Sunday, March 22, 2009

SXSW 2009 - Friday: Get your fingernails done and your windows tinted

At 2pm Emo’s JR was crowded with folks invading the Pitchfork party to see the band with all the buzz, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. The New York four-piece turned out snappy rock that didn’t disappoint – sounding like Blonde Redhead given the Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction” shot-of-adrenaline-to-the-heart treatment. While the guitarlines sounded much the same from song to song, chances are they may have thought they’d already played that song – as they’ve been slated to play some 10 showcases during the weekend.

Pains was followed up by another band inciting a Blonde Redhead reference – School Of Seven Bells, the New York act composed of twin sisters and Benjamin Curtis (from Secret Machines) – the gender reverse of Blonde Redhead. Opening up for M83 last year, SVIIB share that act’s ethereal dreaminess, which, live, you can feel all over. Literally – I can still feel the bass.

At 3:30, I stopped off at the Onion party, where Parenthetical Girls’ Zac Pennington owned the stage (and most of the floor in front of the stage), conducting a symphony in his head and prancing in a brown and green sweater vest. With a sound that’s part Colin Meloy part Jens Lekman, and mostly xylophone, Pennington led the set with Kevin Barnes-like swagger (if you can call it that).

I ducked out hoping to catch White Lies at Cedar Street, but showed up just in time to catch the end of Late Of The Pier, who, during their last song, got involved in a fist fight with security. While punches were being thrown and one of the band members was escorted up the exit stairs, the band continued on, determined to finish. The crowd was baffled, and after some terse words, the band was allowed to finish it off, much to the crowd’s delight.

I jetted over to the industrial-sized Fader Fort, along with a throng of thousands – the fort had moved this year from next to the freeway downtown, to under and across from the freeway south of downtown. At 6pm I caught Hatcham Social, who’d played the SPIN party earlier in the day. The UK group offered some nice keyboard playing, and the lead singer alternated sliding a beer bottle and a drumstick along his guitar strings.

The band I had really come out to see though was Tinted Windows, the super-group composed of – are you ready for this? – James Iha (formerly of the Smashing Pumpkins), Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne bassist, and scribe of most of the “Colbert Christmas” songs), and fronted by one of the Hanson brothers (Taylor). Yeah. If there was an award for most unexpected musical collaboration, this might be the winner. Clad in tight red hipster Levi’s and sporting silver framed cat eye-style sunglasses, Taylor Hanson crooned and the girls swooned and sang along to “Kind of a Girl.” Song after song the crowd rocked along, and it dawned on me that as weird as this collaboration seemed – they were cranking out the catchiest songs ever.

After a couple of minor dalliances (including a hip hop party where Mickey Factz was playing), I finished off the night at Club DeVille, watching a bleary-eyed crowd chant along to Asher Roth’s ode to getting wasted on Miller Light, “I Love College.” One of the DJs from Flostradamus mixed up Kayne West’s “Love Lockdown” between sets, and Kid Sister polished off the evening. In a Yankee’s cap and black and white t-shirt she worked her attitude, despite impending laryngitis on “Pro Nails.” It was late and the set was short (three songs), but the fans were pleased – or at least really blitzed.

SXSW 2009 Friday

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