SXSW Wednesday Wrap-Up: Echo and the Bunnymen, the Coathangers, How to Sneak Into Emo's, Juliette Lewis

A fan and a musician bond, SXSW-style. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman)


AUSTIN -- South By Southwest basically dares you to run yourself ragged. Without even delving into the daytime shows that feature even more bands than the official evening showcases, there's a temptation to map out the perfect itinerary that allows you to fill every hour by seeing a band on your priority list. With dozens upon dozens of venues within just a few blocks, rare waits (at least for those of us with badges) and set times that stay surprisingly on schedule, it's actually doable.

But that sort of goes against the point. When you come here, you're going to see tons of bands. There's simply no way around it; even if you were to park yourself at a bar to watch college basketball for 12 hours, you'd still wind up hearing some live music. So better to pick out a couple shows, hang out and get a feel for things. First stop for me was the Suicide Squeeze showcase (Tony LaRussa's favorite indie label).

I saw three bands, two of whom really weren't that good (Champagne Champagne and Cotton Jones; I finally got the Twitter feed working, so check the haikus over there). The other one, the Coathangers, is pretty much my new favorite band. But the random conversation with the guy from Oklahoma about Oklahoma City's burgeoning hardcore scene was much more interesting than seeing a maybe-better-than-generic indie-rock band that I'll have 14 more chances to see over the next three days. On Tuesday night, Oklahoma Guy had seen D.C.-area bands Pygmy Lush and Turboslut (hardcore bands have cool names), so we debated the merits of Pygmy Lush's recent 180 from noisy hardcore band to hushed folk act over $3 Lone Star tallboys.

(Read the rest of the report after the jump.)

Later, at Emo's, I was sitting near the soundboard waiting for Echo and the Bunnymen to come on when I noticed a kid with a small, 10-watt amp at his feet. I asked him why he had it. He asked if I worked at the club. After I told him I didn't, he said that he carried it into the club to make it look like he was part of a band's crew. American ingenuity at its finest.

Apparently this wasn't the first time he's used the trick, with the only conflict being when the time he brought the amp to a Cool Kids show and placed it on stage ... and the band's crew tried to take it with them after breaking down the stage. But he successfully convinced the roadies that the Cool Kids didn't actually use a beaten up 10-watt amp.

As for the music, Atlanta female foursome the Coathangers is one of those bands you can't help but fall in love with. They play short, ragged, catchy, punky/new wavey songs with lots of screaming and cursing. They swapped instruments, high-fived each other after a few songs, chugged some beer, hocked a loogie or two and kept things plenty interesting for half an hour. What more can you ask for?

Echo and the Bunnymen were, not surprisingly, much more refined. Singer Ian McCulloch looked like he may have rolled out of bed minutes before the gig, but he sure makes that work. Long black coat, black sunglasses, smoking cigarettes, yet making classics like "The Cutter," "The Killing Moon" and "Lips Like Sugar" come roaring to life. The sound at Emo's was decidedly muddy; at one point a British guy came back near the soundboard and started berating the sound guy, telling him it was "the worst it's sounded in 25 years!"

At first I thought he was joking, but a quick look at his badge seemed to indicate this guy was with the band and he was being serious.

Juliette and the New Romantics was the random act of the night. That's Juliette, as in Juliette Lewis. She does a pretty excellent Janis Joplin up there -- certainly better than Jenna Maroney's on "30 Rock." You can't accuse Lewis of riding her celebrity and simply go through the motions. This ain't Scarlett Johansson getting the TV on the Radio dude to fancy up some Tom Waits covers. It's old-fashioned rock-and-roll that doesn't have much to distinguish it except for Lewis's fiery on-stage persona. But for a little while, at least, that's enough.

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By David Malitz |  March 19, 2009; 4:56 AM ET SXSW
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Scarlett Johansson "actress"actually is a clone from original person,who has nothing with acting career.Clone was created illegally using stolen biomaterial.Original Scarlett Galabekian last name is nice, CHRISTIAN young lady.

Posted by: galabs2000 | March 19, 2009 8:44 AM

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