SXSW 2012's six worst moments, brought to you by #DEWeezy
|Photo by Marco Torres|
|Don't dew it.|
Yawn at Bar 96
Standing up for indie rock in 2012 is like pledging allegiance to Joseph Kony, and we have bands like infantile Chicago quartet Yawn to thank. The pleasure of Bandcamp is that we get to peruse hashtags like "animal collective, avant-pop, beach boys, brian eno, electronic, of montreal, vampire weekend, yeasayer, avant-pop, dreampop, electronic, indie pop, Chicago" and theoretically end up with something that resembles those terms. (Don't forget "andrew bird" and "beirut," guys.) The downside is that a slickly produced EP like Yawn's self-titled collection and then last year's follow-up Open Season get out to the masses too fast. Tongue-wagging tastemakery takes over, and suddenly folks trying to fill out lineup cards at festivals end up latching onto goobers like these guys without seeing them perform.
The Doritos Jacked Stage The Doritos Jacked venue was ugly and dumb. It reminded me that the movie Idiocracy isn't just a comic farce, but it's also a prophetic nightmare. It caused a bottleneck after bottleneck of people taking pictures of it at least every five minutes -- fashioned to look like a giant Doritos vending machine. Don't get me wrong, I love Doritos (Cooler Ranch if you please...) but this was a severely stoopid advertising gimmick even for me, something who is fueled by over the top idiocy, and adores the crassness of corporate America.
I don't mind a Red Bull party or the Extreme Miller Lite Super Sud stage, but a monstrous faux-machine was like a hotel-sized "fuck you" to human spirit for five days in Austin. It was bad enough that we had to contend with the lame-dick amateur drinkers in "Blow Me I'm Irish" shirts they got at Spencer's on the way to Sixth Street. The acts that played in the vending venue machine weren't bad, I mean I saw White Denim and Gemma Ray in there even, but what was worse was that they tried to treat the inside of the lot it was on like a posh, exclusive venue. If I am going to see a band inside a vending machine, don't charge the kids for water, and you better give away one of those comically-large bags of chips away at least, or implode at as the finale. I guess what I am saying is, I wish that the kids working the gate offered me free Doritos on my way out. -- Craig Hlavaty / Houston Press
The Endless Parade of Technical Difficulties / Every venue
Look: Here's indie-folk singer Sharon Van Etten playing at Mohawk with her vocals so submerged as to be inaudible! Here's Bay Area electronic soundscape-artist Tycho performing to a full crowd at Clive Bar through a P.A. with no sub-bass! Here's electro-noise duo Peaking Lights standing on the Red 7 stage in despair because they spent their entire set struggling to make, you know, sounds happen! Granted, there are always going to be problems at any event as huge and tightly scheduled at South By Southwest, but this year, it felt like every other set was marred by some kind of technical issue. It was routine to see artists spending their shows throwing up hand signals to their sound crew, only to get it right just as their timeslot was ending, or to play sets with crucial parts of the music inadudible through the house mix. The blame for this doesn't lie in any one place, of course: Londoners New Build made a point of saying that their soundman ran shows for LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip and thus knew a thing or two. Even after a barrage of gear-related frustrations, Dan Deacon graciously complimented his sound techs on their work, and implored his audience to thank them as well. (Deacon also gets the prize for making the funniest asides while sorting through the problems.) Still, with as large and expensive and corporate as SXSW has become, tech problems should be the exception, not -- as they seemed this year - the rule. -- Ian S. Port / SF Weekly
Youth Lagoon - Hotel Vegas
Because there are thousands of performers at SXSW, there is something to literally everyone's taste. And lots that isn't. Most of the time you can avoid something you don't like, but sometimes you can't. While working on another assignment, I happened upon Youth Lagoon Friday at the Brooklyn Vegan party on the Eastside's Hotel Vegas and quickly ran out of synonyms for "boring." It seems cruel to say it was the worst thing I saw last week, because singer-songwriter Trevor Powers is so young (22) and has struggled with anxiety. But from what I saw Friday, "navel-gazing" would have been putting it
politely. I hope he changes my mind someday. -- Chris Gray / Houston Press