SXSW 2010: Hare band

Boston’s Bad Rabbits get a major buzzcut
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  March 25, 2010

BUNNY BUSINESS: Bad Rabbits' Salim, Santi, Dua, Sheel, and Graham during a Phoenix photo shoot

The Phoenix's complete coverage of South by Southwest 2010.

VIEW: More photos of Bad Rabbits at SXSW

By 7 pm on day three of South by Southwest, BAD RABBITS bassist Graham had flashed his naked ass in the crossroads of two thriving, alcohol-drenched Austin arteries. Dude was seriously mooning for the masses. He and his boisterous Boston soul-rock sidekicks were just minutes into a Phoenix photo shoot on Sixth Street and Trinity Place, and curiosity-struck onlookers had already circled to sniff the excitement. Before long, the scene accumulated meta-riffic momentum, with people snapping pics of people snapping pics of Rabbits Dua, Santi, Sheel, Salim, and Graham. If the last’s pale cheeks get plastered all across the Internet, it’s because he might now be the most photographed nude in Texas history since Bambi Woods.

At SXSW, buzz spreads faster than news of Ferris Bueller fainting at 31 Flavors; imagine 100,000-plus tastemakers from across the planet converged within a few square miles to network face-to-face and feed the outside world with constant updates, posts, articles, pics, and videos. One of the primary beneficiaries from all of the above this year was self-described “New Crack Swing” slingers Bad Rabbits (known in their former incarnation as Eclectic Collective), who surfed what can be modestly described as a tidal wave of viral accolades.

Beside their sound itself — something like Michael’s “Smooth Criminal” getting stuck in Prince’s Purple Rain on Teddy Riley’s Blackstreet — hype around the Rabbits’ ambitious 10-show SXSW schedule especially echoed because of an accelerated new media. In addition to a sponsorship from the Bean-based street-wear behemoth Karmaloop (and its daily Web cast), their picture was prominently featured on the Austin festival’s home page for most of March, inevitably casting them as a lead rookie attraction. Rabbits fans also tend to represent a young, smart-phone-friendly demographic that incessantly documents live music, leading to a storm of tweets every time the band hops on stage.

On Sixth Street, the pandemonium continued all through the photo shoot. The simple original idea was for Bad Rabbits to look almost detached from the excitement rushing by, but that task proves harder than expected. Passing rockers, giddy college girls, and even parents with children on their shoulders swarmed the frame. The scene got even more surreal after frontman Dua led his crew into a drum-pumped bounce session with a mob of Hare Krishnas.

Had I not been asked by every third person at SXSW (who saw my Boston Phoenix press badge) for the lowdown on (and in some cases publicist contact info for) Bad Rabbits, a joke could have been made that they arranged for this spectacle themselves. (At one point, it seemed there might be a small stampede when the band’s current tour mates, Queen-redux rockers Foxy Shazam from Cincinnati, crashed the portrait, its members heaping praises on each other.) Then again, this is SXSW, where just four years ago another retro-minded, soul-dipped act rode to the forefront of international pop-culture consciousness in a matter of days by stumbling onto stages and belting her trademark anthem about refusing to enter rehab.

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