HITS Daily Double

By Karen Glauber

I returned from SXSW with the same crud that has kept many of my coworkers bedridden for weeks. We were commanded to stay home at the first sign of sickness, but I’ve been feeling crappy for almost a week, so I’m in the office, loopy from a half-dose of my 10-year-old son’s cough medicine. I pride myself on being a linear thinker. Not this week.

A radio programmer was heard complaining about this year’s SXSW because they had to pay for their own meals on one or two occasions. If I didn’t see you at the C3 party, or at Lynn Barstow’s 101X party at Buffalo Billiards, then we likely missed each other. Lynn has been curating a showcase for his listeners for many years, and this year’s lineup of Belle MT, Judah & the Lion, Mobley, Mansionair, Sam Fender and Flora Cash packed them in. It’s incredibly valuable for what we do as promotion people to see the response from listeners—Judah & the Lion were the clear stars of the showcase, but the audience knew every word to Flora Cash’s “You’re Somebody Else” (always gratifying), and newcomer Belle MT’s breakout song “Hollow” left an indelible impression on those in attendance. Also, I love Lynn Barstow.

For me, SXSW is about music discovery. God bless Jeff Morad from WEQX, who returned home from Austin and promptly added two of the bands he fell in love with: Melbourne’s Amyl and the Sniffers and U.K. band Squid. I fell in love with Partisan’s Fontaines D.C. on my first night out, and my passion for them grew with the other three sets I managed to see them play. “You remind me of going to see The Fall when Mark E. Smith still had teeth,” was the comment I made to Fontaines D.C. singer Grian Chatten. They’ll be touring the States in May with IDLES. I spent all day Friday at The Current’s day party with PD Jim McGuinn, happily falling in love with Dylan Cartlidge, Cherry Glazerr, The Beths, Sam Fender and the aforementioned Fontaines D.C. The artists’ sets were being broadcast live on The Current’s website, available to the world, and, according to a friend who was listening, my laugh was audible (for that I apologize).

The anticipatory anxiety kicks in the night before my yearly panel, even after decades of moderating. Sleep? Not a chance. Thankfully, Matthew Caws from Nada Surf has assumed the role of wingman/co-moderator after 10 years of being by my side. Mac McCaughan from Superchunk (taking a selfie with me above) is another regular, and Clem from Cherry Glazerr, Andrew W.K. and Martin Phillipps from The Chills agreed to perform on the panel, the topic of which was songwriting. Having Martin there was a thrill—I’d tried to sign The Chills at A&M Records when Kaleidoscope World was out, to no avail, but I’ve remained a lifelong fan. After an extended break to deal with nearly life-ending hepatitis C (now untraceable, thanks to a miracle drug developed in New Zealand) and alcoholism (now sober), Martin and the band received a hero’s welcome in Austin, including being named the 2019 SXSW Grulke Prize winner for Career Act. We closed the panel with an audience singalong to The Chills’ biggest radio hit, “Heavenly Pop Hit,” followed by the Andrew W.K. classic “Party Hard,” and a wonderful time was had by all.

The Grulke Prize for Developing Non-U.S. Act was awarded to Dualtone’s Angie McMahon—her incredible set on Friday night was my first glimpse of an artist I’m excited to champion.

Remember when radio programmers were the REAL “influencers,” instead of a 19-year-old whose parents bought her way into USC? (How dare you question that I got into Oberlin on a football scholarship.) Seriously, radio friends, you’ve lost the plot. Where is your influence? You’re letting the streaming services lead the way—I guess you figure that you’ll take credit for breaking the record, regardless of when you add it. Still, I’d be doing my best to avoid being one of those stations that gets flipped to “The New Generation of Classic Rock,” as that appears to be a real threat. Take the reins, dammit!

I remember seeing The Lumineers for the first time at SXSW in 2012. “Ho Hey” had a few spins at Alt radio when the band headed into Austin, most notably from KNDD, which was the first commercial Alt station to play the band. On April 5, The Lumineers will release the first single from their new album. I can’t wait for you to hear it.

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