@ZackTeibloom “Flaws” vs “Afterlife.” Oh my god, what an awesome match. These are honestly my two favorite songs in the entire contest. You’ve got a young, hungry Bastille going up against a peaking Arcade Fire, who somehow managed to one-up their Grammy winning Suburbs with a masterpiece in Reflektor. Picking the best song for each band was tough. After I fell in love with Bastille at SXSW, I kept linking Andy to different versions of “Flaws,” leading him to ask if they even had any other songs. Soon he was telling me he was surprised “Flaws was my favorite.” And as for Arcade Fire, as Andy chatted me when we were picking songs, the contest could have been entirely songs off Reflektor if we didn’t limit ourselves to one per band. I think we ended up with the best each band has to offer, and as my hair can attest, I have a lot of love for both Arcade Fire and Bastille and will be happy with either song moving on. Read the rest of this entry »
@ZackTeibloom Oh, hello again. We may not have posted anything since my SXSW Prince write-up got me in trouble with the Purple One himself for some unauthorized Vines, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been keeping track of our favorite songs of the year. We’ve got a few old favorites in our 6th annual contest, with Kanye, Eminem, Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend all making repeat appearances. This year is as wide open as ever, though. Will “Get Lucky” or “Blurred Lines” be able to sustain their summer dominance through the holiday period? Are we sick of them? Will newcomer Lorde come in and take the whole thing? What about Haim or Bastille?
I honestly have no idea, but I’m excited to see and write about all these songs for the next month. We’ll give you until Friday at noon to turn in your brackets and then start our first match-up of Daft Punk’s overall #1 seed “Get Lucky” against Pretty Lights f. Talib Kweli’s “Around the Block.” There are some real intriguing match-ups in round one, like Macca vs. Kanye and JT vs. Haim, so I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out. Read the rest of this entry »
@ZackTeibloom “Ain’t no party like a purple party, ’cause a purple party don’t stop.” Prince first said this early Sunday morning during his 50-minute-long second encore. When he said it again somewhere around his fourth or fifth encore, the artist currently known as Prince had the crowd wondering if the purple party would ever stop, and hoping it wouldn’t. Those of us in the front row may have been standing in line since 7:15 p.m., and continuously stayed on our feet for the next seven and a half hours, but when Prince said “We’ve only got 20 minutes left. Let’s make them the best twenty minutes of our lives,” at 2:40 a.m., we summoned what little energy we had left on the last day of SXSW to see what the man in purple would do next. Well, those of us who were left did. But we’ll get to that. Read the rest of this entry »
@ZackTeibloom I don’t crash festivals anymore. Wow, that was weird to admit out loud. Sure, I’ll occasionally do what I have to do to get into a Jack White or Tenacious D SXSW badge-only show, but I haven’t full-on crashed a festival in over a year. Those days are more or less behind me. I didn’t even consider crashing or even look to see if it was doable this year. That doesn’t mean that a) I’ll stop going to festivals or b) I won’t always be looking for a deal. ACL at $200 is a good deal, but the three-day passes sold out before the line-up even came out. Granted, ACL hasn’t had a line-up worth skipping in the five years I’ve been in Austin, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to pay $200 several months in advance for a TBD line-up. Especially when you can always buy a ticket at the festival grounds for face, or even slightly less than face. On Friday I had my heart set on seeing Los Campesinos! at 12:30, so I obnoxiously pestered a sick with a cold Caitlin to hurry up so we could get to Zilker in time for me to find a pass and get to the stage at half past noon.
We got lucky with a free parking spot, a few blocks from the fest and started walking in as scalpers offered up $150 single-day passes and $275 full weekend passes. Dream on, dick heads trying to make cash off of goobers who don’t know any better. I half-kiddingly said “$175?” to one such dick head after he offered a pass for $275 and didn’t even slow down to bargain with him. It was far too sunny and far too early in the day to get any kind of a deal off a scalper. As I continued to walk toward the festival grounds, a guy overheard my half-hearted attempt at buying a ticket and said he had an extra he’d sell at face ($200.) I told him I may come back to him in a bit. We walked the last few minutes to the gates and came to the point where Caitlin had to break off to get her media pass and I had to figure out who had my miracle. I told her I’d meet her at the media entrance in ten minutes. She started to walk away and I turned to the guy who offered me the pass for face and said “Are you going in now?” “Yeah.” “I’ll give you $180.” “That works.” I made the exchange and saw Caitlin was only about 15 yards away from me, quickly caught up with her and headed in with enough time to find our friend before Los Campesinos! Not much to it. Now I’ll break down exactly how much value I think I got for that $180. I’m going to list a dollar amount for each show. This number represents the number I would say is perfectly fair for the show. Like, if I looked at my bank statement and it said $40 for M83, I’d say, yeah, that wasn’t a bargain, but I got my $40 worth. That was fair. I’m going to go chronologically. Read the rest of this entry »
@ZackTeibloom Jack White was simply spectacular. Compared to everyone who played this weekend, he was in a class of his own. No one else was close. But compared to other Jack White performances, he left me wanting just a bit more. Don’t get me wrong. That’s part of his appeal. I waited over four hours (mostly in the rain) for him on the festival grounds on Saturday and sat in the will-call line on the sidewalk for three and a half hours for the taping on Sunday and I don’t regret a single second of it.
It should be mentioned early on that Jack White did not play an encore either night, despite having both ample time and show staples left on the table. Arguably his biggest new single, “Sixteen Saltines,” was not heard this weekend. His one song that typically closes every show and has become an international anthem, “Seven Nation Army” was not played at the taping. There was nary a track off popular White Stripes albums De Stijl or Get Behind Me Satan and only “I’m Slowly turning Into You” off of Icky Thump, but none of the big singles. Ditto the big Raconteurs and Dead Weather stuff. He played mostly medium to deep cuts and rarely the biggest song off any album. He’s playing a bit of everything, covering his entire catalogue, but by no means is this a best-of show. This is not Paul McCartney. What we’re seeing with Jack White is an artist who is doing exactly what he wants and luckily it’s pretty much exactly what we as his fans want to hear. Read the rest of this entry »
@ZackTeibloom Well, here we are. It’s
the night before a couple hours before Caitlin and I fly out to L.A. for Coachella. We’re checked into our flight and printed our boarding passes. We wrote out instructions for taking care of Scooby. Andy picked up camping supplies. I’m 90% packed*. We’re ready. Thankfully it’s still more than 24 hours away, so I can listen to the awesome new Miike Snow album on repeat without hearing about the 24-hour rule. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is the best line-up we’ve seen, as Andy likes to say, but there’s a ton to be excited about and some tough decisions to make. M83 was one of my favorite break-out bands from last year and we’ll likely miss their entire set. Neither of us have Grace Potter in our top 10. That should tell you something. I went a little heavy on bands I haven’t seen before, but am definitely looking forward to some old favorites. It’ll be nice to have Girl Talk back in my life, to see how The Black Keys transition into being a headliner and see how Radiohead’s dark show fills up Coachella. Oh, and did I mention we’re going to see holograms? Because that’s happening, apparently. Read the rest of this entry »
@ZackTeibloom When you love an artist from their early days, you have expectations for them. You watch their career and feel emotionally invested in the direction it takes. This can be an incredibly disappointing pursuit. Ultimately you have no control over what they do, and nine times out of 10, they’ll disappoint you. They could have a sophomore slump, change the direction of their sound, sell out, go soft, break up or die young. It’s incredibly rare that they don’t let you down in a major way, but you can’t help rooting for their career to go the way you envision, ideally growing with each album and constantly re-inventing themselves in a way that still suits your interests. In my life, I’ve loved a lot of bands, but Weezer, Beck and Jack White stand out as ones I loved from the very beginning, and following them has been three different rides.
Weezer has had far more misses than hits in the last decade, (Hurley, anyone?) They had to resort to playing their first two albums, Blue Album and Pinkerton, live 15 years after they came out to connect with their original fans. I don’t even bother listening to their new stuff anymore. I don’t know anyone who does. I loved seeing them live last summer, but only because they were almost exclusively playing old stuff. They’re way too young for that to be OK, but that’s their reality. It’s been a joy to watch Beck’s “Mutations” from Odelay to Sea Change to Midnite Vultures to Guero and The Information, but it’s been a hollow few years. He hasn’t put out an album in going on four years, and his “Record Club” was a far better idea than it was executed. I still have hope for a lot more greatness in Beck’s future. With Jack White, the ups and downs have been unlike any artist I’ve ever followed. I’ll detail it in painstaking detail in the next couple paragraphs, but it was absolutely killing me to see him spending so much time producing or playing drums or buying an elephant’s head on American Pickers, when I just wanted to scream “pick up a guitar and sing to me!” but on Friday night, he showed us the next phase of his career and became everything I always dreamed he would be. And then some. Read the rest of this entry »
@ZackTeibloom I was worried about this crash for weeks. When Third Man Records announced they were having a showcase, it was pretty much a given that its founder, Jack White, would be headlining even though he was left off the initial bill. A couple weeks ago, Third Man confirmed that, for the second consecutive year, Jack White would be playing a small, intimate SXSW show. Last years spontaneous noon Wednesday show drew only a hundred or two on the street, but Jack would be headlining the show to be at on Friday night of music week, which would make it the hottest ticket of SXSW.
All week leading up to Friday, I prayed that some surprise last second rumor would get passed around to divert some of the attention away from my boy Jack. They always happen. The Jay-Z and Kanye rumor that has everyone running all over town. Anyone? I’d even be OK with one of my favorites like Arcade Fire or Radiohead. Anything to make sure not everyone in town would be lined up for Jack. It never happened. There weren’t any big surprise rumors and The Third Man Showcase was the place to be. Only the Kanye show last year at the Power Plant was more impossible for badge holders to get into. The poster for the show said badge holders and wristbands would be welcome, but that wasn’t to be the case. My fellow die-hard @MichaelRox had been lined up since noon, and he even had a badge! I’d joked about spending the night in the Stage on Sixth’s bathroom overnight to make sure I got in, but it was Caitlin’s birthday and I promised to stick with her for afternoon shows, through The Drums at 6 p.m. I sang along and danced to The Drums, but that 7:30 start time for Third Man was beckoning. Read the rest of this entry »
@ZackTeibloom I had two must-see shows coming into SXSW. Tenacious D on Thursday night and Jack White headlining the Third Man showcase on Friday night. Yup, Jack Black and Jack White on consecutive nights. For the fourth year in a row, I had a wristband*, but I wasn’t getting into either of these shows without a badge.
I know all the venues in Austin quite well, but had never even heard of Haven. I found it at 11 p.m., after not too much wandering, and checked noticed there were two lines. There was a wristband line on the left of the door and a badge line to the right. Just as I walked up to the front door, I heard a door guy address the badge line, saying “If you are here to see Tenacious D, you are not getting in. We are at capacity. It’s one in, one out, and no one is leaving.” There was one group they were still letting in, however. Read the rest of this entry »
@ZackTeibloom Simmons asked if he should pull his starters and throw in the reserves for his column this week. I told him I’d read every word, so he better make it his best stuff. Well, I feel his pain. It’s the Friday before New Years and you’ve likely checked out somewhere around Christmas, but we’ve got two worthy songs who deserve out attention, so let’s give it to them. These are two passion bands for Andy and I. Justice had Andy doing car dances that got attention from everyone else on the road. He went through a number of favorite tracks off the new album before settling on “New Lands” and he’s picked a winner, but I’m not sure it’s going to top Young the Giant. “My Body” catapulted them from a band getting some attention at SXSW ’11 to selling out two nights of Stubbs in ’12, and they don’t even have to play the fest. I sure wish Justice would come by Austin some time, SX or not. Read the rest of this entry »