CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G-Side…


Welcome to our report on on South by Southwest from Austin, TX, where sleep is nominal and foot pain is exponential. We’re giving you the run on bands we really enjoyed every day this week, so check out our blurbs and pictures below for coverage of Tuesday and Wednesday at SXSW including pictures from our CoSigns Party and our official showcase.

 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Parties and Showcases

Incan Abraham – 9:00 p.m. @ Hype Hotel

incan3 e1331836298636 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Harley Brown

A little nepotism led me to Incan Abraham, who was also playing at Hype Hotel on Tuesday night, when I learned we had a mutual friend. After actually listening to last year’s hypnotic Ancient Vacation, I wanted to see their laissez-faire Local Natives vibe in action. The foursome played with refreshing enthusiasm, layering synthesizers with more organic drums, nesting Teddy Cafaro’s voice—which at times uncannily but also unsurprisingly mimicked Yeasayer’s Chris Keating—in humid polyrhythms. Smoke and low orange and purple lighting added to the totality of the experience, making Incan Abraham an act I would get lost in again. – Harley Brown

Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire –  10:00 p.m. @ Mohawk Patio

mrmuthafuckinesquire5roffman CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Michael Roffman

Spittin’ rhymes is one thing, but bringing a party is another beast altogether. Brooklyn’s Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire brought both to Pitchfork’s Tuesday showcase at the Mohawk – and then some. After moody electronic sets from Teengirl Fantasy and Schlomo, patrons flocking about the close-pocketed venue sprang to life during the Brooklyn rapper’s set. His crew sprayed bottle after bottle of water, invited more members on-stage, seemingly laughed together at inside jokes, and jumped to and from the stage, all while attendees held up their hands and screamed along to random verses, mostly from tracks off last year’s Lost in Translation mixtape.”What’s yo’ favorite part of the pussy,” he asked a dazed white spectator, caught in the madness. He didn’t wait too long for answer, screaming back: “It’s all good!” When he dove into the crowd towards the end, his crew joined along, and, well, it felt less hip-hop and far more punk rock. -Michael Roffman

UCB Comedy presents: The Best Damn Stand-up  -  10:30 p.m @ Esther’s Follies

ronwhiteucbroffman CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Michael Roffman

Tucked away in the cubby that is Esther’s Follies, Upright Citizens Brigade hosted one hell of a lineup for well over two hours, featuring Chris Gethard, Eliza Skinner, Gabe Liedman, Kyle Kinane, Jenny Slate, Joe Wengert, Ron White, and Pete Holmes. From top to bottom it was a stellar night, though some highlights included: Gethard’s quirky brand of hyper-literate, pseudo-stonerish afterthoughts, which involved a digression on his mother being raped by Willem Dafoe (“I am the Green Goblin hate baby!”) and the choice of commercials during Biography’s I Survived series; Skinner’s manic yet whimsical analysis of cat ladies vs. dog guys; Kinane’s Carlin-like brand of crude humor, specifically his thoughts on being 35 and finally living by himself; and Pete Holmes, who told the best off-hand joke involving BBQ that Austin, TX will ever receive.

White’s appearance was a surprise, and that was sort of the delight of it all, though his cutting lines are always witty in the moment. Slate’s shocker-fueled routine, alongside Liedman, was commendable, though she belongs on film rather than the stage. (She also is Gilda Radner resurrected.) Holmes, however, essentially shanked everyone’s sides with his stream-of-consciousness-styled comedy. In addition to his thoughts on Austin’s eateries, Holmes skipped to and from several topics, all of which included his thoughts on wanting to fuck/be Ryan Gosling, wearing a boot for six months, his rogue’s gallery of celebrity doppelgängers (e.g. David Duchovny, fat Val Kilmer), and a random old joke about Ruby Tuesday. “I’m like the ol’ crotchety neighbor of this entire festival,” he stated. Hardly. He’s just the funniest. -Michael Roffman

Delta Spirit – 1:00 a.m. @ Hype Hotel

delta5 e1331835719272 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Harley Brown

When I noticed that the “Special Guest” headlining The Syndicate’s Conflict of Interest-curated Hype Hotel was from Long Beach, CA, I knew it was Delta Spirit. Even though I’ve seen them before and I will definitely see them again, I wanted to be among the first audiences to see them perform Delta Spirit at SXSW. As usual, they didn’t disappoint: Matt Vasquez and co. blasted through “Bushwick Blues” at warp speed, and new songs like “Empty House” and “Money Saves”, backed by a wall of hot, flashing lightbulbs. Vasquez throws his back and neck veins into every performance, but being back onstage seemed to be a homecoming of sorts. He got visibly choked up at several points and doubled over with emotion (or exhaustion) after encoring with “California”, eschewing the audience’s request for one more song. – Harley Brown

Read on for Wednesday’s coverage of SXSW including Mobb Deep, Killer Mike & El-P, Free Energy, Trash Talk and more.

sxswbanners 01 e1331276095584 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

CoSigns – The Beauty Bar – 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Who: Future Unlimited, Princeton, The Henry Clay People, Mikal Cronin, Bleached, Mr. Dream, The Men, Screaming Females, Titus Andronicus, and Cloud Nothings.

Photos: Heather Kaplan and Michael Roffman

[nggallery id=333]

Consequence of Sound – The Jr. – 8 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Who: Miracles of Modern Science, Hey Marseilles, Ezra Furman, Emily Wells, Thomas Dolby, and Free Energy.

Photos: Heather Kaplan and Michael Roffman

[nggallery id=334]


Jonathan Meiburg – 2:oo p.m. @ Hype Hotel (MOKB/Songs by Toad party)

meiburg e1331837592352 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

A solo set from Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg marked the second act of Hype Hotel’s Wednesday day party. The Hotel’s shimmering, scattered spotlight caught Meiburg’s head in a sort of beatific light—a gorgeous repose similar to a religious Renaissance painting. However, instead of holding up a crucifix or delicately outstretched hand, Meiburg wielded the best tool he has: an electric guitar. That guitar’s sound, along with his spine-tingling vocal wail, cut through the meat-locker-temperature air of the Hype Hotel. Tracks like “Dread Sovereign” from Shearwater’s latest record, Animal Joy, loomed menacingly and beautifully. “Run the Banner Down” was maudlin and reflective. For his last song, he eased into a 10-minute-plus vamp based around a single, delay-heavy guitar loop, which created a gorgeous drone that the entire audience got blissfully lost in. – Paul de Revere

The Twilight Sad – 3:oo p.m. @ Hype Hotel (MOKB/Songs by Toad party)

twilightsad0 e1331837339115 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Paul de Revere

Despite sound problems throughout their set, Scottish shoegaze band The Twilight Sad gave a performance that was nothing less than punishing and beautifully punctuated with skeletal drum machine, what little of it the band could seemingly hear, and wall-of-shoegaze-sound guitars just two steps away from heavy metal. They squealed up to a start like an old locomotive with “Reflection of the Television” off 2009’s Forget the Night Ahead. The band, however, seemed to favor tracks from their debut, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, delivering stunning live arrangements of “Cold Days from the Birdhouse”, with a chilling, quiet opening followed by megaton slams of distortion, and “That Summer, at Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy”, with the haunting refrain of “The kids are on fire/In the bedroom.” – Paul de Revere

The Allah-Las – 10:40 p.m. @ 512 Bar (Innovative Leisure Showcase)

allah4 e1331836826165 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Harley Brown

As soon as The Allah-Las took the 512 stage in bolo ties, Ray-Bans, and skinny orange pants, I knew their self-described surf Topanga had to be good. I didn’t realize they were going to take me back in time to the previously undiscovered intersection of Austin Powers and The Surfaris. In addition to their fashion sense, the California-based band was groovy in all the right ways, riffing just hard enough to keep their “perfect mixture of the sands, the seas, the streets, and cities of the Golden State” from being too saccharine. After an album’s worth of flawlessly executed material, I was disappointed to find that the 45” of their only two available songs has already sold out, but at least it means they’re getting the recognition they deserve. - Harley Brown

Tycho – 11:25 @ Club de Ville (Ghostly International Showcase)

tycho4 e1331837080858 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Harley Brown

The recording and performing moniker of San Francisco-based artist and designer Scott Hansen, who also goes by ISO50, Tycho embodies his “search for efficiency.” Even though Hansen and his two band members play the sort of progressive electronica more associated with trippy meanderings than minimalism, Tycho’s crystalline blips and driving beat are airtight. At Club de Ville on Wednesday night, tracks like “Hours” and audience favorite “A Walk”’s keyboard crescendos undulated in conjunction with Hansen’s drum and synthesizer beats, almost comforting in its symmetry. I closed my eyes to let the most affecting moments wash over me, but given that Hansen is a mesmerizing artist (I could stare at Dive‘s album art all day), I wish the band had done more to visually engage the audience. – Harley Brown

G-Side 8:30 p.m. @ Lustre Pearl (Life or Death PR Showcase)

sxsw wedensday 7 e1331837851306 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

Alabama Rap duo G-Side continued their 10-show SXSW run with something akin to a musical blitzkrieg, only less hostile and with more laser lights. The sweet mojo was all in the details, be it the ultra-catchy introductory interludes with the backup singers or the pair’s mere stage presence (more engaging than menacing thanks to crack lyrical displays and primo showmanship). The pair demonstrated a tried and true hip-hop dichotomy, with Yung Clova the menacing anchor to ST 2 Lettaz’s sweat-soaked dance and stage-diving act. The highlight of the show, though, saw ST 2 Lettaz bring his brother and sister onstage for a few verses, transforming their set into a rousing family affair light on the drama and heavy on displays of anarchical dissent. Bringing your siblings onstage may hurt the street cred of some rap outfits, but it only made G-Side appear that much more willing to go all out in order to stand above their peers and to deliver something as earnest and personable as it was boomin’ and bass-tastic. – Chris Coplan

Action Bronson – 9:45 p.m. @ Lustre Pearl (Life or Death PR Showcase)

sxsw wedensday 8 e1331837962948 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

Where G-Side’s set represented the warm glow of community, Queens rapper Action Bronson took to the stage like a man alone in misery. It should be noted that Bronson’s set was delivered with gusto, and that the 315-pound MC never skipped a lyric, resulting in a performance that more than did its part to rock crowds and break necks. Once more, though, the details spun the whole picture, with Bronson seemingly removed from the sea of cronies and underlings that huddled around him and stopping songs prematurely on the slightest of whims. Even the way Bronson lit up a cigarette purveyed a sense of tense annoyance, with songs a distraction between each puff. And yet, despite the copious amounts of ‘tude and mood swings, Bronson’s set matched the intrigue and exhilaration of watching and waiting to see a caged lion go berserk. Now, imagine the kind of shows he could deliver if he ever decided to smile. – Chris Coplan

Jacques Green – 10:25 p.m. @ Lustre Pearl (Life or Death PR Showcase)

There was a notable displacement of mass from Action Bronson’s set to Jacques Green’s, and a notable increase in pretty-boy vibes. In black patent leather boots, an Yves Saint Laurent t-shirt, and gold chain necklaces (no, the really long and thin ones) — the Montreal producer stood alone on the side of the stage, undulated with his knees together, and spun the hell out of some deep house/jungle/R&B jams. He integrated shadowy samples of Ciara, Araab Muzik, and I’m sure many others into grad-school club hits that balanced fun and flair and was totally danceable. Two things: I find it pretty suave when a DJ packs up his shit as he’s closing out his last song, as Green did ( though I’m probably the only one), and it was a fine coincidence that I noticed the totally Target Collection area rugs on the stage during his set. – Jeremy D. Larson

Wavves – 11:35 p.m. @ Lustre Pearl (Life or Death PR Showcase)

sxsw wedensday 10 e1331834560284 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

Wavves are good — they are always good, only it seemed obligatory for them to perform tonight. A handful of new songs that didn’t really stick and a handful of old songs that have peeled off made for a serviceable set that went mostly appreciated by the increasingly inebriated bros at The Lustre Pearl. However, they can still hang their whole set on the gem “Post Acid” — a song that will probably always stick. - Jeremy D. Larson

Trash Talk – 12:15 a.m. @ Lustre Pearl (Life or Death PR Showcase)

sxsw wedensday 12 e1331834773986 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

“My ribs may be broken” said frontman Lee Spielman before note one. Even in an evening filled with rap posses 15-deep, this was the most nonsensical, superfluous thing said on stage that night. Because you’d think that if your ribs were broken you’d maybe mark a bit on stage — take care of your health and your broken ribs. But a hardcore punk Trash Talk show is not the place for a comforting, experience. Or maybe it is? When the audience opened up a circle pit that repurposed about 70% of the floor space — it was easily 40 feet in diameter — the pit became as much of the show as the band was. And because this was my first Trash Talk show and I don’t often find myself being swallowed into a chugging punch-fest, I just gawked in pure joy at the riotous violence.

sxsw wedensday 13 e1331834852326 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

The crowd and Trash Talk became a giant anarchist expurgation of emotions (mostly anger, and mostly in good fun) which I found to be extremely comforting. The polite, unspoken rules of public performance were shattered over and over again, as Spielman front-flipped into the audience, let fans scream whole verses to songs, made everyone sit down on the ground, told the pit to “go to the back of the audience and fuck those people’s shit up”, and even allowed himself to be fucking tackled off of the stage and into a small group of people into the audience without, like, getting mad about it. It was a relief to know that this kind of uncontrolled hysteria still exists, and that it was born from only heaviest of music. “Yeah, I broke my ribs” he said, later on. He probably mean that he broke more of them. - Jeremy D. Larson

Mobb Deep/Prodigy – 12:40 a.m. @ Lustre Pearl (Life or Death PR Showcase)

The general feeling of the crowd during the obviously tight Mobb Deep set was, “Oh my god Havoc, Prodigy, and Big Noyd are on a stage and they’re — oh man, they just did ‘Survival of the Fittest’ I can’t believe that I’m actually watching this. Oh my god they just did ‘Shook Ones’. I just saw Mobb Deep do ‘Shook Ones’” But even in the hazy awe of the reunion, they didn’t miss a single beat as they went through their greatest hits. A momentous occasion for the nostalgia, and unequivocal proof of Mobb Deep’s tenacity and influence on the whole genre. - Jeremy D. Larson

Killer Mike/El-P/SL Jones – 1:15 a.m. @ Lustre Pearl (Life or Death PR Showcase)

sxsw wedensday 14 e1331835019955 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

I was unclear as to whether this was going to be a full premiere of his forthcoming El-P-produced album R.A.P Game front to back. It wasn’t, but that was probably for the better, as the waning crowd at the Life or Death PR Showcase were showing signs of fatigue at the late hour. But, man, Killer Mike. I had never seen him before, but as with every other act of the night, he commanded the crowd with confidence, ridiculous skill, and off-the-cuff humor (in rousing speech about what defines R.A.P. (Rebellious African People’s) music, he yelled, “I make the music that makes you want to punch a reindeer in the face!”). Sure enough, El-P showed up and they both dropped a new track together, which was of course on fire. Killer Mike’s stage presence is like the perfect combination eXquire and Action Bronson — lyrics that come through the teeth with enough energy to get everyone screaming “Grind Time Rap Game!” at 2:00 a.m. - Jeremy D. Larson

Free Energy – The Jr. (Consequence of Sound Showcase) - 1:30 a.m.

freeenergy2012 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Michael Roffman

It would be fair to say that true rock ‘n’ roll folklore is purely incidental. Most authors would agree that you can’t expect that sort of magic on-stage, you just have to let it happen. An hour and a half into Thursday morning, Philadelphia’s own Free Energy sparked up something pretty extraordinary at The Jr. (formerly Emo’s, Jr.), framing exactly who they are: an honest to god American rock ‘n’ roll band. But, first, some context…

Prior to their set, Thomas Dolby, whose setup went 25 minutes over the mark, bled his performance into Free Energy’s time slot, essentially nixing the band’s original bracket for sound check, which pushed everything back by about 30-35 minutes. Given that all the bars must close by two a.m. and Free Energy couldn’t start ’til about half past one, well, you do the math.

That didn’t matter, though. What could have been a shitshow turned into one of the most invigorating sets in recent memory. Frontman Paul Sprangers, now sporting a shorter, cleaner ‘do, paced the stage after a slightly awkward soundcheck, only to throw out a smile and the warm embrace of fuzzy, balmy ’70s rock. “One a.m., gotta keep it rockin’,” he stated coquettishly.

freeenergy20123 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Michael Roffman

This mentality isn’t too much of a surprise. After all, it was only this past week that Sprangers told us, “I kinda like the idea that rock is dead because I can prove the point that when you put love and care into something– even if it’s a dead, shitty form where fuckin’ Nickelback or whatever is considered rock– it can be resurrected.” Big words, but he put ’em to action.

With such a late start, the most die-hard of fans stuck around – swimming somewhere between 40-50 patrons, altogether – which explains why a setlist featuring only two “oldies” eked out and worked. Intimate doesn’t even begin to explain it. When Sprangers sang the chorus to “Free Energy”, screaming, “This is all we’ve got tonight/We are young and still alive/Now the time is on our side,” it truly summed up everyone’s feelings in the room. In other words, shit happens, this is still pretty great, and let’s enjoy this.

Working from an arsenal of new material off their forthcoming sophomore LP, Love Sign, the Philadelphia rockers previewed an array of tracks that, according to a setlist, read something like: “Back”, the previously released “Electric Fever”, “Hailey”, “Hey Tonight”, and “Hangin'”. Hardly any of them strayed too far from what sold the band to millions of youthful rockers back in 2010, but they make it work. “Back” could have slid into Stuck on Nothing with ease, “Electric Fever” blossoms on-stage via Scott Wells’ stadium rock tendencies, “Hey Tonight” felt like a genius coagulation of early Cars and (strangely enough) U2, while top notch addition “Hailey” dipped into Jackson Browne and especially the best moments of Tom Petty.

cos free 11 CoS at SXSW 2012: CoSigns Party, Trash Talk, Free Energy, G Side...

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Minutes before the clock struck two in the morning, Sprangers asked the crowd if they wanted to hear more new material (the group had two more new songs planned for the original setlist), or an oldie. Several screamed out past hits, but “Something in Common” stuck. Here’s the thing: It wasn’t like they didn’t want to hear new material, it’s hard to believe anyone would have balked at hearing a new track. Instead, everyone wanted one last chance to sing along, dance, and just rock out. That feels cheesy even writing that line, but it’s the honest to god truth, and fuck it, that feels good. -Michael Roffman