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.
Doritos Stage at Stubbs
One of the biggest events to hit SXSW is the Lady Gaga concert/Key Note Address combo. And the performance was likely what was expected, with individuality, art, self-worth, and citizenship all points of emphasis. As a Gaga novice, I was surprised by how few songs were familiar. What was familiar was the rhetoric, like Gaga telling the crowd to live in the moment and put their phones away, though no particular moment struck as poignant, when Gaga suggested to the crowd to not tweet, that they won’t be remembered for their tweets after they are gone.
What does matter is their personal impact on others. It can be a comforting thought if you are actively trying to do that, and who would think they weren’t? There is a flip side, that raising up the individual experience makes the world more selfish, less communal, and more intolerant in the long run. It’s easy to say “be yourself,” but maybe we should be preaching The Golden Rule instead. Find me the artist with that as their platform, and I’m sold.
Who is gonna win #sxsw (and @sxsr)?
The question as to who is “winning” SXSW eventually starts coming up today. Charli XCX seems like a good candidate. She is still a rising star, she is working hard at the event, she saved some important news and new material to launch in Austin, and she is doing unique things musically. So yeah, there is probably something to learn in her #sxsw strategy, because from the #sxsr point of view, which is the vast majority of humanity, she’s what everyone seems to be talking about. Future Islands, a buzz band for five years and running, also seems to be doing well.
Investigative findings: So here is the line of thinking. First, there is the Feist-y vocals, which are almost as popular as the Lana Del Rey-y vocals are right now. But, with the electronic, highly atmospheric and textural backing, it doesn’t sound completely derivative. Then I find out the singer is Amelia Randall Meath, who is part of Mountain Man, who was Feist’s backing singers for her last album tour. So, now it feels like less a rip-off and more a direct homage. Alex Bleeker of Real Estate called Meath the “band genie” in an interview about her work on his Freaks album last year. Now she is maybe ready to find her own success rather than help others find theirs. It’s about time. Buzz approved.
Investigative findings:Fuzzed-out shoegaze that is just a little more pop-structure driven than its predocessors. Basically, what a a lot of people secretly wanted My Bloody Valentine to sound like, but were afraid to say. For good reason, too, beause they would be wrong. MBV is perfect. Nothing is exciting music, though, and doesn’t seem like a compromise, but just a new formula from multiple points of influence. Buzz approved.
Investigative findings:This is the worst. It will probably be huge, but sounds like living after a labotomy. Buzz denied.
Investigative findings: If the Black Lips put out this record, it would make so many people happy. They are a great live band, too. One of the standouts from Burgerama last year, hopefully following FIDLAR to well-deserved mid-sized audiences. Buzz approved.
#SXSR is weird.
This is how you get sick of Twitter really fast. Watching Twitter all day basically makes you insufferable and makes you hate people for probably irrational reasons. To cope with this, you engage in things just to pass the time and amuse yourself and/or others. Not quite sure if this is a pro or a con of #sxsr but it exists. Here are some of my highs/lows.
Where is the buzz? People don’t seem to be talking about hearing much new music. Did the corporate greed ruin SXSW? I’m not there, so I can’t really say. But, I’m also not there for a reason.
Staying home you do get to actually read the random emails sent for SXSW. Like the one for this buzz tracker. Earlier it basically said that Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Lady Gaga were the buzziest acts of the moment. Which is both predictable and kind of a bummer when you consider what the point of SXSW is supposed to be.
Pi in the Sky is another email that stuck out at me. With today now being Pi Day, 3-14, people it turns out celebrate by baking pies, eating pies, and reveling in the joy of the number pi.
From the email:
Five synchronized AirSign aircraft just began circling over SXSW in Austin, spelling out hundreds of characters in the infinite pi sequence across 100 miles of sky in honor Pi Day tomorrow, 3/14. This public art project is a celebration of the universal language of pi and the limitless potential it represents.
For those looking for meaning at SXSW, you can’t get more meaningful than pi. Stay tuned for further reporting on this tomorrow.