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South By Southwest - SXSW 08 Review

I was in the thick of it…over 1,500 bands in more than 65 venues…a veritable plethora of great music, plenty of free swag and more networking opportunities than a person could hope for. But it’s the music that drives this bus called South By Southwest (SXSW), a weeklong music festival and industry convention with seminars that cover almost every facet of the music business. It’s different from other industry events though because the focus is always on the art and the artist revolving around all those live performances. There are naysayers that complain about the corporate sponsorships, saying it’s gotten too commercial, but it’s really the bands and the attendees who are benefiting and the focus is still on the live performance. Getting free drinks and BBQ is just a perk, not a hindrance. Another great thing about SXSW vs. most other festivals and conferences, there really doesn’t seem to be a genre bias. From folk and blues to power pop, rock, metal, and everything in between it’s all here.

On to the heart of the matter, the highlights of this years SXSW…


Best Performances:

Wasnotwas_2 Was (Not Was) – This was by far the best thing I saw all week. Don and David Was have assembled the greatest R&B, soul and funk rock players that Detroit has ever seen and these guys were amazing. I can’t even begin to describe it…like the Talking Heads meets James Brown. A wild mix of soulful horns, Steely Dan jazz-rock and David Was alternating between playing the flute and weird spoken word raps. The 3 lead vocalists were straight out of the Funk, Gospel and Soul of Detroit with excellent voices. You may be more familiar with Don as a producer (The B-52’s, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson and many more) but Was (Not Was) started it all, with he and David doing their best Detroit version of Zappa. After all these years they have a new album coming out (Boo!) on Ryko in April. I can’t wait!


The Presidents of the U.S.A. – How much fun should one band be allowed to have? And they’re tight! The huge crowd at this show was having a blast and they knew every lyric to all the old songs, however, the new tracks were some of the best they played. Yes, they have a new album! It’s called These Are The Good Times People and it just came out last week. Get it now, the songs are fantastic, quirky, alternative rock and pop, perfect for fans of They Might Be Giants.


Sixpence Sixpence None The Richer – A great band that I’ve always enjoyed, but I have never been blown away by their live show, until now. They broke up and just recently got back together, and I’m telling you, Matt and Leigh have never sounded better. The new songs were by far the strongest and I hear they’re working on a new EP. Matt’s surreal guitar sounds with Leigh’s beautiful voice blend and work so well together it’s mesmerizing.


Van Morrison – This was everything I expected from Van the man…great band, great songs and his voice sounds just like it did when he was in his 20’s. Wow.


Moby Moby – Even though his new material is more club and techno influenced, he put on an amazing show and I even got to chat with him for a moments. He is a super nice and humble guy. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger picture of Moby and I hanging at SXSW.



Here are some of the other great shows that I attended:

Colour Revolt

Liam Finn

Nada Surf



Hot Springs


Best Showcases & Parties:

Paste Magazine & Stereogum – Dell Lounge – By far the best line-up and the most blogger friendly. They had workstations for bloggers set up where they could view the show and blog live. Did it. Loved it. Amazing line-up with everyone from Liam Finn to Nada Surf. Amazing music.


Levis/Fader Fort – Longest line, biggest pain to get into, but once you are in…wow! The free swag, free drinks (including Smart Water and Vitamin Water!) and lots of music.


Merge Records Showcase – It’s all about the music. The Merge crew is great and they have one of the best line-ups of any alternative label. Get the She & Him record now!


Saddle Creek Showcase – Another great indie label with more than just Bright Eyes…lots of great bands including Two Gallants and The Good Life.


Best SXSW Buddies

3amigosDoug Van Pelt (HM Magazine) and Doug The Canuck (The Great White North radio show) - Doug and Doug…these guys are great friends who know Austin and they’re SXSW pros. I love hanging with them every year. It’s my favorite part of the week.


Paste Magazine-Stereogum Showcase at SXSW

The Paste-Stereogum SXSW Showcase and Party has begun! This is the SXSW event not to miss. It's also called the "Dell Lounge" and they've provided some great work stations here for bloggers. I'm listening to the first artist up right now, "My Brightest Diamond" and she's nothing short of amazing. More than just a typical singer-songwriter, she was in Sufjan Stevens band and has that cool quirky vibe, playing guitar and an odd assortment of percussive instruments. The event is in a great club called Volume and they've completely remodeled it this week into what is now the Dell Lounge. Here's a picture right after the doors opened...CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW FOR THE FULL SIZE IMAGE:


ObviousPopCast Episode 9 - New Music!


Episode 9 of the ObviousPopCast! This episode is 60 minutes of brand new music and some out of print music as well...Including NEW music from The Feeling, The Hoosiers, Vampire Weekend, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., MGMT and more!

Download it now: ObviousPopCast Episode 9

Add it to your iTunes podcasts: CLICK HERE

(If you use the link to download it to iTunes, it may go into your podcast folder or possibly be listed in the main music library under the title: ObviousPop or the artist name: Dr. Tony Shore.)