Song of the Day: The Oooh Baby Gimme Mores, "Beat Up Kidz"
The South By Southwest festival is underway in Austin, Texas. I am not there, and there's a small part of me that wishes I was. Austin is obviously a cool town, with a ton of great food and one of my favorite record stores in the country. I've been in the business long enough and work for high-profile-enough outlets to justify getting into just about any show I like. My last few trips to SXSW were more or less positive. But it's also an exhausting couple of days that are spent almost exclusively by myself. Even among the countless shows and detours along the way, it makes for long, lonely, and sometimes boring days. My memories of SXSW always juxtapose the amazing performances I've seen (an intimate performance by Bruce Springsteen here, a rooftop jam by Soundgarden there, barn-burning shredding care of Courtney Barnett on the other side of town) with the burden of having to kill time between obligations and walking around with no specific purpose. Like a lot of media-centric events of its type, SXSW is the type of thing that I always looked forward to, then hated it while I was there, but was then glad to have gone.
That's a common cycle of events for me, by the way. With most anything I do professionally, there's a real longing to be a part of a thing that is followed by crippling anxiety (and the hope that the thing will be canceled altogether). I have a hard time experiencing those things in real time, as I'm merely focused on getting to the other side of the event. Ultimately, I end up looking back on those festivals and events with a relatively positive light, even as I remember cursing it and declaring "Never again!" in the moment.
Over the years, SXSW has grown from an indie rock proving ground to an overly-commercialized branding bonanza, though it's still possible to make musical discoveries in a way that would otherwise be impossible outside of the context of a huge industry event. When I was full time at EW, my personal mandate was split between the artists I was obligated to see (typically the big artists playing small venues, like when Lady Gaga performed a few years back), bands I had heard but was curious to see live (this tended to be metal acts or rappers), and straight-up wander-in-off-the-street discoveries. There were a few visits to SXSW where I would simply pick a band based on its name and check them out, or I would try to find the oddest thematic showcase and give those groups a try.
The latter two philosophies once led me to a relatively small bar in Austin to see a bunch of artists presented by the Canadian consulate. I was mostly curious about hardcore punk band Single Mothers, whose album Negative Qualities I had already heard and enjoyed. But I was also intrigued by a group called the Oooh Baby Gimme Mores. That evening did not have a promising start, as I arrived to find out that Single Mothers had run into some transportation trouble and would be missing the show, and the singer-songwriter who was on stage when I entered interrupted one of his songs to walk out onto the street and vomit (which was an apt metaphor for his set). Luckily, the Oooh Baby Gimme Mores (or OBGMs) made up for all that unpleasantness with a bananas set. They're a combo from Canada who traffic in jittery garage punk but also drop in the spirit of Parliament funk and organic hardcore club thump. Combined with its trippy video, "Beat Up Kidz" is an excellent example of what the band does best, but it should not be understated how unbearably charismatic frontman Densil McFarlane was that night. He worked a modest crowd into a funky froth and made the room feel 14 times bigger than it was. He was awesome. It's a performance that has stuck with me years after I saw it.
If the Internet is to be believed, they've been sort of quiet for a while, but hopefully that means new music and a fresh tour are on the horizon. I'll be there, because they were there for me.