Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ultra Music Festival Report: Day 3

It's difficult to get to Ultra as early as you want most days, especially when you're on day 3 of such a crazy weekend. Originally our goal was to make it there in time to see !!! (yes that's a band, they're fucking awesome too, say it/search for it like “chk chk chk”) play at 1pm, but when I woke up at 12:30 in the afternoon it was clear that wasn't going to happen. We were slow moving, worn out by the previous two days but determined to make it through the end of the third, something no one has ever had to do at Ultra before since this was the first year it was 3 days.

We did get our shit together and make it in time for the Disco Biscuits, which was crucial because they are one of my host for the weekend's favorite bands. They were a lot of fun, I'm not the hugest Bisco fan but their vibe was impossible to resist in this setting. Accompanied by LEBO doing live painting they definitely brought out something different in the Ultra crowd, more of a normal festival feel than the non-stop rave atmosphere of Ultra. It was a welcome change, we stayed for the whole show and had a blast.

Next up was Fake Blood, we had a little time to go cool off in the Heinken dome first though and drink a beer and get blasted with some AC which was much needed. Then back to the live stage we went to see one of my current favorite DJs of the moment. Fake Blood was at Ultra last year too, his performance really sold me on his style then and completely cemented him as one of my favorite Djs of the festival. His grimy electro style really appeals to me, big beats with fat drops and great bass lines. I highly recommend you check this guy out if you ever get the chance, or just look up some of his tunes to get a feel. 

Steve Aoki was to follow on the same stage, and while I'm not a huge fan of the guy he has a huge following and the energy was off the charts. He isn't the best DJ, in fact artists on his label such as Bloody Beetroots make much better music than he does and he played their shit often. One track he even played twice, the dance floor hit Warp 3.1 (I think that's what it's called), but the crowd didn't care they went off both times. We hung out in the back near the water and got silly, the energy was irrestible and while no one in our group would claim Aoki as a favorite I think most secretely enjoyed it. I sure did.

The live stage was simply where it was at today, for me at least although that really was the case most of the weekend. With Crystal Castles being slotted to play next there really was no point in leaving. We made our way up to get a good spot and soak in the craziness that is the Crystal Castles live experience. Fronted by Alice Glass, Crystal Castles has become known for their insane live shows, bright strobes obscuring the view of the band while intense electronic noise pummels the audience and Glass shouts, squirms, throws shit around and maybe sings a little here and there. This was my 5
th time seeing Crystal Castles, and they were the same as always. Lots of new tunes mixed with the old and plenty of mayhem thrown in the mix. We didn't stay for the whole show but I heard plenty of my favorite songs, if you don't know what their about I suggest you just check it out for yourself, pretty hard to describe. 


We decided to go check out a little Glitch Mob playing at the Tower of Ultra before the real main act of the evening. I like Glitch Mob's style, kind of like dubstep but it almost predates that in some respects. It's 3 dudes cutting up sounds together, and they earn the name Glitch Mob because it does have a glitchy sound at many times. I couldn't tell who was doing what most of the time, but the crowd was going hard even if everyone in our group wasn't. 

We went to check out some of trance at what was the Carl Cox now labeled “State of Trance” tent. ATB was playing at he was doing the trance things, lots of female vocal samples with big buildups to high pitched crescendos. Overall not really my scene, but it was an enjoyable atmosphere and a good warm up for the rest to come. I bailed a little early to go corral some friends and catch one more act before the the highlight of the weekend.

MSTRKRFT was absolutely killing it at the live stage, the crowd was huge and just going berserk. Their hard electro style had everyone moving, each drop met with wild enthusiasm from the large crowd. I wish I could have stayed longer, probably should have left ATB a littler earlier than I did, but luckily I had seen them several times. The energy was awesome and they had the crowd in the palm of their hands throughout. I danced through the crowd to find some friends and lead them back to our bigger group to get ready for the Chemical Brothers, the clear main event of the evening in my mind. 

I had been dying to see the Chemical Brothers live for seemingly forever. They were one of the original groups that got me into electronic music, their classic albums Dig Your Own Hole, Surrender, Exit Planet Dust, and Come With Us were all ground-breaking, feet-moving, and just plain amazing. I had seen them play two DJ sets before, one at Ultra and one at Coachella, and while they are definitely masters of that craft (see their album Brothers Gonna Work it Out for proof) it is their live show I had been craving. They have long been known for being on top of the live performance game in electronic music, tying an incredible visual aspect in with their music. Which of course they play live, their rig is enormous and they keep busy behind it at all times.

From the moment they opened with Galvanize I knew why I had been so anxiously awaiting this day. From there it was a non-stop thrill ride through their catalog , all accompanied by some of the best visual work I have ever seen. It is hard to put into words how great this show was, and made even more so by the incredibly large group I was with at the time, definitely the biggest of the week. Many didn't know what to expect and others had seen it before, but nevertheless everyone was floored. I talked to some who had seen the Chems before and they said this was their favorite show they had seen, the hardest and most intense but definitely the best. My amazement was capped off by something I had never seen at a festival before, as this glowing web passed over the crowd when the brothers launched into their epic tune Escape Velocity. I was able to capture the moment on video, but even that and the pictures I took can't do it justice.

The Chemical Brothers are legends, and very much deserved to be closing out the festival. They put on the best show of the weekend in my opinion, and though It was sad to depart the festival it was an incredible way to end the weekend. And luckily I'll be seeing them again tomorrow, and I'm even going to meet them due to some other craziness that I'll have to tell you about later. For now I sign off, and the next journey begins.

Ultra Music Festival Report: Day 2

We were up super late the night before so we weren't in that big a hurry to get to the show, especially because we knew we wanted to stay to the end. Getting in was a madhouse again, although a bit faster this time. Funny enough the first act we ended up seeing was Skrillex, not sure if you know about this guy but he has really caught on in popularity lately. He is also the subject of much ridicule at the same time, Skrillex produces crazy dubstep music that is the definition of love-it-or-hate-it but he is a terrible live DJ. He's relatively new to the scene so maybe he will improve, but this video has already become infamous around the net:

Skrillex and his fans are pretty much the definition of brostep, and if you don't know what that is then good. He does the the crowd going though, just not my type of crowd.

As such we didn't stay too long for Skrillex and decided to make our way to the Tower of Ultra stage to see some drum n' bass. I was definitely feeling the vibe more, dubstep can become tiresome unless it's done really well (Rusko for instance) but drum n' bass is much harder to resist. We caught the very end of Feed Me and saw a good bit of Goldie, neither of who I had heard before but both rocked it. The wind was whipping through the shaded tent which felt incredibly refreshing and energized the crowd. Next up was Simian Mobile Disco, and when it got close to time that became all I could think about.

Simian Mobile Disco is one of my favorite electronic groups ever. I love their sound, but more importantly it is their style and musicinaship in a live setting that really sets them apart. Their tower of equipment is fully visible and you can see them working to make the music. I've always preferred being able to fully realize the talent it takes to create this music, not just play and mix others' tunes. Acts like Orbital, Prefuse 73, Chemical Brothers and Simian stimulate me the most with their live rigs, and if you've got great songs to match then you're golden in my book. Simian did however get stuck with a weird time slot this year, still fully light out playing a little before sunset on the live stage. Last time I saw them at Ultra they closed out the live stage and it was literally seizure inducing (as in I saw a guy drop right in front of me into a seizure and had to help carry him out of the crowd because his fucked up friends did nothing). So really the reduced risk of that happening again and the lack of conflicts at the time made me able to enjoy their set fully and really watch what they were doing.

 Not that I understand half of what the guys of Simian can do, but it didn't matter. Their show was banging, they played most of their hits and although it was slightly skewed to their newer album (which is not as good as the first) they made the songs come alive a lot more than on record. An instant highlight for me.

After the show there was some small debate about staying for Boys Noize or heading to Moby, but we decided we wanted to check out the crazy tent and I knww for a fact that Moby was going to destroy the tent. And damn he brought it hard, if you think a Moby DJ set sounds anything like his stuff off Play you'd be in for a surprise. The big beats he was dropping combined with the insane setting of the tent (just look at that thing) made for a completely wild and satisfying set. Props to the diminutive vegan for coming hard with such a large sound. I had to leave before he finished to catch some Cut Copy, but what I saw was more than satisfying.

Cut Copy has been one of my favorite bands the past couple of years. I remember first listening to their album Bright Like Neon Love, which seems like forever ago, and definitely enjoying their mellow electronic sound but it wasn't until their second album In Ghost Colors that sold me on them. It was a more fleshed out sound, big anthems of feel-goodness which move you both physically and emotional. Their new album Zonoscope came out this year, and while it didn't grab me as much at first as their previous it has steadily grown on me to be one of my favorite albums released this year. I was dying to see them again with their new material, so I was pretty bummed they were matched up against one of my other must-sees, Underworld. Luckily there was time to catch 3 songs, and each of them were perfect. They opened with one of my favorite tracks on In Ghost Colors titled Nobody Lost, Nobody Found and instantly the crowd was connected to the good vibes. From there they played one of their new tunes Corner of the Sky which crescendoed to an amazing finale, something Cut Copy does incredibly well. Their songs lend themselves to the build, and when those big drops hit it's nothing but pure euphoria. As the song ended I knew I would have to leave soon, but the opening chords of Lights and Music required me to stay for one more tune. We danced our asses off and then immediately began to hustle our way to the mainstage for Underworld.

Underworld are legends in electronic music, and have long been a favorite group of mine. Most known for their track "Born Slippy" used famously in Danny Boyle's Trainspotting they've been making great music since the early nineties, and continue to do so as their new album Barking is fantastic. Karl Hyde, the lead singer of Underworld, gives their group a unique energy that very few electronic groups can match, simply because they don't usually have vocalists that can amp up the crowd in the way that he does. This was my second time seeing Underworld, the last being at Ultra in 2008, and as soon as I got there I instantly was ok with having left Cut Copy early. Beginning with their classic live mash-up of Rez and Cowgirl set things off right, their tunes are often stretched out over long periods to build and build into crazy crescendos of energy with Karl running about the stage hyping the crowd up. 

The show was a mix of classics including Two Months Off, King of Snake, and the aforementioned Born Slippy, mixed in with a healthy dose of new cuts. I had only heard a bit of the new album but their new songs really struck me, particularly Between Stars and Scribble which I took some excellent video of and I think captures the energy of their show quite well. Karl's enthusiasm was palpable, and their team of producers behind their custom mixing board (Underworld always plays with a custom setup, they don't rock the normal DJ decks that most people playing the mainstage can just switch off on) gave him the music to feed off of. Even though the crowd was littered with Deadmau5 fans, many of whom probably didn't even really know who Underworld was, they were still enthralled. The extended tracks which could sometimes last over 10 minutes built to powerful endings that were impossible to resist. I'm sure Underworld made some new fans at this show, and he sure as hell pleased this old one.


Our group didn't want to stick around for Deadmau5, who was labeled as the true "headliner" for the day which is pretty bogus considering his body of work, so we pushed our way out of the thick crowd to go see Empire of the Sun. This is a band that's been on the radar a lot recently, their hit Walking On a Dream is known by many and I'm pretty sure has been in commercials as well. I wouldn't say that tune really gives an accurate depiction of their live show, it was a lot harder and intense than I expected. Adorned in some outrageous costumes with even more ridiculous visuals it was probably the trippiest show of the day I saw. The music went through many different movements, sometimes there were vocals and it was more traditionally song based and other times it was straight hard electronica. Discenerning their setup was ahrd sometimes, because often they played with instruments, guitar, drums and keyboards but then at other time it just seemed to be more sequencers and controllers doing all the work when they went deeper into the dance music side of thing. Whatever was going on it was clearly appropriate for the Ultra crowd, everyone around me was loving it. And when they closed with the hit Walking On a Dream the crowd went nuts, a completely satisfying conclusion to their crazy show. I must say also they were very photogenic with the costumes and awesome backdrop they had, so I definitely got some good pictures:

After Empire of the Sun ended I was beginning to succumb to exhaustion from the long day. We hung around the live stage for a bit and I caught the beginning of Sasha's set, which was cool but didn't get me going as much as some shows I had seen of his before. Sasha is another legend of the electronic music scene, often paired with John Digweed they were one of the premiere electronic duos stretching back into the 90s. It's hard to pigeonhole his music into one category of electronic music because he can pretty much do it all, to me it's sort of a best of both worlds mix of house and trance. His set here included a crazy visual setup which was cool, but it couldn't touch some of the legendary shows I'd seen of his before so we I didn't stay for too long and decided to wander around for the final 45 minutes of the day.
As I walked around I could see Deadmau5 playing, his show was in full swing, and it was a MUCH better scene than his disastrous show he played last year at Ultra when the speakers blew and the crowd was a horrendous mess. This time there was actually space to move around and you could hear and see well from the back, Ultra's new mainstage setup really was an improvement over previous years'. I guess though I've grown a bit weary of Deadmau5, his popularity is just so high and I don't feel he brings that much new to the table. His best album Random Album Title seems like a longtime ago and I'm just not that big a fan of his new work. I'm sorry but 4X4=12 is just nothing groundbreaking, for all the acclaim it gets it should be much better. His visual setup is one of the best in the game, but the best Deadma5 shows I saw were in 2009 before he had all that going on and it was more about the music (and better music). So I just kind of absorbed the scene for a bit, the crowd was definitely feeling it and I will say it was fun but still nothing as jaw-dropping as when I first saw him at Ultra in 2009 and he was causing stampedes from twirling peoples brains around so hard. I also wanted to check out some of Claude VonStroke before the evening was over so I booked it over the the Root Dome Society Tent which I had yet to have visited yet.

The scene here was much calmer than Deadmau5, a lot fewer people and a much simpler setup. Claude VonStroke is DJ I only knew a little about, mostly his infamous tune The Whistler, and clearly the Ultra crowd was in a similar mindset because the tent was no more than a third full. He played some cool stuff but the energy wasn't really there, and he seemed maybe like he was a little drunk himself (I definitely caught a sloppy mix into a new tune during his set). I did appreciate the dancers strewn about the stage but I only stayed for a bit and went back to check out the end of Deadmau5 and try and work out my ride situation.
Luckily I ended up catching a ride to and from the festival today from old Miami friends, which was clutch considering my car was still locked up and unmovable just blocks away from the festival. I went to check on it, I had gotten a ticket at this point but it was still there so that was really all I could ask for. My old roommate came and picked me up and we rendezvoused with my other friends and headed home. Another satisfying day in the books, this one definitely much smoother than the last. But still one more day to go...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ultra Music Festival Report: Day 1

So this is coming 2 weeks after the fact, plenty of time to reflect but still fresh in my mind. It seems all I'm writing about right now is these music events I've been going, but besides that and work there's not too much else to report in my life right now. I've been taking these trips and doing the music festival thing for a while now, starting in 2004 this would be my 38th event if my counting is correct. That may sound excessive, but I plan to keep doing because in many ways this is research. I am definitely going to start a music and arts festival of my own someday, with other friends obviously, and hopefully you'll come one year. Anyway onto my Ultra report, which if you don't know is the biggest all electronic music festival in the US held in Miami, FL every year. Being that I went to school in Miami it is the event I have been to the most. The first year I went it was only 1 day and about 15,000 people came. Now it has expanded to 3 days for the first year ever and was completely sold out, 50,000 people per day. As you can see these events are growing in popularity.

I didn't arrive in Miami until 8am Friday morning, drove all night with some other festival goers I met through craigslist rideshare. It was the first time I had ever done that and it worked beautifully. As such I was glad the first day started at 4pm instead of noon like the other days. We didn't get over there until nearly 5:30, and the line was absolutely insane to get in. Luckily my friends and I did a pretty good job weaving through the crowds of people and we got in within 20-30 minutes, I heard some waited an hour. On the way in my friend was assaulted by a cop for doing basically nothing, a story not really worth going into, so Ultra wasn't really sending out the best vibes as you entered the fest. But we got past the festival security just fine so I guess it worked out. Dude didn't even care I had my camelback full of water.

Walking in I immediately how different the arrangement was this year than any other year. Miami has been constructing a new museum in Bicentennial Park where Ultra is held, and they were dealing with approximately two thirds of the space this year. And I must admit for the most part they did a really good job with it. I thought the mainstage was in a great position that allowed big crowds to gather without too much bottle-necking. There were a couple of unfortunate instances of stairs at the festival, something I've never seen at any before, but other than that they adopted to the terrain really well. Well everything except for the new bathroom situation, but I'll get to the later.

First thing we checked out was Cedric Gervais on the so-called Korea stage. It was an appropriate way to start the weekend, seeing a house DJ who frequents many Miami parties and has become a staple of WMC. Ran into some friends, danced around, mostly we were just pumped for all that was to come.

Next our group decided to check out the mainstage for the first time since Benny Benassi was on. I've seen Benassi a few times at Ultra before, this performance fell in the middle for me. Definitely better than last year, he played less cheesy shit and even dropped some dubstep on us which really set the crowd off. So is the trend I guess, it was interesting to hear Benassi, a long-time house and electro artist, give in to that. But he did it well and the crowd loved it.

I wanted to check out some of the CSS show on the live stage while we had a break, so we decided to check out the live stage for the first time. It was a different setup this year, the stage now faced the water and there was a small hill to the back side, versus in previous years where the stage was . The crowd was relatively small for CSS, and as soon as they started up I sort of realized why. CSS is a very fun group, but their vibe was almost a little too punk for Ultra and their small crowd started to make sense as they played. 

I only stayed for a few songs because my friends wanted to wander around, so we checked out the adjacent stage where DJ Icey was playing. Icey has been on the scene a long time, I've even seen him play a show back in Nashville many years ago. He definitley drew the biggest crowd I saw all weekend to the small UMF radio stage, was fun for a bit but we didnt' stay too long.

We wandered around for a bit more and bought some overpriced food (Ultra really fucked people on the food this year, it was at best over-priced and ok and worst a total jack and disgusting). We even caught a little Erasure, I can definitely appreciate Ultra bringing a classic artists like Erasure and Duran Duran but I don't feel the Ultra audience returns the same interest. It was one of the smallest crowds I saw at the mainstage in the peak hours of the night. At this point all I could think about was the upcoming Röyksopp show anyway, so we watched a couple of tunes and headed back the live stage.

I have been a huge fan of Röyksopp for some time now, starting back with their album The Understanding. I had never had a chance to see them live before, so I was super pumped for the show. I didn't even really know what the setup would be, I had watched some live videos before and mostly they consisted of the duo of Norwegian duo Svein and Tjorbjor (awesome names) and guest vocalists here and there. So when they strode out on stage as a multi-piece setup and busted into their hit “Happy Up Here” I was floored. The two main members did most of the work and The crowd blew up along with them, jumping up and down as the lights hit the audience and they launched into their set. Most of the members were costumed, and the feel of the music flowed up and down as they plowed through an all-too-short-set-list but was never anything less than beautiful. The mood was great the whole time, definitely my favorite set of the day. Couple of pics and videos below, but they can only do so much:

Next up at the same stage was Trentemøller, a band I had been hearing a lot about recently, most notably they appeared on my radar ever since Coachella put this insane video of them up on youtube:

What a whirlwind of a show. They started behind this cloth fence-like structure which partially obscured the view of the band, letting the music be heard over any individual performance. The best way I can think to describe their sound is a more upbeat and electronic version of Nine Inch Nails, two parts hard house and one part industrial music. It was spellbinding, the Scandinavian artists were bringing it tonight. Eventually they pulled away the covering and the band became more visible, more people gathering around the stage as they got deeper into their set. I didn't know most of their material but it didn't matter. And when they concluded with Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go! I was compelled to take a video, although the sound didn't turn out that great (I love my camera but the mic sucks on it) so I recommend watching the video above instead to get a feel for the group. The show we saw wasn't quite the same spectacle but nonetheless it was amazing, and I hope to see them again at Coachella.

Once the show ended our group stayed at the same stage to see STS9 next, listening to Miss 9 on the decks in the meantime. I'd seen Tiesto enough and he's not really my thing anymore, plus since he headlines Ultra every year (literally) I felt I could miss him. Granted I've seen STS9 an even more ridiculous amount of times, second only to Miami's Awesome New Republic, and both of which I've lost count past a dozen, but I like their style better especially cause it's 5 of them playing live. And they did not disappoint, from the moment they started the crowd was into it. They careened through some classics that I recognized and definitely some new material I hadn't heard before, the visuals and sound were on point and the vibes were great. Or so I thought. 

Unfortunately tragedy struck, some total fucking asshole stole my backpack off the ground while we were partying. I was in a large group at this point and had set my bag down at the edge of everyone, and had my eye off of it for about 5 minutes and some low-life took it. I had my wallet, ticket for the next 2 days of Ultra, and my car keys inside. Sadly this kind of ruined the show for me at this point, I could not enjoy the last 20 minutes while I frantically searched the surrounding area for my (hopefully) discarded bag. My friends tried to help but to no avail, too much craziness going on with STS9 finishing their set. Then I really got angry, and my main gripes with Ultra came into play.

Once the show ended some of us spread out to look for my bag, praying someone had fished whatever they wanted out of it and left it somewhere. I especially needed my keys, I had driven not only me but my hosts for the weekend to the show and was parked at a meter. But as we started looking we were ushered out of the venue, the staff would not let me continue to look for my missing bag. I inquired about a lost and found (not marked on the map) and was told by numerous people that it was near the exit. Just go out and to the left they said, someone will help you. Bunch of liars. I come to find Ultra, which considers itself an elite music festival, doesn't even have a lost and found, much less a staff willing to help its patrons. Ultra often pretends it puts the fans first, but that is a bunch of horseshit. They charge $5 for a small bottle of water, have shitty over-priced food, design the WORST bathroom situation I have ever seen at a festival*, and have the most unhelpful festival staff I've ever encountered. My shit was stolen and every worker and police officer at Ultra refused to help me, much less even just let me look for my stuff.

It's unfortunate that an event that is in some ways so amazing could have such deep rooted problems. I've been going to Ultra since 2004, this was my 8th year, and still to this day I consider it one of my least favorite festivals. Don't get me wrong it's still an incredible experience, especially because the past few years their booking has just been amazing, for the type of festival it is no one has a better lineup. But the way this festival is run is an insult to its attendee, from the sheisty food vendors to the joke of a bathroom setup. We still come though for the music and the people, my friends are what make me come back every year more than anything. And they're the ones who helped me collect myself and make it through the rest of the weekend.

My new friend Matt who could only attend Friday gave me his ticket, an amazing move considering this was a sold out show. We took a cab back and chilled out on the beach for much of the night, contemplating the rest of the weekend. Ultra is a lot of fun but they don't have your back if you get screwed over, that's what friends are for. 2 more days to go.

*Seriously Ultra totally screwed the pooch on the bathroom situation. They essentially had one are of port-o-potties, 2 very long rows with tons of stalls going all the way down. But they made the unbelievably terrible decision to have one opening to get to all of them, and this because a total clusterfuck as people swarmed to get in and out of the same place, just to use the bathroom. People were getting knocked over, some of my friends couldn't even deal with it. It got so bad at one point that I knew I wasn't going back there again unless absolutely necessary. Whoever decided not to open up the area like it had been before should be fired immediately, it was one of the dumbest things I've ever seen a professional festival do. 50,000 people come to this thing, come on Ultra if you want to pretend to be concerned about your fans at least give them a place to comfortably relieve themselves when needed. /endrant

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Groove to this

These are some videos I shot of a good friend of mine's recital last November. He's got another one coming up on April 11th at Belmont University, I just felt like sharing these because they're awesome and just another example of some of the awesome music I've had the pleasure of recording.

Joe Schneider - bass
Trevor Root - drums
Wesley Winfrey - tenor sax
Daniel Gaynor - guitar
Jeremyck Smith - keys

Ultra recaps starting tomorrow...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

SXSW day 4

Today was to be my busiest working day with both Dee Goodz and Young Man having two shows I wanted to film. Barely made it in time for the first Young Man show, our secret parkign spot we had been using all weekend got jacked and I had to bail on the car and hustle to get to the show, which I still ended up missing a song of. This was their first show outside and it was a beautiful day to play outside. Their sound mixed wonderful in the setting, the crowd wasn't huge but everyone was enjoying themselves. In some ways this may have been the best footage I captured, you could see everyone really well and the sound was pretty good. I hope to get my videos out for the Young Man shows soon.

Went back to their hotel room after for a bit to offload some of my footage and relax before the long day ahead. We went to check out the poster sale at the convention sale, I got two sweet posters neither having to do with bands just some cool art. I also checked out two bands at this tent setup right across from the convention center with free booze. The first, Scars on 45, was good but nothing to write home about although they seemed to be having a blast playing for everyone. It was the second band that really struck me, the Joy Formidable as they were called. Fronted by a very cute lead singer they rocked out hard and the place was jam packed to see them. I only stayed for about 4 or 5 songs but it was more than enough to sell me on them. I'll definitely be checking out more of them in the near future.

Afterwards I walked across town to try and catch the second Young Man show of the day. Unfortunately the venue was running a bit behind schedule so I could only stay for the very beginning of the show. I did snap some cool pictures though and take some good B-roll footage so it wasn't a total loss. I also found out from the band afterwards that the show went really well, a bunch of people wandered in last minute and that coupled with a good sound setup made it one of their best shows of SXSW. 

Luckily the venue they were playing at was a mere one block away from the Rocksmith showcase where I was to catch the next Dee Goodz show. This was a much better setup than last time, and Dee did all he could with his 10 minute set time, I think he even went a little over. Took some great video here and some friends were able to join me. He got the crowd a lot more invigorated than the other acts I saw at the showcase, particularly when he played Bananas and Lisa Lopes which really got the crowd going.

Took another break after the show back at the hotel room, I knew I had one more show to film and then there was another showcase my brother and I really wanted to catch. We thought about checking out some other bands playing at the time but opted for food and relaxation instead, which was probably a wise choice considering the mayhem that followed.

The last Dee Goodz show was by far the best, playing at the Fuggin' Awesome stage atop the roof at the Blind Pig. It was a great setup and a very big crowd and he totally rocked it. I made it just in time too, started filming straight on but then weaseled my way on stage and god some really sick footage of the show. Definitely going to be heavily featured in our video, which is coming out very soon. The energy was high and the crowd was feeling it. It's pretty hard to beat an outdoor venue like that too for several reasons. Great show, very pleased my brother finally got to catch a show of his too.

We had to bounce immediately to go see a showcase nearby featuring Curren$y, Big K.R.I.T. and most notably Odd Future, who has been catching a ton of buzz lately and I'd been dying to see, especially since I had to miss their Fader Fort show. We got to the venue and they wouldn't let me in with my camera ,which was no surprise, so I had to dash back to the hotel to drop it off. I went as fast as I could so I wouldn't miss Curren$y and to be sure I would get in. This happened to be the only venue I had been in so far that was using a metal detector on people as they came in. I wouldn't have cared about this except for they found my other personal camera and said I wouldn't be to come inside with that on me either. I tried to explain that I just dropped off my real camera and that I wouldn't even use this one if that wasn't cool, I just wanted to get in because I could tell it was getting full and the lines were getting long. The guy said no though, so I had to get creative. I walked away for a couple of minutes and tied my camera to my badge's lanyard and hung it down the back of my shirt. I entered the venue again, awkwardly leaning back ever so slightly and praying they wouldn't scan my whole body. Luckily they didn't pay too much attention to me this time and I slipped right in just as Curren$y was starting.

This probably was my least favorite Curren$y show I had seen but you could tell the room was packed with serious fans. He would often drop the beat and let the crowd take over on the lyrics for him, they knew them so well he even commented that he hardly had to do anything. It was almost aggravating at times, sometimes a song would be in full swing and the beat would cut out which, even though most knew the lyrics, still dropped the energy level of the show. Plus the sound was consistenly too low when it was just the DJ responsible for the music. Despite patrons and staff pleading with the sound guy to turn the beat up he never came through. This became an utter disaster later in the evening. 

After Curren$y ended Big K.R.I.T. was up next. This would be my third time seeing him at SXSW and this was definitely my favorite show of his and really the whole showcase for that matter. He brought a full band for much of the show, which was excellent because that seemed to be the only scenario in which the sound guy could get a decent mix across. His southern-fried rhymes coupled with a solid backing band really made the show come alive. Good stuff.

Odd Future was next, we scooted up close in the crowd and you could tell the anticipation was high. You can bet the place was at capacity and a bunch of people were standing outside. Unbeknownst to me at the time though there was a large part of the crowd that hung back near the bar, it was a deep room and clearly there were lots of industry and reporter type people there who were more curious than fans. As soon as Tyler the Creator stepped out and the first beat dropped though you could tell something was not right. The sound was not coming through as it should have been, and while the energy up front was extremely high (this was the first hip-hop show I had ever seen which induced moshing) clearly many in the back appeared disinterested. The show was a blur from where I was, but before I knew it Tyler was cursing the crowd, restarting songs, and when he launched into his latest hit “Yonkers” he did it seemingly out of obligation. The whole crew became frustrated. Hodgy Beats threw his microphone down and along with Tyler and the rest of the gang they bolted after a mere 10 minutes of playing. At first I couldn't believe it was over, but it was clear they had left when I saw people pulling wires and offloading gear. We were pissed but what could we do? Just hope to see them again I guess...

We stumbled around Austin for a bit more but didn't see anything of note (except maybe Quintron & Miss Pussycat out of New Orleans who I had seen before but wasn't really feeling at the time). Our group went back to the Hilton to relax and recap the week a bit before we parted ways. We unfortunately were forced to park very far away today so we knew we had a long walk back. Pedicabs (bike cabs) were even turning us down, so we made the trek on foot which was exhausting, never been so glad to get off my feet.

It was a crazy week, I didn't see as much as I had some previous years at SXSW, but I found out about some great new music and got some awesome footage of two artists I love working with. So all in all a great experience, glad I'm now finally caught up on reporting so I can get to my Ultra recap.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dee Goodz SXSW video

 Here is the first video I cut together of some of the Dee Goodz footage I shot at SXSW. He had 3 shows and it was cool to see each one be bigger and better than the last. Hope you'll check out the recap:

I'm going to finally finish my SXSW report tomorrow once I get done with some other work, gonna be a busy next 2 weeks...