The Rock Candy Awards: SXSW edition (wrapping up my best, worst, favorites, etc.)

Is anyone else tired of hearing about SXSW? I kinda am and I was there. Well, here’s my last post about the subject for awhile.

Here they are the awards for the best stuff I saw at South By.
(Note: no actual prizes or awards were given.)

Best Sets: Frightened Rabbit delivered the best set I saw all weekend. Great songwriting (although sad), and great layered musicianship. These guys are one of the most buzzed about bands leaving SXSW and for good reason. Someone called Sharon Jones a modern James Brown. I can’t sum it up better than that. If they come near your town, run don’t walk and get a ticket. Free Energy (Philly-based, ’70s-ish bouncy rock) and Codeine Velvet Club (Scottish-based, ’50s-ish driving rock, with horns!) tie for third. All bands mentioned here will go on to bigger and better things, I guarantee it.

Best Supporting Band: The group that takes this home is Broken Bells, which got things warmed up nicely for Spoon. Unfortunately, the whole thing practically got blown out by Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings.

Best Discovery: Centro-matic rocked out like a ’70s classic rock band, except they were better than the ’70s classic rock that came on the PA after their set. A lot better, in fact. Follow That Bird followed Little Brazil’s official showcase set and their singer was incredible. She can wail and LB folks said some label people were looking at her that night. No surprise there.

Biggest Disappointment: They had a great album last year, one of my favorites, but The xx was kinda lame in a live setting. It was really, really mellow and not much different (no different at all) from the album. There wasn’t even any pop or energy for performing it front of a few hundred people.

Bummed I Didn’t Catch: I saw a lot, but I missed a few bans that were on my must-see list. I’ve been wanting to see Rogue Wave for awhile now. I heard of Le Loup through NPR’s All Songs Considered. And Violent Soho was a discovery that I made right before I left for Austin. Here’s hoping they all come through Omaha sometime.

People Were Talking About: I heard about a lot of stuff all weekend. Frightened Rabbit got rave reviews from everyone I talked to, which is actually what drove me to see them in the first place. People were jealous that I got to see She & Him. And Hole had a sort of reunion weekend. I heard the shows were great and every time I walked by a venue they were playing, the line was around the block (or two).

Best Food: I mentioned earlier that my favorite pizza was Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza. Fresh, lots of cheese and a flavorful sauce. However, the best food was easily the free stuff served at Rachael Ray’s party. No surprise there. She had free booze (didn’t everybody) as well as mini-meatball subs covered in marinara, quesadillas with fancy cheese and an herb dipping sauce and, lastly, pulled pork sandwiches with feta cheese, jalapenos and a chopped, purplish vegetable (looked like onions, didn’t taste like onions). Anyway, by far the best stuff I ate all week. Salt Lick Barbecue was a close second.

Best Beer: Oh, Lone Star, you temptress. I was introduced to it for the first time while in Austin. Some places gave it out for (gasp) free. It was quite delicious, though heavier than you’d probably like if you’re going to be drinking all day (Thank you, Greg Edds, for warning me). I, personally, am headed to Beertopia after work today to see if they have any. Anyone know where else I can get it in town?

Best Mustache: There was close competition between Free Energy drummer Nicholas Shuminsky and Mynabirds bassist/McCarthy Trenching guy Dan McCarthy. In the end, McCarthy’s handlebar edges out Shuminsky’s fluffy, Selleck-like growth.

Best Free Item: An Ink Tank Merch coozie, which is the only free item I didn’t get at some sponsored party. Well, I did, but it wasn’t from the sponsor. I was drinking a crisp, refreshing Colt 45 when Laura Burhenn of the Mynabirds gave me her very own coozie to keep my beer cold and my hand warm. Nice people, those Mynabirds are.

Most Ridiculous Clothing: The guy I saw walking down the street dressed like an alien (or a superhero?) while walking on stilts. I think it were there to promote a band, but I honestly have no idea. It was very silly.

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Didn’t see my photos or video? Visit those links and let me know what you think.

Due to some kind of delay, three of my interviews from Austin were never posted. Apologies. I’ll get them up as soon as I can.

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