Saturday, February 9, 2013

SXSW Preview: Spider Bags

SXSW is not for everyone.  You need to be able to stay on your feet, drunk, for 15 hours a day for 4+ days while listening to loud, loud rock and roll (if you are there to hear folk music or dance bands, we cannot be friends).  However, if you can survive and enjoy that process, then SXSW is great.  Unfortunately, great just doesn't cut it when you pay $650+ for a badge and another $1000+ for flights, rooms, etc.  To take SXSW to the next level of mind-blowingly incredible, as it is most years, you have to prepare.  This is the Super Bowl of Rock and you should prepare like you are the head coach of the greatest Super Bowl team of all-time (the Pittsburgh Steelers (of course)).

There are two ways to properly prepare:  (1) skim through the 2000+ bands listed on the SXSW site, listening to those that have promising descriptions; or (2) attend with friends who have great taste and just follow them around begging for advice for 4 days.  I do both.

Over the next month or so, I (with some help from the aforementioned friends) will be previewing and reviewing some of the bands that we expect to be the sleeper highlights of SXSW.  I'll start here with one of my favorite bands, Spider Bags, THE band that you should have heard in 2012.

I am not going to say a lot about these guys because their music speaks for itself.  Spider Bags are the Charles Bukowski of wonderfully rough and majestic drunken southern garage rock.  Lead singer and primary songwriter Dan McGee, who I hope (both for the sake of his own health and my selfish need to hear this band for the next 20 years) is not living the life of the characters in his songs, musically and lyrically captures the misery of being down and out, and the joy of fighting back against it, better than anyone in rock.

In their 2007 release, A Celebration of Hunger, Spider Bags blew me away with a record that included 2 or 3 of my favorite tracks of the last 10 years, including the epic "Darkness in My Heart": 

Despite its aching and depressing beauty, "Darkness in My Heart" is not even the best song on the record.  Instead, McGee's "Waking Up Drunk," seemingly about the consequences of trying to drink away that Darkness, stands out as a true classic.  I like to think of it as the long lost bonus track from Beggars Banquet that would have made that record the best of the Rolling Stones' releases.

Enough dwelling on their glorious past.  More recently, in 2012, Spider Bags released the stunning Shake My Head, a gloriously sloppy and soulful rock masterpiece.  Brilliantly recognized as the #1 most overlooked record of 2012 by the well qualified folks over at Pop Matters, Shake My Head, is a wild and rollicking soul and rock guitar romp.  Get it.  Every song on the record is great.

Grab a beer and bottle of whisky and enjoy!

And, if you are going, don't miss these guys at SXSW.