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Amanda’s Top Ten Musical Experiences (cont.)

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I bet you thought I forgot all about this! Well, the truth of the matter is… I haven’t been home to write and when I am home, I’m sleeping. I’ve been out making new musical experiences for 2012! As such I’m giving you three more of my top musical experiences and I promise the top 2 won’t be far behind.

 

5.SXSW- I don’t really know how to describe SXSW to anyone other than calling it a musical orgy of sorts. There is so much to see and do whilst in Austin, Texas that it’s hard to keep your head on straight. Last year was my first year and I hope to be going every year after. The cool thing about SXSW is you really only need money for a place to stay and some food. We never went to any official shows (which is what badges are required for) and we had a hard time keeping up with all the musical options out there. During our time at SXSW we saw; Fierce Creatures, Viva City, Purple Melon, AWOLNATION, Neon Trees, The Head and The Heart, The Kin, Dead Sara, Fitz and The Tantrums, Tailor Made Fable, Keaton Simons, Liam Finn, Atomic Tom, Ivan and Alyosha, Queen Caveat, The Gallery, Sabrosa Purr,  The Greenhornes, The Silent Comedy, Mother Mother, Agnes Obel, Brian Wright, Brooke Fraser, Cary Brothers, Holly Conlan, Jim Bianco, Joey Ryan, Kenneth Pattengale, Laura Jansen, Little Red Radio, OK, The Milk Carton Kids, Deluka, Hugo, Meriwether, My Cousin The Emperor, Sinai, Taylor Locke & The Roughs, The Good Natured, Augustana, Doll and The Kicks, Empires, Lenka, Twin Atlantic, and The Stone Foxes. Well, you get the idea…

 

4. Blink-182- I was never a huge fan of Blink. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t change the radio station when their music came on or anything but nothing about them made me have a burning desire to see them live. In 2011, I saw them not once but twice and they will always have a warm spot in my heart. The first time I saw them was for the Honda Civic Tour. I was working with Kevin and Rebecca Joelson and doing some shooting of the event which means I was in the pit for the first few songs and was able to be side stage for the rest of their set. I was surprised at just how many Blink-182 songs I knew and Rebecca and I sang along from the sidelines. What really blew my brain was when they ‘finished’ their set and this giant rig comes down from the batons where all the lights are. I had been staring at it all night trying to figure out what it was. Well, it was a giant arm with a drum set attached! Travis got on this rig and was taken out over the audience while he played a solo for a few minutes. The rig would tilt down, back up and move around. It was mind blowing!!!! Needless to say, I was a fan after that.

 

3. Bonnaroo- In 2011, Bonnaroo was what Coachella should have been lineup wise. If you’ve ever been to or know about Coachella, think of Bonnaroo as the cooler sister who is both hippie and hip. Bonnarro is also held in a giant field and while it lacks the artistic attractions like the wandering robot and the giant hand that can kill a car, it has yoga and it’s own post office. Bonnaroo also has this giant fountain which I’ve been told gets painted different colors every year but it’s a great way to stay cool in the heat. Coachella doesn’t have that. Granted Coachella is easier to get to, but flying out gave us the chance to hang out in Tennessee and check out Nashville for a day or two. Our highlights from Bonnaroo were already posted on this site but we had a blast watching Eminem, The Head and The Heart, Portugal. The Man, Neon Trees, Kopeckey Family Band, Mumford and Sons, Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons, Alberta Cross, The Black Angels, and The Decemberists. Bonnaroo is a new tradition in my book and I can’t wait to see the lineup for 2012!

 

See you soon for my top 2!

SXSW Day 4: A Story

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So if you have ever been to SXSW you know that by the 4th day, you have pushed your body beyond every possible limit you thought you had. Day 4 was not quite as crazy as the previous days…a lot less running around (band choices were highly determined by proximity), not quite as much dancing (early morning Viva City and late night Little Red Radio aside), and more attention paid to things like eating and hydrating. At a certain time of the day we kind of hit a wall. There was a lull in the schedule. Resting in some way was a popular option. I, however, couldn’t bring myself to NOT be around music for any prolonged period of time.

I noticed a conveniently timed tweet from Joey Ryan saying that him and Kenneth Pattengale (AKA The Milk Carton Kids) were playing a set in about an hour at The Hotel Cafe showcase and it was open to the public. Previously I was under the assumption that these showcases were badges and wristbands only so none of them were on my schedule. But I located Saint David’s Sanctuary and made my way in.

Seeing that The Hotel Cafe feels like my home away from home in LA, I wasn’t surprised to find that the Hotel Cafe Showcase produced a similar vibe. It took place inside a church so seating was plentiful and MUCH needed at the time. The rows of pews extended quite a ways back, but each and every artist was somehow able to reach out and connect to every person in the room. Plus, the venue provided for plenty of humorous “church” references throughout the evening.

When I first walked in, two women were on the stage playing keys and cello. I was unfamiliar with them, but the peaceful and soothing sounds they were producing were exactly what I needed at the time. Turned out, the keyboardist was German artist, Agnes Obel.

After Agnes was The Milk Carton Kids. Of course I’ve seen Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale numerous times, but this was my first official Milk Carton Kids experience.  As they played several of my favorite tunes, I glanced around the church. The Audience seemed so moved and so intent on the music it was almost as if they were stunned into silence. A silence only broken by bouts of clapping or laughter brought about by Joey and Kenneth’s unique sense of humor and general stage banter.

I only intended to stay for this one set, but then I saw Brian Wright setting up and I just couldn’t leave. I’ve also seen Brian Wright many times, but this might have been my favorite of his performances. I don’t know if it was the venue, the fact that it was at SXSW, or my general mood, but his first song literally gave me the chills. By the end of the set, he had the audience standing (not a trivial accomplishment) as he led them in a chorus of “Halleluiahs” made even more poignant by the church setting. It was one of those magical moments…a song sung a particular way at a particular time with a particular audience that will never be captured in that exact way ever again. Magic!

At that point, I knew I wasn’t leaving until I absolutely had to. It continued to be a night of magical moments. Jim Bianco also took advantage of the setting to sing this song about sinning, but I feel that his bringing his band into the aisle for “Sing” was the transcendent moment of his set.  Holly Conlan sang my favorite of her tunes (“OK”) and then brought Joey Ryan unto the stage for a duet that was so beautiful it nearly brought me to tears. Then Laura Jansen took the stage and mesmerized the audience with her gorgeous voice.

After Laura, I forced myself out the door (I had other places to be). On the way out I ran into Cary Brothers and Brooke Fraser (both to perform later). It was hard to leave, but I am just so grateful for that tweet that led me to at least attend the event for a little while. Seeing a showcase of singer-songwriters amidst a sea of mostly rock bands and dance parties made me appreciate my Hotel Cafe experience even more.  These artists’ ability to captivate simply with the power of their voice and beauty of their songs is a true testament to their talent. Even though my goal of SXSW was to discover new artists, I don’t think the experience would have been complete without my little oasis of The Hotel Cafe showcase.

 

~ Kristen