Tanner: Driving into downtown Thursday gave a glimpse of how big this thing really was. Traffic was practically at gridlock miles from the epicenter of the festival; that is anywhere the roads were still open, which only added another layer to the vehicular frustration. Luckily, this was the only day that involved arriving by car for me.
After painfully watching pedestrians and bikers zoom by while I moved at a snail’s pace in bumper to bumper traffic to park, I finally made it to Beauty Bar where the Bay Bridged and other local sponsors were hosting the Bay Area Takeover day party. Walking in to catch Geographer finish a great set while making a B-line for the free Trumer Pils being served, I instantly felt at home.
It was perfect timing because up next in the backyard was Leopold and His Fiction serving up some choice licks in their southern tinged, wreckless heartbreaker, throwback garage rock and roll style that I can’t seem to get enough of. Their new single, Golden Friends, will be released along with a B-side on April 29th.
Next in the backyard was Man/Miracle. These guys have been playing around the Bay Area for awhile now, but they manage to sound better each time I hear them. Their latest album, The Shape Of Things, is still warm from being lovingly pulled from the oven like grandma’s apple pie and is worth a listen.
[mp3] Man/Miracle – Hot Sprawl from The Shape Of Things (2010)
Around this time, the free Trumer at the Bay Area Takeover ran dry, so a friend and myself decided to follow up on a tip about some gratis cerveza elsewhere. We were successful and after making some friends with locals and getting our fix of Lonestar beer (which became a theme in Austin) we headed to Sidebar to catch one of my favorite new acts, Phantogram.
What more can I say about their performance that I didn’t already gush over from my review of their show at The Rickshaw Stop a few weeks ago. Again, they were rock solid; the real deal. Plus they are both sweet hearts and humored me to some pleasant conversation after they finished up. If by some freak accident you have yet to hear their music, do so immediately.
[mp3] Phantogram – As Far As I Can See from Eyelid Movies (2010)
Did I mention this party had free beer for folks with wristbands and I had a wristband? Well they did and I did. Needless to say I wasn’t shy at this point. Then came LA’s Dengue Fever as the sun began to set. They have created a near perfect recipe blending indie street cred, psychedelic sounds, and far reaching world music appeal with their all-star cast of members including a saxophone player who knows how to work a crowd. Always noted for their songbird singer from Cambodia, Chhom Nimol, I will do nothing less. She is a gem indeed, but don’t take my word for it.
[mp3] Dengue Fever – Hold My Hips from Sleepwalking Through The Mekong (2009)
Javelin, the Brooklyn based reincarnation of early 80s synth pop mixed with tropical rhythms, played last at this day party. Following their set, it was time to mellow out [sober up] for a bit and get something to eat. The R & R and Jimmy Johns sandwich did the trick and I was back in action party hopping and meeting up with friends at various bars on 6th Street.
I just had to make my way to the Galaxy Room Backyard to see New Zealand experimental indie rockers The Ruby Suns. With keyboards and drum kit draped with fruit-like christmas lights, this trio made the audience feel like they were watching the show wide-eyed in an intimate living room setting and momentarily forget the chaos of the festival. I will definitely be there when they play Bottom Of The Hill on April 12th.
[mp3] The Ruby Suns – Dusty Fruit from Fight Softly (2009)
After that it was starting to get late so I headed back to rejoin some friends who were at Emo’s checking out Daedelus. Once inside I quickly realized that this was not Daedelus playing on stage. I had mistakenly gone to Emo’s Jr. rather than Emo’s Main. These strange venue nuances are plentiful and confusing during SXSW. But alas, this was a happy mistake. Call it fate. The band that was playing was fronted by a skinny man with a biblical beard and matching hair. He had a very unique voice that was reminiscent of Anthony Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon with a deeper voice and tapped his guitar strings rapidly in math rock fashion, but with a folky twist. It was none other that Chicago’s Maps & Atlases. I had heard of them, but wasn’t familiar with their music. Now I can’t think of a more fitting introduction to this very talented group.
[mp3] Maps & Atlases – Witch from You Me And The Mountain (2008)