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South By Chicago

These Chicago bands hope to make a big impression at SXSW 2009, even if they have to use PB&J.
Tuesday Mar 10, 2009.     By Gavin Paul
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Now in its 23rd year, Austin's South By Southwest music festival (March 13-22) has become the proving ground of the music industry. Not all the action happens on the major stages, though; bands from all over the world show up uninvited, taking to the streets to rock everything from house parties to pedestrian bridges at 3 a.m., all in the name of exposure. Performers and promoters are forced to get creative with their marketing, which is why you end up with offerings like PB&J sandwiches with Elvis prints toasted onto the bread.

The local bands we caught up with won't have to go to such gimmicky lengths, as they all scored official showcases at SXSW. But that doesn't mean they won't be tempted. From DJ supergroup Orchard Lounge and Common-esque prodigy Vince P to female Andrew Bird ringer Anni Rossi and minimalist metal crew Disappears, a few of this year's finest let us know how they're going to rock Austin's socks off - officially and unofficially.

Ezra Furman & the Harpoons
Ezra Furman & The Harpoons

You're a bird, flying south. How are you going to spread your wings and represent Chicago?
I am going to wear a cardboard costume shaped like the Sears Tower. Inside this costume will be a small tape recorder playing a tape of Frank Sinatra's "My Kind of Town." That oughta do it.

You're an official SXSW contender. But do you plan on joining the thousands of others taking to guerrilla/unofficial house and day parties?

Oh! Unless what you mean is our show on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at the Creekside Lounge. That's in the day.

Of those thousands of bands, who are you most excited to see?
Camera Obscura melts my heart. I hope I can see them. I LOVE THEM! Not to mention Motel Motel from New York and Joe Pug from Chicago. There's a lot to investigate and I love musical investigation.

They say the only bad thing about Austin is that it's surrounded by Texas. What's the only bad thing about Chicago?
On the red line, there used to be a stop called Grand, and it was so great when the train would stop there because the P.A.-thing would say, "This is Grand," and it sounded like they were just enjoying the experience of being an automated announcement machine. But then they changed the stop to be called Grand and State, and now it says "This is Grand and State," and that's much less interesting. Why'd they change that?! That's the only bad thing about Chicago.

What's your favorite Chicago dish Texas BBQ won't ever touch?
I like my mom's matzah ball soup. Does this count? (If you say it doesn't count, you have a cold, cold heart). Furthermore, nobody beats the fish sandwich at Buffalo Joe's on Green Bay Road in Evanston.

Again, congrats on your journey south. But when can we catch you again back home?
April 18th at the Empty Bottle. We're doing a tour with lots of stops in the Midwest. I think the shows will really be special and of the highest quality. ESPECIALLY the Chicago show.

Disappears
Disappears

You're a bird, flying south. How are you going to spread your wings and represent Chicago?
We're doing some shows on the way down and back - Lawrence, Fayetteville, Denton, Memphis and St. Louis. It's going to be pretty interesting as we've got just over 30 minutes of music and no one knows who we are. But we're looking forward to it.

You're an official SXSW contender. But do you plan on joining the thousands of others taking to guerrilla/unofficial house and day parties?
Yeah we'd love to get into something like that, last time i was there the best stuff I saw was "unofficial." We don't know what's going on yet but I'd like to work something like that out.

Of those thousands of bands, who are you most excited to see?
I'd love to see The Strange Boys but they're playing the same night that we are so hopefully they're doing something else. I'd like to see The Soft Pack, Crystal Stilts, whatever band Matt Williams is going to be playing in.

They say the only bad thing about Austin is that it's surrounded by Texas. What's the only bad thing about Chicago?
Hmmmm...the parking on my street?

What's your favorite Chicago dish Texas BBQ won't ever touch?
I wish they'd do something about the deep-dish pizza epidemic this city is in. I mean, I think we can do better than that.

Again, congrats on your journey south. But when can we catch you again back home?
Saturday, March 28th at Schubas, with the Fruit Bats.

Anni Rossi
Anni Rossi

You're a bird, flying south. How are you going to spread your wings and represent Chicago?
I will be performing tracks from my new album titled Rockwell, which I named after the Chicago street I used to live on.

You're an official SXSW contender. But do you plan on joining the thousands of others taking to guerrilla/unofficial house and day parties?
Oh yes. I am playing four day parties, including a backyard BBQ hosted by a friend I used to go to high school with. Looking forward to both the official showcases and unofficial stuff!

Of those thousands of bands, who are you most excited to see?
Lady Lucille, Beach House, Parts and Labor and The Dirty Projectors.

They say the only bad thing about Austin is that it's surrounded by Texas. What's the only bad thing about Chicago?
Midway Airport.

What's your favorite Chicago dish Texas BBQ won't ever touch?
Beet bruschetta (w/ goat cheese) from Lula.

Again, congrats on your journey south. But when can we catch you again back home?
APRIL 3rd @ The Hideout with These United States!

Orchard Lounge
Orchard Lounge

You're a bird, flying south. How are you going to spread your wings and represent Chicago?
Well, we'll be playing DJ sets for four nights straight in Austin. I think the best way we can represent our city, and our collective, is to show off our versatility and unique style. We certainly don't want to hit the partygoers with strictly Chicago House, either. As much as we love what this city has done for electronic music, we'd like to offer up a mix of music that will appeal to a wide range of dance-floor fanatics. I think, as a group, we're hoping to play for people who have an open mind, and who are willing to experience something new. Much like the inhabitants of Chicago.

You're an official SXSW contender. But do you plan on joining the thousands of others taking to guerrilla/unofficial house and day parties?
You better believe it. We're fans, too. As DJs and tastemakers, it's our job to expose the masses to unfamiliar new artists and records. We hope to experience a plethora of different sounds at SXSW, but like always, it seems the most memorable events are the unofficial and unannounced ones. While we're not hosting any parties ourselves, we hope to get on the decks at a handful of different soirees. Last year SXSW invited artists we've been fans of for a long time, like Diskjokke and Lindstrom. This year it seems the organizers wanted even more of a presence of forward-thinking electronic music producers and DJs, so we're looking forward to rubbing shoulders with like-minded artists we all admire.

Of those thousands of bands, who are you most excited to see?
Not to sound conceited or capricious, but...Orchard Lounge. Since our collective consists of three people who rotate spinning records, I'm most looking forward to seeing my wife and best friend up there doing what they love to do. Plus, I can all but guarantee that the bands that end up blowing our minds are the ones we've never heard of until Austin. That's why the festival has such appeal.

They say the only bad thing about Austin is that it's surrounded by Texas. What's the only bad thing about Chicago?
That it's surrounded by Schaumburg and Naperville.

What's your favorite Chicago dish Texas BBQ won't ever touch?
No Texan culinary guru will ever be able to pique my interest in a hot dog like Hot Doug's has.

Again, congrats on your journey south. But when can we catch you again back home?
Thank you, we're stoked. And since our calendar is always changing, just check out www.myspace.com/orchardlounge for upcoming gigs.

Vince P

Vince P

You're a bird, flying south. How are you going to spread your wings and represent Chicago?
I plan on putting on one of the best shows at SXSW and to have people talking about my show for the rest of the year! Would you expect anything less from a Chi Town kid?

You're an official SXSW contender. But do you plan on joining the thousands of others taking to guerrilla/unofficial house and day parties?
No I don't think I will be playing any guerrilla/unofficial parties. I was talking to Perez Hilton about hopefully landing a performance at his SXSW Party, but as of now I don't think it is going to happen unless something changes in the next week or so. With this being my first year I just plan to play my showcase and check out a bunch of shows while I am in Austin.

Of those thousands of bands, who are you most excited to see?
For the official showcases I am stoked to be checking out GLC, Pugslee Atomz (who are both from Chicago), 8 Ball & MJG, Talib Kweli and Asher Roth. For the unofficial showcases I just got invited to attend Kanye's GOOD Music Showcase and I will also be checking out an all-Chicago showcase where I am looking forward to seeing Hollywood Holt, Million $ Mano and Skyler.

They say the only bad thing about Austin is that it's surrounded by Texas. What's the only bad thing about Chicago?
The winters. I hate the cold. I think from here on out I am going to tour during the winter and come back to Chicago for spring and summer and I am not even joking about this!

What's your favorite Chicago dish Texas BBQ won't ever touch?
Chicago-style pizza. When my buddies come into town I always challenge them to eat more than two pieces of deep-dish Chicago-style pizza in one sitting. I do not have a friend that has passed the challenge yet.

Again, congrats on your journey south. But when can we catch you again back home?
I am putting together a mixtape release party for my project Too Cool For School in May that will be at Underground. I will be on the road touring until late April so I will take a week or so off and get back to it.

 

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