Dark Meat Imaginary Scoop mclusky We Versus the Shark

Best Summer Camp Song? How about "F*ck This Band?"

Most of us have a story or two gathered from summers spent at camp (or our excuses to get out of it). Whether yours are juicy or traumatic, our friends at Team Clermont (an Athens, GA based music/PR firm) have put together a music fun fest to put all our tales to shame: Team Clermont Summer Camp!

Their camp starts Thursday, July 31st with "Camp Orientation” at which I'm sure introductions and some camp bug juice will be consumed. From there the fun will kick into high gear as some of their favorite musical acts take the stage as well as show off their various talents through arts, crafts, karaoke, kickball, Four Square, Corn Hole, dancing, and a scavenger hunt. Is there anything more fun than a scavenger hunt!?!

Summer Camp will run through August 2nd and culminate in a night of sing-alongs featuring members of Elf Power, of Montreal, Elf Power, We Versus the Shark, Cinemechanica, Casper & the Cookies, Dark Meat, and more covering ESG (Tiny Sticks), mclusky (F*ck This Band), and Paul McCartney and Wings (Hi Hi Hi) songs!

The TC folks have really thought of everything, they even made a muxtape for us to listen to while packing our duffle bag (don't forget your teddy bear!)

I haven't found any other official listings of it anywhere on the web, but if you're within roadtrip distance of Athens, head down there and send us a postcard!

And while we're on the topic, do you have any camp stories you want to share? What tape/cd did you listen to on repeat to get through the athletic portions?

I really wish I had this song to play on repeat those first few nights in the bunks.

{Yes, this whole post is a ruse just to be able to post this video 😉  }

Dark Meat Fleet Foxes Imaginary Scoop Quiet Village The Raveonettes Triclops

Free Music Friday!

Welcome once again to your right-click fantasy! We're so happy you could join us.


Sub Pop has Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal" available for download. TIG has been all abuzz about this band lately so here's your chance to hear what all the hype's about (that is, if you're one of the three people who hasn't heard them already).

Media promotions company Terrorbird has a couple of songs from Triclops: "Lovesong for the Botfly" and "Freedom Tickler." Free Music Fridays hearts Terrorbird.


MP3 blog Music for Robots is supa-psyched for an upcoming full-length from Quiet Village, and has "Circus of Horror" available to download. Says MfR's Blair: "As far as obscure rock and dance sounds go, Quiet Village is near the top of my favorites list."


ChrisB loved The Raveonettes' new album, Lust Lust Lust. Here's opening track "Aly Walk With Me," courtesy of Vice Records.


Also spotted on Vice's site is an MP3 from Dark Meat, which they call "a 17-piece psychedelic rock collective from Athens, Georgia who sound like the Stooges meets Crazy Horse meets Albert Ayler — double drums, shredding guitars, jazz bursts, gospel vocals and marching band horns!" Sounds interesting enough, right? Here's "Freedom Ritual."


{Send links to your MP3s to to be included in a future Free Music Friday!}

40 Watt Black Kids Bunnygrunt Cars Can Be Blue Daniel Johnston Dark Meat Elekibass Fishboy Jerk Alert Live Show Review Pains of Being Pure at Heart Red Pony Clock Visitations

Athens PopFest 2007: Day 3 with Fishboy, Cars Can Be Blue, Daniel Johnston and more…

Black Kids were the surprise of the PopFest. And I'm not alone in my Black Kids adulation–everyone in my 8-person group was screaming "I LOVE BLACK KIDS" after their show. They were the opening band on this, the final day of the PopFest and their quick wit banter was disarming and hilarious. Their songs were catchy and well-thought out without being contrived. Visiting from Jacksonville, Florida, the fresh-faced fivesome played a packed set of songs (My favorite being "I underestimated my charm again") and even braved a killer Clash cover.

The two keyboarding ladies danced without abandon, and at one point Ali Youngblood ventured out into the audience with her tambourine and skipped around the elated audience. After the show, the band gave out a bunch of free burned cds of their demos – which unfortunately didn't really capture the magic of their live show. The beguiling Smiths' guitar, unaffected Robert Smiths vocals of lead singer and guitarist Reggie Youngblood, cool cheerleader girl vocals with a zealous rhythm section was lost to less than ideal recording quality. If you listen to them on MySpace, you'll hear some reverb and over synth'd versions of the songs… which in no way illustrate the energy and songsmanship of the band live. This doesn't diminish my urge to evangelize Black Kinds and I still crown them the PopFest highlight.

Black Kids at PopFest

Jerk Alert were next up. They started their set with a loud cacophony of sound – which I assumed was just a way to grab our attention. Actually, that Bratmobile screaming, fuckpunk loud monster sound continued through the whole set. I retreated to the back and gathered my thoughts during this set, though it should be noted the lead singer wore a spanking red velour outfit.

Jerk Alert

The electro-melancholy trio The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were part Suburban Kids with Biblical Names, part John Hughes soundtrack, and as the lead singer's t-shirt suggested, part-Belle and Sebastian. Their songs nervously charmed with shy boy distain for encounters of the interpersonal ilk and the midi beats harkening to the bedroom pop they likely pulled influence. The delicate combo was quite delightful.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Visitations at PopfestThe Visitations set rounded out the day portion of the Saturday shows and started off with a guy, a guitar and a posterboard guerilla face over the microphone. It got less interesting from there and no matter how much the promise of having the fellow joined by members of Red Pony Clock intrigued us, we needed to head out for our DIY Athens tour (which included stops at indie-rock historical spots – Weaver D's anyone?).

The evening portion of the last night of PopFest started a few hours later at the 40 Watt. Red Pony Clock took the stage and before picking up their instruments, all the guys took their shirts off. The 11-member crew wore coordinated outfits (the boys topless and in matching swim trucks, ladies in striped tank top dresses) and broke into their trademark indie mexicali dance party songs. The group sported several brass (trumpets, trombones), oboe, clarinet, drums, bongos, accordion, guitars, bells, among other instruments.

Red Pony Clock at PopFest 2007

Lead singer, etc. Gabe charmed with the wit and ended the set with a "Helicopter Shirt Dance" to the song "Don't Forget Who Your Friends Are" which inspired several male audience members to take off their shirts and swing them around like a helicopter through the song.

The Helicopter Dance-Red Pony Clock

Denton, TX's Fishboy were next – and by song three they were a favorite of the fest. The band's onstage antics and banter, quick, concise songs and spazzing keyboardist left us breathless. They have a TMBG meets Jawbreaker vibe with nothing slow or subtle about their songs.

Fishboy at the Athens PopFest

They charge forward with literary whimsy and fast-paced guitar rifts and even took their live energy into the physical realm by smashing a DVD player at the end of the set. I've loved their song "Woodward Ave" for some time (and the new songs they recently posted to the website are quite addictive as well) so it was no surprise when the quartet's set left me counting down to the release of their new album, Albatross: How We Failed To Save The Lone Star State With The Power Of Rock And Roll in the fall.

Fishboy at the PopFest

Next up, it was payback for Bunnygrunt. The band has become infamous for supplying multiple rounds of shots to their friends on stage (see Tullycraft's PopFest show in 2005, and the earlier Casper and the Cookies show for evidence), so they were bombarded this time rwith six rounds of shots during their set this year.

Bunnygrunt and their revenge shots

Being troopers (or at least well-practiced in the art of shots), they persevered and the only slip up was during banter when Matt said "I'd thank to like…" They blazed through a Warren Zevon cover, which they sup’d up by adding a horn section made up of members from Hat Company and Red Pony Clock. They ended the set with Poison Control Center's "Love is the Answer" and it’s accompanying dancing and singing along a mass of band and indie pop folk on to the stage. It was the best Bunnygrunt show I've seen thus far – not sure if that's due to their songs or their shots.

Bunnygrunt mayhem!

Everyone had been counting down to the set by imaginary favorites Cars Can Be Blue. Earlier in the night the pair had promised a big ending, so as they made their way through their catalog of non-risque tracks (they were keeping it somewhat clean this night) our anticipation grew. Notable new songs dotted the set included "Coat Tails" which finger points at the locals who drop names to feel important with lines like "I know that you are friends wiht all the right bands" and the self-explanatory "Merch Song" In honor of the PopFests organizers Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records, they covered Cracker's "Happy Birthday to Me."

Cars Can Be Blue

The finale came with a high-reverb cover of "Purple Rain" and featured Nate and Becky spewing fighting words to each other via a huge newspaper board pad. The song ended with a shower of confetti and balloons dropping from the ceiling (someone was good at the game Mousetrap to set that contraption up!). They didn't disclose when we can expect the next album or tour… but fingers crossed it is soon.

Cars Can Be Blue

Dark Meat, Dark Meat, Dark Meat. Ah yes, the Dark Meat. The hippy army took full advantage of the stage and blasted out the mayhem with at least 20 folks dark-meating it up. As we've covered in the past, they are an elementary music class production come jam session that fills up a room with sound and are a force to be reckoned with. The songs are filled with mayhem but hints of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” trumpet with Polyphonic Spree group vocals / screams are hard to ignore. Oddly, with the room temperature at near boiling, the havoc they reeked was a nice charge to the party and I think I left the fest with a keen appreciation and, dare I say, understanding of the band.

Dark Meat!

Japan's Elekibass filled the room with as much good will and cutesy charisma as a Hello Kitty convention. The audience, members of my posse included, were enraptured with their uber-happy pop tunes to the point of demanding an encore.


Daniel Johnston took the stage and divided his set up into three even pieces. The first part was him solo with his guitar humbly strumming through his catalog. During the second movement, he was joined by an acoustic guitarist who played while he focused on vocals and mesmerized the audience into silence. Throughout the set, the only peeps made were when the masses riotously cheered between songs.

The third part, arguably the most engaging, Daniel was joined by Casper and the Cookies who acted as his back up band. Not so surprisingly they started with "Casper the Friendly Ghost" and with "Hey Joe" soon following. Not much could have prepared us for when Daniel asked the audience what song we wanted to hear, to which he said, "I bet you want to hear this one" and launched into "Speeding Motorcycle." This version had an easy listening feel and lulled us all into a contented cocoon state.

Daniel Johnston!

He ended the set with "Gonna Rock this Town Tonight" which included the addition of Elekibass on stage. The sing-along climaxed into a sweaty riotous crowning point with everyone worked up into a frenzy of rock. Whew. Athens PopFest, a frenzy of rock.

American Revolution Baby Calendar Bunnygrunt Cars Can Be Blue Casper and the Cookies Cinemechanica Circulatory System Daniel Johnston Dark Meat Darren Hanlon Elikibass Fishboy Happy Happy Birthday to Me Hat Company High Water Marks Ideal Free Distribution Imaginary Scoop Jerk Alert M. Coast New Sound of Numbers Patience Please Poison Control Center Red Pony Clock Ryan Anderson The Smittens Velcro Stars Venice Is Sinking We Versus the Shark Yellow Fever

Athens Popfest 2007 details announced!

Athens Popfest 2007Thanks to Pitchfork for the deets on the Athens Popfest 2007! I can't seem to find a schedule anywhere, but here's the info that's gone public so far:

The Popfest will fill up two Athens venues (40 Watt Club and Little Kings Shuffle Club) from August 8-11, 2007 and will, as always, be brought to us by the fine Happy Happy Birthday to Me folks.

So far, the folks confirmed include:

Ted Leo and his Pharmacists
Daniel Johnston
Circulatory System
American Revolution (featuring Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo)
Ideal Free Distribution
Dark Meat
Casper & the Cookies
Poison Control Center
High Water Marks (Apples offshoot band)
Red Pony Clock
Cars Can Be Blue
Baby Calendar
The Smittens
Venice Is Sinking
New Sound of Numbers
Yellow Fever
M Coast
Darren Hanlon
We Versus the Shark
How I Became the Bomb
Velcro Stars
Kite Flying Society
Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Ryan Anderson
Birds of Avalon
Violet Vector & the Lovely Lovelies
Titans of Filth
Patience Please
Hat Company
Christopher's Liver
Black Kids
Jerk Alert

The full schedules (yes, there's rumored to be even more people added to the line-up!) will be announced on the fest's website soon!

Feeling nostalgic?

Amy Winehouse Andrew WK BOAT Dark Meat Emma Pollack Live Show Review Matt & Kim Paolo Nutini Scott Matthews Spindrift The Fratellis The Manhattan Love Suicides The Twilight Sad Tullycraft

The Imaginary SXSW 2007 Report: Day 3

With Matt & Kim, Dark Meat, Spindrift, Emma Pollack, the Twilight Sad, Paolo Nutini, the Fratellis, Amy Winehouse, the Zebras, the Manhattan Love Suicides, BOAT, the Faintest Ideas, Tullycraft

Day three of SXSW began with sustenance. We knew we had big days (Matt & Kim, The Fratellis, the Twilight Sad) and even bigger nights (Amy Winehouse, the Magic Marker showcase) ahead of us. First thing on the list: complementary breakfast burritos at the BBC party at Brush Square Park and free coffee (served in plastic cups) at the SFxSXSW party at Spiros, and then we headed to Red 7 for the Mess with Texas party.

Throughout the weekend, the line at Red 7 was around the block. Any event with a line-up overseen by David Cross with appearances by fellow Mr. Show star Bob Odenkirk and indie-rock darlings like the Black Angels, the Gossip, Matt & Kim is bound to be exciting. When we saw that the line was down to just 30 people, we realized that this was *our chance* to see what was happening on that patio of theirs. Upon entry I was captivated by a spoken word pep talk from Andrew WK. He was headlong into an eloquent, convincing little chat about loving thy neighbor. He used personal anecdotes, talking through his own battles of realizing that hating a group of people because of the behaviors of a hardcore sect of the group isn’t the road to enlightenment. Life’s hard man, and we’re just all trying to get through.

You were captivated? I was puzzled. I felt like I'd walked into some crazy after-school special, and since I had missed most of the pre-funk free-food-and-beverage haps, I was pretty well dyin' for some caffeine/hydration/sustenance. (I did partake of 'coffee in a plastic cup' that I grabbed quickly from Spiro's on the way over. After stomaching a few sips, I had to throw it out. I was certain that the amount of plastic toxins I just ingested equated to swallowing a golf ball.)

And the words of Andrew WK aren't enough to sustain me first thing in the morning — erm, early afternoon, if you know what I'm sayin'.

Tragically, the bartender had no coffee, and no whitening product with which to make White Russians (hey, it's as hearty a breakfast as any of those Carnation breakfast drinks!). And I was out of cash to boot. Resigned, I got a free water and went to stake my spot out on the deck for igLiz's favorite flavor of the moment, Matt & Kim.

In true SXSW style, by committing to see Matt & Kim, we also signed on to South by Squat through the two bands preceding them. This morning's South by Squatting presented us with the hippiest opening line-up to date: Spindrift and Dark Meat.

Spindrift at SXSW 2007. Photo by igDana.And I'm happy to report that neither band South by Sucked! It was a nice early afternoon way to start our days, actually. Spindrift were notable for evoking a mid-70s sensibility in us all as well as for pulling a total Noah's Ark by having two of everything: two drummers, two members in embroidered cowboy shirts, and my favorite, two necks on that guitar (see photo).

I was interested to see them since they reminded me a lot of another band I know named Spindrift; the other band being the one that ruled the Newark, DE music scene in the mid 90’s. The Newark, DE Spindrift logo was even similar to the Spindrift gracing the stage this day (swirling font, circular shape, 1970’s influenced). I suppose that if there were two bands named Hairshirt they would have similar logo aesthetics as well.

Now, back in Seattle and researching this Spindrift phenomenon, I find that they are actually THE SAME BAND! Talk about twisting my melon, man! This band — that I sat through studying their combination Allman Brothers/Wild Bill Hickock attire and had two drummers and dreams of being the next Band of Horses — was the same band that I spinned 7” records of on my wildly small-time college radio show in Delaware.

The ladies of Dark Meat at SXSW 2007. Photo by igDana.Ok, if you want to talk about twisting a melon, I say "Dark Meat."

Clearly, we were fated to see Athens, GA band Dark Meat. They were everywhere we wanted to be.

You may remember our initial encounter with them on Thursday while making a run for the Sauconys. This time the stage was a bit bigger, but the 15 – 18 of them still filled it up like a ladies rest room on free beer night (wait, isn’t every night free beer night at SXSW?).

Do you think that all of them get SXSW wristbands for performing? I wonder if there's a special form the processors in the SXSW office have to fill out when your band roster has more names than most label showcases?

I'm not sure — but I think both sides involved got their money's worth. Dark Meat's songs were as long as the list of players in the band. Each tune meandered with biodegradable fervor. Their stage show was full of flying Mardi Gras beads (I think imaginary Dana wore hers all day) and eau natural fashions.

That almost makes it sound like they were naked, which they weren't. But something tells me it wouldn't have taken much persuasion or too many calls of "drop trou!" to get the band members in their birthday suit finery. And yes, I did wear my long gold dangly Mardi Gras beads most of the day, till they started to make my neck hurt. Those suckers were kinda heavy!

I couldn't decide if Dark Meat was more like a modern day symphony or a hippyfest cacophony. I'd like to think they had elements of both.

Dark Meat at SXSW. Photo by igDana.Dark Meat is on the Orange Twin label, a record label and web site run by members of Elf Power. The label is known not only for releasing that really odd Jeff Mangum Field Recordings album and that awesome Gerbils album a few years ago, but also for their genuine commune ethic. More than just a record label with a roster of bands, they are all one big happy group of friends who love, work, and play together as part of the Orange Twin Conservation Community. I’d like to buy the world an Orange Twin!

The commune aesthetic really exemplifies Dark Meat's sound. They work independently toward the good of the song. Each song gallivants like a picnic jam session with each person joyously smiling and “feeling the groove.” They were so comfortable onstage that in the midst
of a song, the trumpet player answered a call on his cell phone, laughed, talked to the caller and then — presumably when the background groove got too loud — proceeded to text message with someone for the rest of the song.

Do you think he was text messaging with someone onstage to get feedback on what he thought of his trumpet parts?

Or maybe he was texting the sound guy for more saxophone in his monitor?

Matt and Kim at SXSWEither way, all I could focus on was that Matt & Kim were up next… and not a moment too soon. For the last half of the Dark Meat set, I was distracted by Matt & Kim's sidestage preparation for their set. They were so giddy and, well, so was I. Going into SXSW, I had the intention of seeing them at all of their SXSW performances (at last count they had about 72 appearances scheduled) — but unfortunately (spoiler alert), sadly this was the only one that I made it into one of their shows (these kids are pop-u-lar!).

This blinding impulse to fill my schedule up with Matt & Kim-ness was spawned by seeing them at their recent Chop Suey show (in Seattle). It was a rip-roaring good time that converted even the stoic bystanders. Andy Smull’s Flickr set really shows how the crowd was whipped into a Matt & Kim frenzy. I had a feeling it was going to be great to see what they could accomplish on a beautiful sunny day in Austin to a crowd of admirers.

Blood sugar crashing, in the throes of caffeine withdrawal, and stone-cold sober, I was ready for a good indie-pop whipping!!

Matt & Kim. Photo by igLiz.Matt & Kim were over-the-top cute and hip. And the most adorable part was that their admiration extends to their feelings toward the audience. When watching their set, you feel like they would have every one of us over for Saturday brunch if they could. Their good will is infectious. Between this, the Andrew WK pep talk, and the commune-esque Dark Meat, I was looking around the room for folks to hug.

Matt & Kim played all songs from their album, a model lo-fi piece of work that I love. Live, the succinct drum/keyboard combo was choppy and forced the crowd to dance.

I likewise found Matt & Kim endearing, and clearly, those two are the life of every musical party they attend. Their simple yet infectious songs could bring a smile to even the most curmudgeonly sort (seratonein, are your ears burning?), and force him to at least head-nod through the first few songs. I'm guessing that said curmudgeon would likely be quick to point out the relentless cheeriness after awhile because hey, that's what curmudgeons (and blood-sugar crashed) imaginary girls do. But pshaw. When something makes folks as happy as playing music clearly does for Matt & Kim, they should stick with it and continue to delight fans, as they accomplished at this showcase and I'm sure the 72* others they played.

*I have no idea how many showcases they actually played.

High on the Matt & Kim cheerfulness, it was time to head out into the sunshine and take the party down the road to the Scottish Art Council’s party at the Luna Lounge.

The sect of our posse who were already at the S.A.C. event confirmed that the Scots had the Fratellis taking the stage in an hour, and also free quesadillas and drinks. ‘Nuff said.

Emma Pollack at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.We arrived and joined up with our posse. First up was the great surprise of catching the tale end of Emma Pollack's set, the magically voiced chanteuse from the late, great Delgados. I had missed her when she played with Beirut on the opening night of SXSW, and I thought we arrived at this showcase too late for her set. Lucky me, the Scots weren't such good timekeepers today, so we got to hear a song or two from her latest band. The songs sounded a bit less sonorous and more subdued than the Delgados… but of course, still featured Emma's lovely voice. It was some serious SXSW good fortune!

After Emma Pollack was possibly the Next Big Thing Outta Scotland, The Twilight Sad, a band that came highly recommended to me from my pal Matt at Aversion. Their set was probably not as bombastic as they'd be playing at a big venue at night (note: the Scottish Arts Council had their stage outside with chairs in the front with maybe 50 or so folks milling about, most of whom had accents. I felt like I'd been teleported into some bizarre Scottish family reunion in someone's back yard!).

While they didn't rage or scream or move about the stage much at all (couldn't help but notice the bass player was in his socks, even), they were certainly intense, and, for lack of a better word, just so Scottish!

The Twilight Sad at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.Those gruff and tumble Scots and their Mogwai /Arab Strap sensibilities. They’ve got the Glaswegian brogue and thick guitars and they know how to use it.

The Twilight Sad carried most of their performance through their vocalist, whose name we didn't catch but who our friend April liked to call "The gorgeous one with the beautiful blue eyes." TGOWTBBE waxed on lyrically with his thick accent and deep voice, sharing his mournful tales with his eyes closed and generally getting us all kinds of excited that the band is touring around the US this Spring (with fellow Scotts Aereogramme), including in Seattle on April 13th.

Paolo Nutini at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.Next up was Paolo Nutini, a Scottish singer-songwriter with an Italian name and a face that I'm sure helped launch him to sudden popularity in the US in recent months. Until this day I'd never heard Paolo's music, only seen said gorgeous face plastered on the MySpace music pages. I was excited to hear what sort of voice would emerge from within those lush, beautiful lips.

But I had no idea this barely 20 year old UK artist would be playing… Americana? Now I generally don't trust Brits who play country-flavored music, but with Paolo it was different.

It was at this point in the showcase where they also announced that the Fratellis wouldn’t be making it… and so I was torn. Do I see the acclaimed Paulo, or run over and try to catc
h some of the Apples in Stereo show as part of the Yep Roc day showcase?

Apples in StereoTorn… torn… torn…

OK, I decided it was necessary to run (yes, I can run when the circumstances call for it) over to the Apples in Stereo show. And just in time, as they were in the midst of a set of their greatest hits. There are few bands that channel their inner Beach Boys like the Apples, and the fact they were playing outside on a sunny day with a temperature in the mid 70’s? Well, even Peter Buck raced to the front of the pack to enjoy the sugary-sweet pop goodness.

Paolo Nutini. Photo by Kaley Davis.Back at the Scottish Arts Council bash, April and I soaked up every moment of Paolo's short but incredibly intimate set. We marveled that someone so young could not only write incredible pop songs, but he could also deliver them as if the soul of Woody Guthrie were being directly channeled through that long, gorgeous neck. His songs conveyed such passion and wisdom beyond his years, it was almost eerie.

And all this coming from a performer who could easily coast to fame on his good looks alone!

After the marvelous day with the Scots came to an end, we zipped over to Bourbon Rocks to catch the one Scottish band that didn't make the hometown showcase: the Fratellis. Since there was no line, I quickly texted Liz and told her to run her imaginary bum back to meet us there.

{PS ~ I've seen Liz run. It's pretty cute!}

The Fratellis at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.After another bout of running (in a Family Circus-type pattern since it took a couple of tries before I figured out where Dana was texting me from), I snuck in to a last piece of Bourbon Rocks real estate. I guess there’s power in traveling single, since they could only allow ONE person in before exceeding the maximum capacity. Thankfully, this final piece of real estate was right near the front of the stage.

Although the set list was basically the same as the Thursday evening show, the order was moved around a bit this time. Even with the daylight streaming in, the Fratellis pushed through with their best rockstar performance… again with minimal banter (and what they did say I couldn't make out — I swore he said something about pancakes). Mostly I was excited that my fellow travelers were subject to this prize performance. Finally my Fratellis talk wouldn't be so one-sided.

The Fratellis. Photo by Kaley Davis.And once the set was done, we finally understood why every third word out of Liz's mouth had been "FRATELLI!" since she saw their set opening night. She was all like, "Hey FRATELLI! I'm thinking of FRATELLI! getting some FRATELLI! coffee now. FRATELLI! Do you want FRATELLI! a soy latte FRATELLI! too?" And FRATELLI! now I see FRATELLI! what all the FRATELLI! Tourette's syndrome FRATELLI! symptoms were FRATELLI! all about FRATELLI!

When the set was over we found Liz and, while recapping our favorite parts of the show, we spotted a lone Fratelli a few feet away! It was a matter of seconds before we sucked in our giddiness and requested a photo and signature.

Oh, even retelling the story makes me lightheaded. We met a Fratelli! THE Fratelli at that. Sure he kinda a made a zombie face in the photo and my pen ran out of ink when he was signing the setlist (yes, I even got the set list! Superfandom was in high gear!). But regardless, the moment is filed away as a glorious one.

Wondering what could possibly beat this afternoon, we decided the only thing that would make sense would be to sit down in the comfort of our hotel during their complementary happy hour. Free drinks and comfy seats! Plus I heard Flava Flav was staying there!

I am never one to turn down either of those… so I seconded that motion and we headed to recuperate before the evening’s festivities.

Scott Matthews at SXSW. Photo by Kaley Davis.As we each pored over the SXSW evening schedule, I realized there was nothing I wanted to see more than seeing Amy Winehouse again, by a mile. So after our deserved rest, photographer Kaley and I headed out to La Zona Rosa for Amy Winehouse, part deux. And the experience tonight was sooooo much better, by mucho miles. La Zona Rosa is a great venue, much larger and with much better sound, and with a real press bench for photographers.

I followed Kaley into the press section and sat patiently through opener Scott Matthews, a British singer-songwriter who was most notable to me for NOT being James Morrison, the British singer-songwriter who was on this bill. Word has is that Morrison missed SXSW altogether because of snowy weather in NY. Matthews was fine, though he seemed a bit weary, even commenting, "God I need a pick-me-up or something," and asking the audience, "What do I need?" I wanted to yell back, "A backing band!" but didn't want to seem like the cheeky American that I am. The audience seemed to really dig Matthews' quiet, folksy sensibilities, and compared to the South by Sucking experience of Waiting for Winehouse the previous night, watching Matthews croon was a pleasure.

Amy Winehouse at La Zona Rosa at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.I have no way of counting, but I believe I have seen 1,000s of live shows in my extensive show-going career, and for years now, my list of Top Show of All Time has remained the same:

  1. Nick Cave at the Bad Seeds at the 5th Avenue Theater
  2. Two-way tie between The Magnetic Fields at the Seattle Opera House and Elvis Costello at Bumbershoot 1996.
  3. U2 at the Miami Baseball Stadium (long since destroyed) on the Joshua Tree tour.

And then came Amy Winehouse at La Zona Rosa.

While I don't think any show will ever equal or beat my first Mr. Cave experience (even subsequent Nick Cave shows haven't come close), and I need to put a bit of distance between me and the show before official submitting it into my top 3, I think it's safe to say there are some good odds that Amy and Stephin and Elvis will be sharing that #2 position.

There weren't a ton of differences between this show and her show at Eternal the previous night. The se
tlist was the same, her amazing band was the same, Amy even wore the same jeans (embroidered in hot pink on the back pocket). But tonight's event had such great presence, such an incredibly positive energy — and of course, the killer sound system and the far huger (not exhausted from five hours of waiting) crowd didn't hurt matters.

Amy Winehouse at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.You know how when you hear Amy Winehouse's latest record, Back to Black, you can't fathom how that voice is emerging from a skinny, 23 year old British girl instead of a large old black Southern diva? That effect gets compounded when she performs live. Amy's body is so tiny yet her voice is so huge, so bombastic, so gritty and experienced; it seems impossible that the power behind it could come from her physical form.

Her backing band was the Dap Kings (of Sharon Jones fame) and from the moment they set foot on the stage both nights I saw them, the crowd did an inward gasp. They dressed to the nines and had such a commanding combined presence that power emanated from them. Amy also came fortified with two of the most gorgeous and talented R&B back up vocalists and dancers, who earned even more special bonus points when they broke into the refrain of Lauren Hill's "Do Wop (That Thing)" at the end of "He Can Only Hold Her." It made music that mostly wasn't known to the American audience, more accessible without doing a full-on cover.

Amy Winehouse at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.Amy did one of those too: she covered one of her favorite songs from last year, "Valerie" by the Zutons (available to listen on their MySpace. With her rendition, Amy definitely made the song her own. She seemed genuinely bemused that more of us didn't know the band.

You could tell the audience loved the band, you could tell the band knew the audience was loving them, and you could tell the band loved playing to an audience that was so responsive and adoring… and so on, and so on. It was definitely one of my favorite live shows ever (no small statement, as outlined above), and I would even be so bold as to say that I think Amy and the Dap Kings will remember this show fondly as one of their favorites they ever played. I'd also like to think it's because she recognized me, her new BFF from 6th Ave, rocking out the entire time front and center in the press pit. Seriously, it was like I had my own private Amy Winehouse and the Dap Kings show. It was incredible.

To paraphrase the Big Lebowski (as I'm wont to do), sometimes there's a (wo)man — and I'm talking about the Winehouse here — sometimes there's a man who, well, she's the (wo)man for her time in place, she fits right in there — and that's the Amy Winehouse, in Austin at SXSW.

In an almost intangible way, you could tell this was her moment. Whatever happens in the music career of Amy Winehouse — and I believe her music could be timeless and her career epic — but no matter what, seeing her in this setting at this music festival was one of those perfect moments when everything was gloriously how it should be.

And after a moment like that, how were we supposed to see another show? Razorlight started shortly after Amy's set finished, and Kaley and I stared aimlessly at the stage for several moments before deciding we were done with music for the night, completely sated.

No one else stood a chance.

While Dana was fulfilling her Amy Winehouse fetish, I was committed to indie-popping it up for the night. It's no secret I'm quite partial to the bands on Portland, OR's Magic Marker Records label, so it's no surprise that I found myself at the Magic Marker Records showcase at the Parish II for the remainder of the night. The line-up nearly mirrored the Indie-Pop Hootenanny: The Zebras, The Faintest Ideas, BOAT, Manhattan Love Suicides, and Tullycraft. Tonight's incarnation of the bill found the bands equipped with topshelf gear and soundboard, which allowed each band to really shine in their indie-pop glory.

BOAT at SXSWThe Zebras started it off, and since this was the last time anyone stateside was going to get to see them before they head back to Australia, I soaked in each song. The crowd swelled and swaggered over the course of their set as they effortlessly played their wistful, elegant, jangly set.

With their early Wedding Present guitar jangle spasms and penchant for short songs (most are under two minutes long), Sweden's The Faintest Ideas provided an energetic jumpstart to the line up. The audience was jerking with head bobs to the curt songs and by the end, the silky vocals overtop frenetic melodies left us out breath.

The Faintest Ideas were a fine precursor to BOAT's set. The audience was primed to take on the responsibility of handling one of the twenty-odd handmade shakers with which to accompany the band during the near hour-long set. Again, with guest drummer Jeff Fell (of Tullycraft) on drums, the group covered most songs from their album Songs You Might Not Like, a few new ones and that lovely Guided By Voices cover.

Manhattan Love SuicidesJust as at the Indie-pop Hootenanny show the day before, The Manhattan Love Suicides, as short as their set was, jammed packed it with a lifetime's worth of Jesus and Mary Chain idolizing. The ear heard JAMC signature echoey vocals overtop fuzzy guitars (imagine if Lush's 'Miki Berenyi was around for the Honey's Dead sessions), and the eye saw an aloof foursome complete with Manchester-era black attire and guitarists in sunglasses. Perhaps it was the bright lights of the Parish II they were avoiding, or a performer/audience self-confidence protection technique, but I think was actually it is because they find it most comfortable to mimic the tried and true Reid brothers mantra of "Don't acknowledge the audience and all will be fine."

Tullycraft at SXSWTullycraft was up next. It was a little after 1am and with acts like The Good, The Bad and the Queen, Apples in Stereo, and Polyphonic Spree hitting their respective stages at the same time, t
he crowd at the Parish II took the form of a chummy house party. The club became a comfortably full of living room of people all with the same intention. Whether it was to hear a particular Tullycraft mixtape classic, hear one of the new songs, or because the person South by Selected based on the most manageable queue, we were all there to raise a glass (and the roof) — even Peter Hughes of the Mountain Goats was there to join in the fun.

The band blasted through an hour-long set of old and new songs. One of my personal highlights included a point half-way through the set when lead singer Sean gathered the audience to join in a catchy, campfire-esque song, "If You Take Away The Make-up, Then The Vampires They Will Die." We can only hope that it might just give us an idea of the direction of the new album (due for release in September). We danced, we sang along, and I think there some folks even made out afterwards. I myself just headed back to the hotel, exhausted from the full day of music, running, and the dancefest (I think I even pogo'd a little bit!).

We still had one more day of SXSW-fun to look forward to… and more music madness!

Amy Winehouse BOAT Cut Off Your Hands Dark Meat Fair to Midland Get Cape Wear Cape Fly Kate Havnevik Live Show Review Mika Northern State Okkervil River Palomar Rocky Votolato Straylight Run The Cassettes The Faintest Ideas The Fratellis The Manhattan Love Suicides The Pipettes The Zebras Tullycraft

The Imaginary SXSW 2007 Report: Day 2

With Dark Meat, The Zebras, the Manhattan Love Suicides, Okkervil River, BOAT, Tullycraft, The Faintest Ideas, The Pipettes, Palomar, Cut Off Your Hands, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, The Cassettes, Kate Havnevik, Rocky Votolato, Mika, Northern State, The Fratellis, Straylight Run, Fair to Midland, and Amy Winehouse

Thursday, March 15th, started with big-time excitement: today was the day of our first-ever Three Imaginary Girls SXSW showcase!! On the morning of the big day, we made our way to Lovejoys early to help set up and put our ducks in the row. It was so astonishingly tranquil and refreshing to walk the streets of Austin before the crowds hit… and getting an early start allowed us to get our South By Squatting on. South By Squat before 11a? That doesn’t sound so rock n’ roll… but actually it proved one of the smartest things we did the whole weekend (on par with our Yaris liaison). 

The Team Clermont/Under the Radar showcase was right around the corner from our party at the Flamingo Cantina and they had free Sauconys. And I know it's lame to take schwag and run, but dude — I'm only human! I love me the Sauconys! Smart footwear is key. And if it has a snazzy color palette, I'm defenseless.

And their line-up was so good; any other day and I would have camped myself there for a lineup like this: The Pipettes, Architecture in Helsinki, Loney Dear, Headlights, Gruff Rhys, and Dark Meat. That was one swoon-worthy bill.

Instead, we dashed in and got some sneaks. Tragically, there were none left in Liz's size, all the more tragic because the whole thing was her idea. But after we grabbed our shoes and were ready to run back over for the start of our showcase, we found that they'd blocked the exit! Apparently, we weren't getting out until we'd had ourselves a taste of Dark Meat.

Imagine this: We found ourselves locked down with this craaaazy-evil wacked cacophony of a marching band, with like, a bazillion people in it, like the Polyphonic Spree meets USE meets an intensely musical hippy commune sorta thing. Literally, there were between 15 and 18 people on stage (with every count we got a different number, folks were coming out of the woodwork!). It was a crazy sort of Breakfast Club sitch where the band geeks, the cheerleaders, the stoner rocker dude, the jocks, and the freaks all got together onstage and rocked out. I'm glad we caught the start of the set, but was mildly alarmed at being locked into a venue. Excuse me sir, but what if there's a fire? I think violating fire codes and endangering the lives of children would be unwise at this juncture in your career.

And the Dark Meat piece de resistance?

When the sax player leaned into the microphone and requested more monitor. There were 15 – 18 people and their instruments on a stage the size of the Crocodile ladies bathroom, with audience members swarming behind the stage to grab a box of free sneakers and he is having trouble hearing himself in the monitor?

We actually caught Dark Meat again on Day 3, so you'll be hearing a more in-depth rundown shortly. Since we were now late to our own party, our imaginary pal Lucas Jensen from Team Clermont helped us out escape through the back door (thanks, Lucas! Yer a Georgia peach!) over to Lovejoys for the first-ever TIG SXSW party: an Indie-pop Hootenanny!!!


The Zebras at SXSW 2007. Photo by igDana.The Zebras kicked off our showcase! I'd heard a couple of their songs I found crawling the internet and knew that I was going to love their Australian accent, Lucksmiths-esque wispy guitar, and sunny disposition in person. I was all set to get my Lucksmiths fix via them… and then low and behold, a real live Lucksmith showed up to the party! Mark from the Lucksmiths was there! Seems that he's touring with Architecture From Helsinki and the Zebras are on his record label (Lost & Lonesome). It was quite a prezzy.

It was about this time, and correct me if I'm wrong, that I approached imaginary Liz as she was lifting a juice glass of Jager. It seems that our new KOOP friend supplied her with a big double shot (it was a heavy pour) of Jager. I suppose that cemented that it was going to be a ripper of a show.

True. SXSW and hootenannys are like that. It was a little past noon and I had already South By Squatted for imaginary sneakers, been locked in a room with a 15 – 18 piece band, hugged Mark Lucksmith, and done a double Jager shot (did I mention it was a heavy pour?). And, the Zebras hadn't even started their set yet!

The Zebras were the perfect kickoff to what turned out to be an amazing showcase. With their delightfully and fresh pop stylings and the clouds on the mural behind them, we could pretend we had booked an outdoor showcase and bask in the rays of their effervescent harmonies (note: last year Magic Marker did book an outdoor showcase and it got rained out. This year we booked indoors and it was 84 degrees and brilliantly sunny. Ahh, weather).

Those Zebras certainly didn't disappoint. It was no surprise that after we launched the imaginary podcast we had several folks email ask about them and were looking to buy the record! I guess everyone who has seen them on their very short U.S. tour has felt the same way. They had sold out of their CD by the time they made it to Austin so they gave away burned copies to folks who bought t-shirts. They don't have U.S. distribution yet… but I'm sure labelhead Mark Lucksmith is working on that.

Okkervil River at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.Because it was a beautiful sunny day and we imaginary girls are pale Seattle things, we went outside between sets to catch some rays and realized that — lo and behold! — right across the street at the Found Magazine party at Bourbon Rocks, Austin band and longtime imaginary favorite Okkervil River was about to play!! And there were free drink tickets!! Powerless to resist, I raced over, grabbed drink tickets, and ran in leaving igLiz to man (girl) the fort at our showcase.

But before the show started, the editor of Found Magazine did a talk about the magazine. Basically, they find letters and notes in random locations and publish them, to much hilarity. He proceeded to read us a few samples and it was damn funny… but the funniest part was the last, when he read a couple of found receipts, leaving us to wonder what kind of evening the purchasers must have had:

Chicken Ramen Noodles
Chicken Ramen Noodles
Chicken Ramen Noodles
Chicken Ramen Noodles
Chicken Ramen Noodles
Chicken Ramen Noodles
Chicken Ramen Noodles
12 lubed condoms

Gun ammo
Gun ammo
Ski mask

You know he was funny if I didn't mind him standing in times way between me and my imaginary boy friend Will Sheff and the other awesome fellas of O-River.

Okkervil River at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis. I've liked Okkervil River since igLiz dragged me to see them at the Crocodile back in 2002, where they dazzled the 20 or so of us who were smart enough to attend the show. igLiz is always way smarter than I am about this sort of thing. By the time I caught them at SXSW 2006, I knew I was hooked, lined, and smitten on Will Sheff's offbeat story-telling songs, brought to musical life by this jangly, crescendo-filled band. But it was on their latest live EP, Overdrawn and Down, they put me over the superfan edge: they covered the Big Star classic "O Dana."

I've spent my life surrounded by loads of Amy's and Michelle's and Jennifer's, but have known almost no one else named Dana. So when I hear someone say they name, I'm pretty certain it's being said to ME. And when it's being moaned by one of my favorite singers and followed by "c'mon!"…. well, let's just say I'm inclined to follow! The cover has filled me with a special aching bond with the band and I'm at least 92.87 percent certain that, at some subliminal level, they covered it for me.

Well, it has been said that "you'd rather shoot a woman than a man. And you're always wondering whether this is your last life."


And Will, I was listening. And I know you can't help it!

Tragically for me (though perhaps fortunately for the band), they didn't play "O Dana"; lordy knows what I might have done, all dosed up on the drink-ticketed rum and cokes (thanks, Found!). They did play "The President's Dead," perhaps the greatest non-anti-Bush song that sounds like a political jam but is in fact more of a stream of consciousness tale of how a non-personal news story can throw a wrench into ones otherwise contented existence. They also announced that they've finished recording their next record (!!) and played us a few new jams, which were amazing. I'm already reserving a spot in my top 10 for 2007 for them.

Manhattan Love SuicidesMeanwhile back at Lovejoys, the Manhattan Love Suicides dark-rocked my butt off. This was the MLS first visit to the U.S. and I'd make a bet that it was also the first time anyone in the room saw them. After the carefree Zebras, the MLS took the vibe circa C86… specifically at an early Jesus & Mary Chain show. In true JAMC fashion, they were confident and unaffected by the audience reaction. Their fuzzy set floated from one song to the next as the band minimally interrupted the set with banter.

I was especially sad that imaginary Dana missed the bass player as he was a near replica of every guy she had a crush on in college. Between that and the echoey, enveloping songs, I found myself near hypnotized by the end of their set.

BOAT at the Three Imaginary Girls SXSW 2007 showcase. Photo by Kaley Davis.High on Okkervil happiness, I hopped back to Lovejoys for the double-whammy Seattle portion of our TIG showcase set with Tullycraft and BOAT. What a crazy cool thing, to walk in and see all those out-of-town folks digging on the BOAT! Newbie, out-of-tower BOAT fans were shaking signature BOAT handmade percussion instruments, bobbing their heads back and forth, and smiling away. Even the bartender at Lovejoys told me that he wanted their CD. Those BOATers can charm even the Southerns!

It was like I was on an indie-pop cruise! There were all these people I had never met before joyfully singing along with BOAT songs. It was awesome, comforting, and reminded me of the binding force of good music.

BOAT was sporting a couple new (familiar face) additions to their line-up. For the two Austin BOAT shows, Zach (original BOAT member who moved to Chicago a couple years ago) flew in to man the guitar and miscellaneous instruments. Jeff Fell from Tullycraft was handling the drum duties. The newbies certainly kept up with full-time BOATers Dave (lead stuff) and Mark (bass/vocals).

They wow'd the crowd with a majority of songs from their debut Magic Marker Records release, Songs That You Might Not Like, some new songs from their next album (recording's done… just need to release it one of these days), a Guided By Voices cover, and even an interlude of a Tullycraft song.

Tullycraft at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.While the room was festively full during BOAT's set, it got positively packed for Tullycraft. Look at me, moved to alliteration by the mere memory of the event (there I go again!).

Not only was the band in finest form (I'm doomed here), but suddenly the space was full of all kinds of friends! Folks from Seattle, people we know online from other parts of the country, and even some friendly new strangers totally made it to our showcase, and mostly all during this set. We thank you all for showing up and rocking with us.

Tullycraft put on an incredibly cute and engaging show, despite some technical difficulties that I didn't even notice.

Jenny Mears of Tullycraft at SXSW. Photo by Kaley Davis.Besides playing some of their standards ("Stowaway," "Wild Bikini"), Tullycraft debuted a some songs from their next album (release date still unknown). All the while, there was a gaggle of underagers watching from the open front door. When frontman Sean Tollefson noticed that they were straining to see around the crowd blocking the view from the door, he asked the crowd to make a visual line-of-sight so they could enjoy the set as well. And they did, these >21ers were energetically dancing with ecstatic enthusiasm, putting us <21ers to shame. They were so CUTE! It was too bad the show had to be 21+, but I think they had a fabulous time. I had a wonderful time just living vicariously through them.

With the adorable dancers outside and the inside packed out with Seattle love, it truly brought the party up to hoot-hootenanny status.

Next up we had the Faintest Ideas. Like the Manhattan Love Suicides, this was the first time most of us (if not all of us) saw them perform, as they were also European (from Sweden). Their frantic Wedding Present-eque power guitars and fervent heartstring vocals sounded great live.

Halfway through their set we were the worst hostesses once again, racing back to the Under the Radar party to queue to see the Pipettes. I totally thought we were going to be dissed again, but we made it in for the last four or so songs and wow — even from the back of the packed room, they were something spectacular to see and hear. The three ladies had on coordinated navy and white sweet yet sexxxy ensembles and had this total Supremes-meets-Bananarama pop sensibility that was completely disarming. Damn if the British ladies have we American girls soooooo outclassed.

In my dreams, this is what TIG is like every time we go out to show: matching classy polka dot sexy-yet-cute coordinating outfits, perfect pitch pop voices, sex appeal, and confidence. I knew I would need to see a full set before the festival was over. And buy the record. And get all three action figures.

{imaginary note: I hate spoilers just as much as the next girl but… we saw a full set on Day 4. But you probably figured that already, right? Stay tuned for more Pipettes specifics and photos, imaginary friends…}

PalomarThen back to Lovejoys for the final band in our imaginary lineup, Palomar, a band with one dude (drummer) and three more ladies who are also hot (like the Pipettes) but so much more low-keyed. No matching outfits, no makeup even. They literally pulled up in their van from NY minutes before show time (how rock and roll is that)?

I was so excited when Magic Marker Curt arranged for Palomar to be on the bill. These three girls and a guy from Brooklyn wrote one of my favorite songs of 2004 ("Albacore") and I don't think they've been to Seattle since its release. They rolled in and provided a luster-filled set of playful new songs from their freshly released album, All Things Forest.

It turned out to be one humdinger of a hootenanny. It was a lot of coordinating, and it wouldn't have happened if not for Curt & Mark at Magic Marker Records (who supplied all the bands, equipment, wise advice, planning, and know-how), KOOP 91.7 FM (for the surprise food spread and locale), Seattle Show Posters (who designed and screenprinted a killer poster), and Music Nation (who furnished free beer!). Thanks you guys — you all ROCK!!Amy Winehouse at SXSW, shot by superfan igDana

After our showcase, I staggered back up 6th, exhausted but so so so happy and minding my own business when ZOMG THERE WAS AMY WINEHOUSE STANDING ON THE STREET!!!!!!!! I stopped, stunned, and must have been obviously staring cause she looked over and WINKED AT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AMY WINEHOUSE WINKED AT ME!!!!!

We even took a photos together!!!!!!!!

I don't get star-struck much but the good luck of meeting the very person I was most excited to see at SXSW (and indeed, the performer I've been most excited to see in years) on the first full day of the festival felt like a benediction. The indie-rock Universe hearts me.

I resolved to South by Stalk her for all the shows I could. Hey look at that: I just coined a new South by Vocabulary word!

The Cassettes. Photo by Kaley Davis.And after calling Kaley and shrieking ZOMG!!!! at least 35 times, we set out for the evening. First stop was to see Get Cape Wear Cape Fly at Stubbs. *Yawn.* If you give yourself a wacked out name like that, shouldn't you sound a bit quirky and eclectic? GCWCF were nothing special, but at least the fried okra at Stubbs was delish. Bailing after a couple of songs, we joined some Seattle pals at a show they recommended, Washington D.C.'s The Cassettes, and had the sort of experience we were hoping to find at Get Cape Wear Cape Fly: something odd and unexpected and utterly delightful. With a name like the Cassettes, I was expecting a lo-fi cutsie indie-pop band. But the band reminded me of a post-punk gorked-out They Might Be Giants (I'm sure I was biased in that direction by the accordian), dark and strange, and they had the best thermamin player I've ever witnessed live; he played it like a percussion instrument and the strange-yet-beautiful sounds effortlessly extended from his fingers. I completely don't understand that instrument, but I sure did dig the hell outta watching him play, and fervently wished we'd been there to see the full set.

As for me, after the afternoon inside the lovely Lovejoys, my posse and I decided to explore a bit. Again, we passed by the packed places oozing with hipster cred, and headed towards the Co-op Bar. We walked in and found a band named Cut Off Your Hands who hail from Auckland, New Zealand.

It was like a General Foods International Coffee (TM) moment to just 'happen' upon a band of kiwis and basically have the whole place to ourselves. Sure there were some other people there making a happy discovery with us, but the small venue and intimate crowd was a great change of atmosphere. The band had the same influence-schooling as the Futureheads with a touch of fellow NZers Split Enz. And the interesting tie in to the Pacific NW is that seems they originally named themselves Shaky Hands, but were "threatened with legal action" by the Portland, Oregon band Shaky Hands (who we recently reviewed, and who's self-titled album I adore!). It's a small SXSW world!

Kate Havnevik. Photo by Kaley Davis. Resolute that we would see Amy Winehouse that night at the Universal Republic at a small nightclub called Eternal, we arrived bright and early at 9:30pm and learned that she had been moved from the midnight slot to 1am. Curses! Undaunted, we entered and caught Kate Havnevik. She's from Norway and sounded like a perfect amalgamation of Bjork and Norah Jones — a bit too perfect and tidy for my tastes — all Mountain Fresh, very wide mouthed and wide-eyed and full of earnestness. If igLiz were there, I think she'd be having unhappy seizures.

Not that she was bad –- her voice was quite good and had nice accompaniment in a trumpet, bass, and lots of samples. It was all very nice, and very grown-up, too elegant. I think my Mom would like it. In fact, Kate seemed super nice and I bet she and my Mom would get along swimmingly! Me, I was just waiting for Amy. I will say that, unlike most of the other performers for the night, Kate was a good choice for an Amy Winehouse bill. I just prefer my chanteuses a bit more on the dark and gritty side.

Rocky Votolato at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.With Amy's show bumped till 1am and we were pretty much bored stupid by 10pm watching Kate "I can't believe it's not Bjork" Havnevik, we decided to risk South by Skating over to the Barsuk Records showcase at Buffalo Billards to catch Seattle-based singer-songwriter Rocky Votolato.

After all, Rocky's brother Sony Votolato, who plays in TIG local fave Slender Means, stopped by our Imaginary Indie-pop Hootenanny earlier in the day and told me that he and other folks from Slender Means would be Rocky's backing band. So I stopped South by Stressing about the Winehouse show for long enough to catch most of the set, and I'm glad did. Rocky is always a dream to see live, and his earnest vocals and dreamy composition felt particularly spot-on tonight — perhaps because it was so nice to see (and hug) so many familiar faces throughout the set. Why is so much more exciting to see people from Seattle when they're in Austin?

I'm not sure, but you're totally right. For SXSW 2008, we'd better add another terms to the imaginary SXSW vocab for that. South by Socializing?


Ahh, that just might work! And speaking of our vocab, my South by Stress had kicked into high gear, so Kaley and I headed back to Eternal and prepared to South by Squat for hours.

Mika at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.We walked in during a set from U.K. pop sensation Mika. I know as a Serious Musical Critic I'm not supposed to like Mika. But then, as a straight female, I'm also not supposed to think that he's hot, with his namby pamby flailing dance moves and suspenders and all-things-effeminate style. Mika is like this crazy amalgamation of Freddy Mercury + Rufus Wainright + George Michael…. extra heavy on the Mercury. Perhaps I'm not supposed to admit this, but screw it. I have one more thing in common with Dan Savage: I *heart* Mika.

I would have expected a more flamboyant show from Mister Grace Kelly, but I suspect he was a bit encumbered by the small-ish stage and the less-than-optimal general acoustics in the room. And maybe those doofy suspenders held him back from some truly spectacular moves. I'd definitely welcome the chance to see Mika again headlining in a more fitting venue, like the Crocodile or the Showbox here in Seattle. He can stay in my house. That's how much I heart Mika.

Northern StateAfter Cut Off Your Hands, the posse and I made our way to Northern State. It was a bit of a hike across town, but as a big fan of theirs since their 2003 release, Dying in Stereo, I was determined to see them, especially since I hadn't seen a Seattle date on their tour schedule. Rumor had it that they were working on their next album with (King) Ad Rock, so the thought of hearing new (Beastie Boys-infused) NS songs was enough inspiration to hoof it. Unfortunately a little bit of getting lost resulted in us missing openers the Trucks, but we arrived in time to watch Northern State set up, and to procure a seat in the swank balcony.

The set was flawless with songs from the old and the new…. with the new songs sounding spectacular! I've always secretly kicked myself that I didn't come up with the idea to form a female Beastie Boys. It is such a good idea. But after hearing these new songs, I'm convinced it's better that Hesta, Spero, and DJ Sprout are doing it (in addition to the fact that my sense of rhythm is sometimes suspect and I don't have the NYC vernacular down).

Michelle Nolan of Straylight Run at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.After Mika, the remaining blur of the next two pre-Amy bands passed in the worst South by Sucking session of the entire festival in the endless wait for Winehouse. We were so crammed in the venue holding our spots on the side of the stage, completely captive audiences. So I'd like to take an imaginary moment say FUCK UNIVERSAL REPUBLIC for that terrible bill we had to endure (minus Mika, of course).

After Mika came the latest UR signee from Long Island who were called The Most Boring and Uninspired Band I've Ever Seen. Wait, that wasn't it. They were called Straylight Run. They sound-checked for 30 minutes and played well over their allotted time, which bumped Amy to starting half an hour late (at 1:30). Other bloggers blamed Amy's late start on her being a drunk, but it wasn't for that reason. It was because The Most Boring and Uninspired Band in the World had to soundcheck. What is wrong with these labels — haven't they ever heard of a BACKLINE for opening bands? Sheesh.

I'm not even going to dignify the band with a write-up because I was so annoyed I had to endure their set. And did I mention their long sound-check?

The FratellisAs awesome as Northern State were, we had to leave 30 minutes into their set for the show that I'd been waiting the whole evening for: The Fratellis. Yes folks, it was time for me to South By Squat. At this point in SXSW, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to fit in more than one Fratellis show; they had about 72 on the schedule and, upon study I think that some of their scheduled appearances were even overlapping each other.

Even before we made it to the door it was destined to be a show at the top of the of my SXSW Favorites list. As we were waiting in line, who was behind us but David Fricke, Senior Editor at Rolling Stone! Waiting in the same line as us! Well, not for long… I think the door folks saw some special superhero wristband and eventually grabbed him and took him through the door ahead of us… which is fine, he's David Fricke!

We waited and waited and waited for them to allow people in… the whole time I'm thankful that we decided to start squatting early. Sure enough, there was space for our anxious-for-Fratellis-selves and we are able to find a spacious spot near the front of the state (those SXSW-ers wait in line and still gravitate towards spaces near the bar).

I'll try not to overwhelm you with too much gushing (spoiler alert: I become a *bit* of a South By Superfan), but the Fratellis did not disappoint. Their mix of Jack White vocals over their Clash-inspired authoritative guitars was stunning live. They didn't banter much, but they didn't need too (and given their think Scottish accent, it was probably better that way). The uninterrupted set was just under and hour long, but felt like only minutes had passed. It was pure Fratellis bliss.

Fair to Midland at SXSW 2007. Why were we here? South by Squatting. Photo by Kaley Davis.That sounds awesome, especially because over in Waiting for Amyland, the most Uninspired band was followed by the band with the most spewing body fluids, Fair to Midland. The spitting. The snotting. The faux seizure dance moves. The screaming. Maybe for someone else this band was incredible, but myself I was displeased when at the end of the set we were left wondering if the lead singer actually had collapsed during an epileptic fit (or drug-induced one). But then he got up and was just fine, the big faker, and some roadie dude had the distinct pleasure of wiping up all his body fluids before Amy Winehouse and the Dap Kings could take the stage.

They only nice thing I can say about the show is that at least the band is from Texas, so I feel like I got a bit of local flavor. Rancid, suburban Dallas shopping mall flavor, perhaps, but local nonetheless.

The thing is, there might have been loads of people at SXSW show would have dug the shit out of Fair to Midland, people who are super into getting actual body fluid samples from their favorite rockstars. But this was a room full of peeps anxiously awaiting Amy Winehouse. Needless to say, not a great match. I'm sure many a Fair to Midland fan couldn't get in to see them because of the epic lineup for Amy. While I question their tastes, I empathize with their sitch, cause it blows. All around, what a sucky lineup. A pox on thee, Universal Republic!

Amy Winehouse at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.Then came the glorious Amy Winehouse. And after all those hours of waiting, you know what? She was INCREDIBLE. Her band was incredible. Her backup singers were incredible.

The show was worth every moment of South by Sucking that came before it. It was worth all those hours of not drinking fluids for fear of losing my spot on the stage. It was worth it, despite the inferior song quality we had off on stage left, as the speakers all faced out the front of the stage.

At the time, I thought it was for sure going to be my favorite show at SXSW. But at the time, I didn't know what I know now, recapping the entire SXSW festival

Now I know her show the next night would be even better.

A lot better.

So you're going to have to wait until tomorrow's recap to hear all about the Amy Winehouse experience. To tide you over, here are a few more photos from her Eternal showcase…

Amy Winehouse at SXSW 2007. Photo by Kaley Davis.

Amy Winehouse and the Dap Kings. Photo by Kaley Davis.


** Next up in the Imaginary SXSW 2007 Report, Day 3:
Matt & Kim, Dark Meat, the Twilight Sad, Paolo Nutini, and more Fratellis and more Amy Winehouse. We're writing as fast as we can!