by Shannon Claire
Day four, feet swollen, back aching, eyes bleeding, mind numb from the amazing night before. The only thing that will get me through tonight is to get down and dance, along with some whiskey of course, too.
Up until now, I hadn't covered even 10 percent of the amount of hip-hop and electronic music that was happening all week during SXSW. I decided that tonight was my last chance to cover and let loose a bit and experience the styles of music that mean so much to me. There were a lot of Los Angeles-based DJs that had come through, and being a native Angelino, I definitely wanted to get a little taste of home before we hit the road back to "The Good Life."
I went to the Beauty Bar to see Kelly Dean (Los Angeles), a DJ who's pretty solid in the drum and bass/dubstep department of electronic music. Dubstep has gotten such a weird rap these days. From being the "new cool" sound you hear in the background of most pop stars songs on the radio to being "so not cool" because pop stars use a pretty awful rendition of a mix a DJ had originally created.
Also you have a different following from what you had 10, even five years ago. When I was going to electronic DJ shows regularly, there was a vibe in the air where everyone would dance with anyone yet in their own peaceful mind. Now you have these "bros," I like to call it "brostep," that come in all hard thrashing and crashing around. It's a shame really. I was really digging Kelly Dean's set, but the bros kind of killed it for me.
Slightly annoyed with the crowd in the backyard of the Beauty Bar, I went in to check out was going on inside. Fortunately, they were more my kind of gettin' down crowd. DJ Craze (Miami, Fla.) was great. He takes hip-hop and rap and mixes them with old school electro, super clean cuts, impressive scratching and grindy booty-shakin' beats. My favorite kind of electronic cocktail. It's always hard for me to leave a place where the DJ is really connecting to his/ her audience. It's captivating and infectious, and you can't help but start to move.
Saturday night was definitely club night for SXSW. Nearly every street I walked down you could hear club-like dance mixes, dubstep, hip-hop and/or rap. I headed over to Elysium to support our local Omaha acts Depressed Buttons. The crowd was a little light, but Todd Fink and Clark Baechle (2/3 of DP and 2/5 of The Faint) kept nearly all the guests on their feet with hair whipping, hips grooving and arms flailing in the air. Icky Blossoms, who played at Lambert's the night before, were there not only to support but shake a tailfeather or two themselves.
Harouki Zombi was next on the line up at Elysium. The floor of the venue soon became full. While the ladies took the stage, I was outside talking with Saber Blazek (Machete Archive/Icky Blossoms) and a friend of Hilary Stohs-Krause (X-Rated). Hilary's friend ask me to describe Harouki Zombi. I then turned to Saber, who then turned to IB's tour manager with the same question. "Indescribable" was the best consensus we could all come up with.
I'll do my best now to however. A group of seductive raw zombie-like geishas who DJ, scream, dance and gracefully stage dive. Not to mention if you're in the front row you could get a chance to see a little more girl-on-girl action then the rest of the audience. Their performance art is amazing as well as the visuals that project behind them.
Did I forget to mention I started out my day without an ID? Oh yes, on the last day of SXSW I, Shannon Claire, left my drivers license and credit card at the house we were staying at. I like to do things like this from time to time. It makes it more of a challenge. I mean, considering it was now Saturday and St. Patrick's day, what are the odds of getting carded? (That was sarcasm if you hadn't noticed.) Surprisingly, I was able to get into 80 percent of the venues/bars I attempted to enter. I was walking past the Jacked Up stage and heard White Denim starting. I was doubtful considering this was pretty much a badge only/ID type of venue. However, they welcomed me with open arms! Slapped on a wristband and away I went.
Following the rock 'n' roll, I decided to take a little break from dancing and haul ass west to catch a bit of Chuck Ragan. I had missed him when he played at Duffy's Tavern in Lincoln back in December. It was a bit of a trek, and I was hurtin' at this point. Luckily, Andy and Angie (aka The Normans) were there, exhausted as well, and we caught up a bit over the sound of some good ol' Americana. Chuck Ragan's whiskey-drenched voice can send anyone, male or female, into a swoon of romanticized lifetime nostalgia.
Realizing I had 10 minutes to get all the way back across to where I was prior — just about 12 blocks really but on our feet that night it felt like 60 — I grabbed my bag and hit the Austin pavement for one more crowd-nudging hustle. Passing by the Jacked Stage and remembering how easy it was to get in, I decided to check out !!!, considering their band name's an exclamation, an exclamation of which I wasn't sure. Their lead singer was all over the place, though. Their dance punk sound had him jumping on and off the stage into the crowd.
Los Angeles electronic DJ 12th Planet, also known as DJ Infiltrata for those that know a thing or two about drum and bass, was tearing it up once I came full circle back at the Beauty Bar. 12th Planet has been around for more than six years, well-known for his productions and remixes that are often used by famous dubstep DJs like Rusko and Skrillex. However, 12th Planet is more than just dubstep. He is grimey, he is hip-hop, he is dance, he is jungle, he is electronic, he is an originator.
Flinch came on while 12th Planet was closing out, they shared a few hugs and laughs, and 12th Planet made rounds paying respect and thanks to the crowd and let Flinch take over and end the night out right. Flinch (Huntington Beach, Calif.) kind of has the same upbringing. Starting out concentrating on drum and bass back in the late '90s to early 2000s, he now has transcended into more of a melodic synthesized dub sound, the kind you can groove to for hours. Heavy bass + heavy percussion + heavy melodies = heavy love
All in all, SXSW was amazing. It wasn't easy by any means, but hot damn was it a treasure. I may not have met Questlove (The Roots) like one particular person of which I am super envious. However, it was a time I will never forget, and I can not wait to do it again. Thanks to Hear Nebraska for having me, especially to Andy and Angie. "Aw diggity dang dang!" Till next time!
Shannon Claire is a HN contributor and wasn't scared the least bit of Austin's chihuahua gangbangers, especially Chica. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.