The Creative Loafing team survived the brutal drive to and from Austin for this year's South By Southwest festival, kept alive only by gallons of gas station coffee and truck stop tacos.
While we chased down every free meal and drink ticket we could find, we also managed to see a tiny fraction of the 1,900 bands that played this year. Sure, everyone is talking about it today, but we didn't see Kanye or Metallica. We're OK with that. Check out a rundown of our favorite moments from the festival after the jump.
Best Atlanta Band: We struggled with this one for awhile. Everyone loves budding neo-soul diva Janelle Monae but who doesn't dig the sweet punk riffs of the Coathangers? And what about All The Saints? Those guys rule. Big Boi was there, too. Then we realized that we couldn't choose. All of y'all are our favorite children.
Best Suggested Way to Party: Before the song "Welfare Bread," King Khan and the Shrines tried to get everyone in the crowd to burn a dollar bill. It didn't really work out, but it seemed like a good idea.
Best Hype Band That Didn't Disappoint: San Francisco's Sleepy Sun topped a lot of the "best new bands to watch" lists leading up to SXSW, and they made good on the promise. Cranking out heavy, soulful pysch riffs from behind a cloud of fog, they left the crowd at Emo's with goosebumps.
Best Unofficial All Ages Venue: Local Texas teens the Strange Boys and Israeli power-trio Monotonix shredded in a downtown, fancy ballet studio to a crowd of hyper-enthusiastic underage kids at 3 a.m. I'm pretty sure that at least a few of them were out past bedtime.
Best Free Food: Paella and sangria were free flowing at the Sounds of Spain party. All the cheap beer and lukewarm slices of pizza in the world can't beat that.
Worst Not-Free Food: Even though Stubb's played host to some of the biggest bands at SXSW, including the Decemberists and Metallica, they were also selling some of the worst BBQ in Texas. Total bummer.
Best New Punk Band: The members of Cerebral Ballzy sound like they've been listening to the Repo Man soundtrack on repeat since they were fifteen. Honor Titus, the lead singer, started the set by saying "I've been drinking and skateboarding and eating pizza all day, dude. I need to take a shit." The twelve people in attendance were so stoked that they demanded to hear the last song twice.
Best Legendary Japanese Psychedelic Rock Band: Forty years after their first record, the nearly mythical Japanese group Flower Travellin' Band finally played their first US dates this week, with one show at SXSW. If they ever manage a proper North American tour, don't miss it. Hideki Ishima shreds on a some crazy modified guitar known as a sitarla. I've seen the vocalist, Akira "Joe" Yamanaka, compared to everyone from Billie Holiday to Ozzy Osbourne, but the comparisons don't do his wailing pipes justice. He is his own beast. By the way, I saw Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke writing furiously in his notepad during their set. I think that means he liked it.
Best Texas Pride: Holy shit, Bun B never missed a single beat through his fast-paced, sweaty set in the Fader Fort. He reps Texas harder than a group of Sam Houston's grandchildren.
Best Quiet Finale: SXSW ended with Daniel Johnston's last song late Saturday night, "True Love Will Find You In the End." After an oddly high-energy set of songs with a raggedly great backing band, he finished with this delicate, nearly a cappella tune. Hearing the famously troubled songwriter serenade the packed crowd with a simple, off-key song of hope, I couldn't help but think about the thousands of unknown musicians that flocked to Austin this week. He's spent a lifetime struggling for his unconventional music and earned some well-deserved respect in the process. If you're one of the musicians that haven't yet found a place in the world, his words might have been for you: "Don't be sad, I know you will/But don't give up until/True love will find you in the end."
(Photos by Alejandro A. Leal)
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…
Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…
That was January of 2007, and they are 21 now, so I'm guessing 14?