Monday, 31 March 2008

Of note


Ponytail were one of my favourite performances of the whole weekend. Speaking to people at other shows, it seems this feeling was pretty unanimous.

They played in the afternoon in the blazing sun on the patio at Ms Bea's as part of Todd P's festival within a festival (much more about that later).

They are technical, abrasive, completely self-contained, with short arrhythmic songs. They are buoyant and savagely friendly, which is probably because they are from Baltimore. Their singer, Molly, has a unique singing style and posture which I can't even begin to describe. And their drummer Jeremy is simply breathtaking. After they played they sold merch out of the boot of their car.


We saw Wizardzz in Emo's, a venue in Austin that had the Flintstones on the wall. There was also an elephant with its eye popped out. If you merge the Underworld with the Windmill and put the stage in the furthest away corner you get an idea of what this place was like.

Wizardzz is Brian Gibson and Rich Porter. Brian provides long heavy pounding drum loops over Rich's electronics. And this is electro electronics, sputtering and fizzing and unrelentingly danceable. It's a totally different proposition from Lightning Bolt, but just as fierce and we enjoy it a lot.


Dan Deacon hasn't brought Ultimate Reality to the UK yet, so the live performance of this Arnold Schwarzenegger-themed slice of psychedelia was a treat. It may have been less of a treat for the guy behind me, who was dressed like Dan and loudly told everyone who could listen that Dan was going to "get all these boxes out of a suitcase and then everyone will go mental". During the performance he continued with his rant; "Pitchfork said it's okay to dance!" Well, that makes it okay then. (Brief aside - I saw three Dan clones at SXSW. I don't think he realises that he's pioneered a trend.)

The performance is a screening of a film about the life and work of Arnold Schwarzenegger, with visuals by Jimmy Joe Roche and music by Dan. Those familiar with Jimmy's films will instantly recognise the lurid colour, the merging of images and the juxtaposition of scenes. It is funny and mesmerising and makes you want to dance all at the same time. The recorded music is enhanced by the live addition of two drummers, who perform a drum-off of sorts. These drummers are Jeremy Hyman from Ponytail (yes!) and Kevin O'Meara from Videohippos, another SXSW highlight. They are stylistically quite different, which adds extra subtlety and intricacies to their rhythms. It is like watching a feat of endurance, or a sacred ceremony, and it is the live element that allows the performance to transcend being a post-ironic film about Arnie. Yet the mood is kept light (and Jeremy and Kevin are given room to breathe) by Dan's live spoken parts, where the narrative of the film is pushed forward. It is an extraordinary performance, and a girl in front of me had the last word "I could have watched it for hours".

After the show we conspired to go to Todd P's party at the University of Texas. We got a cab right next to the bar where REM were playing. We only twigged that they were playing live when we got in the cab and some kids ran across the road to try and jump the fence. We just thought it was a DJ playing Losing My Religion really loudly. We didn't stay for long at the University as the party was outside and it was too cold. The University complex itself was grand and foreboding and made an interesting contrast to the gaggle of bands and people sitting on the manicured lawns.

1 comment:

hjghrfrjkrej said...

Yeah... Nice! But... What happened yesterday at Bardens? Graffiti Island??? Please don´t do it again!!!!!!!! And even if "Black habit" is a beautiful record I don´t think Rings are capable to sustain an UTR as the main show...
(and what the poor girls could do after such a terrible guests!).