellar bluegrass set. Rode clear across town in the hopes of catching Devotchka at Lustre Pearl, but the line nixed that plan. Came back for the Atlantic Records showcase hoping to check out Lupe Fiasco, but B.O.B was playing in his place. Decided to forgo Janelle Monáe's show (she'd been subbed in for Cee-Lo) so I could get off my feet.

Fri/18 Ran into Red and Green of Peelander-Z, the outrageously festooned Japanese punk band, who sweetly obliged a snapshot (they'll be playing DNA Lounge on April 7th with Anamanaguchi). Got dished up a tasty burger at the Alternative Apparel Lounge as my cohort Matt Reamer was summoned to take pics of Linda Perry. We shared our table with Shane Lawlor of Electric Touch, who chatted about his band's road from getting signed to playing the big festival circuit this year. Checked out James Blake at the Other Music/Dig For Fire lawn party. It was kind of like listening to all the sexy backing elements of a Sade song, without Sade. I loved Tune-Yards' pygmy-esque vocal layering and percussive fervor. Her last song got everyone to their feet with a Fela Kuti vibe. And !!! brought the crazy dance party. I finally felt like I'd arrived at SXSW.

Later that eve, the Shabazz Palaces set was weighed down by sound issues. Ran into the ladies of HOTTUB as I went to see Toronto's Keys N Krates, who killed it: two DJs and a drummer juxtaposing amazing sampling and turntablism with live percussion. Cubic Zirconia's electro funk set at the Fool's Gold showcase was also great. Singer Tiombe Lockhart held court. The closer was seeing Chief Boima during the Dutty Arts Collective showcase.