The #1 act of the week is Flawless signing Revolution Smile, a blend of Tool, Jane’s Addiction and the Smashing Pumpkins. Heavier than a Presidential intern and more ballsy than a Jackass outtake.


The Hill Country's Alive With the Sound of Music
By David Simutis

(Most of this was written pre-Shiner Bock; I’m not as young as I used to be, and yesterday proved it.)

You won’t get this kind of love at the Four Seasons: What’s great about SXSW is that you can walk into the elevator at your hotel and be hugged by people. Today, it was the Sub Pop contingency, which is staying a couple floors up from me, tomorrow, I’m hoping for Liz Phair, who submitted to a face-to-face with NARAS boss Neil Portnow today. (A boy can dream, right?)

Things have started picking up, and it seems there’s more of an international flavor to the attendees, though I know of one Japanese publishing weasel whose company canceled his trip because of Dubya’s impending war.

Panel-wise, the “Managers: How to Launch a Project” panel featured Mark Kates, Rob Seidenberg, Jason Colton, Peter Jenner, and Jack Emerson imploring artists and managers to think long-term when it comes time to choose between big and smaller money deals. Kates mentioned that there’s a mini-management  club in Boston that meets regularly, prompting Jenner to go on a tangent about working in a co-op manner (though he did temper his hippiness by calling himself an “acid  casualty”). Seidenberg got nods of recognition from around the room when he mentioned that most of the people present remembered when bands such as R.E.M., The Replacements, and Mission of Burma toured nonstop and slept on floors—that they were willing to struggle and make sacrifices. As is customary, most of the crowd walked out when the Q&A session started.

On the music tip, the party finally got started right Thursday night. The A.K.A.s were a heady blend of garage-meets-Rage Against the Machine, the D4 proved that AC/DC planted some enduring seeds back home in Australia, and the night’s closing act, Seksu Roba, was a theremin-colored dance-pop act with amazing backing videos and the sultriest Japanese singer since the girl in Pizzicato 5.

And those are just the second-place finishers. MCA’s Leona Naess should be the next Norah Jones; she’s not going to win all the Grammys or sell all the records, but your Joni Mitchell-loving parents will love her. Word is her upcoming third LP is a realization of her talents. Her show at the Jane magazine party was the must-see show (see below), with Peter Buck of R.E.M. joining her for the second half of her set. Don’t sleep on her.

And the #1 act of the week is Flawless signing Revolution Smile. The Sacramento-based quartet is a blend of Tool, Jane’s Addiction and the Smashing Pumpkins. Heavier than a Presidential intern and more ballsy than a Jackass outtake, they were completely badass at the Hard Rock. And they will bridge the gap between hipsters and the kids.

Friday offers an early choice between the Donald Passman-led, lawyer-heavy panel on the new model of record contracts and the Ivana-led discussion on what artists should expect when releasing a record. Hmm… lawyers speaking about lawyerly things or the ever-entertaining cyncism fest? There’s also a panel on video games and music that should be entertaining. If only because the video game industry is actually profitable…

Friday’s soirees and shows include the Spin party, Touch & Go/Barsuk’s party, the Amp/Alternative Press party, The Sun, The Thorns, Everybody Else, Betchadupa, Rooney, The Frames, Verbena, the Fire Theft, and the Future of Music Coalition’s leader Jenny Toomey. My liver is getting excited already.

Thursday’s highlights/lowlights:

  • Lines of the night belong to the sharp-eyed/-tongued hipster behind me at the Leona Naess show: “What’s up, Beth Orton?” and three minutes later, “What’s  up, Liz Phair?” Each was directed at the female singer-songwriter named, and each was met with a smile.
  • Earplugs. Not just for old people any more.
  • Slices of pizza on Sixth St. for $2.25 and the company of people who’ve had more to drink than you.
  • Bicycle rickshaws—pay whatever you think is fair and ride in the open air. And you ride about a foot behind the driver’s butt.
  • Hearing from a manager about his amazing new act and then seeing the same manager canoodling with that new act.
  • The amazing expense account of Derek Tenbusch.
  • Going to see a highly recommended band and having them suck so bad that your friend tells you that saying they suck is being too kind.
  • Running into old friends on the street and finding out they haven’t changed in five years. And telling their girlfriends they could do better.
  • Those same Sub Pop boys who hugged me in the elevator picking up the tab at dinner—which included the greatest team of sister editors in the alternative press world—(onetime HITS contributor) Jennifer and Melissa Maerz. (The Stranger and Minneapolis’ City Pages, respectively.)
  • The Mellow Rock infomercial on in the background while I write this.
  • Eenie Meenie’s Rob Kelso silently handing over a drink ticket at 1:15 a.m., about an hour past the time your brain told you to stop drinking. Only it sounded like, “Youse showd sloppp drunkininining.”
  • Knowing that no matter how great the band you’re watching is, there’s always a better one.
  • Getting a warmer reception from Interscope’s Wendy Higgs the second day in a row you’ve seen her than the first. Who knows how hard she’ll hug me on Friday?
  • A lawyer friend’s very drunk clients getting glared at by a certain publicist for talking way too loudly while a female singer-songwriter was performing.
  • Joe Fleischer still owing me a beer.
  • Did I mention Revolution Smile?
The Met brothers have a new label home. (5/18a)
Another record-breaking debut week. (5/18a)
A think piece—cool! (5/18a)
Won't be long now. (5/18a)
We can't wait to see what he's got up his sleeve. (5/18a)
Who's next?
It's Comic-Con for numbers geeks.
Theories of evolution from 30,000 feet.
A&R in overdrive.

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