Where the stars at night are a hell of a sight and the honky-tonks never close

I haven't been doing a great job of blogging in oh, the last year or so, but I decided to try and learn more about Tumblr. So in that effort, I started a Tumblr for my trip to SXSW this year. I leave in just a couple days, but if you want to follow all the action go check out SXSWrecks. I'm hoping to post an Instagram from every band I see and maybe play with gifs a little. Melissa has also done a post and I hope she contributes some during our trip, too. Of course, you can always follow me on Twitter if you want up to the minute reports on free drinks or any other awesome things happening.


Some nights I live in horror of people on the radio, Tea Parties and Twitter, I've never been so bitter

Now that SXSW 2012 has come and gone without me, I've started planning my trip back to Austin in 2013. It seems like both a long time to wait and just around the corner. I'll try to squeeze in a few blog posts over the course of the next year and I'll try not to obsess too much about SXSW in them.

So along those lines, I thought I'd mention a few non-SXSW things I'm loving right now:
  • Luther - This BBC drama has been sitting around on my Netflix queue for awhile now and I finally got around to watching it a couple weeks ago. It's a British show so there are only 10 episodes total between the two seasons that have been broadcast so far. They're all streaming in Netflix so you really have no excuse. Idris Elba plays a troubled cop who doesn't follow the rules, which is far from a new idea. The writing is great, though, and the plots are always surprising and downright scary at times. I have three episodes left to watch and I'm trying to dole them out slowly so the excitement doesn't have to end.
  • Happy Endings - I just started watching this ABC comedy a few weeks ago and it has quickly become the show I look forward to all week. Be all accounts this sitcom about a group of friends in Chicago was terrible when it first started, but now it's a snappy, fun show that builds jokes upon jokes. Damon Wayans, Jr. is rocking my world.
  • Fun. - Fun. is everywhere these days. No that's their name. They're a band that features the lead singer from The Format, another of my longtime faves. Anyway, their new album, Some Nights, is really great and I find myself always pulling it up on my iPod. There's humor, there's drama and there's a lot of fun.
  • Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith - When I was unemployed I read almost everything written by Alexander McCall Smith. Luckily he publishes several books a year so I had plenty of options. AMS (as I call him) is probably best known for his #1 Ladies Detective Agency series, but I'm a bigger fan of this series about a Scottish woman who edits a Philosophy journal. Sure nothing much happens in the books but they are cozy and thoughtful. Not so much a beach read as a cozy Winter's evening read.
  • Aziz Ansari - I just bought tickets to see Aziz's standup comedy show in Baltimore in June and I can't wait! I love him as Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation and I have his last standup album. I doubt he'll do it, but I'd love to see him revive RAAAAAAAANDY (with 8 A's) on his new tour.


Only yesterday was the time of our lives

So I have a blog. Sometimes I forget. I swear SXSW just took it out of me. I know it's been almost a year, but let me sum things up really quickly:
  1. It was amazing. Think of how you would have done spring break in college if you actually had money and knew how to drink without making (too much of) an idiot of yourself.
  2. Everyone wants to go again. (See #1)
  3. We ate a lot of barbecue.
  4. I saw Adam Duritz and Michael Cera hanging out in bars, but never ran into Aziz Ansari despite my best efforts to Twitter stalk him.
  5. I actually wrote about some of my favorite shows over on the York Daily Record's FlipSide blog. You can check it out here.
  6. I got my picture taken with my fave NPR dude Stephen Thompson (see below) and he was even nice enough to sing "Trey with an 'e' and Graham like the cracker" for me. If you don't know what that means you should be listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Look, we have the same hair!


Living the good life, I left for dead the sorrowful Midwest

After much napping and laundry, I've begun to recover from SXSW. There'll be more blogging to come but I wanted to post a couple updates. First, there are the bands that we saw on Friday and Saturday:


- 28 North
- Smith Westerns
- Electric Child
- OFF!
- The Vaccines
- The Kills
- TV on the Radio
- Young the Giant
- Apex Manor
- Josh Ritter
- Twin Shadow
- Goldheart Assembly
- The Answering Machine


- Man Man
- Middle Brother
- The Felice Brothers
- Bright Eyes
- The Rural Alberta Advantage
- Jukebox the Ghost (again)
- Army Navy

Second, I wrote a piece about my trip over on this blog, where they actually pay me to do such things. It even has a couple photos so go check it out.


So many Mike

I've been pretty busy eating, sleeping and seeing bands and haven't had time to blog. I want to keep a list of bands I've seen so far so I don't forget:


- The Romany Rye
- Jessica Lea Mayfield
- Apache Relay
- Hayes Call
- Caitlin Rose
- Jason Isbell
- The Civil Wars
- Withered Hand
- Kid Canaveral
- Errors
- Twin Atlantic
- Admiral Fallow

Yes that was just Wednesday.


- Colin Stetson
- Tuneyards
- Khaira Arby
- Wild Flag
- The Joy Formidable
- Noah and the Whale
- Jukebox the Ghost
- Emmylou Harris
- The Old 97s

I think that's it for those days. I'm already 3 bands into Friday so there is more to come!
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I guess I got just what I wanted and all I wanted was a glance

Well our plans to take it easy at SXSW last night where thrown out after we got back from awesome barbecue at The Salt Lick. We stopped by the apartment for a few minutes but managed to avoid a meat coma and headed out on the town.

First stop was the Bat Bar where we caught Dry The River and the much-hyped shoegaze band Fences. They weren't our favorite band of the night, but we did see Michael Cera catching their show, too, so hipster bonus points for us!

Next up was a great set from The Boxer Rebellion and finally to a crowded Emo's for a funky dance set from Gold Panda. We made it home a little after 2 am and now we're gearing up for more!


When the sun goes down in Austin town that's when I know I'm home

So I made to Austin with little trouble. Our apartment is all ready to go and I've managed to fortify myself with a chili dog and a margarita. Tonight might be about barbecue and catching up with friends than music but the SXSW adventure has begun.
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No one man should have all that power

Well, it's (sorta) official if you believe the video below. Kanye will be playing a show at SXSW Saturday night. I still haven't heard about my VIP passes, though. Bummer!


My furs is Mongolian, my ice brought the goalies in

So there's a rumor that Kanye West will play a surprise show in Austin during SXSW. He released this video at the beginning of March that started all the hubbub:

So now I have to decide if I dare treck over to the Seaholm Power Plant at midnight on Saturday to see if this is real. I'm tempted, but I've been burned by Kanye before so I'll probably pass unless, you know, he wants to give me a VIP pass. Call me, Yeezy!


The train is riding down to the station where I lived when I was a cool kid

I've been sorting through the list of bands playing at SXSW for a couple months now. With more than 2,000 of them playing and a schedule that seems to be constantly shifting, it can be a big job. What I've noticed from the weeks of listening, though, is how great almost all the bands are. Maybe my experience vetting bands for the MidPoint Music Festival had me bracing for worse acts, but it seems like I'd be happy to hear almost any band playing at SXSW. I'm sure we'll see how I really feel about that in a couple weeks.

With that in mind, I present the 10 bands I'm most excited to see at SXSW. My main caveats were that I wanted to choose acts I'd never seen play live before and to try and focus on smaller, newer acts*. So here they are in no particular order:

  • Admiral Fallow - Scottish and sad, they sound a little like Frightened Rabbit. These guys are right in my musical wheelhouse. They're also playing a Tuesday night showcase so hopefully they'll be one of the first bands I see.
  • The Civil Wars - A bluesy couple from Alabama, much like my friends Jeff and Meggan who'll be hanging out with us in Austin. Maybe that's why I want to see these guys so much.
  • Apex Manor - Colin Meloy mentioned this band in a tweet so I checked out the album. That's what kind of a sucker I am. Nice stuff, though, but I've only seen one show scheduled so far so it might be difficult to actually see them.
  • Jukebox the Ghost - A poor man's Ben Folds? Perhaps. Jukebox the Ghost is from DC and I've been a fan for a few years so even though they don't fall into my "new act" rule I really want to check them out.
  • Okkervil River - An Austin band with a couple albums under their belt and a much anticipated new release just around the corner. This might be the hardest show for me to get to what with all the crowds. I guess it will make me decide how much I really want to see them.
  • The Vaccines - There is a ton of buzz from this British band. Are they the next Arctic Monkeys? Does it matter? All I know is they rock and since their big song is only 85 seconds long, they shouldn't have to play for too long anyway.
  • Lars and The Hands of Light - I know like three words in Danish (two of them are mildly offensive) but I figure I can try them out on a Danish band. I just typed in Denmark in the SXSW schedule and these guys popped up. Turns out they sound pretty good, too. Score! (That's Danish for "score".)
  • Young the Giant - Loud and melodic, they're another band with a lot of buzz. They also seem to be playing about every day party in town so I should be able to catch at least one of their shows.
  • Noah and the Whale - I'm really not sure why I haven't heard of these guys before. They're right there in the dictionary under "Sad & British." I'm actually worried they might be too sad for me. Too sad! Is that possible?
  • Childish Gambino - Do you know Donald Glover? The black guy from Community? The one who started a Twitter campaign to be cast as Spiderman in the new movie? It turns out he raps, too, under the name Childish Gambino. No, he does serious rapping, not jokey, jokey rapping. I'm in no position to tell you if he's actually a good rapper, I just know I find it oddly compelling. I can't promise that I'll make it to his showcase, but I kind of hope I do.
You can hear tracks from most of my list (and more) over there on the right on my SXSW music player. 

*Bands that I still hope to see but haven't made my official top 10 include: Hayes Carll, Darren Hanlon, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Jessica Lea Mayfiled, The Answering Machine and The Head and The Heart.