SXSW 2009 Music Festival - Day 2 - Evening
Meat Puppets, Dead Confederate, Endless Boogie, The She Creatures, Elliott Brood, Luke Doucet & The White Falcon, NQ Arbuckle, Chiwoniso
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Meat Puppets @ Stubb’s
“Formed in 1980, Phoenix, Ariz.'s Meat Puppets are the latest in a parade of proto-grunge survivors to storm back from irrelevance. Austin resident and principal Puppet Curt Kirkwood reunited with ultimate survivor Cris Kirkwood for 2007's return to psychedelic roots form Rise to Your Knees, and follow-up Sewn Together drops in July. Live, there are no survivors.” – Dan Oko, Austin Chronicle
F
or my first evening showcase I returned to Stubb’s to see the Meat Puppets: once again it was already very crowded despite a somewhat uneven bill that also included hip-hop outfit 3oh!3, Andrew Bird, Gomez and Ben Harper. There were lots of new songs in the set by the Meat Puppets along with a few crowd-pleasers such as “Plateau” and “Lake of Fire”.





Dead Confederate @ Spiro’s
“Southern rock sure ain't what it used to be. Rocking harder than MMJ or Band of Horses, this droning, young Athens, Ga.-based fivepiece has teamed up with Austin producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon) for their forthcoming album. Tracks from their self-titled EP – "Get Out" and "Tortured Artist Saint" – rattle molars, while the message couldn't be any bleaker." – Dan Oko, Austin Chronicle
My next stop was down the road at Spiros. A tiny, barely elevated "stage" was set up in a corner, lit by two lights on the floor. I had seen Dead Confereate briefly at a day party during SXSW 2008 and had picked up their debut album when it came out, so this was a good chance to see more. Listen to “The Rat” here on the SXSW website and scroll down for a video from this show.





Here's a video of three songs from this show courtesy of roxwel.com.

Endless Boogie @ Smokin’ Music
Focus Level finds [Endless Boogie] selecting a bare minimum of riffs and rigorously sticking with them for a very long time indeed. They chug, they choogle, they jam in a ruthlessly tight sort of way, and they’re going to terrify the hell out of anyone who finds Southern boogie a tad recherché. […] But for those of us who love AC/DC and their Aussie bootboy cousins Coloured Balls, who appreciate the first few ZZ Top albums, and who are gingerly considering a re-evaluation of Status Quo, Endless Boogie aren’t some southern-fried guilty pleasure, they’re a straightforwardly exhilarating rock’n’roll band. And [Paul Minor] knows the blues – the bandname comes from an old John Lee Hooker album, incidentally – can be stretched out as far as the event horizon, and can flourish when there’s not much of a song structure to contain them."  – John Mulvey, Uncut
Smokin’ Music only comes to life during SXSW and offers excellent sound + lights thanks to the corporate sponsorship of a tobacco company. It was a good place to see Endless Boogie: the name of the band perfectly describes their sound. Unfortunately even Endless Boogie couldn't stretch beyond the usual 40-minute limit, but the they made the best of the time they had with an excellent show. Listen to “Gimme The Awesome” here on the SXSW Web site.






The She Creatures @ Esther’s Follies
“Clad in blue wigs and mixing The Ronettes with The Sonics, this gang of Venusian succubus are no bad B-movie cliché, but a salacious girl-group with a punk-rock attitude that would have even Lux Interior reaching for his testicles.” - James Davey, Suit Yourself Magazine
Now it was time for something a bit lighter. Esther's Follies is another venue with windows behind the stage facing Sixth Street, and as soon as The She Creatures stepped on stage a sizeable crowd gathered outside. It takes a lot to attract attention during SXSW, but wearing blue wigs and matching space-outfits seems to do the trick. Quite entertaining and it’s not too often that you see a Theremin used on stage. Listen to “She Creatures Invade” here on the SXSW web site and scroll down for a video from the show.





There are several videos from this show on youtube, this is one of the better ones.

Elliott Brood @ The Velveeta Room
“While pop collectives capture most of the musical attention directed north, Canada has recently proven a fertile ground for artists redefining the tired alt.country genre, with Elliott Brood's dark, banjo-laden ballads at the forefront.” – Doug Freeman, Austin Chronicle
Next door, the Velveeta Room was at capacity, but I managed to get in after a very short wait. Inside it was hot, and 
temperature reached the boiling point when the band handed a sack full of tin plates and cooking spoons to the audience. A short video that shows the mayhem that promptly ensued can be found on youtube and is embedded below. Listen to “Write It All Down For You” here on the SXSW website.





Luke Doucet & The White Falcon @ The Velveeta Room
“Doucet's played the sensitive singer-songwriter, a hired guitar-slinger with Sarah McLachlan, and the leader of jagged neo-psych band Veal. The Canadian's latest release, Blood's Too Rich, featuring his crack band, the White Falcon, reflects Doucet's fascination with the American South and highlights his always stellar guitar work.” – Jay Trachtenberg, Austin Chronicle
Unlike last year, Luke Doucet didn't have to rely on other singers to sing his songs for him at SXSW 2009. He plays
 regularly in Toronto, but usually at slightly larger venues: SXSW offered a good opportunity to see him and The White Falcon perform in a more intimate setting. Their set included "Emily, Please", "Blood's To Rich", "The Day Rick Danko Died", "Cleveland", "The Comandante" and "First Day (In The New Hometown)". Listen to “Blood’s Too Rich” here on the SXSW website.







NQ Arbuckle @ The Velveeta Room
"Booze and poetry have always been a winning combination, one that Toronto roots-rock combo NQ Arbuckle have built their reputation on with their past two releases. But on their third, XOK, the predominant lyrical themes have decidedly shifted from singer/songwriter Neville Quinlan’s drinking habits to exploring the heart of the Canadian psyche through bleak portraits of small-town heartbreak, combined with the lingering effects of history." - Jason Schneider,  exclaim.ca
In 2008, NQ Arbuckle's showcase provided a perfect ending to a great SXSW, so I decided to stick around for their set. I wasn't disappointed by one of Toronto's best live acts: they started off with "Punk Rocker" from their 2002 debut, followed by a set that also included "Mixkin Dancehall Blues",  "XOK", "Officer Down", "Cheap Town", "Marco Polo", and "Mexican Bar". Listen to “My Baby” from XOK here on the SXSW web site.








Chiwoniso @ Copa
“With a good ten-year gap between her debut and sophomore releases, Chiwoniso (daughter of the great Dumisani Maraire) had plenty of time to develop her sound for Rebel Woman, and indeed she did. The stylings mirror her own travels, with elements of traditional African music, bits of British R&B, and a bit of modern African sound in the vein of a Johnny Clegg. The music is anchored by Chiwoniso's mbira, keeping some of the cascading sounds so representative of Zimbabwean music. [...] Not a bad sophomore effort, even if it took a while to come about.” - Adam Greenberg, allmusic.com
My musical trip around the world was not complete yet: so far, I had seen bands from the US, Canada, England, Japan and Australia on this day, and the final act was from Africa. After almost 12 hours of music I was looking for something different to end the evening. Chiwoniso Maraire performed
solo, playing her mbira dzavadzimu, the national instrument of Zimbabwe. She successfully convinced the folks chatting at the bar to shut up or to leave the room, not an easy task at SXSW. The set featured a lot of audience participation and finished long after 2am, with the crowd successfully demanding an encore. A very nice finale of day 2 at SXSW 2009. Listen to “Vanorapa” here on the SXSW web site. 





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All photos (c) Steffen Paulus 2009