Tag Archive: "SXSW"

Musical Madness at SXSW 2011

To someone who has never attended SXSW, the annual music, film, and interactive conference that takes place in Austin, Texas, it is nearly impossible to describe. Unlike the traditional recipe for a festival, which includes centralized festival grounds and stages, clear borders, rules, and a line-up that is easily understandable, SXSW is a sprawling landscape of experience containing hundreds of overlapping events occurring all over the greater downtown area. Thousands upon thousands of eager attendees descend upon the warm and welcoming Texan city, turning the streets into the music geek’s ultimate playground. For nearly an entire week, at any given moment in time there are an overwhelming amount of showcases and parties, both official and unofficial, to choose between. Most of these events offer free food and drink, and all of them display some of the best up and coming talent that the music world has to offer in an informal and highly enjoyable setting. For those of us in the music industry, SXSW is also a prime opportunity to converse, dance, and drink with many of our peers, counterparts, and contacts from all over the United States. Artists, event organizers, media folk, PR people, tech people, and everyone in between are thrown together in one big jumble of what we love best – a huge music driven party.

While there were simply too many incredible showcases and parties to recount it all, there were undeniably certain artists who stood out from the rest, leaving a lasting impression in our minds (and cameras). On Thursday afternoon, Friendly Fires and Mount Kimbie both sent their soundwaves into the setting sun with outdoor sets at the All Saint’s IAMSOUND showcase at Shangri-La. UK band Friendly Fires performed first, getting the crowd moving under the trees with their fun and danceable sound made up of energetic indie rock set to a foundation of electronic beats. It was impossible not to move along with the highly energetic frontman and vocalist, as he and his band delivered old favorites like “Jump in the Pool” and “Skeleton Boy”. As the sun sank lower onto the horizon, so too did the sound emanating from the stage area, with Mount Kimbie stepping in with their more emotive and melodic electronic creations. Their sound dwelled just on the fringe of what might loosely be termed dubstep, overlain with beautiful ambient soundscapes and a heavy dose of heart.

Later that night, we stopped by the PureVolume House on a whim, as it was on our way to the next event we had planned to check out. We never made it to that event however, as we were immediately greeted upon entry with revolving lazers, open bar, a crowd that seemed to be having the absolute best time anyone has ever had, and Moby, arms raised above his head and a look of triumph upon his face; techno seemingly emitting from his very being. Despite a few blown-out speakers mid-set, Moby delivered a serious dose of the warehouse techno and acid house that has made him such a legend in the rave scene and beyond. Trouble & Bass member and New York City darling Drop The Lime took the stage afterward, taking his always outstanding performance to the next level by crooning live into an old fashioned microphone, and subsequently causing knees to go weak throughout the room.

The next evening was characterized by the experience of another electronic veteran, Sasha, who sent thundering progressive house into and around The Parrish, which had a line of hopeful fans winding far down overcrowded 6th Street. As with other electronic artists who played after sundown, Sasha seemed to revitalize the crowd, which was dusty, hot, and achingly tired after a full day of live music. There is something crucial about the evening-into-night time slot, as it represents a vital few hours where the attendees either expend their last shred of energy and collapse into exhaustion, or are propelled up a notch, catching a second wind and heading with renewed energy into the night. Sasha managed to evoke exactly the latter, with the audience at The Parrish seeming to grow only more awake as his set went on.

It was therefore with renewed strength that we embarked on the journey to Lustre Pearl Bar, arriving just in time for California based indie band Cold War Kids. They played a wide range of material to an enthusiastic crowd, including of course the ever popular “Hang Me Up To Dry” to the tune of hundreds of voices chiming in. It was thoroughly refreshing to experience a solid and straightforward indie band on a proper stage in front of a head-bobbing audience as they delivered the goods with just enough attitude and a marked lack of bullshit.

At this point, it’s no secret that we, and anyone else with a pair of ears and a heart, is a little (OK, maybe a lot) obsessed with British protege James Blake and his soulful, poignant communication through sound. His appearances (three to be exact) at SXSW were part of his first ever North American tour, this tour being the first time he ever even set foot on American soil. His performance at the French Legation Museum was truly something special, with the first inklings of sunset behind the stage providing something of a golden cocoon into which James poured his melancholy heart. A humble and nervous James dripped sweat as his fingers precisely manipulated his keyboard, and his heartbreaking voice echoed through the microphone and over the rapt audience. James and his band performed a large amount of material off his debut album, including his well known Feist cover “Limit to Your Love” and the tear inducing “Wilhems Scream”, which quieted the crowd, expelling all recollection of discomfort from the heat or aching feet.

Few shows at SXSW were as hyped up as that of Odd Future (OFWGKTA), who performed at the infamous Fader Fort by FIAT. In the past few months, Tyler the Creater and the rest of the Odd Future gang have been building quite a reputation for themselves in the music community, bridging gaps between hip-hop and punk, and performance art and sincerity. Odd Future has been gaining something of a cult following, which can be largely attributed to their highly anti-establishment persona and violently rebellious attitudes and messages. True to their art, Odd Future’s performance was filled with the highest level of intensity, as every wave of maniacal energy they hurled at the audience was returned in full fury, resulting in what can only be described as a small nuclear explosion of sound and force.

As SXSW began to draw to a close and thoughts of real life back in chilly New York City started to set in, we were lucky enough to be able to end this incredible week on arguably the highest point of the conference; Danish DJ, producer, and musician Trentemøller’s performance with a full live band at La Zona Rosa. We have long been patrons of Trentemøller’s musical brilliance, but it was truly a phenomenal experience to witness his live performance in Austin, which included a mixture of live instruments and vocalists combined with his electronic productions. It is a unique and fascinating turn in the history of music; this recent tendency of electronic producers to recreate their sound using live instruments. In this way, the computer becomes another instrument in a band, and rather than attempting to create the sound of an instrument using a computer, an instrument is used to create a sound that was originally programmed. Trentemøller and his band played incredible live versions of both old material such as “Moan” and new material including “Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!”. Check out our interview with Trentemøller after his sound check at La Zona Rosa HERE.

While SXSW might be over, the experiences shared, music discovered, treasures found, and friendships built will carry us into the summer and beyond. We are already looking forward to what next year’s southwestern adventure will bring. Until then, we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with eating a big bowl of queso, drinking a cold Lone Star, and clicking through the photographs again and again and again…


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Posted in Concerts, DJ, Editorial, Festivals, Live Music, Music News, Photo Gallery

Trentemøller Chats with HiFi at SXSW

During our time at SXSW, world renowned DJ, producer, and live musician Trentemøller was gracious enough to set aside some time to chat with us after finishing soundcheck for his show at La Zona Rose. Read on to gain some insight into his experience touring with a live band, and what we can expect from him in the future.

The HiFi Cartel: So I understand this is your first time at SXSW? What’s your impression so far?

Anders Trentemøller: Well, I’ve only really been in the bus because I was in Mexico yesterday playing and got a little sick so I bascially just stepped out of the bus to come to sound check. We’re leaving quite late tonight though so we should have some time to go get a beer after the show. We’re not sure where to go though… the bars close so early!

HFC: You’re performing this show at SXSW with a live band. How do you feel that this is different from performing a traditional DJ set?

AT: It’s really two very different things. It’s possible to do much more improvising when you’re playing with a live band. Things can sometimes get a little out of control and I really like that,. When you’re playing as a DJ it’s basically just about playing some records in the right order. Our set has really changed from the first gigs that we played in Europe. The whole set list and the way we play the tracks is always developing while we’re playing; like the guitar player or drummer will have an idea and pick up the tempo, for example. What I really love about playing in a band is that suddenly you’re getting more input, because usualluy I’m sitting making music on my own.

HFC: You’ve always incorporated a lot of live instruments in your sound; do you find it is difficult to translate that complexity to the live performance?

AT: No, it was actually quite easy for me, also because I started playing in bands before I ever did electronic music. When I write music I of course use my skills as a musician, so it’s actually quite easy to transform the album sound to the live stage. Something I also want to do is make different versions of the tracks so the live performance isn’t just like hearing a louder version of the album. Sometimes it’s like remixing yourself for the live stage, and I really like that.

HFC: Do you feel like you’re drawing a lot of inspiration from your time playing in bands in your current sound?

AT: Yeah, but for me it’s always been a part of my music making. In the beginning I was creating more club music, but I was still doing other kinds of music on the side that just wasn’t released. It was great when I had the opportunity to make my first album to be able to show that different side of my composing.

HFC: Will you still be touring as a DJ in the future?

AT: Yeah definitely, it’s very fun for me. It also helps with the live tour because we have a big complicated set-up, so sometimes playing a DJ set here and there can be helpful.

HFC: Do you have a strong hand in the visual aspects of your show?

AT: For every show our drummer Henrik Vibskov and I do the stage design together and think about what we can do live. That has always been a big thing for me because most of the music is instrumental so I think it’s quite easy in a way to get this more cinematic feel when you’re playing the music if you have not only visuals but also complex stage design to create layers on the stage.

HFC: Your sound has eveolved a lot over the years. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

AT: It’s always so hard to explain because there are so many different things that inspire me. It can be a feeling or a mood… most of the time it’s like that. For this album I didn’t want to work so much with a computer but more in an old fashioned singer songwriter sort of way. So I started a lot of the tracks just playing my piano in the studio and then later tried to transform the meoldoies and chords into the electronic world in a way. Because of this it’s much more melodic rather than the first album, which was much more loops and glitch. For me it’s a natural development… I listen to so much different music and it’s just natural for me now to use my skills as a musician. Maybe next time it will be pure elecronic or folk, who knows. As long as it’s good quality… I think that’s what’s great about music; there’s really no limits and boundaries if you really try to take in elements from many diferent styles and do it in your own way.

HFC: What kind of equipment are you using in your live performance?

AT: We have Ableton Live that’s running our sequencing, and then we play a lot of instruments on top of that. Two guitar players, a drummer, and a bass player, as well as two singers. Pretty much the same people that toured with the first album.

HFC: What’s life like on the tour bus?

AT: I really like it because there’s much more time to get together and just have a good time. Flying is much more stressful. I like that you can just play a gig and then go to the tour bus and hang out with your friends.

HFC: What’s coming up next for you?

I’ve done sort of a remix swap with Unkle. I just remixed their single “The Answer” which you can download for free in the beginning. They’ve made a really cool remix of one my tracks called “Neverglade” from the album. I’m also producing a Danish girl duo called Darkness Falls, which is made up of Josephine Philip and Ina Lindgreen. They’ve just released an EP that’s out now. I’m going back to Copenhagen for a couple of weeks to finish their album, then getting back on the tour bus to play Coachella and some festivals in europe as well.

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Posted in DJ, Festivals, Interview, Music News

SXSW: Odd Future Gets Fader Fort Riled Up

Friday was the hottest day in Austin yet, but this didn’t deter any of the thousands of SXSW attendees who poured into the streets in the early afternoon and didn’t leave until the next morning. One of the most hyped events was the performance by Odd Future at the Fader Fort, as their rebellious musical style and in your face attitude has become legend over the past few months. Their performance was intensely aggressive and unapologetically offensive, which was exactly what the crowd seemed to be lusting for. Despite threats to from Odd Future to break all the photographer’s cameras, we managed to snap a few shots of the event. Keep your eyes open for the full photo gallery in the next few days!

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Posted in Concerts, Festivals, Live Music

SXSW: Windows 7 Party with RJD2

Our first day of SXSW in sunny Austin, Texas kicked off with a Windows 7 event at The Belmont right in the center of downtown. The event featured Chiddy Bang and RJD2, among others, who both rocked the house with their respective sets. The event featured, along with the array of musical talent, a casino room, barber shop, ice-luge, and of course plenty of free food and drink. Chiddy Bang got the night going, performing to a packed house of excited SXSW attendees, most of whom were just beginning their week of music. RJD2 then took it away with his set of hip-hop influenced electronic music, including a lot of old favorites such as “The Horror” and “Ghosts & Mirrors” that got the crowd literally jumping for joy.

Keep an eye for for up to the minute SXSW updates on our Facebook page.

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Posted in Concerts, DJ, Festivals, Live Music

James Blake Comes to America

I am always astounded by how quickly an artist can gain recognition and notoriety, and there is nothing more exciting than watching someone brimming with talent and voice make the journey from anonymity to acknowledgment. James Blake is one such artist. This time last year, I was just beginning to explore the deeper and more melodic side of bass music, and thereby became acquainted with James Blake’s work through his original foray into the realm of dubstep. The first time I truly took notice of his sound was when I discovered his remix of Untold’s “Stop What You’re Doing”, which was released on Hemlock at the end of 2009. The track was deep, heavy, and complex, and caused the blogosphere to erupt with chatter. Who was this young, pale, and unassuming Brit, and how was he creating this new sound, which was at once entirely addictive and slightly unnerving?

A short time afterward, the Polish Unsound Festival came to New York City, immediately preceding the release of James Blake’s first truly noteworthy EP The Bells Sketch in March of 2010. Untold had the prime time slot at the final Bass Mutations event at Public Assembly, and closed out his set at around 5am with James Blake’s remix of “Stop What You’re Doing.” It was the first time that most of us had heard this particular form of sound on a large scale soundsystem and in the environment of a party, and it was as if we together experienced a collective shift, not only in the tone of that particular event but in the understanding of what “club” music could be. This was not music to have meaninglessly soundtracking your alcohol consumption, drug use, or pick up attempts. It was emotional, it was cerebral, and it was not to be taken lightly, even as it kept you moving on the dance floor. James Blake’s productions allowed people to connect on a deeper level with the emotion and intent behind the track, and often served as a mood changing wake-up call mid-set, as if to remind you of the humanity of the shared unifying experience of listening to music at a club or event space.

The release of The Bells Sketch, and of CMYK a few months later, was clearly indicative of James Blake’s movement away from his more dubstep centered production and towards the stripped down and melancholy sound that would characterize his first full length album, which was released in February of this year. While the album still falls safely within the realm of the electronic genre, it heavily emphasizes piano, the first instrument that James Blake fully embraced as a child, and increases the integration of vocal elements, pairing this with the minimization of dubstep’s characteristic bass line (watch the video for the single “Limit to Your Love” HERE). After the release of the self titled James Blake, it is clear in hindsight that even as he was continuing to include a more bass heavy sound in his DJ sets, he was becoming increasingly disinterested in “party music,” and was progressing toward a more exploratory sound that invoked an increased level of emotional understanding from the listener.

Until now, James Blake has never played in the United States, and it is perhaps this fact that has assisted in crafting the almost mythological hype that surrounds him. Not only is his sound, even now, extremely foreign to American ears, but no American has actually had the chance to experience a DJ set or a live performance directly from the source on home soil. Due to this, his status as a groundbreaking artist has not yet been tainted by experiencing one of his sets at a party, which can often have the effect of normalizing and desensitizing it. It is in fact possible that this entire disillusionment that can frequently take place has been avoided with James Blake in the United States, because the tour on which he is now embarking will not only be one of DJ sets but will also consist of performances with a live band. This tour includes a just announced second date in New York City, so stay alert as tickets are expected to go on sale soon.

James Blake – 2011 Tour Dates
03/14/11 Music Hall Of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY
03/16/11 Stubbs BBQ (NPR Party) – Austin, TX, SXSW
03/17/11 Central Presbyterian Church (Pitchfork Official Showcase) - Austin, TX, SXSW
03/18/11 French Legation Museum (Other Music Party) - Austin, TX, SXSW
03/19/11 Fader Fort – Austin, TX, SXSW
05/08/11 Rock N Roll Hotel – Washington DC
05/09/11 Johnny Brendas – Philadelphia, PA
05/11/11 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
05/12/11 Le Poisson Rouge – New York, NY
05/15/11 Schubas Tavern – Chicago, IL
05/16/11 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis, MN
05/19/11 The Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA
05/20/11 Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
05/23/11 Troubadour – Los Angeles, CA
05/24/11 Masonic Lodge – Hollywood, CA
07/15/11 Pitchfork Festival - Chicago, IL

Listen to James Blake’s set from the Boiler Room in the United Kingdom on December 21, 2010 below.

It is seldom that such a visionary comes about; someone who at such a young age has already accomplished so much in contributing to pushing the evolution of music forward. I am sure that I’m not alone in saying that I am anxious to follow the progression of James Blake’s career as his perspective as an artist cannot help but have a profound impact on the future of electronic music, and furthermore in the development of our understanding as an audience of experiencing live music as a collective.

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Posted in Editorial, Music News, New Music, Up & Coming

Spring Festival Round-Up: SXSW, Ultra, Coachella and More

As we continue to endure this brutally cold weather, thoughts of spring – and the wonderful slew of music festivals it brings – certainly help lift our frigid spirits. After the jump, we break down the spring’s hottest festivals – whether you’re looking to travel (Snow Ball, SXSW, Ultra, Coachella), stay local (Hard Weekend, Bamboozle), or really go all-out for our wild card selection (SonarSound Tokyo) – you’re bound to find something to combat the winter blues… click through for more.

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Posted in Events, Festivals, Travel

Photo Gallery: South By Southwest (March 17-20, 2010)

The HiFi Cartel’s Oliver Correa took on Austin last week to snap some photos at South by Southwest. The annual music festival played host to thousands of musicians, including The Black Keys, Dam-Funk, Street Sweeper Social Club, Eskmo, Flying Lotus, Nice Nice, Pivot, Born Ruffians, Hudson Mohawke, Local Natives, Bomba Estereo, Holy Fuck, and more.


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Posted in Festivals, Photo Gallery

SXSW Announces Initial Line-Up


After taking on CMJ, The Electric Zoo, Street Scene, All Points West, and the Winter Music Conference in 2009, it seems only natural to add South by Southwest to our growing itinerary for 2010.

Last year, the festival drew 12,000 participants and showcased nearly 2,000 musical acts on 88 stages. The 2009 line-up included AC Slater, Amanda Blank, Buraka Som Sistema, Deadmau5, The Golden Filter, Grizzly Bear, Ben Harper & Relentless7, Jack Beats, MSTRKRFT and The Twelves, among others.

Now in its 24th year, the annual SXSW Music Conference and Festival will be held in Austin from March 17-21. The initial line-up of 450+ artists is likely to quadruple by March, and already includes Treasure Fingers, Kidz in the Hall, HEARTSREVOLUTION, Team Facelift, Adam Tensta and The Postelles. Chauffeur is also rumored to make a rare appearance at the festival, but is yet to be confirmed.

Music badges cost $675 if you register by January 12, and will allow you to participate in all of the official SXSW music parties, panels, and courses. Click here for a full list of badge levels, rates and details about the programs that the badges include. While the price tag might seem a little steep, it includes five full days of music with nearly 2,000 acts (which, if you do the math, breaks down to less than five cents per artist).

Don’t forget, the Winter Music Conference kicks off the following week in Miami (March 23-27), so plan accordingly. But more on that later…

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Posted in Concerts, DJ, Events, Festivals, Live Music, Music News


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