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Operation Every Band - SXSW 2014
The Goal: To listen to and review every band performing at SXSW 2014.
OEB - SXSW 2014 Project Links:
OEB's 5 SXSW Qs - An Interview Series
Operation Every Band - SXSW 2013
Operation Every Band - SXSW 2012
Following the lives, careers and internet buzz of twelve bands from SXSW through the end of the year (2011).
Austin City Limits Festival 2011
35 Conferette 2011
Friday’s lineup of shows was a nice mix of folk rock and indie rock, highlighted by a triumphant headlining set by Dr. Dog. I started the day in the late afternoon on the main stage.
Telegraph Canyon played a strong set anchored by material from their last album released in 2009. They have a really cohesive sound going on in this point in their career, bolstered by an energetic delivery not normally found in bands with such a rootsy sound. Highlights included the boisterous “Shake Your Fist” and the closing number, which I didn’t get the name of, which featured a really interesting percussive melody deviating from their regular sound.
The night shifted to the 2nd stage to catch the anticipated Mr. Heavenly set featuring Michael Cera on bass, along with members of Modest Mouse, Man Man, and Islands. Admittedly, the show left a little to be desired. The band certainly sounded like they’ve only played a few shows, even at one point making a joking reference to the show as a rehearsal. Their sound was at it’s best when they did get a little cohesive, but unfortunately that was few and far between throughout their set. Scott Pilgrim held it down pretty well, using an aggressive bass playing technique with the subtle swagger you would expect to see from the established actor. MVP of the band goes to Man Man’s Honus Honus, who delivered his vocals and keys parts with vigor and passion.
Then came Dr. Dog. Dr. Dog is a band that you wouldn’t think “headliner” at first thought, but they completely owned the role tonight, destroying their set with a mix of songs heavily based in the their last three albums. The band treated the crowd to a smattering of new material as well, proving their evolution into a truly great rock band playing interesting pop songs. From the kick off of “Strangers” to the Denton-referencing lyric change in “California”, everything about their set showed maturity, energy, and a gift of excellent songwriting. Between Dr. Dog and Mavis Staples, the headliner spots so far have proven brilliant choices to anchor the 35 Conferette. Excitement ran high after their show, especially after they dropped a 20 minute encore, the first one of the Conferette.
I made my way over to Dan’s Silverleaf to catch The Spring Standards, a folk rock outfit from Brooklyn. They were impressive as well, mixing tender ballads with rootsy alt country. Of note is their percussion, split between all members of the band with various elements of a drum kit scattered throughout the small stage. All three vocalists have a unique tone that adds to their sound. They fit in a wide variety of styles to the excited fans, including a few diehards really feeling it up front. Great potential, and they really seemed to be enjoying taking part in the festival.
A short walk over to the Labb followed to catch The Orbans from Fort Worth. I’ve been able to catch these guys a few times in the last couple of years, and unfortunately this set did come across as a little rushed, trying to make the most of their half hour time slot. The crowd was really digging them though, with more than a few first timers asking their neighbors who the band was. Their gritty but poppy brand of alt country does have a really mature edge. I was hoping they would fit in “Like a Liar” to the set, but alas it didn’t make the short list this time around.
The night closed out with an interesting and dramatic set from Lost in the Trees, a band that has been near the top of my draws at SXSW and 35. The band worked through some technical issues and a short window to play in, but they really presented an impressive set, bolstered by their anthemic string and horn sections. This orchestral sound is a great direction for the folk rock scene, carrying on the vibe presented by Seryn and Telegraph Canyon earlier in the Conferette. The vocals were incredibly crisp on this chilly late winter night. The crowd included members of Dr. Dog, Seryn, and The Spring Standards, so they are definitely a band on more than a few radars this year. A great close to a great night.
Tonight has a late start for me, but I’m minutes away from leaving to catch Local Natives, and probably that’s it to rest up for a big closing tomorrow night. Hope everyone attending is having a great time. I sure am!
I’m about an hour away from heading to Denton to catch Sundress at 35 Conferette, the first band of a busy schedule today. Today’s day shows are a mix of folk inspired music on the main stage, highlighted by Mavis Staples at 8:00 and Sarah Jaffe at 5:15 (can’t wait to hear this new electronic pop direction). The 2nd stage features a headlining spot by The Pains of Being Pure At Heart as a lead in to Mavis.
The night programming start for me at Rubber Gloves to catch local rising act Air Review, before heading down to Dan’s Silverleaf for the bulk of the night. These sets are all associated with Spune Productions, a local label with small but impressive roster of artists. Favorites Seryn and Doug Burr will surely be highlights, but I’m also excited to see what Monahans and Birds & Batteries are up to. Depending on timing and crowds, I’ll swing over to catch Cut Chemist close out the night at Haileys.
Reports coming tomorrow from Day 1. If you see a guy with a red beard, a camera, and a notebook be sure to say hi!
Main Stage #1: Ok Sweetheart, Sarah Jaffe, Secret Sisters, Mavis Staples
Main Stage #2: Sundress, Ethereal, White Denim, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Square Stage pick: Backside Pick @ 5:45
Rubber Gloves - Air Review @ 10:00
Dan’s Silverleaf - starting at 10:30 - Monahans, Birds & Batteries, Doug Burr, Glen Farris, Seryn
Haileys - Cut Chemist @ 1:00
This Thursday, my wave of music starts in Denton at 35 Conferette! 4 full days of music in a SXSW-style setup, with the addition of 3 day stages this year. I’ll be posting the morning of each day on where I’ll be heading, but anyone looking to do some research, I went all “every band” on the event and wrote up some descriptors and ratings. For more posts on the 35C, click on the link to the right of the main page titled “35 Conferette”. Full coverage starting on Thursday!
The 35 Conferette Spreadsheet:
Now that we’re two weeks away, I wanted to give everyone an update on some of the things to expect in the next 14 days:
Finish “Every Band” - I’m currently at 1968 bands, with probably 150 or so to go. I’m just trying to get through as quickly as possible so I can get to some summary postings! Until I’m done, I’ll be exclusively in this zone until probably Monday or Tuesday.
The Final Spreadsheet - I’ll put the whole bad boy up on Google docs.
Top Bands by Genre - My idea is to build some top 20 lists by genre, and probably break it out between new bands and established acts. There are a lot of bands that have been highlighted, so this will be the best way to break it down without leaving any big highlight out.
Showcase and Day Party Spotlights - I’m marking my most interesting showcases overall mathematically. I’ll let you know what’s hot and why.
Where I’ll Be - I’ll be letting people know my final warpath the morning of each showcase day, pending on internet working in the hotel and all that jazz.
Full 35 Conferette Coverage - The music onslaught beings next Thursday at Denton’s 35 Conferette, where Operation Every Band will be on the scene reporting back. SXSW fans, there’s a good deal of overlap between the conferences, so hopefully you’ll check out some of the heat that’ll be brewing up in North Texas.
Reviews, Pictures, and Videos - Finally, I’ll be all over SXSW and capturing some of the moments that’ll kick off the music year.
If there’s anything else you would like to see, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.