Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

SXSW 2012: Compliance, Man vs Machine, Waterloo Records & Danny Brown

There are several questions which rattle around your head after seeing Compliance, Craig Zobel’s provocative psych-drama about the goings-on at the Chickwich fast food joint in Ohio based on real-life events. The restaurant manager Sandra receives a call from a …

Wed, Mar 14, 2012, 14:56

   

There are several questions which rattle around your head after seeing Compliance, Craig Zobel’s provocative psych-drama about the goings-on at the Chickwich fast food joint in Ohio based on real-life events. The restaurant manager Sandra receives a call from a police officer called Daniels who says one of the staff, Becky, has been accused of stealing money from a customer. Over the phone, he asks Sandra to detain and question Becky about the theft, who denies everything about it. As the questioning continues, Daniels demands that Sandra strip-search Becky, remove her clothing and have a male employee in the room for security, which leads to a chilling, dreadful outcome when it turns out that Daniels is a hoaxer. It’s a film which makes you wonder a lot about trust and how much we obey the orders of people we perceive to be authority figures. If you were Sandra, would you have taken the “police officer” at his word or would you have been been suspicious about his identity? But Sandra wasn’t the only one who fell for this: incredibly, Compliance is based on one of 70 such incidents which happened across the United States over the course of a decade

It’s not just on the streets that you can notice the shift between the interative geeks and the music biz rock stars – less chinos, more tattoos – as SXSW’s Interactive strand winds down and Music kicks in. Yesterday’s Interactive strand featured several music-related discussions included a fascinating Man vs Machine discussion on music recommendations. Panelists from KCRW, Wahwah.fm, Fuel/Friends and We Are Hunted weighed up the pros and cons of human input versus algorithm-based services when it comes to recommending new and old music for the listener. While there was an argument that DJs really only mattered when you couldn’t find the music anywhere or anyhow else, the conclusion seemed to be that a mix of both human instinct and technological know-how is what we’ll be working with for some time to come.

A trip to Austin for SXSW is not complete without a trip (or cycle – yes, the bike has arrived) to Waterloo Records. Long established as one of the best independent record shops in the United States, it’s the depth of the in-store catalogue which really impresses. Of course, Waterloo also faces problems from changes in how we consume music – the shop wasn’t terribly busy yesterday on new release day – but it isn’t going down without a fight, as can be seen from a very well stocked DVD section, some fantastic SXSW instore shows and an impressive width in terms of the music that’s available. Reckon it will be here for another few SXSWs to come.

Music officially gets underway today, but last night saw a rake of official showcases around town. We saw a couple of acts, but the one who stood out was Danny Brown. The Detroit rapper may have encountered technical problems onstage with his backing DJ going silent every other track, but Brown just kept going. The dude has a wicked, demented lyrical turn and performs like a man possessed. A thrilling performance from the man with the silver tongue.

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