WBEZ | SXSW http://www.wbez.org/tags/sxsw Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Shout Out Out Out Out (and more than a few other things) http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/shout-out-out-out-out-and-more-few-other-things-106131 <p><p>AUSTIN, Tx&mdash;Commitments and reality beckon, and as you read this, my last dispatch from my 20<sup>th</sup> trip to South by Southwest, I&rsquo;ll be trading bright sun and 85&deg; for rain and a high of 35&hellip; to say nothing of no longer hearing two dozen bands a day. But, hey, Spring Break can&rsquo;t last forever.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Shout.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 199px; float: left;" title="Shout Out Out Out Out." /></div><p>Best things first: My musical highlight Friday, and the second best show I saw after <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/i-saw-god-andor-savages-106114">Savages</a> throughout the festival, came courtesy of a six-piece band from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with the unwieldy name of <strong><a href="http://www.shoutoutoutoutout.com/">Shout Out Out Out Out</a></strong>. (Read it as if those last three &ldquo;Out&rsquo;s&rdquo; are slap-back echoes.) If I have a problem with a lot of electronic dance music today, it&rsquo;s that it&rsquo;s ahistorical: EDM should not be slavishly tied to the past, but often things hailed as groundbreaking were done 30 years ago, and ideas hinted at then but never fully explored still offer more adventurous new sonic worlds than the ubiquitous unsa-unsa crap.</p><p>With an endearing love for the rich analog sounds of vintage Moog synthesizers and the tremendous visceral power of not one but two great live drummers, plus an obvious devotion to cutting-edge rhythms and digital technology, Shout Out Out Out Out has been creating a bridge between Krautrock (heavy on the Hawkwind, Neu! and Kraftwerk) and next week&rsquo;s hippest grooves over the course of three albums since 2006, including last year&rsquo;s <em>Spanish Moss and Total Loss. </em>And the power of this very human manipulation of machines and technology in the sweaty, loud and immediate present is absolutely undeniable onstage.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/eFOA5YkWX2Y" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Shout Out Out Out Out&rsquo;s afternoon set at the International Day Stage in the Austin Convention Center came after a panel called <strong>&ldquo;Inside the Artist&rsquo;s Studio&rdquo;</strong> where <em>Hits </em>magazine president Karen Glauber channeled James Lipton and coaxed an array of artists to talk about the creative process in their songwriting, from lyrics they avoid and problems that have taken them months or years to work out, to those wonderful bursts of inspiration where a timeless tune comes fully formed in five minutes.</p><p>The highlights were acoustic performances (and the ensuing stories behind the songs) of &ldquo;Black Like Me&rdquo; by Britt Daniel of Spoon, a new tune that may or may not wind up being called &ldquo;I Hate Music&rdquo; by Mac McCaughan of Superchunk and &ldquo;Something Came Over Me&rdquo; by Chris Stamey of the dB&rsquo;s and the fine new solo album, <em>Lovesick Blues</em>. These bursts of musical brilliance were very much needed to reaffirm my faith in the power of art to transcend commerce after the panels I attended earlier in the day.</p><p><strong>&ldquo;Building an Optimal Partnership Between Brands &amp; Bands&rdquo;</strong> was another of the six sessions in the last few days touting the idea that corporate America and the advertising world are, in effect, the new and better music industry. This one had an executive from Coca-Cola on it&mdash;&ldquo;Music is a tremendous passion point for fans,&rdquo; he said, noting its ideal role in helping sell caffeinated sugar water&mdash;and it was distinguished from the panel entitled <strong>&ldquo;The Future of Cultural Branding&rdquo; </strong>only by the fact that that discussion was sponsored by Pepsi.</p><p>In the panelists&rsquo; view, the world works like this: Drake likes Sprite; Sprite likes kids; kids like Drake. Sprite gives Drake money to help sell Sprite. Everyone wins! Except, of course, the kids who should be drinking fruit juice or water.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Drake2.jpg" style="height: 280px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><p>One of my favorite careful-what-you-wish-for stories came from Brad Haugen, chief marketing officer of Scooter Braun Projects, also known as Justin Bieber&rsquo;s managers. Before the Biebs became a star four years ago, he was using Proactiv to clear up his skin, Haugen said. The managers called the company and tried to get a sponsorship deal, but the company wasn&rsquo;t interested. Then Bieber blew up big with the release of <em>My World 2.0</em>. Proactiv came begging and Biebs cleaned up with a lucrative sponsorship&hellip; which he cancelled a year later when he grew embarrassed that everyone thought he had acne.</p><p>Alas, one can never escape the decision to optimize that allegedly ideal brand/band partnership. Maybe that&rsquo;s why young Justin&rsquo;s been so troubled of late.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/gd2zAtmgjNk" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Apparently, poking fun at the Biebs or in any way questioning his validity as an artist, to say nothing of maintaining a belief in the evils of &ldquo;selling out,&rdquo; marks this critic as an elitist snob: If one wasn&rsquo;t listening carefully, one would think that was the message of the discussion called <strong>&ldquo;Guiltless Pleasures: Imagining a Post-Snob World.&rdquo; </strong>But while chatting after the session, twenty-something participants David Greenwald of <a href="http://www.rawkblog.net/">Rawkblog</a> and <em>Billboard</em> and Simon Vozick-Levinson of <em>Rolling Stone </em>(who had been joined by Lindsay Zoladz of <a href="http://www.canonballblog.com/">Cannonball</a> and Pitchfork via Skype) pretty much agreed that my definition of criticism is the same as theirs: an attempt to intellectually convey your emotional response to a work of art.</p><p>The good critic would never tell someone, be it the 11-year-old Belieber or the 70-year-old Rolling Stones fan, not to listen to something said critic dislikes; he or she is just giving their emotional reaction to that music, with all of the context, insights and evidence they can muster to get the discussion started. (For the record: This critic isn&rsquo;t big on Bieber, thinks the Rolling Stones were pretty great up through <em>Some Girls </em>in 1978, but would be hard-pressed to say which he would dislike more if imprisoned at Guantanamo and forced to choose between listening only to post-&rsquo;80 Stones or present-day Biebs.)</p><p>In their zeal to laud the &ldquo;pop omnivore&rdquo; who&rsquo;ll listen with equal diligence and write with just as much insight about underground or mainstream acts, &ldquo;Gangnam Style&rdquo; or <em>Amok </em>by Atoms for Peace (to use the examples Dave Grohl cited in his keynote), these sixth-generation rock critics could be strident at times with their doctrinaire declarations, especially about the &ldquo;false god of authenticity.&rdquo; Yes, authenticity is a phony construct. But who among us really can deny that Thom Yorke has more of <em>something </em>very important than Psy? (I&rsquo;d call it &ldquo;soul.&rdquo;)</p><div class="image-insert-image "><br /><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1certificate.png" style="height: 386px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div></div><p>Still, it was great to hear these issues being wrestled with. Even better was hearing Zoladz end the session by pondering whether bragging of omnivorous listening is in fact the new snobbery. (One used to jockey for hip points by claiming one was first to hear Hüsker Dü play for six people at a small club in the &rsquo;80s; now it&rsquo;s bragging that you really, really like Ke$ha as much as Grimes.) But best of all was hearing the panelists agree with both me and <a href="http://music-mix.ew.com/2013/03/14/dave-grohl-sxsw-keynote-speech/">Grohl</a> that Pitchfork is not only often too narrow in what it chooses to review and what it ignores, but that the influential and formerly Chicago-based Webzine is just no darn good as a model for what music criticism should aspire to be. (Plus, editors there are unfamiliar with one of the most basic rules of grammar&mdash;the punctuation goes <em>inside </em>the quotation marks. Learn it!)</p><p>But enough inside-baseball on the dirty business of rock criticism: Let&rsquo;s wrap up with some final lightning-round observations of other musicians whose paths I crossed in Texas, delivered concisely but (to be certain) absolutely non-snobbishly.</p><p><strong>Parquet Courts: </strong>I wanted to see if these Brooklyn slackers possibly could be as good onstage as they are on <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/parquet-courts-gives-us-reasons-be-cheerful-105173"><em>Light Up Gold</em></a></em>. Were they? Fuggadeaboutit! (That is to say, &ldquo;Absolutely, yes!&rdquo;)</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/UHdXXbvC8N0" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Merchandise: </strong>I prefer my shoegaze with less gloom and no Brooklyn grooves (though these lads actually hail from Tampa).</p><p><strong>Mikal Cronin: </strong>He&rsquo;s toured with Ty Segall&rsquo;s band, but his own music is a lot more melodic, less ferocious&hellip; and not nearly as engaging live.</p><p><strong>Dawes: </strong>Perfectly pleasant, sunny West Coast jangle. Wake me when it&rsquo;s over.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>My complete coverage of SXSW 2013</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/i-saw-god-andor-savages-106114">I saw god and/or Savages</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/more-sxsw-day-two-social-networking-and-music-pumcayo-106110">More of SXSW Day Two: Social networking and the music of Pumcayo</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/foo-fighting-dave-grohl%E2%80%99s-keynote-address-106099">Foo fighting: Dave Grohl&rsquo;s keynote address</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/laura-stevenson-holydrug-couple-foxygen-and-more-106090">Laura Stevenson, Holydrug Couple, Foxygen and more</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/imaging-jingle-crafting-crowdfunding-and-%E2%80%98born-chicago%E2%80%99-106087">Imaging, jingle-crafting, crowdfunding and &lsquo;Born in Chicago&rsquo;</a></p></p> Fri, 15 Mar 2013 21:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/shout-out-out-out-out-and-more-few-other-things-106131 I saw god and/or Savages http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/i-saw-god-andor-savages-106114 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1savages2.jpg" style="height: 437px; width: 620px;" title="(Facebook/Savages)" /></div><p>Austin, Tx&mdash;Ah, yes: THIS is how South by Southwest is supposed to work! Your feet ache from running around nonstop for the past 14 hours, then hiking two miles to yet another crappy venue with a lousy sound system. Your stomach is funky from too much meat. The mediocre to dreadful acts today have far outnumbered the good ones (four to one, to be precise; thank you, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/more-sxsw-day-two-social-networking-and-music-pumcayo-106110">Pumcayó</a>).</p><p>And then you see god.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1savages.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Jehnny Beth of Savages at SXSW (photo by my pal Jim Testa)." /></div><p>Based in London, <strong><a href="http://www.facebook.com/savagestheband">Savages</a> </strong>are a group of four young women on guitar, drums, bass and vocals who play with a galvanizing ferocity. Their influences, especially in terms of the unrelentingly minimalist approach to song structure, melody and image, are obvious: Wire, Gang of Four and the Slits. But there isn&rsquo;t a hint of imitation here; no whiff of anything but pure personality. You may as well never have heard another punk or post-punk band before, because that&rsquo;s the way you feel after these four finish assaulting you songs such as &ldquo;Shut Up,&rdquo; &ldquo;She Will&rdquo; and &ldquo;Husbands,&rdquo; which finds singer Jehnny Beth, a.k.a. French native Camille Berthomier, wailing, &ldquo;God, I wanna get rid of it, yeah/Rid of it/My house, my bed&hellip; my husbands!&rdquo;</p><p>And all of this in half an hour that seems to last about five minutes.</p><p>The group has just been signed to one of the best indie labels in America, with the announcement coming next week, and hopefully an album shortly thereafter. You&rsquo;ve been warned.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/xUqDckQuqcg" width="560"></iframe></p><p>After a set that exquisitely satisfying, you know that nothing else you hear this evening will even come close. Thankfully, the other great band I saw played just before Savages, at a venue almost as horrid as last night&rsquo;s Hype Hotel or the always wretched Stubb&rsquo;s. Dubbed 1100 Warehouse, this was yet another temporary club set up in a hangar-like space that reportedly usually serves as a poultry slaughterhouse.</p><p>Matt Korvette took the stage and cheekily announced that the Foo Fighters were backing David Bowie at a no-badges-needed surprise show with tons of free beer a block away, and he thought it only fair to tell everyone. None of that was true&mdash;at that moment, Dave Grohl was jamming with Stevie Nicks and Rick Springfield across town as part of his Sound City All-Stars revue&mdash;but Korvette clearly wanted to rid the room of anyone who wasn&rsquo;t worthy of the punk-rock fury that his band <strong><a href="http://www.whitedenim.com/pissedjeans/">Pissed Jeans</a> </strong>was about to unleash.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1pissed-jeans.jpg" title="Pissed Jeans (Sub Pop)." /></div><p>This Allentown, Pennsylvania-based quartet has recorded four merciless albums to date, the last three&mdash;including the recent <em>Honeys</em>&mdash;for Sub Pop Records. But it&rsquo;s an experience best appreciated live, where Korvette channels early Jello Biafra in the way he throws himself about the stage, and the band&rsquo;s powerful pummeling may be rewarded with an old-school &rsquo;80s-style mosh pit like the one that erupted at 1100 Warehouse.</p><p>Come to think of it, the place&rsquo;s alleged past as a slaughterhouse may have been exactly the right setting for both Pissed Jeans and Savages.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/0B2Gww3ywDA" width="560"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>My complete coverage of SXSW 2013</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/more-sxsw-day-two-social-networking-and-music-pumcayo-106110">More of SXSW Day Two: Social networking and the music of Pumcayo</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/foo-fighting-dave-grohl%E2%80%99s-keynote-address-106099">Foo fighting: Dave Grohl&rsquo;s keynote address</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/laura-stevenson-holydrug-couple-foxygen-and-more-106090">Laura Stevenson, Holydrug Couple, Foxygen and more</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/imaging-jingle-crafting-crowdfunding-and-%E2%80%98born-chicago%E2%80%99-106087">Imaging, jingle-crafting, crowdfunding and &lsquo;Born in Chicago&rsquo;</a></p></p> Thu, 14 Mar 2013 23:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/i-saw-god-andor-savages-106114 More of SXSW Day Two: Social networking and the music of Pumcayo http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/more-sxsw-day-two-social-networking-and-music-pumcayo-106110 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1networking.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>AUSTIN, Tx&mdash;While finding one&rsquo;s own voice as a musician was the noble theme of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/foo-fighting-dave-grohl%E2%80%99s-keynote-address-106099">Dave Grohl&rsquo;s keynote address</a>, the words I&rsquo;ve heard mentioned far more often than any other during the daytime panels at South by Southwest 2013 are &ldquo;creating your brand.&rdquo;</p><p>The more calculated side of this endeavor includes potentially troublesome things like selling your music to advertising, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/imaging-jingle-crafting-crowdfunding-and-%E2%80%98born-chicago%E2%80%99-106087">as chronicled yesterday</a>. But there&rsquo;s a benign and human aspect to this meaningless jargon, too, as was made clear by the tirelessly fan-friendly <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/imaging-jingle-crafting-crowdfunding-and-%E2%80%98born-chicago%E2%80%99-106087">Amanda Palmer</a>, as well as by the super-social networking-savvy participants in a Thursday afternoon session entitled <strong>&ldquo;Internet: How to Not Go Crazy Being Everywhere.&rdquo;</strong></p><p>Any band that&rsquo;s the least bit ambitious in 2013 absolutely needs the following, and in this order, the panelists agreed: a Facebook page; a YouTube page; a SoundCloud page; a Twitter account and a Tumblr account. Optional but also potentially useful: SonicBids, BandCamp, BandPage... and Pintrest, but only if you want to reach moms in the Midwest. Oh, yeah: You also need an old-fashioned Web site, and maybe a blog.</p><p>To maintain all of this Internet presence, an artist should spend about an hour a day online&mdash;though how that can be accomplished while juggling a day job, eating, sleeping, slacking and, you know, making music was left unaddressed.</p><p>All of that seems daunting, if not depressing. But at its core it just means reaching out to people who might be interested in your music and then developing a relationship with them by staying in touch. Most artists have been doing this instinctively for centuries, long before Al Gore invented the Internet to house all of these platforms and apps.</p><p>Case in point: A few weeks before the festival, I got an email from Federico Díaz de León, a musician in Guadalajara, Mexico, a fan of <em>Sound Opinions</em> and an astute fellow who knew how to push my buttons: &ldquo;We play [psychedelic] prog-infused Mexican folk-rock,&rdquo; he wrote. With the band playing three official showcases here, and who knows how many other gigs, how could I not check that out?</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1pumcayo.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>The pitch and social networking only will get you so far, however: A band must then deliver the goods, or someone will tune out quicker than they can hit &ldquo;delete.&rdquo; But Díaz de León&rsquo;s band <strong><a href="http://pumcayo.com/">Pumcayó</a> </strong>absolutely lived up to his promises during a showcase at the International Day Stage, rising above the challenges of sound problems and another schedule running way too late to hypnotize with an unexpected magic mushroom idyll.</p><p>With a Spanish name roughly translating as &ldquo;thump! it fell,&rdquo; the group merges the genteel, folkie beard-rock sounds of indie heroes such as Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear with an older, freakier psychedelic/progressive-rock fondness for elaborate arrangements and virtuosic solos (think Renaissance, the Incredible String Band, or very early Genesis) and here and there the occasional spice of native Mexican folk music. It&rsquo;s a rich and mighty musical mole&mdash;and I really need to go like all of their pages and accounts right now.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/M8qLJkbciiU" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong><u>My complete coverage of SXSW 2013</u></strong></p><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/foo-fighting-dave-grohl%E2%80%99s-keynote-address-106099">Foo fighting: Dave Grohl&rsquo;s keynote address</a></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/laura-stevenson-holydrug-couple-foxygen-and-more-106090">Laura Stevenson, Holydrug Couple, Foxygen and more</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/imaging-jingle-crafting-crowdfunding-and-%E2%80%98born-chicago%E2%80%99-106087">Imaging, jingle-crafting, crowdfunding and &lsquo;Born in Chicago&rsquo;</a></p></p> Thu, 14 Mar 2013 16:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/more-sxsw-day-two-social-networking-and-music-pumcayo-106110 Foo fighting: Dave Grohl’s keynote address http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/foo-fighting-dave-grohl%E2%80%99s-keynote-address-106099 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Dave Grohl delivers the keynote address at SXSW 2013. (AP/Jack Plunkett, Invision)" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1AP717239888990.jpg" style="height: 442px; width: 620px;" title="(AP/Jack Plunkett, Invision)" /></div><p>AUSTIN, Tx&mdash;In the summer of 1993, I spent several days in Seattle waiting to be summoned for an audience with Kurt Cobain and enjoying quite a bit of quality hang time with Krist Novoselic as they waited for the release of Nirvana&rsquo;s third album <em>In Utero</em>. As a drummer myself and a fan of Dave Grohl&rsquo;s postpunk John Bonham thrash, I repeatedly asked both of his band mates, &ldquo;Shouldn&rsquo;t I speak to him, too?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Heck, no; why?,&rdquo; came the reply, and more than once. So I settled for watching Grohl play a reunion gig with the D.C. hardcore band Scream at the Crocodile Café.</p><p>Two years later, when I queried Courtney Love on her perception of Grohl&rsquo;s role in her husband&rsquo;s band, she burst into that infamous evil cackle. &ldquo;What you have to know about Dave is he was the guy who&rsquo;d enjoy going out back to set his farts on fire with Steve Albini. That&rsquo;s Dave.&rdquo;</p><p>I relate these anecdotes with no sense of malice but in the spirit of the engaging, heartfelt and often very funny string of historical reminiscences with which Grohl traced his career from D.C. punk to alt-rock superstar to Foo-Fighting superstar while delivering the keynote address Thursday morning at South by Southwest, all building to the always-welcome conference fail-safe messages of do-it-yourself&nbsp; independence, &ldquo;the musician comes first&rdquo; and &ldquo;find your own voice.&rdquo;</p><p>Grohl entertained by scat-singing Edgar Winter&rsquo;s instrumental &ldquo;Frankenstein,&rdquo; a childhood favorite that introduced him to the world of rock, and by demonstrating how he&rsquo;d use two clunky cassette recorders to improvise his own multi-tracked recordings as a young teen.</p><p>Much of the written-out speech&mdash;delivered from behind a pair of reading glasses Grohl claimed to have purchased at the drug store&mdash;centered on his epiphany in Chicago during the family&rsquo;s summer vacation in 1982. His older cousin Tracy had become a punk-rocker, and she introduced him to her endless stacks of snarling 45s. He soon discovered the Wax Trax record store, he saw Naked Raygun play at Cubby Bear and his course in life was set.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to be someone&rsquo;s Edgar Winter,&rdquo; the musician said. &ldquo;I wanted to be someone&rsquo;s Naked Raygun.&rdquo;</p><p>Miracle of miracles, his accomplishments exceeded both. The tale of how <em>Nevermind, </em>a record everyone expected to sell 35,000 copies in its first six months (if they were lucky) soon was selling 300,000 a week and &ldquo;forever changing the music world&rdquo; now is rock mythology. And Grohl offered no more insight into how that happened than Cobain or Novoselic did: &ldquo;Maybe it was timing&hellip; Maybe it was a generation of kids sick of Wilson Phillips.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1grohlcartoon.jpg" style="float: left; height: 376px; width: 300px;" title="Dave Grohl (caricature by reelsinmotion/Flickr, Creative Commons)." />Then came the Foo Fighters, a band one could legitimately champion on its first album, a cathartic garage-rock record that Grohl recorded on his own &ldquo;as therapy,&rdquo; just like those teen experiments with multi-tracking. But from there, it promptly became an example of the worst sort of pandering modern-rock band unleashed by the alternative era, one that would play any corporate-rock radio festival, one that essentially beat the same tired song into submission over and over again through a seven-album discography, and one that has less in common these days with Nirvana than it does with Rick Springfield (a hero inexplicably lauded in Grohl&rsquo;s <em>Sound City </em>documentary, as if the man behind &ldquo;Jessie&rsquo;s Girl&rdquo; is equal to greats such as Neil Young, Tom Petty and Dr. John, who also recorded at that now-celebrated studio).</div><p>Who is the real Dave Grohl&mdash;the one of those anecdotes at the top of this post, or the one who spoke so movingly at SXSW? I don&rsquo;t know, and I&rsquo;m not sure it matters. Authenticity, after all, is a fake construct, and the most soulful sounds at SXSW or anywhere else are always in part show business. In any event, Grohl gave a heck of a keynote&mdash;every bit as good as the one last year by Bruce Springsteen, with whom he told us he recently dined in preparation for his big moment at the podium.</p><p><strong><u>My complete coverage of SXSW 2013</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/laura-stevenson-holydrug-couple-foxygen-and-more-106090">Laura Stevenson, Holydrug Couple, Foxygen and more</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/imaging-jingle-crafting-crowdfunding-and-%E2%80%98born-chicago%E2%80%99-106087">Imaging, jingle-crafting, crowdfunding and &lsquo;Born in Chicago&rsquo;</a></p></p> Thu, 14 Mar 2013 12:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/foo-fighting-dave-grohl%E2%80%99s-keynote-address-106099 Laura Stevenson, Holydrug Couple, Foxygen and more http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/laura-stevenson-holydrug-couple-foxygen-and-more-106090 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/laura_stevenson_and_the_cans_6_515.jpg" title="Laura Stevenson and the Cans." /></div><p>AUSTIN, Tx&mdash;The best-laid plans tend to quickly go awry at South by Southwest, especially with these epic crowds. Yet if I missed catching a few acts I&rsquo;d hoped to see on night one&mdash;Merchandise, the Black Angels, Guards&mdash;I did have a couple of great surprises in the clubs.</p><p>The first of these was a Brooklyn singer-songwriter named <strong><a href="https://www.facebook.com/LauraStevensonandtheCans">Laura Stevenson</a></strong>, who performed with her band the Cans under a tent outside a club called Holy Mountain off Seventh Street. Think of a less intense, sweeter-voiced Sharon Van Etten, but with a two-guitar, bass, drums and accordion lineup capable of unexpected eruptions of noise a la the Velvet Underground or Neil Young with Crazy Horse.</p><p>Music is in Stevenson&rsquo;s blood: Her grandfather was a composer who made key early recordings of the Christmas standards &ldquo;The Little Drummer Boy&rdquo; and &ldquo;Do You Hear What I Hear?,&rdquo; while her grandmother sang with Benny Goodman. But Stevenson has a voice all her own, honed over the course of three indie albums including the latest, <em>Wheel, </em>released on Don Giovanni, the label that brought us Screaming Females. Hopefully she and the Cans will make just as much noise.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/KeH2-XA1k6Q" width="560"></iframe></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6871685494_86245e72b7_z.jpg" style="float: right; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="The Holydrug Couple (Flickr/PUMA LABS)" />I was heading out the door after Stevenson&rsquo;s set when another band playing on the smaller indoor stage at the same club stopped me dead in my tracks. <strong><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Holydrug-Couple/103071603419">The Holydrug Couple</a></strong> is a duo from the apparently burgeoning psychedelic-rock scene in Santiago, Chile. Ives Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra expanded to a trio for this gig, showcasing a sound that force-feeds that mellow &rsquo;70s West Coast folk-rock sound newly resurgent in some circles (a primary culprit: Dawes) through a freaky and evil psychotropic blender, with striking results.</p><p>Most impressive was a stunning track called &ldquo;Follow Your Way&rdquo; that began as a rough cover deconstructing Todd Rundgren&rsquo;s &ldquo;Hello It&rsquo;s Me&rdquo; and became a full-on interstellar-overdrive freak-out.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/hMsX5vvyhAc" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Most of the rest of the night consisted of unremarkable mediocrities, plus one truly dreadful act, Alabama-reared, Brooklyn-based EDM/folk-rock hybrid <strong>Phosphorescent</strong>, a.k.a. Matthew Houck, whose set was all the more painful for taking place in a big, uncomfortable, corporate-sponsored temporary party space called Hype Hotel, and for starting 40 minutes late, thereby screwing up the schedule for everything that followed.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/foxygen.jpg" style="height: 305px; width: 620px;" title="Foxygen (Jagjaguar/Angel Ceballos)" /></p><p>I stayed put because I was eager to see <strong>Foxygen</strong>, no matter the delay or the unwelcoming surroundings. And the core Los Angeles duo of vocalist Sam France and guitarist-keyboardist Jonathan Rado plus assorted friends did not disappoint as they rendered onstage the brilliant tunes from <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/pastiche-or-parody-foxygen-much-more-sum-its-parts-105631">We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace &amp; Magic</a></em>.</p><p>To be sure, the acoustics of the cavernous concrete space worked against the band&rsquo;s intricate and sometimes delicate arrangements, as did the scent of the foul fast food being handed out by Taco Bell, one of the corporate sponsors. (Taco Bell&mdash;in a Texas city with another great mom-and-pop taco joint every 15 yards!) But if Foxygen could deliver in circumstances like that, no doubt it can do infinitely better anywhere else.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/KtdWGGpvY1s" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong><u>My complete coverage of SXSW 2013</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/imaging-jingle-crafting-crowdfunding-and-%E2%80%98born-chicago%E2%80%99-106087">Imaging, jingle-crafting, crowdfunding and &lsquo;Born in Chicago&rsquo;</a></p></p> Thu, 14 Mar 2013 01:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/laura-stevenson-holydrug-couple-foxygen-and-more-106090 Imaging, jingle-crafting, crowdfunding and ‘Born in Chicago’ http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/imaging-jingle-crafting-crowdfunding-and-%E2%80%98born-chicago%E2%80%99-106087 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Austin%20MrLaugh.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Sixth Street in Austin during SXSW 2013 (MrLaugh/Fickr, Creative Commons)." /></div><p>AUSTIN, Tx&mdash;South by Southwest was in year six when I first made the trip to the Texas capital in 1993 for what&rsquo;s become the biggest gathering of the music world in the United States. Prompted partly by the daytime conference panels relocating that year from one of the city&rsquo;s hotels to the vast, sterile and still-under-construction Austin Convention Center, I listened to considerable grumbling from veterans that, &ldquo;SXSW has gotten too big for its own good&mdash;it&rsquo;s lost its soul!&rdquo;</p><p>I&rsquo;ve heard repetitions of that complaint (or variations thereof: &ldquo;too corporate/too dismissive of local bands/too political,&rdquo; etc.)&mdash;every March since, but I&rsquo;ve usually dismissed them. As festival co-founder Louis Black makes distressingly clear in <em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1532946/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1">Echotone</a></em>, the 2010 documentary about the negative impact that development and gentrification have had on independent musicians in &ldquo;the live music capital of the world,&rdquo; SXSW was envisioned from the beginning to be as big, as broad and as bottomless a gold mine as possible.</p><p>The level of corporate hype and the number of weasels here long have been a distraction at best and an annoyance at worst; the deal-making, eruptions of egotism and endless schmoozing during the gold rush of the alternative-rock &rsquo;90s was epic. The determined music lover always was able to block all of that out and make more profoundly rewarding musical discoveries in one place at one time than anywhere else. But everything has its tipping point.</p><p>While I had some fine experiences at SXSW 2012 (see the links to those reports below), they were fewer than in years past, while the annoyance level was off the charts. I&rsquo;ve been pondering why since the last fest ended, finally concluding that with many of the folks from the interactive confab now staying right through music, the film festival happening simultaneously, and Austin-bound party-crashers multiplying the number of badge-holding attendees by what must be a factor of 20 or 30, there simply are too many people here for the infrastructure to support. Cabs, hotels, and restaurants are unavailable, oversold or gauging on prices; events with any buzz at all instantly fill to capacity, and with the overall number of people being at an all-time high, the inevitable proportion of jerks in those crowds is, too.</p><p>Simply put, SXSW 2012 was less fun than ever, and I seriously questioned whether I wanted to return for another round. But return I did, and here I am in 2013 determined to once again spend the days taking the temperature of the new-millennial music industry while spending the nights searching for musical epiphanies. My plan for the latter is simple: Wherever the hype or the hipsters are, I plan to go in the opposite direction. So, no, I will not be seeing Green Day, Dave Grohl&rsquo;s &ldquo;Sound City&rdquo; All-Stars, the Flaming Lips, Justin Timberlake or Prince jamming with Bruno Mars, thank you very much, and I hope to be the happier for it.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1tumblr.jpg" style="height: 482px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="" /></div><p>Getting down to business, the first panel I caught was entitled <strong>&ldquo;The Rise in Image-Based Marketing,&rdquo;</strong> which moderator Scott Perry synopsized as &ldquo;using the visual image to market properties.&rdquo; By &ldquo;properties&rdquo; he meant &ldquo;musicians,&rdquo; though the preferred word for that antiquated term now seems to be &ldquo;brands.&rdquo; Nate Auerbach, the self-described &ldquo;music evangelist&rdquo; at Tumblr, talked about the ability of brands such as Shakira to make the platform &ldquo;her own,&rdquo; connecting with fans and telling a story through images&mdash;and ideally nothing else. Headlines or any other text, we were told, are distracting and best avoided.</p><p>The irony here was that SXSW techies failed to get the projector to work. The planned visual illustrations for the session never materialized during the first half-hour, leaving the moderator thoroughly flustered and this particular vision for a brave new world of post-verbal communications severely compromised.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1mcdonough.jpg" style="height: 281px; width: 500px;" title="Gabe McDonough (leoburnnett.com)" /></div></div></div><p>&ldquo;Brands&rdquo; was again the most common word uttered at the next session I hit, <strong>&ldquo;Jingle Is Not a Four-Letter Word,&rdquo;</strong> wherein experts explored the variety of ways musicians can sell their sounds (and souls) to corporate America as it in turn tries to sell us products we probably don&rsquo;t need. Here the clarion voice belonged to a Chicagoan: Gabe McDonough, music director at the giant ad agency, Leo Burnett.</p><p>&ldquo;Who benefits more?&rdquo; McDonough asked, pondering the relationship between the musician and the advertising client. &ldquo;It can be a nice payday when a musician gets some money, but mostly it&rsquo;s the [corporate] brand: We need X, Y, and Z to get what we need to get out of this.&rdquo;</p><p>What the client needs is a particular feeling that only the right pairing of music and image can create. So ad agencies work with clients to find tunes that will resonate with consumers, obtaining them either by licensing existing songs from musicians, or commissioning composers to write stuff exclusively for the project. What happens when the creator of the &ldquo;perfect&rdquo; song refuses to sell it for an ad? &ldquo;You get as close as you can without getting sued,&rdquo; said Michael Fitzpatrick, the one musician on the dais.</p><p>McDonough claimed to hate that approach. Music, he said, still resonates with people in a deeper and more profound way than anything else; this is why advertisers need it, and they want it to be &ldquo;authentic.&rdquo; The current economy is &ldquo;devaluing&rdquo; music&mdash;&ldquo;the problem is one of monetization,&rdquo; this modern-day Don Draper said&mdash;and for some musicians, doing what once was quaintly called &ldquo;selling out&rdquo; simply is a good alternative for making money while gaining exposure.</p><p>Even if the payday for an underground band is far less than the money for a superstar selling a hit song (what the panelists called &ldquo;the golden Apple&rdquo; model), the musician can build on the exposure from an ad to develop their&hellip; wait for it&hellip; brand. &ldquo;Ultimately, building their own NBC will be way more valuable than any pop song they&rsquo;ll write,&rdquo; McDonough promised.</p><p>Of course, musicians have to be able to swallow their pride and emotion when hearing sounds they crafted from their hearts being used to sell, say, an erectile dysfunction medication or a dishwashing liquid. But presumably those are concerns best left to the idealists of the world, not the ad men and &ldquo;futurecasters&rdquo; (another word I&rsquo;ve already heard three times at this conference).</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1Palmer.jpg" style="height: 375px; width: 500px;" title="Amanda Palmer (kickstarter.com)." /></div><p>Me, I always identify with the idealists, and the standing-room-only session called &ldquo;<strong>The Anatomy of Amanda F---ing Palmer: An Inside Look&rdquo; </strong>spotlighted a great modern example of one such heroine.</p><p>Palmer, a singular voice in the goth/alt/unique singer-songwriter underground since her earliest days with <a href="http://www.jimdero.com/News%202006/DresdenDollsApril7.htm">the Dresden Dolls</a>, made big news last Spring when a crowdfunded Internet campaign raised $1,192,793 from 24,833 contributors eager to hear her latest album, <em>This Is Theatre, </em>released in September. Sharing the stage with her managers, her overseas/traditional record label partners at Cooking Vinyl, and representatives from Kickstarter and Topspin, the artist explained how she did it, an answer that can be boiled down to a little imagination and a heck of a lot of hard work.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a f---ing zeitgeist what&rsquo;s happening now with art and crowdfunding,&rdquo; Palmer said, noting that only a few hours earlier, fans of <em>Veronica Mars </em>hoping to see the TV show resurrected as a movie <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/13/technology/veronica-mars-kickstarter/">raised more than a million dollars in a few hours</a>.</p><p>The artist&rsquo;s direct connection with fans can overcome any obstacle in a new music industry reinventing itself by fits and starts hourly, Palmer believes. Of course, that relationship can be fickle, and when she ended her session by breaking out a small four-stringed instrument and paying loving homage to this most twee of axes (&ldquo;Ukulele, banish evil!/Ukulele, save the people!&rdquo;), this fan&rsquo;s loyalties were severely torn between his Palmer love and his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2011-03-31/attention-indie-rock-no-ukes-84433">previously well-documented uke hatred</a>.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/OZaR_4us6Ec" width="420"></iframe></p><p>Finally, the afternoon ended for me with the world premiere of <em>Born in Chicago</em>, a new film by director John Anderson that left very mixed feelings.</p><p>By far the most exciting parts of the documentary were the performance clips, interviews and photographic tours of the blues scene that rose on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side after the post-war migration, with greats such as Muddy Waters, Howlin&rsquo; Wolf, Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin and Sam Lay. But the focus is less on these legends, whose sounds remain as vital and immediate today as they were nearly 60 years ago, than it is on the first generation of white musicians to embrace, adopt and&mdash;some would say&mdash;exploit their music.</p><p>This group includes some artists and other folks who are undeniably charming (keyboardist Barry Goldberg, who co-produced the film, and guitarist Elvin Bishop), some who are much less so (Nick Gravenites and the problematic Marshall Chess, who narrates the movie) and some who died before their time (Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield). For this critic, none of them ever approached the genius of the older African-American artists they often slavishly imitated, and it&rsquo;s hard to deny that they were responsible for a lot of wretched and clichéd excess&mdash;the &ldquo;bloofs&rdquo; peddled to tourists today via the post-Belushi sanitization of these once-great Sweet Home Chicago sounds&mdash;especially in comparison to the newer, fresher directions pursued by similarly thieving British peers such as the Yardbirds, the Pretty Things, the Animals and the Rolling Stones.</p><p>&ldquo;In a way, it&rsquo;s very pathetic,&rdquo; Keith Richards says, mulling over the question of white appropriation of black music by him and others. &ldquo;But in a way, it&rsquo;s also very heartwarming.&rdquo;</p><p>The latter is easier to see in the loving way that Richards writes about his influences in his autobiography <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Life-Keith-Richards/dp/031603441X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1363216683&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=keith+richards">Life</a>, </em>or even in the film&rsquo;s snippet of footage from that famous gig that the Stones played with Waters at the Checkerboard Lounge in 1981. But heartwarming is the last word I&rsquo;d use for describing the heavy-handed, often soulless jamming of the Chicago Blues Reunion, Goldberg&rsquo;s nostalgic touring act, which is given entirely too much screen time, and which will take part in a panel discussion here on Friday before another screening of the film.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1BorninChicago.JPG" style="height: 281px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><p><strong><u>Looking back at SXSW 2012</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-14/sxsw-2012-day-one-crowdfunding-paul-williams-napster%E2%80%99s-founders-more-9">SXSW 2012: Day One: Crowdfunding, Paul Williams, Napster&rsquo;s founders &amp; more</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-15/sxsw-night-one-two-great-bands-la-97310">SXSW Night One: Two great bands from L.A.</a><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-15/sxsw-day-two-springsteen%E2%80%99s-keynote-address-97336">SXSW Day Two: Springsteen&rsquo;s keynote address</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-16/sxsw-night-two-big-star-and-cardinal-celebrated-97347">SXSW Night Two: Big Star and Cardinal celebrated</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-17/sxsw-day-three-spotify-future-chic-gamine-musical-magick-and-db%E2%80%99s-9738">SXSW Day Three: a Spotify future, Chic Gamine, musical magick and the dB&rsquo;s</a></p></p> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 20:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/imaging-jingle-crafting-crowdfunding-and-%E2%80%98born-chicago%E2%80%99-106087 Covering SXSW with Jim DeRogatis http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-20/covering-sxsw-jim-derogatis-97445 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-19/JimDeRo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/38808025?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ff0000" webkitallowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" width="601"></iframe></p><p>South by SouthWest turns the city of Austin, Texas into one of the world's largest and most chaotic music festivals for a week each March. It's a daunting event to tackle as a concertgoer, but it's near impossible to give it its due as a critic. That's what <em>Sound Opinions</em> co-host and WBEZ blogger Jim DeRogatis has attempted for each of the past twenty-one years. This video documents a small slice of that effort. (Not included on screen are the countless bands that approach DeRo, CD-Rs in hand.)</p></p> Tue, 20 Mar 2012 13:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-20/covering-sxsw-jim-derogatis-97445 SXSW 2012 Day Four: Done! Givers, Nneka, Kimbra, Ed Sheeran and more http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-18/sxsw-2012-day-four-done-givers-nneka-kimbra-ed-sheeran-and-more-97413 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-19/SXSW wrist bands 3 _Legaspi.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-19/SXSW wrist bands 3 _Legaspi.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 248px;" title="(Photo by Althea Legaspi)"></p><p>The fourth and final night of SXSW 2012 was not off to the greatest musical start. The first act I caught was Kat Graham. Known mostly for her role as Bonnie Bennett on <em>Vampire Diaries</em>, she's been dabbling in music while acting and recently signed a record contract. Her performance was raunchy, her singing marginal, and was pretty much the worst act I caught at SXSW. Flanked by two dancing women -- all of them dressed in bikini/bra tops and mini skirts, their choreographed numbers were overly-sexed and her pap single, "Put Your Graffiti On Me," didn't help matters. Unfortunately for them, the scantily-clad distraction could not detract from the awful backing track nor her singing. Thankfully, Givers followed and were a nice surprise. The Louisiana quintet's whimsical, infectious melodies were married with bouncy beats and their blissful performance and attitude was contagious.</p><div><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-19/Nneka_legaspi.jpg" style="width: 255px; height: 400px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="A peek at Nneka at The Stage on Sixth. (Photo by Althea Legaspi)">Next up New Zealand native/Australia dwelling Kimbra was another artist with pep and a wide range of styles (from uber pop to soul to scatty jazz), which came off a bit unfocused. She had a lot of energy and an eclectic style, from her colorful dress to her scattershot musical approach, which could be more engaging if she finds direction. Ed Sheeran has blown up in the UK with his debut album, <em>+</em>, hitting No. 1 on their charts. He had built a fanbase independently before that major label debut however, and he seemed an unlikely character to hit such heights when I caught him at Austin Music Hall. The songs were OK, but he was not particularly charismatic onstage, he was sheepish when he was delivering fast-paced, almost rapped lyrics to backing tracks, though he looked more comfortable when he held a guitar for some less frenetic numbers. Perhaps that self-consciousness was part of his charm, but it was lost in translation for me.&nbsp;</p><p>Nneka, however, was completely engaging, and I am still kicking myself for not queuing in line earlier to get inside the venue. Fortunately, Stage on Sixth has large open windows where the sound spilled into the streets, and unlike the mob that surrounded the venue the night before with Jack White, she was easily viewable as well. I watched a bit from outside as the Nigerian singer's smooth voice glided over reggae musical undertones.&nbsp;</p><p>I managed to catch acts from eight different countries (including the U.S.) by the completion of SXSW 2012, which isn't too bad for an around-the-world whirl in four days. Overall, there were some interesting international discoveries for me, including Nneka, The White Eyes, The Balconies, 2:54 and Daughter. I also enjoyed seeing Iceland's Of Monsters and Men's quick rise within five months' time. I saw some promising acts, such as the aforementioned artists and also Howler and Givers. Alabama Shakes exceeded expectations, I finally caught The War on Drugs and Sharon Van Etten, both of whom impressed, and Bruce Springsteen's show lives among one of the best I've seen. I may not have found my new favorite band this time around, but what I did unearth was plenty worthwhile.&nbsp;</p><p>Until next year, Austin.</p></div></p> Mon, 19 Mar 2012 04:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-18/sxsw-2012-day-four-done-givers-nneka-kimbra-ed-sheeran-and-more-97413 Photos: SXSW Highlights including Wild Belle, Gold Fields, Bob Mould, Poliça, Tanlines and more http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-18/photos-sxsw-highlights-including-wild-belle-gold-fields-bob-mould-poli%C3%A7-tanlines <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_GoldFields.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The level of insanity at SXSW cannot be overstated. The term "hipster Mardi Gras" has been used frequently, but it's far more than that. Advertisements covered everything, down to the cocktail napkins in bars and the walls of music venues. Crowds willingly submitted to "branded experiences" for the chance at a free Jay-Z show. Tom Morrello of Rage Against The Machine led an "Occupy" styled sing-along. Rumors swirled that Terrence Malick was shooting scenes for his new film with Christian Bale and a clutch of indie rockers. And just when it seemed the streets of Austin couldn't be crazier, a horde of revellers decked out in green came down 6th Street chanting "USA, USA, USA" at the Canadian showcase house.</p><p>Scattered throughout this sea of humanity are the bands that drew serious music fans to Texas in the first place. Here are photos from some of the shows I was able to get to this week- probably less than 1% of the music that was made in Austin this week.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_wildbelle.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 394px;" title="Wild Belle at Billions Corporation showcase. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_GoldFields.jpg" title="Gold Fields at Buca Lounge. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" height="389" width="600"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_BobMould.jpg" title="Bob Mould at Merge Records showcase. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" height="401" width="600"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_polica.jpg" title="Poliça at Billboard showcase. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" height="349" width="600"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_tanlines.jpg" title="Tanlines at Windish Agency showcase. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" height="401" width="600"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_LostInTheTrees.jpg" title="Lost in the Trees at Billions Corporation showcase. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" height="480" width="600"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_imperialteen.jpg" title="Imperial Teen at Merge Records showcase. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" height="378" width="600"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_JCBrooks.jpg" title="JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound at Innovation+Chicago party. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" height="401" width="600"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_Weddingpresent.jpg" title="The Wedding Present at WFMU showcase. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" height="898" width="600"></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-18/blog_bearinheaven.jpg" title="Bear in Heaven at Friend Island. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" height="451" width="600"></p><p>And for all the <em>Friday Night Lights</em> fans, here's video of the final song from Cowboy and Indian's set on Wednesday- a band featuring Jesse Plemons and Stephanie Hunt of the show's fictional band, Crucifictorious.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/38576787?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ff0000" webkitallowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" width="601"></iframe></p></p> Sun, 18 Mar 2012 16:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-18/photos-sxsw-highlights-including-wild-belle-gold-fields-bob-mould-poli%C3%A7-tanlines SXSW Day Three: a Spotify future, Chic Gamine, musical magick and the dB’s http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-17/sxsw-day-three-spotify-future-chic-gamine-musical-magick-and-db%E2%80%99s-9738 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-19/dbsphoto.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Austin, TX—Another long day and night at SXSW started out with my <em>Sound Opinions </em>colleague Greg Kot and I sitting on a panel called <strong>“Adult Rock Music Meeting” </strong>with several legendary radio programmers, including Norm Winer of Chicago’s WXRT and former Chicagoan Sky Daniels, now of L.A.’s KCSN, listening to a minute and a half of mystery tracks and evaluating their merits—or lack thereof)</p><p>This is the second time Team Sound Ops has done a session like this, and each time I’ve felt compelled to point out that this is <em>not </em>how critics listen to music. Once an artist has pinged the radar as someone of interest from a number of sources—blogs and other press, streaming radio stations or podcasts, good word of mouth, and so on—this reviewer almost never listens to an album less than four times through, and often much more. But it’s a fun game, and it yielded one discovery.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Chic Gamine." class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-17/1Chic.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px;" title="Chic Gamine."></p><p>No one else on the panel—and few in the audience—really liked <strong><a href="http://www.chicgamine.com/">Chic Gamine</a></strong>, a quintet from Winnipeg/Montreal fronted by four harmonizing young women working in a style they call “not a cappella... a’capulco!” That is to say, on a self-titled five-song EP, they layer gorgeous girl-group harmonies over a subtle sound that’s equal parts ’60s French pop/spaceage bachelor pad music and Motown. Unfortunately, I discovered them after they’d already played their one and only SXSW showcase, but they’ve made me a believer.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="225" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/37351501?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="400"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://vimeo.com/37351501">Chic Gamine "Closer"</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/chicgamine">Chic Gamine</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p><p>By far the most revealing panel of the day for this reporter was a session later in the afternoon entitled <strong>“Pennies from the Celestial Jukebox,” </strong>in which a distinguished panel of artist managers and music business attorneys discussed the pros and cons of the new revenue stream represented by streaming audio, especially <a href="http://www.spotify.com/us/start/?utm_source=spotify&amp;utm_medium=web&amp;utm_campaign=start">Spotify</a>. A considerable success in Europe, the service is just ramping up in the United States, but it’s poised to dominate all competitors (unless Apple gets into the game) because of the licensing agreements it’s made with the major labels.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-17/1spotify-logo.jpg" style="width: 350px; height: 237px;" title=""></p><p>Clearly, some sort of subscription model that allows listeners to stream as much music as they want on their digital devices is the next step forward from digital downloads (with the sale of physical product soon headed for extinction, except perhaps for collectors of vinyl and specialized CD/multimedia box sets). But many artists are concerned since, to date, the income from these streams has been miniscule compared to the income from the sale of MP3s.</p><p>“We’re not talking about pennies,” lawyer Edward Pierson said as he brandished a roll of the copper coins. “But <em>pieces</em> of those pennies.”</p><p>All of the panelists held some optimism that as streaming audio “scales up” (my favorite bizspeak of the conference), those pennies will become significant dollars. But all of them—including heavy-hitter Bertis Downs, R.E.M.’s longtime attorney and manager—are disturbed that the major label deals with Spotify were done in secret, and artists have no idea what kind of royalty those labels’ musicians are getting compared to everyone else.</p><p>Shouldn’t a stream be worth what a stream is worth for everyone, Lady Gaga or the garage band in Wicker Park? Is this another attempt by the remnants of the old-school major label system to insert itself between the artist and the fan and siphon off as much cash as possible as a needless middleman? This reporter certainly left the session with that pessimistic suspicion (<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/turnitup/chi-spotify-sxsw-panel-streaming-services-debated-at-south-by-southwest-20120316,0,1166185.column">and you can read Mssr. Kot’s take on the talk here</a>).</p><p>Just as mind-blowing in a different way was a session called <strong>“Blood Music Sex Magick” </strong>pondering the aura of the occult in a lot of rock ’n’ roll, “from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to Led Zeppelin, and from Tool to Jay-Z,” as moderator Howard Wuelfing put it.</p><p>Panelist Joshua Sharp, “the founding Master of Alombrados Oasis, the New Orleans-based body of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a Thelemic initiatory fraternity,” nearly derailed the session with an endless introductory speech about… well, I really don’t know; some nonsense involving Aleister Crowley, who he admitted was part legit and part fraud, though he claimed that the greater “the haze of confusion” (read: “b.s.”) around all things occult, the closer one is getting to the “hidden truths.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Aleister Crowley." class="caption" height="170" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-17/1 crowley.jpg" title="Aleister Crowley." width="170"></p><p>Much more cogent—and illuminating—were the comments of Alison Fensterstock, a contributing writer for the <em>New Orleans Times-Picayune</em>, who traced the development of American voodoo or “magick” to the musical chanting and rituals of slaves in the Crescent City, which she correctly credited as the birthplace of all of the greatest sounds this country has produced, including jazz, R&amp;B, funk and rock ’n’ roll.</p><p>In other words, there’s more than a little magic in all of these sounds. But we already knew that, didn’t we?</p><p>In between, I caught a set by the much-buzzed <strong>Punch Brothers </strong>during a showcase by New York’s WFUV at the radio day stage. The quintet—violin, mandolin, acoustic guitar, standup bass and banjo—plays a sound it calls “progressive bluegrass,” though some have termed it “supergrass.” Fans of <a href="../../blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-06/album-review-andrew-bird-%E2%80%98break-it-yourself%E2%80%99-mom-pop-music-97020">Andrew Bird</a> no doubt will be charmed, but I can’t help thinking of the <em>Portlandia</em> skit <a href="http://youtu.be/mPKe9OfWs-M">“The Dream of the 1890s”</a> whenever I hear them.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/M9AkIhx-Dsg" width="420"></iframe></p><p>As for my third night in the clubs, so far, my tried-and-true method of keeping the list of must-see’s short and wandering into as many clubs as possible in search of surprising discoveries has so far failed me in 2012. I’ve seen a lot of music, and by no means has all of it been bad; it’s just that little beyond what I’ve chronicled in these dispatches has been extraordinary. Maybe it’s the record-breaking crowd and ensuing chaos on the streets that’s slowing me down, or maybe it’s just that sort of year—a period of artistic transition to match the dramatic changes on the business side of things.</p><p>In any event, my one true highlight Friday night was a show by the reunited power-pop legends <strong>the dB’s</strong> at a tiny club called BD Riley’s. Giants in that genre, the band put out two undisputed masterpieces—<em>Stands for Decibels </em>in 1981 and <em>Repercussion </em>in 1982—and two other very good records after one lead vocalist and songwriter, Chris Stamey, went on to other projects (including the Golden Palominos) and before the other, Peter Holsapple, spent much of the ’90s as the multi-instrumentalist genius hired hand in R.E.M. during its last great run.</p><p>Though the combo—consisting on this night of the two bandleaders plus Will Rigby on drums and the great producer Mitch Easter on bass, plus an extra keyboardist/guitarist—played some of its most enduring tunes from back in the day (“Neverland,” “Big Brown Eyes,” “Happenstance”) and a mesmerizing cover of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” (“We haven’t played that for 30 years, but I did see it on YouTube,” Stamey noted”), this was no oldies show, and every bit as strong as the classics were the new tunes from <em>Falling Off the Sky</em>, which will be released in June.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="The dB's on Friday: Stamey, Holsapple, Easter." class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-17/dbsphoto.JPG" style="width: 550px; height: 413px;" title="The dB's on Friday: Stamey, Holsapple, Easter."></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/hfpli2VQtZU" width="420"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em>The dB's back in the day.</em></strong></p><p><br><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sxsw">For full SXSW coverage visit www.wbez.org/sxsw.</a></p></p> Sat, 17 Mar 2012 06:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-17/sxsw-day-three-spotify-future-chic-gamine-musical-magick-and-db%E2%80%99s-9738