Hola guapo! Thursday night at SXSW was marked by a large influx of early weekend warriors filling the streets, and poor civic planning (seriously City of Austin, you choose SXSW weekend to start fixing street curbs?!). However, I was able to make it out to a couple of shows (Nellie McKay – HILARIOUS live, for what it’s worth), including a showcase by Bam Bam at Irish pub BD Riley’s.
I don’t know a lot about Bam Bam, aside from the fact that they’re from Mexico, and that they rock. And honestly? I think that’s all you need to know about them. Commanding the stage like it was just someone’s garage on a Saturday afternoon, the band rattled off song after song of fierce, no nonsense RAWK. Club Fonograma favorite “Sin las patas traseras” was the obvious standout, with it’s post-punk rhythm section and hush vocals, but was far from mellow. One interesting fact about this show: I had to duck out during the last song to make Phosphorescent at another venue, and noticed that BD Riley’s has no windows; when I walked outside, there were literally about three dozen people standing out dancing to the music. When you have almost as many people outside of the venue listening to your music as there are inside, that’s when you know that you’re a SXSW success.
A couple of hours later, I caught Ximena Sariñana playing a “World music showcase” (Writer’s note: As I told Carlos once, Latin pop with a jazzy flair is NOT WORLD MUSIC …idiots). Starting off with a hearty reading of the title track from Mediocre, Ximena was in full command of the crowd from the very start. After following with true-to-tape versions of “Gris” and “Pocas Palabras,” Ximena launched into a glorious rendition of the Best Song of 2008 (Writer’s Note: OK, only I think it was the best song of 2008, but whatever, it’s my post), the incomparable “Normal.” Introducing the song as being written at a time when she “hated love,” confounded by the “why it’s such a great feeling when it leave you sad,” or rather, well, “normal.” At this particular show, “Normal” was a study in contrasts: The depression of the lyrics as they’re written juxtaposed with a winking, smiling, DANCING Ximena; pounding drums and a Radiohead-like guitar solo side-by-side the song’s almost-poetic wordless chorus; everything about that performance was perfect. The rest of the show was filled with other tracks from Mediocre, including a charming version of “La Tina,” but the second standout was easily the original song for the movie Niñas Mal, “Como Soy,” played on a Bolivian guitar called a Charango—the song is very melodic, and perhaps the most “indie” thing that she’s ever written, although this particular version featured a keyboard solo that reminded me of the work of Paul Shaffer—then again, I’ve been told that I watch way too much Late Show with David Letterman. Nevertheless, this was the best show that I’ve seen so far at SXSW (regardless of language), if only for the fact that for 3 and a half minutes, Ximena made the world stand still.
MP3: "Por favor no vuelvas a nacer" - Bam Bam