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SXSW 2008: Atlas Sound, Human Giant, DFA Label Showcase, & Digitalism

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SXSW 2008: Atlas Sound, Human Giant, DFA Label Showcase, & Digitalism

One of the things that South by Southwest teaches best is that choice, and the illusion thereof, is potentially paralyzing. At seemingly any given time, there are at least two worthy acts competing for your attention. It’s enough to make even the most level among us reach for the Ritalin. So while it might seem counterintuitive, it’s kind of nice when others make your decisions for you, a point well illustrated when some friends dragged me to the second annual Mess with Texas festival at Waterloo Park, a bit off SXSW’s beaten track.

That this festival-within-a-festival is curated by some cats with good taste handily cuts what is an overwhelming embarrassment of riches down to a slightly more user-friendly handful of hard decisions. “Atlas Sound or Holy Fuck?” “Simian Mobile Disco, NOFX, or the Breeders?” The former choice was relatively easy for me, especially after I watched Bradford Cox, the strikingly tall (Marfan Syndrome-afflicted) frontman of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, amble onstage in a wryly selected Breeders T-shirt and a pair of the neon-framed sunglasses that are this year’s must-have South By accessory. From many perspectives Atlas Sound is a side-project, and I’m sure that at least some of the people congregated on the gentle slope in front of their stage are just counting the days until Cox returns to the mothership, but frankly, this band makes the music that I had always hoped Deerhunter would: swirly, aching, neo-shoegazer limned with subtle electronics and backed by a surprisingly sturdy low end. Cox showed a little of the confrontational stage presence he’s known for, making a slightly uncomfortable joke about the juxtaposition between the beautiful Austin day and the tornadoes that reportedly ravaged his Atlanta neighborhood the day before, but mostly he just played, loudly and beautifully.

Next up was a quick check-in with MTV sketch comedians Human Giant, who seem to be everywhere. Aziz Ansari and Rob Huebel (sans Paul Scheer) have been running around dressed in tracksuits and brandishing shockingly powerful T-shirt guns to great hilarity. They also made an appearance at the Pitchfork/Windish party on Friday. Their shtick hasn’t changed much from gig to gig, but it was still pretty funny when Ansari led the crowd in a call-and-response oral agreement to not sue “Human Giant or any organizers of this event” should the T-shirt guns break a face.

After some much-needed nourishment (and beer, and Grant Gee-directed documentary about Joy Division, courtesy of Austin’s entirely necessary Alamo Drafthouse theater/restaurant), we went back on the town. And since a documentary that climaxes when Ian Curtis kills himself is a perfect prelude for getting footloose, we headed to Austin’s warehouse district, where the DFA Label Showcase was getting underway at the entirely douchey bottle-service club Pangea. Let’s pause a moment to discuss the probably unintended hilarity involved in having the DFA—whose natural habitat, in my New York experience, has been grungy Greenpoint discos and bed-bug-infested loft parties—play a showcase at a club that serves $400 bottles of Grey Goose and hires girls who are just this side of stripper to grind on the subwoofers. It was like some parallel universe where the dudes who wear way too much hair gel and fake tanner go clubbing and listen to spacey experimental dance music instead of a hit parade of Benny Benassi. And color me shocked that a place as outwardly down-to-earth as Austin would adopt that most loathed nightlife caste system, the bottle service nightclub, let alone make it even more loathsome by sending each new bottle out to patrons with a Roman Candle strapped on top. But yes, it’s true. And unfortunately for all involved, instead of turning this Bizarro World scene on its ear, the second-stringers the DFA turned out to DJ couldn’t muster up anything mind-boggling enough to save the scene from itself, opting instead for long, amateurishly mixed sets of anonymous-sounding, mildly corked vintage disco. And aside from a kind of awkward transition between Holy Ghost!’s “Hold On” and Hercules and Love Affair’s “Blind,” they didn’t even really tap into the label’s own rich catalog of floor-fillers. To their credit, though, they weren’t quite boring enough to eclipse headliner Digitalism’s poorly mixed, white noise-spackled set defied odds to register as the biggest disappointment of the festival for me.

This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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