« "So at the end of the conversation ... with Sergeant Crowley, there was discussion about he and I and Professor Gates having a beer here in the White House. We don't know if that's scheduled yet ..." | Main | Dear Mr. Ross - Please Return The Favor »

July 25, 2009


You must see Sonic Youth. That's a no brainer.

Sonic Youth > some dude dancing behind a laptop. Infinitely.

Yes, yes. Sonic Youth over Girl Talk. Girl Talk is, shall we say, disappointing live. Also, see Blitzen Trapper. Stellar.

!!!, Clutch & Heartless Bastards are the rest of my must-see recs.

Andrew Bird is a treat, live.

Robyn Hitchcock would be on my schedule. Bon Iver, Mos Def, The Walkmen, too.

Friday: see Dr. Dog (if you don't know them, give a listen--great, Beatlesy rock). Phoenix and Daniel Johnston should both be great, so try to be at both those stages at once.

Saturday: Do not miss Grizzly Bear. I'd also highly recommend Bon Iver and Levon Helm. I'd be intrigued by the Soul Stirrers (classic gospel band that Sam Cooke used to be in) but I have no idea what they're doing now.

Sunday: WYSIWYG, for the most part. Passion Pit will be a dance party, so if that's your thing, check it out.

Have fun...

Sonic Youth is hit and miss live depending on what they're up to and what you're in to but undoubtedly worth seeing once and probably better than girl talk (haven't seen it but I imagine the concept works good live).

Never been to SXSW but my understanding is that the best shows aren't on that list, generally. Also, I got dragged to see the Felice Bros once and it was incredibly bad. !!! was fun live but that was like 6 or 7 years ago I think? Trail of Dead was amazing like 8 years ago and horrible two years later but they were pissed at the concert promoter then I think.

You should probably go see the B52s too? I'm so out of touch.

Oh and I by hit and miss I mean when they hit it's one of the best shows you've ever been to.

Let me second Andrew Bird. He's very talented and puts on a great live show. And personally, I don't know if I'd ever leave the Dell stage: Blitzen Trapper/ Dr. Dog/ Andrew Bird Friday, Grizzly Bear/ Bon Iver/ the Decemberists Saturday. I'd also say the Dodos, they were the best "show I went to before ever listening to them" band.

I'm pretty new to them but I'm really liking The Walkmen a lot.

SONIC YOUTH. Which is... damn, how old now?

If you haven't seen either Sonic Youth or GT, I'd definitely go with SY.

Also, I'd recommend Medeski, Martin and Wood, I've seen them twice and they were great both times - definitely a must see if you like jazz of a less traditionalist variety.

Some general advice for festivals that I've learned over the years - if there's a schedule conflict, pick one band and stick with it. At least for me, if I go and try to compromise by seeing half of each set, I just end up disappointed and wanting more of each band. If you totally skip one band, its easier to forget what you are missing - ignorance being bliss and all that.

Handy "who to see" decision making guide:

Over 28 years old? Sonic Youth.

Under 28 years old? Girl Talk.

Over 28 years old and pretentious? Girl Talk.

Under 28 years old and pretentious? Sonic Youth.

Thirding Andrew Bird. I caught the end of a show in Toronto a few years ago and *really* enjoyed it, and I wish I'd managed to get there in time for the whole thing.

I actually just saw Sonic Youth last weekend (they are, as noted above 28 years old), and it was a great show. They lagged a bit in energy in the middle, but with an easily 45 minute long main set and two 10-15 minute encore sets (which were explosive), that's not surprising.

I agree that the Lily Allen/Andrew Bird conflict is distressing, but I suspect that Andrew Bird features a much chiller but more pretentious audience, while Lily Allen probably has some truly annoying people at the show but an overall more eclectic mix. I find that the folks at a show heavily influences my enjoyment, though, which may be less of a factor for you. . .

Michael wins the thread so far.

I tried to see Girl Talk at Lollapalooza last year. He was on one of the smaller stages but had a huge crowd. By the time he started playing, you could barely stick a knife between two adjacent people. I don't normally think of myself as claustrophobic, but I freaked at being packed in so tight, and left, slowly. I spent the rest of that block listening to The National on the lawn.

Those guys/gals in Sonic Youth are surely pushing 60 by now, so better see them while they are still alive and their voices still work.

Umteenth vote for Sonic Youth (Michael's comment is funny at the end, but really a band is either good or it's not, regardless of age). Also, haven't heard this Robyn Hitchcock band, but, live music being a gamble, I'd bet on him.

What is 'Poi Dog' doing there?? Over 40? See Chuck Mangione. Under 40? See Poi Dog Pondering. The are the musical equiv. of oatmeal without salt.

Sonic Youth beats Girl Talk just as Andrew Bird beats Lily Allen.

Other bands that I would try to go to are: Avett Brothers, Daniel Johnston, Dr. Dog, Bon Iver, and Grizzly Bear.

I was considering going just to see The Virgins live. So, consider that my vote. Not sure who they're in conflict with (haven't clicked through to the sched - comment and run, that's my style :)


I humbly submit the Henry Clay People as a band worth seeing. If you can find it, they did a song called "The Man in the River Bed" that was very striking, and I think they're on to something in general.

The Walkmen are great. I don't know about seeing them at 3:30 in the afternoon, though. That's nighttime music if I've ever heard it. But still great.

Other than that, the Bon Iver-Decemberists evening sounds like heaven.

Thievery corp, Ghostland Observatory, And as for Sonic Youth vs Girl Talk, that's a tough one. Passed up Sonic Youth tonight, but that was more sex related.

Not so into !!!, myself (saw them at the Hideout for the big Touch and Go anniversary party a few years back), but it's not like they're against anything tremendous. I'd recommend checking out Mos Def, who's a great live performer and whose most recent album has been getting some tremendous press.

I second Thievery corp and Mos Def. "And you shall know us by the trail of the dead ...." is also pretty good. Depending on mood and travel distances (I don't know Austin at all), you might want to consider spending an hour with them on Saturday before heading over to see Mos Def.


If you choose to see the B-52s over Clutch (they play at the same time) I'll never type at you again. YOU. MUST. SEE. CLUTCH.

Make some time to see the Low Anthem. I saw them in my friend's living room in Pittsburgh. One of those shows that just makes you happy.

Avoid Girl Talk. Just saw him in Ottawa and it was just a dude hitting 'play' on his laptop and then dancing. LAME.

Absolutely see Fri. -- (1) Asleep at the Wheel (2) John Legend (he's from my town, Springfield OH & he's fantastic) and (3) Kings of Leon, and see (4) Medeski, Martin & Wood and (5) Poi Dog Pondering if you can, and I vote for Lily Allen over Andrew Bird; Sat. -- And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead are very cool; Sun. -- (1) The B-52's are a no-brainer and (2) Arctic Monkeys are excellent live, and Sonic Youth over Girl Talk, no contest for me if I could go. Also, I just heard some Brett Dennen on the score of the cool indie film "Sherman's Way" and he sounded very interesting, kinda like Devendra Banhart, if you like him.

Also, the most troubling conflict is Girl Talk and Sonic Youth

Also, the troubling conflict between chicken shit and chicken salad.

I saw Sonic Youth last year and was...bored. Sorry, I've just never connected with them, and it's not for lack of trying.

You can never go wrong with Robyn Hitchcock. Never. The latest Venus 3 album was a letdown compared to the first one, but you can always count on a good show.

Never seen the B-52's but I've been told that they still kick butt on stage.

Lily Allen strikes me as a hit-or-miss proposition...when she first hit it big in the UK there were tales in the tabloids of her being a wasted, shambling mess on stage. Maybe she's cleaned up her act. But lots of great songs that seem tailor-made for a summer festival. Andrew Bird, on the other hand, I always imagine smirking and doing little ironic air-quotes with his fingers while he's singing. Gotta give this one to Lily.

I'd KILL to see Kings of Leon.

Oh, and de gustibus non est disputandum.

That is all.

Another vote for Blitzen Trapper. I'd say the Devotchka/Decemberists would be another dilemma, with me probably deciding on Devotchka (probably less crowds and still put on a great show). Reverend Payton's Big Damn Band was pretty good if you're into that kind of music.

SY easy cheesy. Girl Talk is mashups for people that don't want to ride a hook, the anti-James Brown. Blech.

On day 1, consider the Walkmen and Phoenix. I like Dr. Dog, but the guys voice can grate, and I don't know if they are good live, but I know the other two are.

On day 2, you have an interesting choice between Devotchka and Decemberists. I know there is a backlash against the Decemberists, and Devotchka are great live and can be a little bit epic at times.

On day 3, I would consider Heartless Bastards, but I don't love their new one, and since they had a complete lineup revamp, I don't know what the old stuff would sound like, therefore, B-52s.

Toadies were one hit wonders but are from Texas, so I wonder if they might do a good show having been around for a long time. Likewise David Garza got radio play for 10 minutes about 10 years ago and then dropped by his label, but is also from Texas and I bet is a good show.


The only thing I feel particularly strongly about is that you MUST see Todd Snider on Friday. It's worth it as much for the stories he tells BETWEEN the songs as it is for the songs. He's reputed to go as long as 18 minutes between songs. That's the thing about singer-songwriters: they tend to be story tellers. Anyway, here's a fine example. Another one here.

Other than that, the only thing that really caught my eye was John Legend, also on Friday.

I'd like to recommend Sam Roberts... an old school rock and roll band from Montreal. Old school means that the songs as performed are not CCs of the songs as recorded; in short, they're a band, not just a bunch of players backing up some singer dude. Also, ...and you will know us by the trail of the dead was good when I saw them up here in Krusty the K-town a few years back at the Grad Club.

And yeah, I'd go see Clutch.

I'm a big appreciater of Poi Dog, but they're not for everyone.

I saw Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians in Orlando 'round about spring of 1992, and they were really, really good. Haven't listened to much of their stuff since then, though, although I did run to Globe of Frogs and Fegmania (the latter of which contains some of the more surreal liner notes I've ever encountered) for quite a few years.

Robyn H. utterly dominates my iTunes library. i'm up to 566 RH songs right now. i've seen him at least six times. i guess you could say i'm a fan.

and note that the current RH band (the Venus Three) is most of the current R.E.M. touring band with Robyn instead of Micheal Stipe: Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus Five), Bill Rieflin (Ministry, KFMDM). and they totally rock, live.

Cats Cradle show, from a couple months ago.

Yes, but do you turn yourself on in the dark?

no, but i often dream of trains when i'm alone.

I'd say see Kings of Leon. Those boys can play some rock n roll.

The comments to this entry are closed.