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Off the Record

SXSW news and carryings on

By Austin Powell, Fri., March 18, 2011

Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa
Photo by Gary Miller

Tantric Yonkers

Dave Grohl and & Foo Fighters
Dave Grohl and & Foo Fighters
Photo by Gary Miller

The MTVu Woodie Awards on Wednesday night was the largest event in SXSW history, complete with a red-carpet shoot that featured everyone from host (and apparent rapper) Donald Glover to YelaWolf. The entire Austin Music Hall was seemingly paneled with massive LED screens, while a giant stairwell dropped from the balcony to the stage. Foo Fighters ripped open the one-hour live special with "Rope," giving way to Wiz Khalifa (swarming "Black & Yellow") and Sleigh Bells' "Riot Rhythm" assisted by a stomp squad. Built-in punch lines were passed off as college music awards (Best Performing Woodie: Matt & Kim), but OTR's vote would've gone to the masked hysteria of Odd Future, who closed with a tantric coupling of "Yonkers" and "Sandwiches."

The Colour and the Shape

"We're fucking movie stars," announced Dave Grohl as he stepped onstage at Stubb's on Tuesday for an invite-only performance. The Foo Fighters documentary had just premiered at the Paramount Theatre, chronicling the history of the stadium rock act and the making of its new album in Grohl's garage. Such circumstances would normally lead to a stripped-down aesthetic, but the opposite proved true as the Fighters aired out Wasting Light in its entirety with a new keyboardist and third guitarist, Pat Smear. Despite the proto-metal skuzz of "White Limo" and touches of 1960s Brit rock in "Dear Rosemary," Wasting Light sounds exactly like what's come to be expected from the Foo – muscular yet monochromatic guitar-rock with an obligatory ballad ("A Matter of Time"). The heroic nine-song encore of what Grohl pegged "fucking massive hits" ended where it all began, the band's debut single "This Is a Call."

Golden Age

TV on the Radio
TV on the Radio
Photo by Sanday Carson

The tech industry shells out money like record labels used to. On Monday evening at a Third Street warehouse, the social gaming empire Zynga hosted an all-expenses paid bash that opened with SXSW 2010 breakout Sleigh Bells, amplifier worship with a tart, twee pop twist. In his only appearance at SXSW, L.A. wizard Flying Lotus hit the Vodoun Effect next, spinning spidery post-dub beats sliced by hypnotic, off-jazz percussion. That proved a perfect precursor to TV on the Radio. Sans bassist Gerard Smith, who was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, the Brooklyn avant-rock troupe previewed its highly anticipated new album, Nine Types of Light, testifying the apocalyptic soul and dire triumph of 21st century classics "Wolf Like Me" and "Dancing Choose." As lead single "Will Do" reiterated, TVOTR's still beautifully torn between love and war, the sacred and profane.

Hell on Wheels

Jack White's on a one-man mission to revolutionize the record industry. Whereas last year his Third Man Records temporarily set up shop at Frank, on Wednesday he parked next door in a yellow step-van tricked out with a sound system and new inventory. To "more black gadgets than faces," White paid tribute to Buddy Holly at noon with a bewitching take on "Not Fade Away," followed by the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground." As the Kills' Jamie Hince calmed security and Aziz Ansari looked on, the Nashville label's newest signee, Seasick Steve, blew the power not once but twice with the gospel boogie "Cut My Wings" on a three-stringed guitar. (He's the UK version of Austin's Scott H. Biram, the Dirty Old One-Man Band.) The Rolling Record Store strolls over to Waterloo Records today, where OTR and co-editor Doug Freeman will be signing copies from 11:30am to 1pm of The Austin Chronicle Music Anthology, a 30-year retrospective with a foreword by Daniel Johnston. Follow along on Twitter: @OTRAustin.

In Passing

Jack White
Jack White
Photo by Sandy Carson

• "It's that damn VH1 thing that eats me alive. ... They may as well have put the damn gun in my hand." – Arson Anthem guitarist Philip Anselmo on Pantera's episode of VH1's Behind the Music at the Reel Murder Film panel

• "Yesterday we played a show powered by pure fear." – actor Michael Cera, touring bassist for Mister Heavenly, from the Carousolar stage at Second Street and Congress on Monday afternoon

Josh Homme
Josh Homme
Photo by Austin Powell

• "It's not a problem if 20,000 people download your music illegally. It's a problem if they don't." – Martin Atkins at SXSW panel Welcome to the Music Business – Now You're Fucked on Wednesday

Random Play

• The SXSW showcases by both Widespread Panic and Preservation Hall Jazz Band at ACL Live at Moody Theater on Thursday will be taped for Austin City Limits. The latter will likely include special guests featured in the documentary Live at Preservation Hall: Louisiana Fairytale. While the new, $40 million studio/venue won't be hosting any daytime events, the front porch lounge will be open, with drink specials and free wi-fi.

• Authentic Smiles (211 San Antonio) takes the proverbial cake this year for the most peculiar day party space. The dental studio wraps up three solid days of local music, billed Mouth by Mouthwest, with a special collaboration between Alejandro Escovedo and Amy Cook (7pm), along with Suzanna Choffel, Dan Dyer, and Ginger Leigh, among others. All proceeds benefit the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians and MusiCares.

• While SXSW Creative Director Brent Grulke has refuted rumors of an Arcade Fire appearance. Will Butler will field questions following the screening tonight of Spike Jonze's Scenes From the Suburbs at the Alamo Ritz, 5:30pm.

Neon Indian's the expected special guest at frontman Alan Palomo's unofficial Static Tongues showcase tonight at Austin's historic Victory Grill, presented by Moog and local gadget specialists Switched On. The electro-pop bill also features John Maus, Survive, and Silent Diane.

Cee Lo Green announced yesterday via Twitter the cancellation of his SXSW showcase at La Zona Rosa tonight. The mad hatter's being replaced at the same venue by future-soul diva Janelle Monáe.

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