There is a prevailing theme to SXSW 2008 for me: Canada is the future.
So many genres, so many ideas, such a consistently great reaction from the crowds... it was a sight to behold.Bubbles blew through the air in the sharp sunlight of the VICE Chromeo party that zombified partiers populated slowly-but-surely at Stubb's.
Digitalism was one of the opening acts at the open bar party, where I reunited with magazine legend Suroosh Alvi of VICE fame. I hung with him in Montreal over a decade ago, as he drove me around with a mind-bogglingly humble DMC world champion DJ A-Trak through the cold streets of Montreal. How times have changed.
4th Pyramid hosted the hangover therapy session with appropriate concern, but the Daft Punk-ish throb of Digitalism electrified people awake.
The 120 bpm bangers didn't have as many peaks and valleys as I might like, but the consisten future ancient tribal kickers with warbling white boy soul glazed on top was delicious. They did that song that's the Rogers commercial, "The Sun Is In The Air," and it kinda ended the show on a weak note.
A girl from Windsor, Texas saw me dancing up a storm, came over and asked where I was from. I said Toronto, and she said: "It's always the Canadians that are the most enthusiastic!"
Chromeo came to the stage triumphantly, with their sexy lady-leg keyboard stands lighting up the stage. "Side By Side" was glorious, and their Montreal dedication was heartfelt. "I Am Somebody" resonated deep with its pop funk power, but the mini-cover vocorder versions of "I Want My MTV," "Small Town Girl" and other jams was utterly delightful. Strike one, Canada.
Later, walking down the street, I look in a window to see an 11-year-old boy make a guitar bleed “Amazing Grace.” In the blues book of future history, the name Eddie Blue will have a big ass chapter, mark my words.
Strike two for Canadian music comes with rock saviours from Vancouver, Pride Tiger. I saw four songs of theirs, and loved every fucking minute of it. The drummer was lead vocalist, and was like Animal-from-the-Muppet Babies level of awesome. The other dudes killed it too. I'm not going to over-intellectualize what I think about them, I just love them, and blame Canada for exporting more uncut dope to SXSW.
But the VICE Party had to be the place to be on a Saturday night in Austin, without a doubt. After DJ Z-Trip mashed up "For the Love of Money" and after Killa Kela beatboxed a solid and short set (download), I saw MSTRKRFT kill the night. The head-crushing, knee-knocking, hips-hurling, neck-snapping percussive penetrations never stopped viciously hurtling people forward into digital electro-rock-disco bliss. Once again, those damn Canadians were a notch above most, and continued to destroy their moments in the spotlight with relentless excellence. The crowd-surfing, dancers on other shoulders, and never-ending twirling were in full effect as evidence of how much of a zoo that spot became, especially when “All I Do Is Party” lit people's asses on fire.
Strike three, Chretiens, you're out!