Thursday, March 26, 2009

SXSW Day Last: or how Yelle is way better than Little Boots and I almost cried when Daniel Johnston played

On Saturday night, I wrapped up my South by Southwest experience at Emo's at a pretty strange show. French electro-pop girl Yelle was booked to play with two Austin bands unworthy of naming, along with a night ender of Daniel Johnston. After splitting my day time activities between Four Square Punk Day 3 and Ms. Bea's yet again, I stumbled to a sandwich shop to get some late evening energy before finding Emo's, which I hadn't visited yet.

Because it's a freakin' giant venue, of course Emo's had a giant line leading up to it. Luckily, with my badge the wait wasn't too long and soon enough I was in and saw the Octopus Project playing before me. My only observations about them are that their girl theremin player (I assume she does other things, also), has the most impossibly tiny waist I've ever seen, and they had someone in a big rectangular cartoonish character suit swaying back and forth during their show.

I was there just in time to excitedly move in for the stage standing space to get ready to see Yelle when the Octopus Project fans left. The Emo's staff rushed in to load out Octopus Project's stuff and one guy handed the theremin to a mover, cautioning him, "If you break this you're in deep shit."

So I had my front row spot to see Yelle. They took their time setting everything up. Of course she brought a French live drummer and dj with her--without them she would just be singing along to her own tracks. At last when everything was set up the two guys started playing music and Yelle popped out from stage left in a strange, glittery skin tight bodysuit. The crowd went wild. The sleazy guys standing next to me who had said their had no idea who Yelle is went wild. How could you not? She's an irresistable French hottie and live the music was boss.

I was pretty amused that Yelle spoke to the audience between songs in French with numerous "Merci beaucoup"s, although somehow at one point she proved she knew English. The girls around me were melting in the presence of the "French hotties" Yelle imported to play with her. I'm not gonna lie, it was a great show! Yelle pulls live music off really well. As if her music wasn't a bit dancable already, the dj added even more killer beats and the packed house couldn't keep still. I was in some sort of euphoria during the whole set, and I can't really explain why. It was just awesome. I dare to add Yelle to my list of top three favorite live acts of SXSW 2009.

Yelle was polar opposite of blonde-haired English singer/electro music maker, Little Boots, who I took great pains to see a day or two before and was pretty much disappointed in. Little Boots actually sings, so that might be part of the difference. She also messes around with this square Japanese electronic instrument called the Tenori-on. Little Boots came off as a sort of Christina Aguilera who could play this weird instrument. Even though I had read numerous dance music blogs raving about her, I was not particularly impressed. Maybe the writers of those blogs had never seen her live. Yelle, Yelle, Yelle, Yelle, Yelle.

After my contemplative Yelle experience, I preceded to stand through two Austin bands who I had never heard of and honestly didn't give a crap about. Meanwhile, my legs turned to rubber and Emo's grew more and more crowded. I proceeded to stake out a spot nearish to the stage when the band before Daniel Johnston, a sort of Latin reggae dance band played, and I nearly fell asleep standing up I was so exhausted. This band didn't finish until almost 1 am, when Daniel Johnston was supposed to be doing on. The staff fiddled around with setting up until about 1:15 and I started to get anxious that I would have to leave earlier than I liked to to meet up with everyone at the car at 2. Finally, Daniel Johnston went on stage. He walked up to the mic and said "What sad songs do you guys want to hear tonight?" and almost immediately I was on the verge of tears. It may have been an emotional reaction to my physical fatigue, but really I have no idea why. Maybe the suggestion that every song would be sad seeped unconsciously into my weakened brain. I'm not even a giant Daniel Johnston fan or anything, I just knew I wanted to see him live when I got the chance. Oh course it was great. I stood the whole time gasping and sniffling, embarrassed that the people around me might ask what was wrong. Waiting through those two whatever bands was still totally worth it.

As it neared 2 I tore myself away from Emo's to go back to the car. When we all assembled we decided to attend a bridge show, but upon arriving it seemed it wouldn't be starting for a while, and it was 2:30 in the morning. I drank a Red Bull while we wandered around the pedestrian bridge crowded with bands setting up and drunk people tripping everywhere, but eventually we decided to just go home. We didn't even go to Taco Cabana. That was alright. We had had our four days of fun.

Thanks to Nick and Ian for driving so I could be a backseat bum and do some homework and Sean for letting me hang out with his friends so I wasn't by myself for four days straight. I'll be spending this weekend transcribing some interviews. Over and out.

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