Vita.mn hosted their annual Are You Local? SXSW Send-Off party at First Avenue on Friday night with a diverse group of 8 acts in both the main room and 7th Street Entry. Astronautalis played his first mainroom set while Peter Wolf Crier, Blind Shake, Pink Mink and Fort Wilson Riot kept the big room going and in the Entry, The Japhies, Prissy Clerks and Xavier Marquis battled it out for a spot at Vita.mn’s SXSW day party.
1) Shooting (or seeing a show, for that matter) at First Avenue and 7th Street Entry is awesome. The staff, the layout and the lights are great. The Entry can be a challenge – heavy red light on stage right, for instance – but it’s a great place to get in close, maybe one of the best in the city.
2) Left the ultra-wide at home, to my detriment. As an experiment, I decided to leave both my Sigma 20/1.8 and Nikon 14-24/2.8 at home to save some weight since it’s such a long show. Sometimes in the mainroom, particularly in the photo pit, the ultra-wide can be quite useless. You simply just can’t get close enough unless the performers are jumping out into the crowd and the monitors on stage prevent any other uses quite handily. In the end though, the extra kilogram would’ve been worth it and I’ll be sure to keep at least one of these on hand, especially when I’m up close and personal in the Entry. 35mm simply isn’t wide enough to really get into the action.
3) It’s been a good Winter for live music in Minneapolis. From the Replacements Tribute to the Current’s Birthday gigs to the Doomtree Blowout and the Revolution reunion gig, First Avenue has been full of great live Minnesota music all throughout the Winter when touring bands tend to stay away from the frigid north. With the Honeydogs and 4onthefloor playing some hotly-tipped upcoming gigs the season’s not totally over but the season of big, multi-genre showcases probably won’t pick up again until next November. Of course, we’ve got Summer block parties to look forward to in a few short months…
Nikon 70-200/2.8 AF-S VR
Nikon 35/1.8 AF-S DX
Nikon 50/1.4 AF-D
Nikon 85/1.4 AF-D
And the show?
These showcase style shows can be a bit of a marathon and this was no exception. The blend of styles went a long way to keeping the show moving along but by the time the somewhat quiet Peter Wolf Crier came on stage at the midnight mark fatigue started taking over for many of the fans in attendance. While the crowd for Astronautalis contained a good number of adventurous types, by then the audience had been largely distilled to die hards and rap heads. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (it’s just the nature of these gigs and the stage crew kept things running on time) but I wish more folks had been able to see his performance.
Oh, and the contest in the Entry was quite spirited. The Japhies vigorously reminded everyone in the room that Rock and Roll will never die, the Prissy Clerks played a heart-felt, endearingly memorable set, and Xavier Marquis turned the room into a full-on blacklight-neon dance party, face paint, glow-sticks and all. In the end the Prissy Clerks won over the judges and played a triumphant second set in the mainroom (and are slated to open up the Are You Local? party at SXSW) but it had to be tough call. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out to see what these acts are up to over the next year!
The Japhies (in the Entry)
Fort Wilson Riot
Prissy Clerks (in the Entry)
Xavier Marquis (in the Entry)
The Blind Shake
Prissy Clerks (playing victoriously on the Mainroom stage)
Peter Wolf Crier