If you’re a longtime fan of Death Cab for Cutie feeling let down by “Codes and Keys,” fear not.
Change the oil, pack the car and cue up the playlist, because it’s time to head down to Austin for Music Christmas South by Southwest. I’ll be down there Tuesday night all the way to the end in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Here’s an audio and video approximation of how excited I am.
You can expect loads of SXSW coverage here at the OKSee blog. I’ll be spending Tuesday, Wednesday and the first half of Thursday covering the Oklahoma Film and Music Office’s The Buffalo Lounge. The fantastic people up at OF&MO have put together a lineup of 28 Oklahoma bands that I’m really excited to see. Expect photos, audio clips (of talking — music clips from my teeny recorder would sound like this), interviews, reviews, news bits, the whole nine yards. It’s gonna be a blast.
I’ll also be tweeting up a storm at twitter.com/okgazette.
From 6 p.m. Thursday onward, I’ll be kicking it all over Austin, trying to catch the best and brightest new music the smorgasbord has to offer. I have several priorities (one of Braids’ 9 shows, Typhoon, Matt and Kim, Rocky Business, Givers), but I’ll be all over the place, reporting it as I hit it. I may even drink coffee to get me through this. My stimulant of choice is Red Bull, but at 10:30 a.m. Friday when I’m trying to get to a Chris Bathgate show at 11, I may have to call in the big guns.
Here’s a whole bunch of SXSW info for those going/lusting:
• Official site
• Last.FM band aid, which will run your Last.FM account against the listings to tell you who you should see, which will make attendees drool and lusters weep
• Guardian complete band listing, with vids, streams, bios and more on each
• Bandcamp visualizer – about a fourth of the bands have music downloadable/streaming/available for purchase here
• Free iTunes playlist
Thanks to Pitchfork for alerting me to a couple of these links.
Norman Music Festival 4 is officially in the books. It came, it saw (metaphorically), it conquered (also metaphorically).
It had a lot of new things: a third day, more stages, new locations for old stages, a weird laser-tag thing, a Friday day stage and more. Many of these changes had pros and cons.
The addition of Thursday to the slate gives the fest the ability to grow into a heavy hitter, but this year, it made things spread a little thin on Friday and Saturday. It felt as if some of the bands were stacked toward Thursday to entice people to go to the new thing: Opolis blew it out with tons of talent on the first night, then had an abbreviated day on Saturday.
Still, despite this enticement, Thursday attendance only hit 3,500 (35,000 people attended Saturday, with 9,000 hitting up Friday). This could have been due to the distance between stages, lack of advertising (several people told me they didn't know it was on Thursday) or the fact that people are busy during the week, but only toward the end of the evening at Opolis did the night really feel festival-esque.
Still, I like the move, and I hope that people get adjusted to a Thursday/Friday/Saturday schedule. I think that as the fest grows in prominence, talent will fill out all three days. The same is true of the new stages; as the festival grows, stages will both be able to fill out their schedules and secure only the best of the best. I sincerely hope that there is at some point a cap to stages, however, lest NMF become like SXSW and get far, far too big to maintain quality.
On that note: Laser tag? What the heck?
The new location for the Main and Jägermeister stages was excellent planning. Main Street was much less crowded, which was necessary. Last year felt like human pinball, and it was quite uncomfortable. The new stage locations make a lot of sense and open the festival up. Super high-five for that.
Speaking of location, putting Dust Bowl Market across from Opolis was a neat move. I liked it there. Whether or not it's been there in the past, I have no idea; I've only recently been getting appreciative of crafts.
The one big complaint I have with the fest is that I still have no idea what it wants to be. There was an upsurge of Austin bands this year (Football, etc.; White Denim; Black Joe Lewis), which could have been due to money constraints or a decision to focus on regional and local talent. The Walkmen are from New York City, which doesn't help either theory. Is NMF a local music festival? Is it going to try to be full of national acts, like Austin City Limits? There has always been a huge amount of local acts, and the presence of Montu so late on the Jägermeister stage provides ammunition for the idea that this will be a continuously local thing.
This confusion is partly due to a lack of clarification in their ad campaigns, and partly because it's still being worked out. And really, I don't care which one it is; I'd love to see an all-local festival, and I'd love to see The Mountain Goats, Sufjan, Radiohead and the Pixies all kicking it in Norman. I doubt the fest will swing to either of those extremes, but it would be nice to know which direction it’s heading. This knowledge would make judging its success and growth easier: I tell a person that the local aspect is the big deal instead of the headliner, there will be less expectation placed on national headliners.
If the headliners are the deal, then NMF should take pains to get bands that would not ordinarily come to Oklahoma. If organizers want it to be a festival about exposing Oklahoma to the outside music world, we need to make a splash every year. This year's headliners weren't a splash: if you search "Norman" at Pitchfork.com, a listing of 2010's headliners comes up, but no 2011 lineup. Seeing as we don't really know if the headliners were intended to be a big deal or not, it's hard to judge the effectiveness of this year's fest.
It was a boatload of fun, however. That can't be knocked. I'm looking forward to NMF5. —Stephen Carradini