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While there’s still a certain amount of crush and excess on Sixth St. itself, somehow things seem to be sliding back to a place of greater user-friendliness.

JEFF LEVEN'S SXSW DISPATCH:
DAY TWO

During Which Our Man in Austin Schmoozes With a Pack of Fellow Weasels, Gets a Whiff of Iggy and the Stooges, Among Numerous Others
Beyond the chance to see 90 bands a day, the other great joy of SXSW is its summer camp nature—the ability to see friends from all cities in the balmy (or in the case of last night, strikingly cold and windy) environs of the Texas Hill Country. Between the shows, most people have breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, impromptu BBQ meetings, etc. Having recently decamped to N.Y. (with frequent trips back to L.A.), this aspect of SXSW has only grown more important to me, and much of the fun of the week has been getting through it, um, with a little help from my friends. After accompanying my brother (on vacation fresh off his role co-producing Zero Dark Thirty) and his girlfriend at shows on Tuesday night, a lot of Wednesday was a hang with people ranging from Austin’s ebullient ambassador Charles Attal (of C3) to GPSJerimaya Grabher, producer Eric Robinson, ESP’s own Tim Carhart, Fly South’s Mark Mercado and John Youngman, agents Brian Greenbaum, Dave Shapiro (not to be confused with our firm), Ken Fermaglich, Dave Galea and Tim Windish, A&R hitters Michael Howe, Pete Ganbarg, Harlan Frey, Ben Adelson, Kristina Grossman, Mollie Moore and Mary Rahmani, and other managers and business managers including Bret Disend, Curo Financial’s Jason Childress and Noel Hartough, Pete Galli, Mike Bachta, Brandon Schmidt, Christy Merriner and Tobin Watkinson, and attorneys like Josh Binder and Elliot Resnick, not to mention my colleagues Peter Lewit and Jonathan Koby (with Dave Rappaport, Gary Adelman and Richard Grabel running afield).

Social registry aside, it was also a day of amazing shows. Pangea absolutely seared an afternoon performance at the Scoot Inn and were followed by SoCal metal magic in The Shrine. A near-sunset show from Lord Huron, whose new album shows the depth of their continued evolution, was also powerful, as well as an afternoon romp at Rusty’s from A Silent Film, and solid crashy rock from Detroit’s The Hounds Below. Later in the night, I got trapped in the Kafkaesque inevitability of a giant line and heard most of Japandroids (who always just thrash) and Hunter Hunted from the middle space between the Mohawk and Club Deville. When Iggy and the Stooges came on (sounding like the streetwalkin’ cheetahs that they are, even from a distance), and there was no seeming hope to be had, I bailed, but not before hearing at least some of their rendition of Raw Power, still probably the most complete and feral statement of the underside of punk’s most potent wave. Other entries in the night included the unfolding soundscapes of Blue Hawaii (at the creepy, gothy Elysium), the nouveau Human League charm of NO CEREMONY (bookended beautifully with the soaring guitar psych of fellow U.K. act Peace), South American turbo-psych in Holydrug Couple, ultra-catchy Montreal hip-hop in Ain’t No Love and triumphant sets from both Tegan and Sara and Paramore, both well-stocked with excellent new material. 

With the venues perhaps more clustered geographically than in years past, catching multiple shows in quick succession was mostly feasible, and while there’s still a certain amount of crush and excess on Sixth St. itself, somehow things seem to be sliding back to a place of greater user-friendliness. Or maybe I’ve just done this enough times. Either way, I’m ready for more, more, more!
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