Best Professional Affirmation
My hotel is a good five miles from downtown Austin (where all the action is), so yesterday after checking in, I took a shuttle van to the Convention Center to pick up my badge. I made small talk with one of my fellow passengers—told him I worked at NYLON, we talked about bands we wanted to see, tacos we wanted to eat. When we got out at the Convention Center, one of the guys who was sitting in the back of the van stopped me and said that he couldn't help but overhearing I worked at NYLON. He was the manager of the Scottish indie-pop band Tango in the Attic, who we featured in NYLON Guys last fall, and he thanked me for writing about them and how, because of that, they got attention in the U.S. and were able to come over here and play (I'm pretty sure we're the only U.S. magazine to cover them). The first song on their debut album, Bank Place Locomotive Society includes the line, “You're one step away and I think you just might make my day.” Well, he totally made mine.
I arrived in downtown Austin at about 6:30 p.m. yesterday, not sure where to go or what to see. But I quickly learned that's one of the best ways to approach SXSW: Don't make a plan, just walk around and you'll find something great. And so I happened to walk into the club Latitude 30 just as Bombay Bicycle Club were taking the stage. The London rockers (who we've covered a couple of times) played a great, albeit short, set, grinning the whole time. It was the best way to start my SXSW experience.
Hipster Romance Highlight
I think every girl at Stubbs fell a little bit in love with Smith Westerns singer Cullen Omori when his band played “Be My Girl,” the ultimate slacker love song: “Be my girl out there in this world” he sang, through a haze of reverb. When he finally brushed his long black hair away from his eyes and looked out at the crowd, you could hear a collective “ahhhhhhhhhh.”
Best Dance Moves
R&B/soul singer Raphael Saadiq and his band put on the tightest show that I will most likely see while I'm Texas. But the best part of their performance was watching his female back-up singer boogie down on stage. She was basically leading an aerobics class, high stepping, running in place, sliding from side to side, pumping her arms like James Brown doing the mashed potato. I was burning calories just watching her.
When Duran Duran took the stage at Stubbs after midnight, I felt like I had taken a ride in a Hot Tub Time Machine. Was that really Simon Le Bon singing “Notorious”? Awesome! While most SXSW crowds try to play it cool and not sing along or dance, all bets were off when Duran Duran broke out the first chords of “Hungry Like a Wolf.” Everyone was singing the chorus and bouncing up and down to each “doo doo doo.” After a long day in the sun, drinking Lone Stars, and dancing, I think we all finally began to understand the line “smell like I sound.”