Wish I Was There: South by Southwest 2008

South by Southwest, or SXSW as it is more conveniently known to those typing it out, the music fan’s fantasy that occurs annually in Texas, just kicked off a couple of days ago. Operating since 1987, SXSW is an internationally-recognized media showcase, which tends to be most renowned for its musical portion. Members of the music industry, music journalists, and hardcore music fans descend upon Austin, Texas for an intense few days of running between as many venues as possible to suss out who the next big thing is in the music world. Of course, I, like most of the world, barring about 10 000 people, cannot be there to attend. Instead, I stew bitterly at my keyboard amidst thesis bibliographies and semiotics textbooks.

This year several bands and artists that I’m either already familiar with or enamoured with are participating in SXSW. These include the likes of Black Moth Super Rainbow, British Sea Power, Cut Copy, Chromeo, Crystal Castles, Digitalism, The Dykeenies, The Fashion, Frightened Rabbit, The Hourly Radio, Los Campesinos!, MGMT, MSTRKRFT, Jim Noir, People in Planes, Thieves Like Us, The Ting Tings, Tokyo Police Club, The Raveonettes, Shy Child, Simian Mobile Disco, Sons and Daughters, Switches, These New Puritans, The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, The Whip, and from my hometown, The Weakerthans. There are also several big name acts lined up this year, including The Slits (a fact I had to read a few times to believe), R.E.M., Perry Farrell, and Billy Bragg, who will be performing both on his own and with a group of artists billed as Body of War. Rather than re-hash my opinions about artists I already know and/or love, I figured I would try to discover some new bands worthy of a listen – all from the comfort and/or confinement of my apartment. In this way, I shall simulate the experience of SXSW for all of us who are not there.

And so I painstakingly went through the list of registered artists for this year’s showcase…

Bodies of Water: This band from California caught my eye because I realized that they’re going to be the opening band for Sons and Daughters in Toronto in a couple of weeks (at least that’s what my ticket says). They sound a bit like Sons and Daughters used to sound in the Love the Cup days – a bit folky, a bit rock, a soulful female lead vocalist. Although, Bodies of Water also sound a bit like a choir even though there are only four members. They also sound a bit like organized chaos in an Arcade Fire sort of way. The song they included for sampling I Guess I’ll Forget the Sound, I Guess, I Guess is as rambling as its title, and in the process, wanders in a number of interesting directions only to come back to a rousing chorus backed by brass instruments. On their MySpace page, you can download their haunting cover of R.E.M.’s Everybody Hurts. And anyone who cites The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in their list of influences is bound to get my attention.

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/bodiesofwater

The Black Ghosts: Apparently, London-based The Black Ghosts are a new project from Simon Lord (ex-Simian, vocalist on Simian vs Justice’s “We Are Your Friends”) and Theo Keating (Touche, ex-Wiseguys). I was bound to like a project that included someone out of Simian, and anyone who likes Simian Mobile Disco, Digitalism, or Justice would like The Black Ghosts. The Black Ghosts differ from these bands in their fey, electropop vocals and less of a focus on fuzzed out, dirty beats. Their sample track, Any Way You Choose to Give It, is representative of the music I’ve heard by them thus far – catchy electropop.

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/blackghosts

Deluka: From Birmingham, England, this dance-rock four-piece reminds me of New Young Pony Club and Dragonette – in other words, like a sleazy, but detached female vocalist over top electronic beats and fast guitars. I quite like their song Ike and Tina, a song obviously about an abusive relationship, which can be heard on their MySpace page.

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/deluka

Descartes a Kant: This band from Mexico caught my eye by including two 18th-century philosophers in their band name (because I’m getting more and more pretentious). The more I delved into this band, the more I’m glad I found them. Their influences range from Mike Patton to Regina Spektor to Dresden Dolls to Danny Elfman. The song they included for sampling, My Sweetest Headache Waltz, sounds exactly as the title dictates – Sandrushka Petrova’s vocals veer from sweet and childlike to Daisy Chainsaw-like screams and squeals as the song spins around your head. Their music is a cacophony of influences and genres where screaming vocals can flow in and out of Gershwin-like piano strains and rhythms are never stable. Descartes a Kant feels like a child’s nightmare. Or like a music box that will open up and eat you. Or like a circus that will appear in the dead of night and steal you. Their MySpace profile has an injured, but adorable rabbit on it, which only made me love them more. I highly recommend this band.

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/descartesakant

The Indelicates: From Brighton, The Indelicates are a male/female duo with influences including Luke Haines, The Jam, and Bruce Springsteen, and they apparently sound like “Kate Bush in a Weimar era nightclub or Queen fronted by two Morrisseys.” The male vocals are definitely reminiscent of Luke Haines and the female vocals are pretty close to Kate Bush’s. Supposedly, Art Brut’s Eddie Argos described The Indelicates as “Luke Haines and the E-Street Band.” Any way you look at it, aside from the Springsteen, The Indelicates sound like they’re very much in line with my musical tastes. However, I can see how the expansive “Born to Run” guitars on several of the Indelicates’ tracks could generate that sort of comparison. The Indelicates are intelligent and quirky, and I think I’m in love with them.

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/theindelicates

Fionn O’Lochlainn: Endorsed by Billy Bragg, Fionn O’Lochlainn has shades of Jeff Buckley in his voice and his songs are laced with a keening emotion. O’Lochlainn uses a mandola, which I just learned is not necessarily a mandolin, but close to one. The sample song, Zone, is a tight rock song with country flourishes (very likely because of that mandola), and I quite like it despite my general aversion to country. Of course being endorsed by Billy Bragg means you have some sort of political presence, and O’Lochlainn’s MySpace page is littered with political quotes and socially-conscious blogs (I particularly like the blog featuring an article about Facebook). If you like Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, or Billy Bragg, I would definitely recommend Fionn O’Lochlainn.

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/fionnolochlainnofficial

The Russian Futurists: Hailing from Toronto, The Russian Futurists are one of those bands with an intellectual name and intelligent lyrics to match. This particular band also has a great indie-pop sensibility with catchy melodies. The syncopated chimes of Let’s Get Ready to Crumble are fantastically twee while intelligent, poetic lyrics soar along. They’re like a more electronic version of Belle & Sebastian with bits of psychedelia stringing it all together.

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/therussianfuturists

The People’s Revolutionary Choir: Jim Reid-approved band, The People’s Revolutionary Choir, reflects the muffled, shoegazey vocals of The Jesus and Mary Chain, but with a background more akin to The La’s. They’re psychedelic like early Pink Floyd and sound like early Rolling Stones, so naturally, they also have some Primal Scream in them. They end their Band Description on MySpace with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Endearing.

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/thepeoplesrevolutionarychoir

…And so we come to the end of our little tour of SXSW 2008. There were a couple of bands that I had hoped would be good based upon their names or locations – Canadian band, Birds of Wales, turned out to have trite lyrics bordering on adolescent cliches that overshadowed the fact they had Wales in their name, and as much as I wanted to support a band called The Voom Blooms from Loughborough (bizarrely, I feel as though I have ties to Loughborough after living in the next town over for more than a month, and it also has a music store with one of the best names ever: The Left-Legged Pineapple), but they were just like all those other boring guitar bands and would definitely take my credibility down a few notches. So much for Loughborough.

I can dream that one day I will get to go to SXSW, but knowing me, I’ll end up spending all the money I save on a trip overseas before I ever make it to Texas. And even if I did make it there, I have a feeling I would be paralyzed in the middle of some street in Austin, not knowing where I should go next. And, eventually, my head would explode. Skull shards everywhere.

SXSW Web site: http://2008.sxsw.com/music
BBC Introducing Showcase: www.bbc.co.uk/introducing

I Guess I’ll Forget the Sound, I Guess, I Guess – Bodies of Water

Any Way You Choose to Give It- The Black Ghosts

Sleep is Impossible – Deluka

My Sweetest Headache Waltz – Descartes a Kant

Julia, We Don’t Live in the 60’s – The Indelicates

Zone – Fionn O’Lochlainn

Let’s Get Ready to Crumble – The Russian Futurists

Do You Feel Like I Do? – The People’s Revolutionary Choir


2 Responses to “Wish I Was There: South by Southwest 2008”

  1. 1 JC
    March 16, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    and not a mention of Frightened Rabbit or Popup or Sons & Daughters or Aberfeldy…..

    I actualy am glad I’ll never get to SxSW – I’d always fear there was a better gig/party at the next venue along…

  2. 2 JC
    March 16, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    sorry….I should read the post first before going to the list of mp3s.


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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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