Sunday, March 20, 2011

SXSW Wrap: Saturday's highlights

Kanye West might still be packing up over at Seaholm, but South by Southwest 2011 is pretty much one for the record books now. Put your feet up, rest your weary tweeting thumbs and go to to check out our reports, photos and videos. In Monday's Life & Arts section, we'll showcase some of the best photos and share our team's favorite moments.

Winning! Awards show ends festival

The Austin Music Awards were handed out Saturday night at Austin Music Hall, the second year they've been showcased on the weekend instead of the no-longer-traditional Wednesday opening night. The funky rockers of the Bright Light Social Hour won big, taking band of the year, album of the year ("The Bright Light Social Hour") and song of the year ("Detroit"). Also winning: Sahara Smith (female vocalist, songwriter and folk); Roky Erickson (musician of the year); Freshmillions (best new band); Los Lonely Boys (best rock band); Jeff Lofton (best jazz band); and Mother Falcon (best none of the above). Inducted into the hall of fame: Bubble Puppy, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Tortilla Factory, the Wagoneers, Okkervil River and MC Overlord.

Hanson brothers drive Japan telethon blitz

It all came together in a few sleepless hours.

The idea for a Japan relief telethon was broached over dinner on Thursday. By Friday, pre-recording started.

At noon Saturday, a Livestream telethon went out over the website for, the main South by Southwest group raising funds for victims of the March 11 
 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.

Organized by the band of Tulsa, Okla.-based Hanson brothers, the telethon immediately attracted huge names — Michael Stipe of REM (who recorded a message), John "Jo Jo" Hermann of Widespread Panic, members of the North Mississippi Allstars — to the Same Sky Recording Studio downtown and Bubble Recording Studio in the North Campus area.

"I'm enjoying the lack of sleep and the insanity," said Matt Snyder of MediaMob, who helped whip together the telethon. "It's been like a revolving door of kindness."

In the courtyard of the bungalow-plus-studio, Snyder hung out with Taylor, Isaac and Nicole Hanson (Isaac's wife). Coffee, water and energy drinks spilled over one table. Artists and techs ducked in and out of the upstairs-downstairs studio and control room, which housed four cameras and an array of editing equipment.

"We've received incredibly positive vibes from everyone," Isaac Hanson said. "And the longest we've gone without music or recorded messages is two minutes."

Taylor Hanson saluted the local engineers for dropping everything to contribute digital expertise and equipment.

"So many people have come through," he said. "We are just going to let it stream."

Halfway through the telethon, SXSW4Japan had raised more than $92,000, but that didn't include the text donations that were being tallied separately.

Although the telethon was to end at midnight Saturday, Hanson said, future streaming, YouTube clips and an iTunes album are in the offing.

Howdy, Luxembourg

They were likely the only six people in Austin speaking Luxembourgish on Saturday.

Members of the SXSW band Mutiny on the Bounty relaxed over margaritas after playing outside Aussie's Grill on Barton Springs Road.

"We are the only band from our country here," said drummer and vocalist Sacha Schmitz. "Another Luxembourg act came here five years ago." (That would be rockers Daniel Balthasar and Band, who came to Austin in 2006.)

Mutiny plays "math rock," so called because of the complicated changes in time signatures, Schmitz said.

Although they spoke Luxembourgish, they also fared well in English and can speak German and French, the other official languages spoken by the half-million citizens of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. That tiny country is located, for the geographically challenged, at the intersection of Belgium, France and Germany.

Here for a week, and playing three gigs, members of Mutiny were somewhat overwhelmed by the crowds.

"You can barely walk, there are so many people," said bassist and vocalist Cedric Czaika. "And so many beautiful girls!"

Camping for Kanye

At 5 p.m. Saturday, about 80 dedicated fans had already lined up at the Seaholm Power Plant for the Kanye West show. At the head of the line was Jason Jackson, a 29-year-old estate planner who had been there since midnight Friday. "I got off work, went home, changed, went to REI to buy some tarp and string and came out here," he said while sitting in a lawn chair under a blue tarp with some friends. The Chicago native has seen West perform four times but heard rumors of some high-wattage guests. "The amount of time and money it would take to see artists that are supposed to be here made camping out worth it. So I'm just here waiting at my Chilligan's Island."

"Chilligan's Island, that's a good name for this place," someone else in line piped up. Jackson shook his head. "No, this is officially Camp Kanye," he said. "That's already been tweeted."


The best and brightest

  • Spotted: Michael Stipe on the roof of Ginger Man (Friday night), Lisa Ling and Billy Gibbons at Rachael Ray's Saturday party, Diddy at Iron Works BBQ and Fader Fort, Perez Hilton.
  • Breakout acts/celebrated sets: Wanda Jackson (everywhere she played), Odd Future (ditto), Wild Flag, Charles Bradley, Dodos, TV on the Radio, Foo Fighters, Asking Alexandria.

Compiled from staff reports

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