In some ways, Arizona's first "official unofficial" showcase at SxSW wasn't a big deal. Other cities, states, and countries have been doing it for years. Hell, Seattle's party is even promoted by a flier in the high-value real estate of the official party envelope you pick up with your badge. Butfor Phoenix, the "I Heart AZ Party" was pretty huge. Thursday's showcase featured a lot of the best bands in town, acts we write about all the time: Miniature Tigers, Kinch, Back Ted N-Ted, The Stiletto Formal, What Laura Says, Dear and the Headlights, Reubens Accomplice.
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The party itself -- thrown by our national music biz writer, Steve Chilton -- was pretty standard. Free beer in tiny cups, a bunch of people who know each other hanging out while others stop by for free beer and politely listen to whoever's onstage out of felt obligation. The sets were also pretty standard: Mini T's sounded a lot better than they did Wednesday night, thanks to a better sound guy; Kinch killed; Back Ted's Ryan Breen was quite the showman, considering he's a producer; Stiletto Formal looked pretty cooped up trying to shoehorn themselves on/around the venue's tiny stage. But, with an Arizona flag (my contribution) duct-taped above the stage and a crowd peppered with important people, it was pretty cool.
Also: Wavves, who played in Phoenix on Monday, were amazing in their set at 1. Like I twittered, the LA band sounds like surfing during the apocalypse, and it's great. Wavves' crowd was a nice mix of important people and ridiculously over-the-top hipsters too, which is the composition you're going for.
Also also: Amanda Palmer's show, in a Presbyterian church just off the main drag, was pretty special. It's the biggest showcase I've seen and it was totally packed with adoring fans geeking out from the moment she took the stage. The set was pretty good (no "Oasis," sadly, and none of the old Dresden Dolls material people were calling out for) but the atmosphere made the show.