SXSW 2012

I didn’t actually go to SXSW this year, but I co-hosted a few happy hours with one of my Dell colleges, Barton George. I’ve been “moonlighting” to work with the Web|Tech group here at Dell (which Barton is part of), which is focused on developers, ISVs, and web companies. From two folks in a garage to the Facebook’s & Zynga’s of the world. Overall, it was great, as always, to catch-up with the crowd that comes to Austin.

Barton captured several, quick video interviews, doing some actual content creation while I just had drinks with friends ;>

The first night:

The second night:

The third night:

It was great catching up and talking with folks about what I’ve been up to at Dell from my day job in corporate strategy for software to side-projects like Web|Tech and the internal incubation program I help run.

We’ll see you next year!

Kim’s big SXSW 2010 show recommendations list


While we can’t go this year, my wife Kim and I usually find all sorts of exciting music at SXSW each year.

The secret is, she’s the one who finds all the good stuff – I’m just lucky enough to tag along.

Several people have asked for her SXSW 2010 recommendations, so here
they are in a giant block of text:

(In no particular order and not complete because I’m too tired to
finish it. -Kim)

Japanther, Superchunk, Anathallo, Here We go Magic, The Sour Notes, The Walkmen, Ume, Those Darlins, The Builders and the Butchers, Yeasayer, Let’s Wrestle, She & Him, Wye Oak, Man or Astroman?, White Denim, Nebula, We Are Scientists, The Wooden Birds, Headlights, Atlas Sound, Broken Social Scene, Ra Ra Riot, Twin Tigers, Miami, Cymbals Eat Guitars, The Blow, Crystal Antlers, Bear In Heaven, Priscilla Ahn, Say Hi, Deer Tick, The Watson Twins, Peelander-Z, Active Child, Shearwater, Zion I, Best Coast, The Drums, Sleigh Bells, Pomegranates, Japan night at Elysium, WOXY day show at Mohawk on Wednesday and all the day shows at Home Slice.

Enjoy, and send some pictures!

SXSW Nite 3 – Cloud Cult Twice, and more Indie

Friday was full of Cloud Cult and back to white-people music from Thursday’s hip-hop-a-rama. Kim and I started out early going to the Soundcheck magazine party at Emo’s Annex (a party tent they throw-up in the parking lot across from Emo’s) and then moved onto The Red Eyed Fly for most of the evening.

Soundcheck Party

Soundcheck Magazine's 2nd Birthday Party Show

You can tell by the style of art in the poster that this show was, you know, cute-kid rock. You know what I mean. I have no problem with this, I like it plenty. Cloud Cult is still one of my favorite bands after seeing them at SXSW 2007.

Before we get to the music, let’s check out some of the Emo’s Annex scenery.

Dewar’s co-sponsored the party, so there were many little Dewar’s buttons laying around:

Dewar's Austin Buttons

To that end, there was a special on $2 Dewar’s and Reed’s Ginger. I tried one, and it was terrible. I love scotch and I like ginger beer, but the two together tasted of ass like other things-I-like-apart-but-not-together disasters like a peach cobbler mole enchilada.

Dewar's and Reed's Ginger - not good

But, let’s get the bands.

Le Loup

Earlier in the week over some coffee with Sean Carlson (what a nice guy!), we’d been joking about how many different types of “indie” there are now. You can pretty much come up with any cutesy white-guy adjective, slap it in front of “indie,” and get a genre. For example, as Sean and I joked, “banjo indie.”

Well, who knew it was so real:

Banjo Indie

To be fair, Le Loup only used the banjo once.

The lead singer of Le Loup was mega-enthusastic, hopin’ all around the stage. I must say, I welcome the “showmanship” angle to acts. Otherwise, why not just listen to your iPod?



Tragically, I don’t really remember the next act, the Evangelicals except that one of them wore a glittered up cape. Luckily, Kim had seen them the previous night at Mohawk. She says:

I liked them. The lead singer was so happy!

Fashion Interlude

Both Kim and I are collectors of weird fashion moments. The Soundcheck party offered plenty.

Case in point:

This on goes to @thinguy

Cloud Cult

Cloud Cult

As mentioned above, I enjoy Cloud Cult. While I don’t “have all their albums,” I’m a big fan of Happy Hippopotamus. This is all thanks to Kim.

Last year we saw them at SXSW and while I didn’t take an immediate shine to them, Kim did, and bought their albums. After a weird 3AM drive to New Braunfels with Happy Hippopotamus as the sound-track (a story for another time), I got to like them more. Now I listen to that album at least once a week, if not more.

The thing with Cloud Cult is that they’re – generally – mega-optimistic. They’re kind of like happy existentialists. As they say, “best learn to live while you’re alive.” You can almost see Camus motor-biking around that death-bend there.

Needless to say, their set was good. I even liked the songs from the new album they played, which is pretty rare. I’m the guy who likes to hear just “the old stuff.”

Last year, I didn’t remember them doing a painting on stage [Kim says they did, and had two painters, in fact], but that’s part of their schtick now. They have a painter who also does some back-up singing and horn blowing. He brought out a big white-washed canvas at the start, and ended up painting a bird:

Cloud Cult's Painting

Cloud Cult sells these off at the end of the show. I wonder how that works out for them.


The last act at Emo’s Annex was Why?. They were like cute white-guy rap. I expected the typical thing here: something like an Ewok coming out and sing “Got Your Money” in space blue-grass style.

They weren’t too bad, and, indeed, the crowd was getting into. I’m sure it’d be fun listening.

Interlude at the Driskell


The Soundcheck party over, we hustled up to my favorite 6th street spot, the Driskell bar. We were hungry, and though I usually get the burger at the Driskell bar, I wanted something else. Instead of one of the tasty burgers, we got fancy-pants nachos and a ceaser salad. The salad was great as it tasted of real anchovie paste, while the nachos were as a disappointing as fancy-pants nachos always are: too much lipstick, not enough pig.

Disappointing (and expensive) nachos aside, the drinks were great. I got the Driskell version of my new favorite drink, the Michelada. Most people still don’t make this drink quite right, but it was good enough. So far, Elsie’s and Jaime’s (both types!) have had the best ones, you know, excluding the ones I make at home ;>

Also, while we were sitting there, some folks came around and gave out free drinks of 10 Cane Rum and Coke – score!

Driskell Michelada

The Parish – Portastic & Wye Oak


After our dinner interlude, we headed to The Parish to see Mac McCaughan (under the name Portastic). Kim tells me Mac is some sort of indie super-God, coming from Superchunk. Indeed, there must be something going on there as we saw Superchunk last year and David Cross was rockin’ out in the first row along with all sorts of people who were sort of like “oh my, God, I can’t believe I’m seeing Superchunk!”

There were plenty of similar folks at the Portastic show.

Afterwards, Wye Oak came up, who I enjoyed:


I kept asking Kim the name of the band (Wye Oak), and I couldn’t understand what she was saying. Was it “white oak”? “Wide oak”? Or even “why oak”? This created an ongoing joke for SXSW about bands with weird names, “huh?” Kim said in her Michael-impersionation tone, “you mean a band can just name themselves anything they want? Huh?”

Red Eyed Fly

According to Kim, Cloud Cult’s label was running the show at Red Eyed Fly Friday night, so we decided to leave The Parish check out what else the label had to offer.

Land of Talk

Tragically, I have no memory of Land of Talk. Kim says, “I thought they were really good.” Over a late breakfast later, she emphasized “they were good.”

Say Hi

Say Hi

Next up was more, though slightly less so, cute-guy rock with Say Hi. They were, essentially, a straight up indie-rock band, which was exciting.

I liked their song, “Northwestern Girls,” ’cause, really, when have you ever heard a band sing praised to the ladies from that part of the country?

Cloud Cult (Again)


While Kim was reluctant to see Cloud Cult twice – there being so many other options – we ended up staying to see them again. Kim was worried that they’d play the same set. Lucky for us, while Cloud Cult played some of the same “new stuff,” they played different songs as well.

This time, dude painted a ram. Too much Shiner?



The last act was Lucero which was like – I don’t know – straight up guy in white-shirt drinking whiskey on state rock. You know, like an evil Bruce Springsteen.

As Kim said, Lucero was the only band to bring together the frat-boys and the Austin street grunge-people. And, man, did they like it. The crowd was wild for this stuff.

We headed home about half-way through.

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SXSW Nite 2 – Hip-hop Nite for Coté

Friday night, for the second night of SXSW, Kim and I split up to see different shows. She went off to Mohawk, while I went off to Scoot Inn. Unknown to many people, I actually like hip-hop a lot.

Before choosing to split-up, though, we stopped off at the Cedar Door to figure out what to do, get a taco, and listen to Army of Freshman. As we were on the Cedar Door deck, I didn’t get to hear Army of Freshman too well, but it seemed OK.

Looking through the Austin Chronical’s guide for Thursday night, and with much “are you sure?” conferring, we decided to split up to go see different venues.

Red’s Scoot Inn

The long trek

While I go to The Long Branch frequently, I’ve never been to their sister bar-venue, Red’s Scoot Inn. While I “know” that Scoot Inn is in east Austin, I somehow managed to clod it all the way over to La Zona Rosa after misreading the map.

After getting directions from a rickshaw-man, I hiked all the way over to Scoot Inn which is quiet a trek, but, hey, I need to exercise.

Scoot Inn is a sort of Stubb’s junior with a big wooden, covered stage, and a little bar shack next to it. As the sign said it was a bier hall, I’m guessing they have big tables in the wide open spaces when there’s not music – I’ll have to check it out sometime.

Def Jux/ Dirtee Stank Showcase

Scoot Inn Def Jux Nite

Thanks to Matt Ray, I got to like most everything that Def Jux puts out a few years ago. They’ve got El-P, Mr. Lif, Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock and loads of other – I don’t know – “underground hip-hop.” I went to Def Jux’s showcase last year with El-P and Aesop Rock and it was great. Still, the best SXSW hip-hop show I’ve been to over the years was Soul Position a couple years ago.

I was most interested in seeing El-P as he was the only act I really knew in the line-up. The other acts – Del the Funky Homosapien, Devin the Dude, Bisc1, and the two grime acts – were fun and good.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be getting most of their records as I’m always hard-pressed to find new, good hip-hop. Indeed, I wish I could I just subscribe to Def Jux in general; that’d save me some thinking. They’ve got this Club Meds thing, but I don’t think that’s what I want.

Not having really heard grime before, it was fun to see it in performance. I haven’t really listened to it enough to characterize it, but it’s definitely English accented, really fast, and slightly more fizzy and poppy than you’d expect from American hip-hop.

ScottD! showed up about half-way through giving me a chance to have plenty of Tito’s and Tonic’s with a friend.

Crowd Comparison

Most interesting in the context of SXSW was the comparison between the hip-hop scene (black, latino, and white) and the rest of SXSW (mostly white). The hip-hop people were out hustling their records and shows in force and wearing plenty of crew themed shirts and hats. Zip-codes, area-codes, and group names were everywhere at Scoot Inn, while at the rest of SXSW only rarely even mentioned what city a band was from.

And, of course, there’s the mega-entourage thing with hip-hop. At one point, Bushwhick Bill walked in with about 25 people. I’d bet even REM didn’t come with a trail of that many people.

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SXSW – Calendar Madness! …and other content holes

Antone's Floor

There’s all sorts of calendars to keep up with SXSW Music this year. Here’s what I’ve got going so far, if you’re interested:

Also, I’ve been browsing through Paul Ford‘s 6 word reviews of the SXSW samples. I’m only through “C”, so we’ll see (HELLO!) how that goes.

There’s also Twitter, which you can follow here or by following me in Twitter. And, going retro, I started using Dodgeball (profile here) of all things instead of having to ring up people to tell them where I was.

I’m curious of any recommendations ya’ll have. I’ve been piling them up, but I can’t ever have enough.

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SXSW Nite 1 – BBQ & Antone's

Coté & Kim

Last night was the first night of SXSW Music. I started out downtown to tie-up some SXSWi loose-ends, which went quiet well.

Kim, Sarah, and I then went to Iron Works for some dinner. I’ve always been suspicious of people saying Iron Works is good figuring it was just the location. Having heard they were good, I got the beef-ribs, and by-golly, they were.

Kim and I then split off and went to Antone’s to wait to see Lightspeed Champion, Sons and Daughters, The Kills, and White Williams.

LightSpeed Champion

We caught the tail end of Lightspeed Champion. They was English, dressed like the hipster shelves in Target, and sounded a-OK. The dude had a Star Wars sticker on his guitar, so they fit pretty well in that bucket of people around my age (or slightly younger) who’re always pulling culture from the 80’s. No problem there, buddy.

Here’s what Kim wrote in the Moleskin:

Mellow and even though there were drums, violin, guitar, and back-up vocals, it seemed very much a one man show. [3 stars].

Sons and Daughters

Sons & Daughters

Sons and Daughters was good too, but a little too much rock-a-billy for me. I have no problem with rock-a-billy, but I’m getting tired of people “harkening back” to anything old. I want new stuff. Even the 80’s are getting boring. I noticed that tons of people were wearing almost vintage 80’s wear in the crowd through the night: ugh. Can’t we just wear and sing new stuff?

Here’s what Kim wrote in the moleskin:

Holy shit there were awesome! Very energetic rock n’ roll. [4 stars]

The Kills

The Kills

The Kills were by far the best of the night. While the guitarists garb was all young Elvis meets sleezy guy you don’t want your kid sleeping with, their sound seemed newer and was rockin’.

And Kim wrote:

I’m so in love with that chick, man, she is hot! This band was great, two guitarists – one of them smokin’ – and synthetic beats.

White Williams

This one didn’t really work out for us. It was sort of like if Max Headroom had a band in a Radio Shack during his freshman year of high school.

Kim and electronica-like music don’t get along.

We left.

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