Grandchildren - Granchildren on Tour to SXSW

Bill Cummings 06/04/2009

Sadly here at GIITTV we didn't have the budgets to stretch to luxury flights to last month's industry music shindig SXSW (set in Austin, Texas). So instead we thought we'd ask one of the best new bands we've heard in recent weeks to write us a little diary about their trip to SXSW. Fast rising multicolored Philadelphia, act Grandchildren are taking up residence on our stereo with their mind bending recently released Cold Warrior Ep. It's like the euphoric electro-acoustic rhythms of the Animal Collective having a protracted sonic arm wrestle with the insatiable grooves of TV On The Radio, there are even hints toward the pile driving instrumentals of early Trail of Dead, but there's' something more exciting and individual about the Grandchilden sound it's a feeling of not knowing where this sonic journey is going to take you next. There's the unstoppable beats that drive trippy melodies, the surreal choirs of ominous voices and dizzying half familiar moments of rock and electonica augmented by unexpected instrumental stings. It's ambitious and sonically dexterous and we think its rather fabulous. It's closely followed by their new album in the Autumn.

Here's Gandchildren's Aleks Martray account of their DIY adventure through America and toward SXSW, including his acts of the festival:

For a self-produced band, setting out on a 2 month tour of the US in the midst of a recession and in the dead of winter might seem like a treacherous gamble, but since when have musicians been rational calculated beings. And when you're a self-recorded self-promoted act with brand spanking new EPs like us, you gotta take the music to the masses. So that's what we did. The six us used our basic math skills and sheer force to puzzle together tons of equipment tetris-style into the back of our Ford E350, and charted a tour of the US as far north as Fargo, as far west as San Francisco and as far south as our pinnacle destination Austin, TX for the musical cesspool known as SXSW, where everyone their brothers band hopes to get a break. Our bands Grandchildren and Rad Racket are a venn diagram of musicians/friends who met at various points from middle school to college and some how converged in west Philadelphia to form the DangerDanger Gallery, a DIY out growth of explosive house shows that evolved to fill a need for accessible performance venues for local, national and international acts. Before the growth of DIY spaces Philly was often overlooked by touring acts as a wash, but now it has opened up the possibility for bands of all echelons to play to intimate and enthusiastic crowds of kids on any night of the week while cutting out the middle-man of club owners and obnoxious sound guys. For us it has meant the ability to build a social network with like-minded musicians and venues across the country which we can call upon when setting out to book a tour such as this one, dubbed the “infinity tour” for its insane route that resembles a horizontal figure 8 drawn by kindergartener with exceptionally bad motor skills. Needless to say after 2 months on the road infinity has a whole new meaning that can only be expressed through the gamut of insane experiences 6 young dudes can confront trekking across this rugged nation of ours- from blizzards in Chicago, to a 12 hour drive through nigh-time blackness of the Dakotas, to adult chicken pox in Portland, to a van break-in at the “Full House” neighborhood in San Francisco, to a drug bust at a border patrol in Arizona, to an immigration interview scheduled the day of the very show we had traveled all the way to SXSW to play!

By the time we arrived in Austin all bets were off about what would happen next. We were just happy to be in a temperate climate with free beer, food, and surrounded by our DIY buddies from the Secret Squirrel (Athens, GA) and Rancho Relaxo (Austin, TX). The so-called "Tri-lateral DIY Committee" converged to throw a series of epic showcases at various venues outside of the downtown SXSW nucleus. Day one at Club 1808 featured such Austin locals as retro-pop trio Yellow Fever, Philly's classic slop-punk the POPO's, and closed out with Athen's signature gang of horns and keys, Quiet Hooves. Grandchildren's set went over quite well considering I almost passed out after playing 3 songs in the sweltering sun. The next day at Trailor Space record store featured not only free coffee and grilled cheese (thanks to the Quiet Hooves gang) but a mind blowing one-woman music-machine by the name of Tune Yards, that definitely stole the show through her unique layered looping of live drums, vocals, and ukulele that spanned from the tribal, to the narrative, to the explosively celebratory. The final day went down at the Moose Lodge, the slightly out of the way home to Austin's Moose chapter, complete with a taxidermied moose head watching over the entire show. This 4 stage round robin fiasco featured over 40 bands from across the country over a 12-hour period. Needless to say being at the show from start to finish was a-bit overkill, but the range of acts and constant flow of new audience gave the show a lively feel. Bands of the explosive noise ilk such as LA's Anavan and Austin's own When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth rattled the lodge with a buzz while the one-man show Daniel Francis Boyle blew peoples minds with his unpredictable mathy-loop mayhem.

We left Austin with a bunch of new music and a heaping helping of fresh hearing loss, and about a week left on tour with stops in Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois. Big thanks to Mercer, Ethan and the whole Rancho Relaxo/Secret Squirrel/Quiet Hooves crew for their hospitality and broism. Love you guys!