South by SouthRest aims to bring to your attention things that you may have missed during SXSW 2014. Our remote correspondent, Philip Cosores, is committed to keeping you in the loop.
Teenage Riot: Tyler’s Arrest
I don’t know if this story was going around before Spin posted the story, but on first scan, it didn’t sound like an exaggeration or a sensationalized plea for hits. I’ve actually been in a similar scene at South By Southwest (St. Patrick’s Day at Auditorium Shores for The Strokes, one of the worst concerts I’ve ever endured where I was deaf and wheelchair bound children trampled by drunks) and know the helplessness and barbarism is literally haunting. I don’t know Garrett Kamps or his work, but I do now, he captured the scene as well as can be hoped. Including his attempted comment for Tyler after the show, and it was solid reporting, presenting his experience as it was, his. Waiting to present a more objective take would have been too late
That’s because later Tyler, the Creator was arrested for a misdemeanor charge of attempted inciting of a riot. And from the sounds of things, he is lucky to just get that. Yes he is innocent until proven guilty and I won’t convict him in public opinion, but jeez, South By Southwest at its worst doesn’t really cause concern for music, it makes you fear for humanity as a whole.
What is sad is that just this fall, I went to the Odd Future Carnival in L.A. and it was one of the highlights of my year. A very young, mostly African American and Latin American audience made everyone that pushes hip hop into a corner of the music community eat their own prejudices. The crowd was more courteous than most I encounter, more respectful of each other, and just in control and good humored. I mean, they were at a carnival that gave them free rides with their concert ticket. Kanye showed up, and nearly every set found people collaborating, something Rock the Bells is always painfully light on. With that victory in my mind, it is a bummer to see Tyler allegedly regress and do something so dumb. He knows better.
Ex-Hex follows in the footsteps of Wild Flag, which was following in many other band’s steps, but Wild Flag most, was a guaranteed success. Ex-Hex also will get plenty of attention because Mary Timony has such a strong track record. The sound is classic punk, The Kinks, riot grrl, and still its own 2014 garnish. Essentially, it’s a sure-thing. Buzz approved.
Lydia Loveless is a country singer of the alternative persuasion, though it is hard to imagine any country lover that remembers the music of the 80’s not liking Loveless. The Judds, Dolly Parton, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, and Uncle Tupelo all spring to mind a various moments, and the lyrics are so damn cool and real that pop country should feel shame even being in the same conversation with Loveless. Buzz approved.
Pins is a noise pop band, and noise pop will always sound good, better if there has been enough time between the last buzzy noise pop band and the current one. Listening to Pins you realize that Vivian Girls will be missed but there are plenty of successors and there always will be. And this one has songs to match the cool. Buzz approved.
That tweet is a little dead-on, a little dead-off. The James Blake thing is pretty accurate, and the beats are more hip-hop, but it still sounds kind of obvious to me. Too much James Blake, not enough difference for my taste. Buzz denied.
I’ve seen Erykah Badu before and she’s lovely in many ways. Her Fader Fort set played to her weaknesses, and that was a shame. She is not the best at self-editing, and playing an abbreviated set, she should have been more focussed. Instead, she kept her sing-talking to the audience schtick, and complained repeatedly about her short play-time. It’s SXSW, it’s the last day, people chose to see this, others are watching at home. Time to shut up and play the hits, as James Murphy would say.
I’ve also seen Rick Ross somewhat recently. My thoughts then were that a Rick Ross concert features a pretty minor amount of actual Rick Ross rapping. Which shouldn’t be surprising, but Ross was much more the star last night, probably because of his new album and such. It’s been noted that guests were promised and not delivered, and on “Sanctified” for example, where Ross is just 1/4 of the song, the limitations of the performance were most apparent. I don’t know if anyone loved this set, but you came to SXSW to end up at a Rick Ross concert on the last day. You got what you deserved.
The End… or is it??
Not to sound like an asshole, but most people did get what they asked for in Austin this week. The market determines the product in a lot of ways, and if there was no audience for Soundgarden and Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber and Ross, they wouldn’t come. I think even the very eye-roll-inducing but still probably genuine praise for Future Islands or Against Me or Mark Kozelek is in the same boat. These are all successful acts already. They don’t need buzz and if they do, it is to make it to huge artist status that, let’s face it, buzz isn’t really going to affect. If they were good enough or marketable enough to play big venues, they will end up there. They don’t need us for that. Look at Two Door Cinema Club or Imagine Dragons or Mumford and Sons or Capital Cities and on and on.
But for the vocal minority voicing their discontent with the event, the lines, the corporate presence, the drunks, the aggression, I do feel for them, and for the many artists that can’t book a national tour at will and could really use someone notable talking about them. It was hard to hear about those acts during SXSW. I looked hard and it was still hard to find. People, rather, will preview 50 acts you can’t miss and end up seeing Pitbull because, hey, when do you get to see Pitbull in a small venue!? (I’ve seen Pitbull before, don’t believe the hype. Shit is lame as a motherfucker.)
I forget who posted it but after the accident, someone said “we’re about to find out which of these New York writers are actually journalists.” I won’t comment any further on this but this year’s SXSW really showed some separation from the pack in music writing, just as it does in music playing and music selling. I think next year about half of the veteran music personalities skip it. I know I will. #SXSR2 won’t write itself.