SXSW 2009 surprise discovery – KatzenJammer girls

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When I learnt that I will have to shell out 470 USD to attend the fav keynote addresses and listen to some good music, I was literally heartbroken. And understandably so – after all it means almost 24000 Indian Rupees. Couple that with the bad weather in the first weekend of South by South West 2009 at Austin, I sincerely thought I’m in for a serial bad luck (I missed this year’s Mardi Gras despite being in Austin). Next weekend brought good news – luckily, there were plenty of avenues to find good music for ‘free freaks’ like me.

Having wandered through Austin Downtown streets in the last 2 days of SXSW Film and Music Festival, I could honestly say – KatzenJammer girls blew me away. They were the best of all the bands that were ‘free’ (Metallica wasn’t free). But, I actually just ‘bumped’ into them. On friday late night (well, technically it would be saturday), while wandering through the 3rd Street, we (Sankar and me) found four girls playing rather old school musical instruments. In the first song, all I could hear was ‘Oh yeah. All right‘. But the energy was infectious. A couple of songs more and we were hooked. After the little road side show, they said that they would be playing next afternoon at ThreadGill’s. Understandably, it was a must on our to do list for SXSW on Saturday.

KatzenJammer Girls at Threadgill's

KatzenJammer Girls at Threadgill's

Threadgill’s was packed as we entered. On a bright sunny day, people were sitting on chairs and on the grass -donning a cap, holding a beer can/glass/bottle in one hand and a camera on the other. I found a seat nevertheless and started doing what everybody else was doing – enjoying Norwegian Music.

The Audience

The Audience

The Norwegian girls played better than the ‘demo’ last night. And it was amplified by the sound system at the bar and made enjoyable by the high energy songs. An interesting thing was that the girls took turns on each instrument. With almost every song, they kept changing who’s playing what. The instrument with a smiley is called Contrabass Balalaika. The instrument on the extreme right is Accordion, and reminds me of the song from Amar Akbar Anthony [here’s the youtube video]. Something really funny struck me. In the movie song too, Vinod Khanna was playing 4 instruments too!

Katzenjammer - Players changed

Katzenjammer - Players changed

At the end of an hour long show, KatzenJammer did the crowd adieu. The audience gave the girls from Norway a high energy applause. They sure did deserved it. I enquired about a CD, but they haven’t had any with them. And that was a surprise indeed – this is a Music Festival for Christ’s sake!

High enegy applause for Norwegian girls

High enegy applause for the Norwegian girls

Please check out KatzenJammer’s videos on youtube, their Myspace profile where you can listen to the songs too, and their website. Trivia:  Interestingly, KatzenJammer is also a British Piano Musical Comedy duo.

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SXSW Live Blogging

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7:15pm – Heading to Woodrow’s on the 6th Street.

6:05pm – Came out of ACC. Would walk down a couple of blocks to the hotel now.

5:35pm – Mocha is good. Lotsa folks tweeting using laptops. I thought there would be more iPhone tweeple than lappy tweeple.

5:32pm – A coffee joint. Getting Cafe Mocha with cream.

5:30pm – A lot of things going around – keynote speakers on marketing, web 2.0, entepreneurship and web 2.0 etc. But all need badges. Let me figure out what can I do for free!

5:15pm – Came out of SunBurn. Lemme check out other things.

5:05pm – T-shirts with ‘Geeky’ quotes being sold here.  Sample this – ‘SCIENCE. It works. Bitches’

5:00pm: People are playing games all around – kids, teenagers, young and oldies alike. Interestingly, can’t spot Strategy Games here – everywhere I see there is a Gun Battle.

4:50pm: OK, so it was about growing vegetables in your backyard. and in case you don’t, then buy them from local vendors sice you get the same stuff and the local farmers benefit more. The logic being, of 1 Dollar that you spend on fruits and vegetables, only 22 cents reach the farmer who produced them – rest is spent on packaging, transportation, marketing etc.

4:45pm: The guy at ‘Austin Green Art’ caught me. Had a conversation. He asks me ‘Do they grow vegetables in India’?

4:40 pm: A gallery of  ‘Into the Pixel’ looks cool. Especially the picture that shows Capitol being devastated in attacks. Cool game huh.

4:25pm: Checking out Games section at SXSW. ScreenBurn Arcade. More info.

4:15pm: Just spotted Austin Convention Center after quite some search. I noted 500 West Caesar Chavex street. Too bad, since what I found is a Waste Water Traetment Plant at that location! ACC is in 500 East Caeasar Chavez.

South by South West, Austin

Consider this: You’re in Kolkata and you come to know about Durga Puja only on night before it starts. Or, you’re in Mumbai unaware of Ganesh Chaturthi till you actually see someone shouting – Ganapati Bappa, Mourya. I consider it a cardinal sin.

I was close to commiting one. 

SXSW  (South by South West) is supposedly a kick-ass annual Music and Film festival in Austin. Too bad I came to know about it only a couple of days back and even then didn’t appreciate the enormity of the event – supposedly 4 million people from around the globe come here for a week. Though this figure is very small compared to what happens at Kumbh Melas , or even Durga Puja, Rath Yatra or Ganesh Chaturthi; it is a huge number for a small US city like Austin. My cab driver told me today the number today – I haven’t verified it at any website though. He was very excited when he declared – ‘You’ll hardly get any cab the next week. Everyone moves to downtown during South by South west. There is just too much money to be made driving a cab at that time.

I started surfing about it this evening and realized its importance only after that . You can look for sxsw tweets here. With so many things to plan for, I’m having a hard time finding out what to miss. The only glitch – it starts on Friday the 13th.

Just decided an hour ago that I’ll try and use the New Media to share the experiences. Will experiment live blogging in my blog and micro-blogging with Twitter. Tune in for the flavor.
Any suggestions on what to write about?