Saturday, March 21, 2009

No Clear Titans at SXSW

By Evan Rytlewski
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Last year's SXSW was dominated by a handful of burgeoning bands with major next-big-thing potential. Vampire Weekend, MGMT and Bon Iver were all already well on their way toward bigger things when they played Austin last March, but SXSW was in many ways the tipping point, the moment media cemented the narrative that these were to be the great success stories of 2008.

No burgeoning acts as South by Southwest have come close to inciting that kind of fervor. Wavves and to a less extend Telepathe have a good buzz about them, but it's limited primarily to the indie-rock base; it's doubtful Spin will give them the cover treatment any time soon. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, meanwhile, win this year's ubiquity award. They must have scheduled almost a dozen shows over this long weekend.

Though they're a pleasant little band, as charming and fresh-faced as Vampire Weekend was, they're not moving mountains. Yesterday they shared their sweetened "120 Minutes" throwbacks to an appreciative but not particularly enthused crowd at Pitchfork's day party. They've got a great sound, but with so much music out there, it takes something a little more novel than retro-indie rock to really stand out.

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