SXSW news and carryings-on

Hashtag Everything

by Sandy Carson

Guess I'm easily impressed with the application of social media technologies. Earlier this week, I saw a gumball machine that runs off tweets instead of quarters and thought, "Well, I guess they've done everything now." Then, last night, I watched LL Cool J and Z-Trip perform inside a colossal Doritos vending machine called the #boldstage that ran off Twitter interaction. Selection of the opening acts and the stage's visual effects were apparently tweet-powered. Midway through the hulking, old-school MC's set, the massive visualizer that had been assaulting us with a kaleidoscopic mess of neon triangle chips paused to ask us what LL's encore should be: "Momma Said Knock You Out" or "Whaddup"? I wanted the former, but my prehistoric 3G network couldn't pop off a tweet and we got "Whaddup" instead, which was fine because it included a great Chuck D cameo. Could this performance mark the beginning of a tweet-powered concert trend? I hope not. Giving people another reason to pull out their phones during a show won't make anyone's experience better. Anyway, this SXSW showcase wasn't about music as much as the sponsor just trying to sell some chips ....

Saturday Night Special

by Nathan Jensen

A pile-on of big names with Prince, Smashing Pumpkins, and Justin Timberlake, who'll be joined at his Copper Tank show tonight by ?uestlove and RJD2, now sees the addition of double-platinum emo dudes Fall Out Boy, playing Perez Hilton's party at the Austin Music Hall, plus a rumored and very unconfirmed appearance by Jay-Z also tonight. It wasn't always this way. When SXSW had less headliners, Saturday was something of a hangover day. This year, we're flush with major acts and they're all waiting for the weekend. My apologies to anyone who booked a flight out on Saturday morning. You fucked up.

Kydd Say The Darndest Things


Earlier this year, Kydd Jones got a call from Public Enemy No. 1 Chuck D, who invited the Austin-born MC to come out to L.A. and open for the rap legends. Jones, a local mainstay with clever lyrics and a smooth delivery, used the opportunity to soak up some career advice from one of the genre's great minds. "We talked about the stages of hip-hop. How each step an artist takes is also a stage and, as you go further in a beneficial way, your stage grows," recalled Jones. "Just meeting him, that was a stepping stone too, because now people are noticing me. After all, he's in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That's huge." Lately, Kydd's been in New York working on Gr33d, a concept album that takes greed and politics into a personal light. "The lower levels of greed that are below the surface – that we don't really think about – they exist everywhere in our everyday lives," Jones explained. The album, due out this year, features a collaboration with MF Doom. Kydd performs tonight on a bill including choice hip-hop artists Casey Veggies and Big K.R.I.T. (10:55pm, Old School, 401 E. Sixth St.)

Death Grips Maintain Hold


Many thought that experimental hip-hop duo Death Grips slit their own throats when they leaked their album last fall, rebelling against record label delays by putting all the tracks online with a custom album cover: drummer Zach Hill's erect penis with the title No Love Deep Web scrawled on it with a marker. Six months after being dropped from Epic Records, the ramshackle duo of drum beast Hill and rage-voiced-rapper Stefan "MC Ride" Burnett, haven't missed a beat. As saboteurs of their major label contract, they proved they'd rather suffer themselves than let their music do the same while waiting for release. Onstage, there's no one like them. Hill's superhuman drumming combines unhinged experimentation with phenomenal chops, while Burnett boasts the reckless, wiry physicality of Iggy Pop and the sketchy delivery of a ranting PCP addict. Together they create a potent sound that's emotionally aggressive, musically progressive, and sonically warped. This avant-garde violence might terrify you, but that's why I like it. Death Grips hits the 1100 Warehouse at 11:45pm.

Half Notes

On Wednesday night I found eccentric Canadian personality Nardwuar in the lobby of a swank Downtown hotel. As we discussed strange interviewing techniques, rapper Pusha T approached him and initiated an impromptu swag-switch, trading his gold watch and fitted hat for Nardwuar's plaid poof-ball cap and dork glasses. Nardwuar's band, the Evaporators, play on Headhunters Patio at 11pm tonight.

Someone isn't having a good time at SXSW. Zachary Cole Smith, frontman for Brooklyn indie rock quartet DIIV, posted this on the band's Tumblr page: "Hi Austin. Fuck SXSW. There ... I said it. Here, the music comes last. Five-minute set-up, no sound check, 15-minute set. The 'music' element is all a front, it's the first thing to be compromised. Corporate money everywhere but in the hands of the artists, at what is really just a glorified corporate networking party," and goes on to blame "industry vampires on cocaine." My message to Smith: don't come to a Chinese buffet and complain there's no steak. The band's fourth official showcase goes down at the Parish, 12:10am.

Austin's best free, all-ages venue, Trailer Space records, hosts a full day of music with Sonic Vault's day party featuring locals like the Boxing Lesson, Residual Kid, Lord Buffalo, and more. At night, Matador head Gerard Cosloy's local label 12XU presents six more bands including Obnox, Sweet Talk, and Unholy Two. When you drop in, please honor the store's maxim and "Bring Beer!"

Still thirsty? This year SXSW fades away into the slushiest holiday on the calendar, St. Patrick's Day. The Scoot Inn celebrates Texas style with the Green Armadillo Shamrock Spectacular, starring Austin roots ballers the Whiskey Shivers, Guy Forsyth, Warren Hood & the Goods, Wood & Wire, and some drunken event called armadillo jousting. The kegs of green beer get tapped at 10am.

Out-of-towners: don't leave Austin without seeing A Giant Dog. One of our city's most unique and promising bands, they make every show a beer-soaked rager that leaves mysterious melodies bouncing around your consciousness forever. They hit Beerland tonight at 8:45pm.

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LL Cool J, Prince, Justin Timberlake, Kydd Jones, Death Grips, A Giant Dog, DIIV

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