SXSW The Night Before

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SXSW 2010 Diary

We arrived in Austin around noon and headed over to our headquarters for the week, the Hyatt , downtown on Ladybird Lake. It was one of the last hotels available within walking distance of the convention center and Sixth Street.  We walked over the bridge to the festival headquarters at the Austin Convention Center and registered quickly among a light crowd. It pays to come in a day early! The Film and Interactive part of SXSW was wrapping up and you could sense the calm before the storm.

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A lot of swag is part of the welcoming bag that comes with registration.  For $600, you better get something good! Besides the usual laminate badge to wear around your neck, an assortment of paraphernalia was yours for the taking. Among the more interesting things found in our bag; three sets of ear plugs; a first aid kit, condoms; and the much needed hangover package. Oh Yeah and a couple of energy bars.

Our plans were flexible for the evening. We initially planned on attending the Paste Party at 8pm where Niko Case and Jacob Dylan would play together later in the evening. When we arrived at the venue called Pure Volume we were greeted by over 250 people waiting in line. Fortunately, we had RSVP’d for the party only to find out that preference was given to people who RSVP’d before last Thursday. We just ran out of luck.

A festival cohort from Britain suggested we attend the British Embassy showcase at Latitude 30 a club just around the corner.  It was a collection of British bands sponsored by the English government. Sounded like a nice alternative and there was an open bar to boot! England actually uses a portion of all money collected in the national lottery and puts it towards promoting the performance arts. Katie and I checked out Viva City and while enjoying a couple of beers courtesy of the Queen. Long live England! We watched Viva City from New Castle with their revved up synth-rock laced with a hard rock edge.  Fenech Soler also performed a somewhat generic set of dance pop that had the Brit-heavy crowd moving in rhythm.

Upon our fill of British bands, we meandered on over to 6th street  to the Parish club and walked in just as the Turbo Fruits were finishing up their set with a blistering cover of “Shakin All Over.” This three piece band from Nashville garage rocked the house and stoked us for their April performance in Madison. The Black and White Years from Austin were up next. At first, the jerky gyrations of lead singer puzzled me, only to win me over after several songs as the the influence of Talking Heads and Devo became apparent.  

After a couple of beers, we called it a night and turned in early for the official start of SXSW on Wednesday.

Zola Jesus Rising

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Eclectic Madison Musician Releases New EP

It's not often that you get a chance to see Madison's hottest export, Zola Jesus, do a local show. The 20-year-old Nika Roza Danilova (aka Zola Jesus) has quite a buzz building around her new EP "Stridulum" due out March 9th on the New York-based Sacred Bones Label. The first track "Night" premiered on Pitchfork two weeks ago. Brooklyn Vegan likewise did a feature and listed tour dates including the Saturday night release party at The Project Lodge.

Besides studying French and Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin Madison, the operatic-trained singer has the uncanny ability to draw you into her dark atmospheric world of sound. We like Zola Jesus because she represents what Madison is all about; adventurous; a risk taker; not afraid to be different.

Zola Jesus - Night

To make Saturday night even more interesting, Julian Lynch and Sonmi will also be on the bill at The Project Lodge! Three of our favorite artists together on the same evening. We caught up with Nika as she finished a gig in Milan, Italy, performing at a private party for designer Angelos Frentzos, during Fashion Week!  

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Review: Wilco & Califone at Overture Hall Madison

I’m one of those people that like Wilco, but never had the band at the top of my list for a must-see show. That all changed Saturday night as Jeff Tweedy and company proved that through eight albums and numerous personnel changes they can still put on a flawless two-plus hour show that leaves the audience wanting more.

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The Runaways Movie Found in Madison

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Cherie Currie Attends Show

Madison made history Thursday night as the Sundance Film Festival expanded its reach to eight satellite theaters across the country for the first time. One of the most-talked-about movies of the festival, “The Runaways” starring Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie, played to a sold-out crowd at Madison’s Sundance Cinema with an added bonus. The Runaways' lead singer, Cherie Currie, was in attendance as a special dispatch from the festival and took questions from the audience after the show.

The Runaways chronicles the rise and fall of the legendary 70’s all-girl rock band that paved the way for future female rockers. Lead singer, Currie along with guitarists Joan Jett and Lita Ford were all teenagers when the band’s first album came out in 1976. The movie is rather uneven and tends to drag in spots coming off like a documentary. But, it does show the seedy side of rock n roll life well, with the manipulating freak of a manager Kim Fowley plotting world domination for the band, while ripping them off at the same time. Fowley basically marketed the band as rock n roll jail-bait. Currie’s substance abuse problems are highlighted, including scenes of snorting cocaine in a plane bathroom with Joan Jett and excessive drinking binges. 

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