South By Southwest 2011 is in the books, and March is almost over. As SXSW becomes a memory, there are two shows we can’t get out of our mind. Keep in mind, each show cost between $10 and $15 to get into, and each venue was smaller than The Troubadour in West Hollywood. Alright, we won’t keep you waiting. Find out who our picks for Biggest Surprise and Biggest Disappointment of SXSW 2011 are after the jump.
Biggest Surprise – Dax Riggs
Dax Riggs performed Wednesday night at 1:00 AM at the Easy Tiger Patio. The show was at the same time as the Queens of the Stone Age set at La Zona Rosa, so there were only 40-50 people at the Easy Tiger to watch this little known performer. Despite the small venue and smattering of patio observers Dax put on a tremendous show, playing primarily songs from his first album, “We Sing of Only Blood or Love.” The highlight song was a beautifully lingering performance of “Night is the Notion,” and the show finished with a powerful rendition of “The Wall of Death.” The sound quality was quite good for a sawdust stage, and the music and songwriting skills of Dax were on full display.
In talking with Dax after the show he seemed honestly surprised that people on the West Coast listen to his music. With modern media I’m not sure why he’d be surprised, but I can assure everyone that I will do my part to make sure people in LA have the opportunity to learn about his music. What’s the best way to get his music out to LA? I was thinking next time I’m stuck on the 405 for an hour (to go a few miles) I’ll roll down my windows and blast it! But of course, I’m open to more practical suggestions.
Biggest Disappointment – Benny Benassi
I was excited to mix up my Rock and Roll weekend with a little late night dance music, so I made sure to get over to the Benni Benassi set at The Phoenix on Thursday night. The venue was set up nicely as a sort of club/lounge, and the opening DJ put on a nice little set, so expectations were relatively high. The constantly hyped Benassi put on a spectacularly sub-par performance that drove a good deal of patrons (most of them to see Benassi!) to the nearby bars before the set ended. Benassi cut almost any trace of trance out of his set and seemed caught in a loop of insanity inducing club rhythms. Without any major variation in tempo the energy level dropped and he couldn’t get the crowd back involved. In LA we get some of the best DJs in the world on a regular basis, so it’ll take quite a lot to get me back to a Benassi show.