Of the major music festivals in the United States, tickets to Austin’s South by Southwest festival are by far the most expensive. Still, in the “world capital of live music”, Austin brings in more groups than any festival in the country, likely in the world. As your average citizen, I did not have the money for a SXSW wristband or badge, but during the time of SXSW, many unofficial, free shows take place all around the city.
In three days, I managed to see 26 different artists at countless different venues. Instead of writing a full feature profiling every performance I saw, I decided to forego some of the tediousness of a 26-band review of my experience and simply give some highlights of the festival.
Minus the Bear: Starting from the end, Minus the Bear were the very last group I saw, going on just before midnight on Saturday night at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop. The show had two purposes—a promotion of Dangerbird Records artists and a benefit for the Pablove Foundation, a fundraising organization for children’s cancer research. Clearly, everyone in the crowd that night had been waiting to see Minus the Bear, and the anticipation was high. Audience members told Dangerbird Records CEO and founder of the Pablove Foundation Jeff Castelaz to “shut the fuck up” so Minus the Bear could play. Castelaz made them feel like dicks after he explained how he founded the Pablove Foundation after his child, Pablo, died of cancer at age 6.
Tags: Andrew W.K.
, Codeine Velvet Club
, Maps and Atlases
, Minus the Bear
, The Hood Internet
I earn my living as an IT system administrator. Obviously, the news that Google stops censoring search results in China was quite a bomb for me. This is the biggest impact on politics and censorship in modern media that a single decision by a software firm has, or better, will have on the world and everyday life. At least I can not remember anything similar from the top of my head. Also, nice move from Google for not only telling the world they might do this, but for actually doing it. For whatever their motives might be, it’s a bold move nonetheless, given the weight the Chinese market will undoubtly have in the future.
As I thought about this whole thing for a while, putting the first obvious positives aside – being able to get an “outside view” on China through possibly less filtered and tuned news channels and websites – I wondered: how big will the impact on the music scene in China be? Will this be a chance for artists and new music to pour into the land? Or maybe, pour out of it? I mean, let’s be honest: China is more or less ruled like a totalitarian state, and history shows us that the censorship of those states make quite an impact on the music scene as well. One example I can think of is the government in East Germany/the DDR, where Beat music (think Beatles and Co), Punk and other music genres surfaced, tolerated…
Voting is currently underway on the next feature to add to Sputnik. Some of you may be asking: “Egads, so soon after the launch of the staff blog?!”
However, our hordes of web designers (read: me) need something to be working on over the next couple of weeks.
If you’re interested, check out the poll here
I’ll admit that I’d never heard of Shaka Ponk when I woke up this morning. I would be as blissfully unaware now had a publicist not dropped an mp3 of ‘Do’ in my inbox, but the Berlin-based French band have made a big impression in that short timeframe.
Forced to leave their native France due to restrictive broadcasting laws that limit the opportunities for non-French language songs on the radio, Shaka Ponk decamped to Europe’s art music capital to further develop their heady multi-lingual mix of rock, pop and electronic music.
‘Do’ is taken from the band’s latest record, Bad Porno Movie Trax, and it quite neatly sums up the contrast of styles the group has to offer, setting a metronomic electronic pop verse against a raucous squealing chorus that calls to mind another great German group, Accept.
Overshadowed. I guess that’s the way Nujabes will always be looked at, not just in his life, but also in his death; the date of his death coming at around the same time as fellow jazz-rap pioneer G.U.R.U.’s heart attack, and the announcement coming on the same day as the death of the more famous Alex Chilton.
I can’t help but feel that a man unlucky enough to not be American, and thus finding himself entirely ignored by hip-hop in general, deserved a little bit more luck here. There really is no way to say this without sounding like a collossal prick, but Alex Chilton’s death was just a shame and nothing more – he was a nice man, and it’s sad that he died, but he’d peaked as an artist decades ago. Nujabes, by comparison, probably wasn’t due to peak for another few years – his work had just been getting better and better as time went on (2006’s Modal Soul being one of the best hip-hop records of the last decade). The man was 36, for Christ’s sake. There were plenty of people in the Western world that thought any hopes of the vibrant Japanese hip-hop breaking out internationally rested with him; that he would be the one that followed DJ Krush (no megastar himself) into having a sizeable international following. Who knows how important he might have been?
And yet, the likelihood is that he’d always have been a cult figure.…
Tags: Hip hop
Moody indie single for the day
Buy it here
We’ll have an in-depth obituary of the recently-deceased Alex Chilton later in the week, but for the moment we’d like you to enjoy 1969’s living tribute, ‘Alex Where Are You,’ which was released in 2008.
Chilton was at ground zero when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and was briefly feared dead, inspiring, among other things, this heartfelt vignette from the threesome’s sole recording, Maya. After a couple of days where things seemed to be touch and go, an evacuation team was able to reach Chilton in his home, where he was alive and well.
See also: Sputnikmusic’s review of Maya.
Tags: Alex Chilton
, Butch Walker
Sputnik 2 was an unmanned spacecraft. That is, except for Laika (pictured on the left), who calmly commanded the satellite as it rocketed through the heavens. She did an admirable job of things until she died of overheating. However, her name now lives on forever as the first mammal to orbit the Earth — an accomplishment that understandably subjected Yuri Gagarin and John Glenn to fits of jealousy.
We’re not launching Sputnik 2.0, and no animals have been harmed in the production of this update.
However, we’re happy to announce that Sputnik now has its very own staff blog.
Over the next few months, we anticipate that this blog will become a major part of the site. The focus here will be casual, frequent updates, as the staff (and perhaps eventually, contributors) continue to brainwash you with our exceptional musical taste.
If you ever come back to this page, you can expect:
- Track reviews and music highlights
- Sputnik’s very own ‘Track of the Day’
- Concert and Event Coverage
- Site News
- Lots of media
- Random musings on music, artists, and genres
- And lots of other scintillating content
Although we’re running on Wordpress, you should be able to use your normal sputnik login to post comments. As always, make a post in the Site Forum if you have any problems.