It's the second full day of music at South by Southwest, and Done Waiting offers an appreciation of neo-prog rock veterans the Flaming Lips, who know exactly how to keep the attention of an audience who have literally hundreds of other entertainment options to choose: "The band then began Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' while hundreds of gigantic balloons were thrown into the crowd. If you've been to a Flaming Lips show recently you've probably seen balloons like this fly around in the crowd -- the only difference here was that it was happening in a pretty small tent, considering the amount of people. It had this insane pinball/ping pong effect that was just plain brilliant. The crowd was singing, dancing, going nuts. It was halfway through the song that I realized, this is why I love music." The Village Voice, meanwhile, explains the complex hierarchy of badges and wristbands that dictates whether the humble festival-goer gets to witness SXSW's hot tickets: "Just existing in Austin doesn't guarantee you entry to even C-list bands at the piggiest music (biz) festival in the world. You need some sort of institution to sponsor you for the coveted badge But even the badge won't get you into the A-plus shows." Finally, the Austin Chronicle interviews Chrissie Hynde, who is playing Saturday with the Pretenders.
For bands at SXSW hoping to catch the buzz bandwagon, something as simple as the name of your group can help tip the balance between the Next Big Thing and there's always next year (recall the success of wolf bands at last year's CMJ festival in New York: Wolf Parade, We Are Wolves, AIDS Wolf). Of late, the indie-pop scene has been dominated by declamatory, grammatically suspect names: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; the Hold Steady; the Go! Team; You Say Party! We Say Die!; I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness; And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead; Godspeed You Black Emperor! Today, we preview some bright young things with similarly eye-catching monikers:
Shout Out Out Out Out is a Canadian six-piece that professes to consist of two drummers, four bass players, two samplers, five synthesizers, five cowbells, two Octapads and one vocoder: Many or all of these components are in evidence on "Nobody Calls Me Unless They Want Something," five minutes of lowdown and dirty electro-rock. Comparisons to hipster favorites LCD Soundsystem are inevitable, and not entirely inaccurate, but this track has a lighthearted, eminently danceable charm of its own.
Nineteen-year-old Sam Duckworth of Essex, England, labors under the nom-de-rock Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. He creates an intriguing blend of perked-up folky-electronica and earnest emo vocals on "Whitewash Is Brainwash," which, while not exactly my cup of tea, features the twin assault of earnest lyricism and frighteningly precocious musicianship.
There must be something in the water in New Zealand -- the otherwise benign country seems only to export loud and nasty garage rock acts. The Datsuns and the D4 hovered around the edges of the post-White Stripes hype-bubble, and now comes Die! Die! Die!, set to tour with Aussie rockers Wolfmother. The superbly titled "Auckland Is Burning" utilizes rumbling drums, abrasive guitars and a plaintive, strung-out vocal.
¡Forward Russia! may just be the perfect storm in terms of recent indie-pop fads. Hailing from the Arctic Monkeys stomping ground -- Yorkshire, England -- they mine the same early '80s dance-rock vein as nearly every new band out of Britain. More important, the tunes are great: "Twelve" combines shouty vocals, fragile, chiming guitars and an irresistible chorus to thrilling effect.