AAA Radio Conference re-cap:
Work conferences aren't usually anything to get excited about, but the annual AAA Radio Conference is an exception (for the most part). First and foremost, it's in Boulder, CO each year...which is hard to beat when it comes to conference locations. Sure, there are plenty of boring, same-old-topic-every-year panels, and even more awkward, paid-for (but not paid attention to) performances by artists. But mixed in, there is always some solid talent and a few nice surprises.
To avoid being unnecessarily negative, I'll skip over anything I didn't like or didn't care for (with one exception).
Wednesday afternoon I arrived at the St. Julien hotel just in time for the cocktail-hour performance by Cat Power. This is the type of industry-laden showcase I would imagine she usually turns down, but I'm glad she didn't! After the panels, meals and cocktail hour each day, they have shows at the Fox Theatre (both inside, and outside in the parking lot across the street - so they can cram as many bands as possible into the fold). That night I caught solid sets from Heartless Bastards (outside) and Trampled By Turtles (inside). Unfortunately, the original headliner that night, Passion Pit, had to cancel their set.
Thursday morning, barely awake, I was pleasantly surprised by the foursome of young sisters from Alpharetta, GA called von Grey. While I wasn't overly impressed by the lyrics/ songs themselves (which is excusable, since they range in age from 13 - 18, I think), their musicianship, melodies, and harmonies were excellent.
Fast forwarding to the evening, Lafayette, LA's Givers started the show at the Fox. I thoroughly enjoyed their set, they have a Reptar vibe with some New Orleans flavor mixed in.
The biggest joke of the week came later that evening, when Fun. headlined. It was just downright awful, they seemed like a modern day reincarnation of the Mickey Mouse Club...it had all the feel of a boy band with instruments, assembled by some corporate fat-cats and playing songs that were written and tailored for them. To make it worse, they were playing to pre-recorded tracks and the singers' voice was quite obviously being auto-tuned the whole time.
Friday afternoon, New West sponsored the cocktail hour...we had Normaltown artist White Violet and New West artist Max Gomez on the bill (both of whom were amazing, of course), as well as friend-of-the-label Charlie Mars.
My biggest regret was not getting to the Fox in time on Friday night to see Allen Stone, word on the street is that he was awesome. Later that night, the always-solid Alabama Shakes closed out the evening with the final set of the weekend.