After the mega-shows last SXSW with Metallica and Kanye West, the 2010 version of SXSW launched struck your humble badgeholder as busier than last year, just on a smaller scale. With fewer truly dominant stars appearing this year, SXSW had a chance to return to a more organic celebration of the music industry - playing up the role of the artist in the creation and facilitation of pop culture. Maybe that was due to the presiding spirit of Alex Chilton, who died of a heart attack at home in New Orleans just a few short days before his first U.S. appearance of the decade. From the Postelles to Cheap Trick to Ray Davies, dedications rang out for days. Having never claimed mainstream success, Chilton's musical children are all over the place these days. Meanwhile, with every laptop a potential mixing board, the DIY fringe has apparently nearly completely conquered the mainstream. Check out the success of indie-label charmers such as Freelance Whales and, judging from our colleague's report, the Local Natives (damn sorry we missed all their appearances - thank goodness they're coming to H-town...).
Winning day-party sets by the Antlers at French Legation on Friday and the Black Keys at Mohawk on Saturday, helped soften the blow of some of the missed chances, especially the lack of exposure to new Band of Horses tunes in any sort of setting. The legend Ray Davies did right by singing "You Really Got Me," "Victoria" and "Lola." As the Kinks in Madison Square Garden circa 1983 was one of the first concerts this old-timer ever caught, we were sorry he didn't do a treatment of "Come Dancing."
A random 2010 observation: Seems that three-piece bands are on the rise. We're betting this has something to do with how many dudes can fit in a van. Elsewhere, professional whack-job Courtney Love managed to pull together a fairly coherent showcase. We don't know who booked her at the Dirty Dog, but it was an act of inspiration. With hundreds, rather than thousands to play for, her addled patter turned genuinely confessional. Get well soon, Ms. Love...
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Dragged out on lack of sleep, we don't have much more to add; just a piece of fashion advice for all you hipsters: Just because you're wearing a snap shirt and boots does not make you a cowboy.