EPIC: The 20 Most Overused Terms In SXSW Band Bios
A Vampire Weekend fan prepares to scale a fence during "Horchata" and rage.
Before I take any trip to Austin and SXSW, I always take more than a few days to peruse the schedule and check out a few of the hundreds of names on the roster and read their bios.
Some years there are more bands with "wolf" and "space" in their monikers than usual, and some years there are random exclamation points! that seem to make! no sense other than to annoy! copy editors who are already sick of reading about SXSW.
RIP Steaming Wolf Penis. I hardly knew ye.
Anyhow, the worst offenders this year seem to be the people behind the SXSW band bios. Some missives are straightforward histories of these up-and-comers journeying to Austin to seek music-blog fame and licensing fortune, while others are meandering pieces of hilarity that seem to use descriptive terms pulled out of a fedora.
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Speaking of fedoras, way too many bands this year have members sporting them in promo shots. You think you look like the Specials' Terry Hall, but all I see is shame. You ain't Tom Waits, guy in Americana-ska band from Minnesota.
The worst one this year was San Francisco act The Soft Moon's wondrous, blowhard 466-word ode to "darkness, claustrophobia and dread" about a project that "was never intended for the public's ears," yet somehow miraculously broke out of music jail and made its way to us anyway. Thank heavens.
The thing is, I like The Soft Moon. I like "vintage darkwave," and I sure as hell enjoy "snapping drums and flange-warped tones."
In fact, The Soft Moon is coming to Fitzgerald's in Houston tonight (Tuesday), with Maserati, Psychic Twin, Field Report and Prince Rama. You should all go. But I really hate their SXSW bio, "a loner's cry buried in soil and metal shavings" and all.
And it's not like I have never been guilty of writing sanctimonious bullshit like the Soft Moon SXSW bio myself. Those who live in houses made of positive ICP and Taylor Swift reviews shouldn't throw stones, I guess.
But at least I never wrote "the animal need to not be alone in the dark, to be heard by another living thing" and got paid for it. Or while not on trucker speed, anyway.
Here are some of the most overused words and terms in SXSW's 2013 artist bios. I'm sure I'm missing a few, but you get the idea.
"Raucousness" Just say you like cocaine. It's 2013, it's okay. You can just say it is an act.
"Nasty" You probably aren't "nasty"; you just got into Iggy & the Stooges two summers ago when the last emo guy in your band quit and you could finally write that song about convertibles you had always wanted to.
"Untamed" Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus are "untamed," so it's not that cool anymore to say you are, too.
"Swathed" Ohhhhhh, someone is a reader!!!
"Masculine" Just say that you play directly from the bottom of your nut sack. Don't be PC.
"The '60s" Yes, I have seen "The '60s" used in almost every way possible. What they think is hearkening to "The '60s" is really a sound from the late '80s and early '90s.
"Blessed" "Cursed" is better. Say you are "cursed" with being "awesome." Torture is fun.
"Art School" Fuck you.
"Hazy" Okay, you live a state with medical marijuana. I remember my first beer, too. Stop bragging.
"Cinematic" Oh, watch out! We got a Win Butler over here!
"Playful" Your band is young enough to have collected Pokémon cards in elementary school, and Mötley Crüe is an oldies band. Whoever wrote the press bio wanted to say "immature dogshit," but realized that lofts don't pay for themselves.
"Post-Punk" No, you are not. Post-punk happened in the '80s when your dad was still getting blown at an Oingo Boingo show. You fell in love with the color black and fell in with the wrong crowd at the coffee shop.
"Psych-WHATEVER" Urgh, a psych war! I remember there was a local writer out here who called anything with reverb "psych" and it bothered me. Even the Wild Moccasins were "psych." It was annoying.
See also: Psychedelica, Psych-ridden, Psych-folk, Psych-damaged, et al.
"Epic" I have overused "epic" before, but in an ironic way. I think. Damn, I don't know myself anymore.
"Fuzz" Guuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, you should have just sprung for a real producer.
"Cathartic" Telling your dad that you hated him for the first 20 years of your life for cheating on your mother is cathartic. Your band is not cathartic. Your band is NPR background noise.
"Charismatic" Most of the people who get labeled "charismatic" are AWFUL interview subjects. True story. I have interviewed supposed "dynamic front men" who act like mopey teens on the phone.
David Lee Roth and Dave Grohl are charismatic. They could lead political revolutions. Most of the indie bands that try to say they have a charismatic front man are really trying to say that before he was in a band, he was a pussy hound in the frat house, but they don't want to alienate anyone.
"Infectious" Yeah, infectious all right. From sleeping on every scene queen's couch and using her unwashed bath towels as toilet paper.
"Swirling Synths" Can synths do anything else but swirl?
"Earthy" Unless you are referring to my favorite experimental drone metal band Earth, using the term "earthy" just means you don't want to say "hippie shit."
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