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South By Southwest: Day 1

Written by Amre Klimchak on . Posted in Music, Posts



The massive South By Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, has become in its more than 20 years of existence a mecca for music industry types from aspiring bands to live music junkies. On Wednesday, the official first day of conference (though unofficial parties and performances had begun as early as last Friday), downtown Austin’s venues were packed.

I started the afternoon with the Terrorbird Media/Force Field PR party at Emo’s, catching The Raveonettes’ (pictured) intense reverb-drenched set. Then I headed across Red River Street to Emo’s Annex, essentially a tent in a parking lot, for Jason Collett. The Toronto singer-songwriter’s assembled an impressive band to realize his lush country-infused rock, and he perfectly summed up SXSW’s atmosphere, saying it felt like he was at summer camp. And SXSW is a sort of camp, except that instead of engaging in wholesome activities like archery and singing “Kumbaya” around a campfire, attendees scurry from venue to makeshift venue trying to absorb as much music as possible before passing out from exhaustion (usually brought on by a combination of standing for 12 hours and imbibing an ocean of booze). Later, I went to pick up my SXSW wristband at the convention center and stumbled upon a performance by Ra Ra Riot inside the hall. Despite the miserable acoustics and totally uninviting backdrop of a cafeteria-style room draped in black curtains, the hyperactive sextet managed to enrapture a large crowd with their bubbly chamber pop.

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Photo courtesy of Jalapeño on Flickr
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José González Settles Into the Spotlight

Written by Amre Klimchak on . Posted in Music, Posts

Before last night’s stellar performance at Webster Hall, I’d seen Swedish-born acoustic guitarist and crooner José González perform twice (last year, during SXSW in Austin, Texas, and at the Bowery Ballroom in July). In both of these 2006 shows, he’d approached his music with the same quiet intensity of his debut album, Veneer, but seemed [&hellip
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Water is Life: Tinariwen in Town

Written by Amre Klimchak on . Posted in Music, Posts

When I entered the packed Highline Ballroom last night to watch the West-African group Tinariwen, I didn’t know what to expect exactly. This band of Tuareg nomads, who sing in the Tamashek language, draw on traditional Tuareg music and West-African blues guitar (think Ali Farka Touré) to create soaring, trance-inducing aural trips. I’d heard the [&hellip
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