THE TRUCKS at Snocap day party – One of the hyped bands of the moment, The Trucks came off as a gimmicky novelty, but they were fairly fun to watch. What’s with the deliberately ugly look for that one chick with the missing tooth? That’s part of the shtick, I guess. www.thetrucks.netPHOTOS OF THE TRUCKS

CALLA at Snocap day party – I sort of like Calla’s records, but they never seem to rise above the level of pretty good. I keep waiting for a big breakout chorus or guitar solo, but it never comes. I felt the same way about the live show. www.callamusic.comPHOTOS OF CALLA

BERMUDA TRIANGLE at Platform day party – I plead another case of SXSW amnesia. They’re from Norway. There’s a girl who sings. There’s a guy who sings, too. I think I liked it. OF BERMUDA TRIANGLE

THE SILENT YEARS at Habana Calle 6 Annex day party – I didn’t know anything about this group, but I was blown away by the energy. Will definitely seek them out. www.thesilentyears.comPHOTOS OF THE SILENT YEARS

BANG GANG at Habana Calle 6 Annex day party – The mp3 by this group from Iceland caught my attention. In concert, they were odd, in a “Sprockets” sort of way. The lead singer, Bardi Johansson, delivered SXSW’s most stilted and strange stage banter, urging audience members to take part in an Icelandic party game of spitting on one another’s shoulders. At one point, he remarked (seemingly as a sort of complaint about SXSW): “Too much notes. Everybody’s jumping on the stage and playing too much notes. I think I’ve never seen anybody running around and jumping in my life.” Another comment: “The music sucks, but you have to be on drugs to know it.” And before playing “Stop in the Name of Love” and “Locomotion,” he announced: “We’re going to play an old American standard which you probably don’t like.” The songs featured a peculiar stop-and-start energy, and Bang Gang came off as a highly promising band, but their set was pretty darn short – just four songs or so. And then they were off.

Bang Gang also had one of the most absurd press releases this year on the SXSW Web site, including this description of Johansson: “He outfits as a producer, a fashion designer, director, musician, singer and composer. In Milan he has a full size statue, in Iceland he is the dark prince who walks the nights alone and in France he is hailed as the next Phil Spector. He depicts the musical side of fashion house Emporio Armani, cosmetics brand Yves Rocher and car make Citroën in there television ads. A renaissance man in the most true form he is obsessive, narcissistic, hung-over, mad and romantic. Oceanic and limitless, his songs sound much too real and much too beautiful. Bardi Johannson is an anomaly that blends together Rock’n’Roll and sadness to create a sound that bellows through your body like a misremembered dream and for that he makes us stop in the name of love.” (Incidentally, there was another band at SXSW this year called Bang Bang Gang.) – PHOTOS OF BANG GANG

IRINA BJORKLUNDE was playing in the Habana Calle 6 Annex as part of a tribute to Nick Drake as I walked out of the Bang Gang gig. She was playing the saw, an instrument you don’t hear often enough, and she did a lovely Drake song. (Sorry, I’m terrible with his song titles, so I don’t recall which one.) www.irinabjorklund.comPHOTOS OF IRINA BJORKLUNDE

THOM HELL at Platform day party – I caught a couple of songs by this Americana singer from Norway – well, I guess it isn’t correct to call it Americana if you’re from Norway, but that’s what it sounded like to me. Pretty good stuff, enough to make me want to hear more, but I was in a hurry. Marit Larsen, who was next on the Platform party schedule, was playing in Hell’s backup band, and a couple of Larsen fans in the crowd held up a sign declaring that she’s an addictive drug. – PHOTOS OF THOM HELL

BUZZCOCKS at Snocap day party – During my foray over to see Bang Gang, I missed Apollo Sunshine at the Snocap party, which was reportedly one of the highlights. The Buzzcocks were an excellent way to end the party, though. The Buzzcocks are the Buzzcocks; what more can you say? Those short, punchy songs still stand up amazingly well, and the band was as fun and energetic as ever. I was standing near Steve Diggles when he spat on the speakers, where the glob of saliva remained for the rest of the concert. www.buzzcocks.comPHOTOS OF BUZZCOCKS

LEE “SCRATCH” PERRY on the SXSW Live stage – This was a rare chance to see one of the legends of reggae and dub music. I’m far from an expert on his music, but I enjoyed it, especially his jabs at the current political situation. A short, wizened guy, he was dressed in an outfit that was glittering with all of the shiny objects that had been pasted and sewed onto it. – PHOTOS OF LEE “SCRATCH” PERRY

WAX FANG at Mohawk Patio – Another band with an mp3 that attracted my attention. And they were playing at the showcase for KEXP, one of my favorite stations to hear on the Web. Wax Fang opened its set with a delicate little piece of guitar playing and singing by the vocalist, with the bassist and drummer patiently watching. And then, in the middle of that song, the rhythm section erupted into a dramatic blast of noise. The pattern repeated with other Wax Fang songs – tunes with an indie-pop sensibility melded with arena rock bombast. The band is from Louisville, Ky., so of course, I thought of My Morning Jacket. The guitarist even played a couple of wailing Theremin solos. www.waxfang.comPHOTOS OF WAX FANG

BRUTE FORCE AND DAUGHTER OF FORCE at Creekside EMC – I was hoping to see Field Music in this time slot, but the line was long and didn’t seem to be moving, so I bailed on that show. I’d heard a quirky piano song called “Space Mission” by Brute Force and Daughter of Force, which sounded sort of like a demo for the Only Ones, but didn’t know what to expect. This was the strangest thing I saw all week. It felt like I’d stepped out of SXSW into some alternate universe. The act turned out to be an older guy with bushy eyebrows calling himself Brute Force playing piano and singing, with his twenty-something daughter on vocals. They did odd novelty tunes about sandwiches and space travel. It was hard not to get the impression that this was just some guy who played weird songs for his family and somehow persuaded his slightly embarrassed daughter to get up on the stage with him for a lounge act. As I learned later from reading about Brute Force on the SXSW Web site, he used to be a member of the Tokens and he originally recorded some of these songs for Apple Records in the late 1960s (the Beatles were among his fans). It was a refreshing change from everything else. Peculiar but charming. brutesforce.comPHOTOS OF BRUTE FORCE AND DAUGHTER OF FORCE

ASTEROID #4 at Latitude 30 – Now here’s a band that lives reverb and darkness. The lights were barely on at all as Asteroid #4 played (it was hell to photograph, though I did dig the atmosphere it created) and they never turned off those echoing effects. It was a terrific space-rock jam, complete with a Rain Parade cover. As Asteroid #4 finished, the band announced, “Thanks. We’re the Black Angels.” www.asteroid4.comPHOTOS OF ASTEROID #4

THE BLACK HOLLIES (with guest appearance by THE DANSETTES) at Uncle Flirty’s Loft – A good ‘60s-style rock band… Other than that, I don’t remember much. www.theblackhollies.comPHOTOS OF THE BLACK HOLLIES /PHOTOS OF THE DANSETTES

OX at the Ale House – This alt-country band from British Columbia does a great cover of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” and that’s what was playing as I walked in the door. Most of their other songs seem to be about cars, including one about the El Camino. It was all pretty good, though it’s fairly typical stuff as far as alt-country bands go, nothing earth-shattering. www.oxmusic.wsPHOTOS OF OX

THE WHIGS at Blender Bar at the Ritz – I showed up early at this venue to see the Saints in the last time slot. As I walked in, DANIEL JOHNSTON AND THE NIGHTMARES were finishing their set. The last half of the last song (all that I heard) seemed more confident and Modern Lovers-ish than the shaky solo concert I saw by Johnston a couple of years ago. I didn’t know much about the Whigs other than the mp3 I’d heard, but the group had a lot of young female fans in attendance, who sang along with many of the words. They put on a very good show, and something about them reminded me of other bands from their hometown, Athens, Ga. www.thewhigs.comPHOTOS OF THE WHIGS

THE SAINTS at Blender Bar at the Ritz – These Australian punks were back for a reunion show, which I saw at the same time I could have been watching the Stooges over at Stubbs (but that would have required a long wait in line and no guarantee of getting in). The Saints song I know best, “Stranded,” sounded great. The rest of the set was good, too, but I was starting to lose it by this point; I could feel myself falling asleep even as I stood there. It was a fine concert, though the Saints did not seem to have the same level of excitement as some other bands from that era. www.saintsmusic.comPHOTOS OF THE SAINTS


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