AUSTIN – An afternoon show by Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears on Friday turned into a gospel revival when a special guest showed up on stage. For the first 20 minutes or so, the band plowed through cuts from its new album, Scandalous. Then four guys in suits walked out and things really got interesting. The special guests were The Relatives, a Dallas-based gospel quartet that knows how to put the spirit in ya. For the next 15 minutes, the normally laid back lunchtime crowd was on its feet as the main attraction essentially played backup band for The Relatives.
Before this afternoon, I have to admit that I had never heard of these guys. But I’m going to be keeping an eye out for them when I get back home. Kudos to BJL&HB for devoting some of its well-earned time to another group also worthy of the spotlight.
Cas Haley cruising the Austin streets in a pedicab, singing “Will I Find.” Dane and April have outdone themselves in this latest installment of On the Road. Our thanks to Cas, who also answered a few questions for us below.
What bands are you looking forward to seeing?
I’m looking forward to seeing some bands I haven’t heard of. I’m not looking forward to any one band, but I’m looking forward to all of them.
What’s your favorite venue to play in Austin and why?
I like Stubb’s. I’ve only had one show there and it was our last show in Austin. It was really cool. I like the space and the BBQ.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Oh yeah. But I can’t reveal that.
Is there a most annoying audience habit for you?
I don’t like when someone tries to come up and talk to me in the middle of a song, expecting an answer right then. I’m like, “What’s going on with you?”
What’s been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
I was in Frome United Kingdom and my pants were unzipped. There were probably 1,000 people. It was a big show. I walked off the stage and was like “Oh my goodness.” These two old ladies came up laughing and said “We were pointing at your zipper there!” That was definitely the biggest disaster. Now I make sure my pants are zipped up before I go out on stage,
I feel like it’s yet to come. So far, my biggest career highlight has been probably getting to tour the UK. Getting the opportunity to keep playing is a highlight every day.
No real cameras allowed at Antones, so this was the best I could do with the iPhone.
AUSTIN – For SXSW bands, the good news about being scheduled to play at 12:30 a.m. is that you’re clearly the headliner of the night. The bad news is, you’re banking on everyone else playing in front of you to end on time.
That didn’t quite work out for the Old 97′s last night. I showed up at Antones at about 12:15 and Emmylou Harris still had about three songs to go in her set (not that I’m complaining). A 25 minute change over meant the band didn’t hit the stage until 1 a.m.
But when they did, they acted like kids who had been told by their parents they had to wait 30 extra minutes to see what Santa brought them. Rhett Miller was a pogo stick of energy, bouncing up and down to his own beat as the set was about to begin. And once the first note hit, it was pedal to the metal for the next hour as the band ripped through old favorites like “Niteclub” as well as selections from its newest album, The Grand Theatre, Volume 1, including “Champaign, Illinois.”
Rock ‘n’ roll’s always had posters advertising its concerts. And like the music, the posters have evolved over the years. KERA’s Stephen Becker talked with some north Texans who are among more than 100 of the world’s top poster makers attending the Flatstock poster show at the South by Southwest music conference:
KERA radio story:
Expanded online version:
South by Southwest alums the Black Keys are a favorite of critics and music fans. They’dprobably say the band sounds like stripped down rock and blues.
But what would the Black Keys music look like? At the Flatstock poster show in Austin, one artist depicted two bulls hurdling into flames. Another worked the band’s name into a rooster’s feathers. And Robert Lee of Atlanta drew two six-shooters with their barrels woven together.
“The two guns, of course, there’s two members in the band,” he said. “And also, it kind of forms a heart, and the album is called Brothers, so it’s kinda like these two guns are brothers.”
But the artists all have their own way of marrying image and sound.
AUSTIN – While people here this week are checking out movies and music from around the world, they’re also taking time to help out the place that the rest of the world is focused on.
As the week wears on, the plight of Japan is becoming more and more visible thanks to a few of its citizens in town for South by Southwest. On Tuesday a booth popped up at the convention center seeking donations for the American Red Cross to be earmarked for Japan. The booth was the idea of a couple of Japanese trade show exhibitors who got together on Sunday to come up with an idea for a fundraiser.
By Thursday, the booth featured white T-shirts with a red Japanese sun in the middle and “Help Save Japan” written in English and Japanese. The shirts can be had for a $15 donation, and from the many people I’ve seen wearing them around town, it sounds like a lot of people are donating.
Hidemi Tsuji, and exhibitor in town from Tokyo, said dozens of people have stopped by to make donations, and many more have done so online. A large bowl at the booth was full of 1’s, 5’s 10’s and 20’s on Wednesday. And as of Thursday afternoon, the group had raised more than $67,000.
The reality is, $67,000 or $670,000 probably won’t make much of a dent in the massive cleanup project Japan has ahead of it. But Hidemi says the donations are a representation of people’s compassion.
“I can’t say enough thanks you’s to them,” she said. “Maybe their help will encourage people in Japan.”
I’ll be checking out Japan night on Friday, when six bands from the country will be playing at Elysium. More on that later. In the meantime, if you’d like to join the SXSW donors or find out more information about relief efforts, visit sxswcares.org.
After playing a late show at Stubb’s BBQ the night before, Fitz and the Tantrums were still game for a soul-shaking performance at the Four Seasons early Wednesday morning. It was a great way to kick off the first official day of the music portion of South by Southwest and the band didn’t fail to get the audience moving and clapping to their ’70s soul and R&B tunes with a modern twist. (Some of which you may have heard on KXT 91.7)
Lead vocalists Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs took time after their performance to chat with us about the band’s rise to success over the past year and a certain bandmate’s penchant for cheesy ’80s songs.
AUSTIN – Most years at South by Southwest, there are “secret” shows you’ve got to sniff out. Some are more secret than others – everyone knew two years ago Metallica was launching its version of Guitar Hero by playing a gig. But others, like an afternoon performance by the Beastie Boys a few years back, are kept more tightly under wraps.
This year, it wasn’t so much an issue of who, but where and when. Tuesday night was the world premiere of Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, and when a band comes to town to attend a screening, you can be pretty sure they’re playing. As badge holders lined up at the Paramount Theater for the movie, SXSW staff members walked through distributing yellow wristbands with “FF” printed on them, telling everyone to head over to Stubbs after the screening but being cutely hush hush as to why.
South by Southwest is perhaps best known for its music conference. There’s also a film festival. But the Interactive conference drew the biggest attendance last year. About 14,000 people networked and learn about the latest and greatest in their field. But as KERA’s Stephen Becker reports many also came to Austin this year to cut loose and celebrate being a geek.
KERA radio story:
Expanded online story:
By day, South by Southwest Interactive is a standard technology conference. People go to panel discussions with titles like “Unbelievable E-commerce” and “Web Designer’s Guide to OS Apps.” They network. Visit a giant trade show. And they hear plenty of high-tech pitches.
PITCH ONE: “It’s an open, OS platform. It can sit on top of android, it can sit on top of windows mobile, it can sit on top of simbian…”
PITCH TWO: “It uses drag and drop functionality and a complex behavior system in order for people to create games without having to deal with thousands of lines of code…”
But after 5, the laptops go back in their cases and the real interaction begins.
“Congratulations, Your Brand Is About To Become Obsolete.”
Or maybe it already has, and you don’t even know it. After all, look at once-proud brands like Kodak who still can’t figure out what happened.
What was their tipping point? Massive, mind-boggling success.
So sayeth some of the minds at creative agency R/GA, who led a SXSW panel discussion (with the quote that started this post as its title) on how to avoid a similar fate. R/GA has made their name doing out-of-the-box work in the digital world, and the agency’s William Charnock and Andrea Ring said that too many companies (and marketing people) still can’t fully grasp the major reality shift in our culture when it comes to advertising and consumers.
“People now make up their minds about brands using external information, rather than relying on a brand’s own message,” Charnock said. “Brands can no longer rely on a positive perception or history. It’s now all about what we do, and how we provide value.”
It could be argued that history is still somewhat important – invoking a sentimental memory or feeling in a viewer that will help reel them in – but especially among 20- and 30-somethings, getting that value and utility out of a product is much more vital.