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 promoed with a flier in the high-value real estate of the official party envelope you pick up with your badge. But, for Phoenix, yesterday's I Heart AZ Party was pretty huge.
The 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, Rueben's Accomplice. Anyone with even a passing interest in the local scene has probably seen at least one of these acts, and I'd hazard a guess most Up on the Sun readers have seen them all, so it's not that special to see them playing together, but it is exciting to see them playing together at The Jackalope, smack dab in the middle of 6th Street, with the president of a major label and a few A&R types watching.
The party itself - thrown by our national music biz writer, contributor Steve Chilton - was pretty standard. Free beer in tiny cups, a bunch of people who know each other hanging out while other stop by for a free beer and politely listen to whoever's on stage 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 Phoenix Monday, were amazing in their set at 1. Like I twittered: the LA band sounds like surfing during the apocalypse, and it's great. Their crowd was a nice mix of important people and ridiculously over-the-top hipsters too, which is the composition you're going for out here.
Also also: Amanda Palmer's show, last night 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, singing what sounded like an Irish dirge. 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. Comedian Margaret Cho joined her for a song (The Notorious CHO has a record coming out, Palmer said) which was pretty cool too.
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