Shout Factory has released a DVD of selected performances from this year’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.  SXSW, for those uninitiated into indie culture, stands for South by Southwest, an annual (movie, music, art, culture, everything else too) festival which attracts and is home to so many of big figures in the indie movement.  Included on the disc are 18 performances, behind the scenes interviews, and audio tracks of each performance as well.

In honor of the indie spirit of SXSW, I decided to do something a little different to review this film.  I watched the whole thing through without stopping and wrote down my reactions and views, those relevant to the review anyway, and transposed them unto this site.  So enjoy.

The Bravery singing “Honest Mistake” – A band of black clad and sweaty men, they overwhelm the audience with their background electronic mixing and driving guitars.  A smash bang start to what should turn out to be a great DVD.

Peter Bjorn & John singing “Young Folks” – If Peter Bjorn & John isn’t hipster, I don’t know what is.  It’s surprisingly energetic for half of it being whistling, and, interestingly, the vocal performance is far better live than it is on the album.  Kanye West is actually going to be sampling this song and has hired Peter Bjorn & John as his backup band for his next tour.  Whether this will bring indie cred to Kanye or street cred to PB&J remains to be seen.

Ozomatli singing “City of Angels”– More upbeat and energetic than a Nelly show, mainly because there’s no mob of Fubu thugs screaming background vocals into the mic at the same time.  The only problem with this hip-hop-funk mashup is that the lead singer looks so similar to a young Prince that it’s hard to focus on the horn section.

The Automatic Automatic singing “Monster” – This song sounds like if Tuesday merged with The Postal Service – a losing combination.

Aqualung singing “Pressure Suit” – A beautiful song with a haunting combination of vocals, piano and guitar.  Too bad the lead singer thinks it’s indie to use more vibrato than Pavarotti doing Carmen.  Once he drops that after the first verse, this is easily the strongest song into this disc.

Rickie Lee Jones singing “Nobody Knows My Name” – The first thing you notice about this band is that the lead singer looks like your fourth grade teacher who’s had far too much to drink last night every night for the last sixteen months.  The song itself (minus the screeching sound of inane lyrics) is beyond reproach.  It sounds like an upbeat American Mogwai, an Explosions In The Sky with passion and speed hanging between their legs.  At this point in the disc, the music itself is enough to make it the best.

Bowling For Soup singing “1985” – Bowling For Soup is more MTV than Jimmy Eat World was – what in the world are they doing at SXSW?  Defining themselves as pop-punk doesn’t go far enough.  Something Corporate is pop-punk.  Bowling For Soup is your local high school punk band that’s decided it’s cool to cover Hannah Montana songs.

Polyphonic Spree singing “When The Fool Becomes A King” – If a middle school marching band were to perform with The Flaming Lips, that would be about the same experience as the Polyphonic Spree in this song.  The song is a phenomenon and the visual performance (hint – they are all wearing jumpsuits) is the best of the whole disc.

Marc Broussard singing “Home” – White men can play and sing the blues; Marc Broussard can’t.

Rachel Fuller singing “Sunrise” – Even Pete Townshend playing guitar can’t save this song.  If this is the sunrise, staying in bed is a grand idea.

Rocco DeLuca singing “Colorful” – Blues and rock can’t make a more perfect mixture than in this song.  The point made about Marc Broussard above is justified in the performance.

Annuals singing “Complete Or Completing” – As is too often the case in indie music, poor vocal style ruins what could be the next medium sized indie phenomenon.

Razorlight singing “In The Morning” – If The Clash were indie rockers, they would have been Razorlight.

Mando Diao singing “Long Before Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Mandio Diao is clearly influenced by Portishead, an observation borne out by the liner notes.  Quite simply, the student has surpassed the teacher.

Lee Perry singing “Kiss The Champion” – Just because you sing like Matsyahu and dress like a homeless man on a continual bad LSD flashback does not mean you’ll be good at music.  Thank you, Lee “Scratch” Perry, for teaching all of us that lesson.

Stars Of Track And Field singing “Movies Of Antarctica” – If Third Eye Blind had stayed together and gotten as edgy as Out Of The Vein suggested they could, and had better singing, they would be Stars Of Track And Field.  I am an instant fan.

Kraak & Smaak singing “Money In The Bag” – Not so much a song as a demonstration of what it would be like if they sang sexually suggestive songs on Sesame Street.

Joe Purdy singing “White Picket Fence” – This isn’t your uncle’s folk music.  It’s all yours.  And, although it’s great, he’ll let you keep it.

Moral of the Review – If you like any of these bands, the DVD is well worth the purchase price.

Bigger Moral – Snatch up your own indie darlings and listen to them until your ears bleed and you vomit tin-can vocals and vintage clothing because next week they’ll have a song on a car commercial or ABC’s latest drama.

This DVD is available at

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