Oh My Rockness SXSW 2007 Wrap-Up

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Oh My Rockness SXSW 2007 Wrap-Up

March 22, 2007
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We got out our abacus, and though it was hard to get an exact number because the balls were soaked with Shiner, we figured out that we saw roughly 23 bands (in honor of Michael Jordan, of course) in the four days and nights we were down in Austin. Now I know what some of you may be saying, "23?! I saw 2,003!" But we've always been about quality over quantity, and all 23 bands we saw were legitimately good. And that's something, so there. Here's a brief recap of some of the bands we saw that are worth extra noting.

Pelican - perhaps my favorite set of the whole fest. These guys play aggressive metal that is also unmistakably pretty. Try to wrap your head around that one. Some of the best guitar riffs I have ever witnessed.

Shout Out Out Out Out - I LOVED these Edmonton guys, if for nothing else than their awesome attitudes. They were so cheery, and their dispositions were a direct reflection of the happy electro-rock they so convincingly create. Two drummers. Two bassists. Some keys. And some killer frontman leg kicks (even with a full bladder)! Shout Out Out Out Out's set was definitely one of the most enjoyable experiences I had in Austin.

New Violators - The singer of this Norway band wears all white and his shirt-blouse comes complete with wings attached to his back. They certainly felt like a gift from pop heaven. Human League, meet your modern match. Nobody knew these guys when they started their set, but by the end people were dancing and even singing along to the songs they just learned. Awesome.

Walter Meego - This Chicago trio wears bright colors and plays danceable electro-pop. Laptop meets guitars meets catchy catchy catchy. They're playing the Oh My Rockness "March Radness II" party at Knitting Factory on March 31st so you'll just have to trust that 1) we love them and 2) you should go see them.

Ra Ra Riot - These guys were such a surprise! I've liked their songs for some time, but live they really step it up. This young group from Syracuse kicked out the seriously energetic jams, including a cover of my favorite Futureheads cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love." They've got electrified strings, tons of melodies to sing along to, and a completely engaging singer. Watch out.

DataRock - I thought these guys were going to be a duo with more Data, but they ended up being a quartet with more rock. Not that I, or anyone in the audience was being a stickler for details, these Norwegians had us all when we saw their matching red track suits. I had a bird's eye view on the steps of Emo's Jr. when DataRock played, and it was fascinating to see all those sweaty heads bopping up and down in coordinated unison. These guys are the perfect party band.

The Lionheart Brothers - Another stellar Norway band. If you like Serena Maneesh's swirling and shoegazing rock-outs, you will definitely be down with The Lionheart Brothers. The singer looks just like Bobby from Karate Kid (you know, the one that sweeps Daniel's leg), and he definitely knows how to lead a crowd. He crouches, he flails, and his band will one day play many big places in the States.

Marnie Stern - Guitar whiz Marnie is alone on stage with her axe and an iPod strapped to her belt. That's it. She wails her repetitive songs as she plays and it plays. It's obvious from the start that she's an awesome guitar player and a truly talented woman. It's good stuff if you can stand it.

Hot Club De Paris - This young trio sounds like they're from Chicago...in 1994. But they're from England in 2007. There's a ton of Cap'n Jazz at work here. You know those distortion-free twinkle guitar notes that slide up, down and around a driving rhythm section? These guys have that. And they were exactly what I wanted.

The Narrator - These guys really ARE from Chicago. They play the somewhat spazzy (but not TOO spazzy) rock that sounds like the reason I got into indie rock in the first place. You've got nicely placed rock-outs in the middle of mathy melodies, so what more do you need? If you like Oxford Collapse (which I do) you will also like The Narrator.

Gallows - this show was dangerous! I expected the beer bottles to start flying at any time when I was down in the pit (yeah, there was an actual pit at SXSW) watching these guys freak the hell out. One of the louder shows I've ever been to was also one of the scariest. Please don't break my nose. I just want to listen to your songs. It was great though (mostly because I made it out alive). Hot Snakes times 100.

SXSW sure was fun. But phew, I'm sure glad it's over.

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