South by Southwest (aka Spring Break for Geeks) is now over. Thanks to modern technology, I was able to experience some of the panels and musical acts myself. Of course, nothing beats being there in person so I hope that Jeff posts soon about his adventures in Austin.
Here are some highlights from my virtual SXSW experience:
Lots of people waited in long lines to get wristbands, which granted them access to more long lines.
Yes, this really happened.
Doritos took marketing to a new low.
From a trusted local source, here are a few bands that came away with buzz: Alabama Shakes, Lost in the Trees, Wild Belle, The Lumineers, Kids These Days, Lydia Loveless, Heartless Bastards, Bear in Heaven, Tanlines, Ceremony, Bass Drum of Death, and Hospitality.
Jay-Z brought down the house both in person and online with more than 16 million people tuning in via their computers to watch him perform - prompting the question, do you need to be there to "experience" it? Here's the entire performance for your viewing pleasure.
Of course, I totally agree with this panel presentation: "the future of digital music discovery will be human music curation that is supported by technology not created by it."
I wish I could have seen this documentary, if only for the spontaneous band jam that happened after the screening.
I really liked this radio interview about Austin City Limits. In case you've never seen it, ACL is the longest running music series on television and you can catch it on your local PBS station. Apparently, the recent Radiohead taping was incredible.
My favorite virtual SXSW experience was listening to Bruce Springsteen's deeply personal, nostalgic and at times poetic keynote address. At first he was noticeably out of his element, stiffly reading from note cards but once he asked for a guitar from someone in the audience and he had it in hand, he relaxed into an effortlessly conversation about the musicians and musical styles that shaped him into the artist he is today. A few take-aways from his talk:
- "When I picked up the guitar (in 1964) there was only 10 years of rock history to draw on. That'd be like all of known pop being only the music that you know that's occured between 2002 and now."
- Regarding Roy Orbison: "Roy was the coolest uncool loser you had ever seen. With his coke bottle glasses and his three octave range he seemed to get joy out of sticking his knife deep into the hot belly of your teenage insecurities...And for those few moments, he told you that the wreckage and the ruin and the heartbreak was all worth it."
- He credits this song from a British foursome (no, not that foursome) as the inspiration for "every song I've ever written." At the 28:40 mark in his keynote address, you can listen to Bruce break into a brief goosebump-raising acoustic version of this song.
- He brought tears to my eyes when he recounted singing Woody Gurthrie's song "This Land Is Your Land" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at President Obama's 2008 inauguration with Pete Seeger, "On that day we sang that song, Americans young and old, black and white, of all religions and beliefs, were united for a brief moment by Woody's poetry." He sang it again at this year's SXSW too.
- His advice to young musicians: "Stay hard. Stay hungry. Stay alive. And when you walk on stage tonight to bring the noise, treat it like it's all we have. And then remember, it's only rock and roll.
What Bruce reminded me is that music (and all of the creative arts for that matter) - when done right - captures the mystery of the human experience; picking it apart at the seams so that each little thread can be expressed. It makes you consider, "Hey, I've done that" or "Wow, I've felt that way" or "Gee, I wonder what that must be like." Music explores our insecurities, our hopes, and the secrets we mull over in our heads when we can't sleep at night. It's a mighty powerful thing.
Now here are my picks for this week:
Listen to the Gun Bun Music Monday 2012 Playlist on Spotify or Everyone's Mixtape.
Watch videos of the track here.
Feel free to drop songs you find into our collaborative Spotify playlist.
Listen to the bands from the Huichica 2012 line-up here or on Spotify.
Listen to the 2011 Music Monday Playlist here.
"Silenced By The Night" - Keane
I'm so pleased to hear from one of my favorite bands again, especially one that has come back from the brink. I caught Keane live last week on the radio from SXSW. I'm envious of anyone who got to see them there. This track is the first release from Keane's new album, Strangeland, which will be released May 7th.
"Thread" - Now, Now
Amazon.com gives away a free playlist each month that highlights "Artists on the Rise" and that's where I grabbed this tune. Now, Now is an indie rock band based out of MInneapolis and they recently released their second album.
"Weights & Measures" - Dry the River
I came across this band in a tweet from Spotify during SXSW. This U.K. five piece folk band performed a session at the Spotify House, an Austin coffeehouse that was painted green and white as part of Spotify's large presence at this year's festival.
"Tear It Up" - Delta Spirit
If you are a big Dawes fan like me, you may already be familiar with Delta Spirit's Matt Vasquez as he joined Dawes' Taylor Goldsmith and Deer Tick's John McCauley to form the band Middle Brother. Now Matt is back with his original band and they played no less than 16 shows at this year's SXSW. This track is from their recently released third and self-titled album.
"In the Yard" - Bowerbirds
Bowerbirds are an American folk band based in Raleigh, N.C. I have enjoyed listening to this entire new album of theirs. You can watch a beautiful documentary about the making of it - and the ups and downs of a relationship between two of the bandmates - here.
Bonus Huichica 2012 artist preview: "I Like The Way You Walk" - The Donkeys
P.S. Check out this new track from Beach House's highly anticipated album Bloom, due out May 15 on Sub Pop. This is one of my favorite bands and I can't stop listening to this song.