Something I just couldn’t get on board with during SXSW was getting up early. I was staying in a room with six other people and every single morning I would wake up and everyone would be gone by 11AM. Screw that! I stayed up until fucking 3AM! I need some God damn energy for the next day or else I’m dragging ass for rest of the day. Especially in this Texas heat.
So I woke up at the crack of noon and made my way to devour some Waffle Tacos. It exactly what it sounds like, a waffle folded and stuffed with eggs, bacon, hasbrowns, and grilled onions. It was beyond fantastic and probably the worst thing for me. Meh, I was in Texas and you gotta go big if you’re in Texas…right?
Anyway, I decided to go to Club de Ville and check out one of my new favorite female singers, Cameron Mesirow aka Glasser. Besides making fun of her Bjork comparisions and just being absolutley adorable, Glasser gracefully commanded the stage by playing a majority of her debut, Ring. She is nothing short of amazing live and even though her band ran into some technical difficulties around the end of her set, Glasser silenced the crowd with a spot-on cover of The Flamingos’ I Only Have Eyes For You. Quite an awesome set to kick off the day.
All I had to do is walk next door to watch a band I have been meaning to see live for years, Maritime. You ever see a band live and suddenly realize how much of an impact they’ve made on you once that first song kicks off? Yeah, once the band played For Science Fiction and Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts, I was instantly their biggest fan in the room. Even the new songs made me want to go home and just jam to Maritime songs all day. Particularly the catchy and very ‘We, The Vehicles’-ish Peopling of London, which has quickly become one of my favorite songs of 2011. The band is just a joy to see live and highly recommended.
After getting some food and a few free canned sparkle juice (or whatever), I made my way out to the outdoor stages at the French Legation Museum. I stayed for a few songs from The Ghost of a Sabor Tooth Tiger, which is not a metal band but Sean Lennon’s new band. I honestly can’t remember if I liked them or not, but it was kind of neat to see Sean Lennon.
I made it just in time to see Cults kick off a fairly enjoyable set to a sizable crowd. Which is another thing I’d like to point out. Lots of people seemed to be attracted to bands that sometimes didn’t even have a full album out yet. However, SXSW is all about catching bands before they explode and Cults is pretty much on the verge and for good reason. The R&B swing and beach rockish sway that Cults combines is translated pretty well live and from what I noticed everyone seemed to dig them.
Next up on the same stage was one of the hottest acts to catch at this year’s fest, James Blake. Regarded as a hype act and a product of Pitchfork that’s being dryhumped by every ironic hipster this side of Williamsburg, Mr. Blake unknowingly had to prove himself to those questioning his credibility. Well I can safely say he’s the real thing. Even though the atmosphere wasn’t dark and creepy like most of his debut album, Mr. Blake effortlessly had the entire crowd fall into his soulful electronic based music. His angelic voice and perfectly crafted acoustic / heavy beat backdrop helped me and maybe other people realize that James Blake isn’t just a ‘hype act’ that’s clogging the pipes right now. This kind of genuine songwriting does not just disappear.
After Blake I walked back to the alternate stage and caught Merrill Garbus’ Tune-Yards perform a pretty energtic set. Tune-Yards is extremely hard to explain but basically the show consisted of heavy drum loops and layers upon layers of trumpet, ukulele, voice, and electric bass. The highlight had to be the new track off w h o k i l l, Gangsta, which is a kickass tribal onslaught and a fun little showcase of what Merrill is capable of.
Back to the main stage, I decided I’d witness the chaos of !!! (chk chk chk). H-o-l-y CRAP! If you ever have the opportunity to see these guys live, cancel all plans and just go. It’s a wild ride for anyone willing to just dance, push, and rock out to some pretty insane music. I’ve always been a casual fan of the band and never really thought of their music as something I would listen to regularly. But after seeing lead singer Nic Offer dance and scream like a lunatic, I made it point to give their music another shot. This was definitely a highlight of the festival which finished off with a funky cover of Nate Dogg’s Get Up (no, Eve didn’t show up).
I took an extended break with some friends and actually ended up wandering into a Rachel Ray party (I know people). But after getting a little ancy, I decided to visit The Ghost Room to see my favorite Bay Area string-metal band, Judgement Day. While SXSW is all about seeing bands you don’t normally get a chance to see live, I couldn’t resist seeing these guys tear it up in Austin. Not only that, but part of the entertainment of J-Day is watching the crowd give that look of, “Je-SUS! This is AWESOME!” And there was plently of that happening all the way up to their last note.
I hung out for a little bit before I made my way to Red 7 Patio to watch a little bit of Papercuts. I realized why I don’t see Papercuts live much because it wasn’t long before I became pretty bored. While Papercuts’ new material is sounding pretty interesting, their live show was lacking.
So I instead visited Valhalla to see instru-metal band Gifts From Enola perform a fairly brutal set. Recently the band has introduced vocals into the mix and while I’m not sure how I feel about that, the instrumentation is still pretty solid and worthy of some head-banging. In fact, the show motivated me to seek out their epic self-titled 5th album from last year. Altogether a good set from a professional and intense band.
Lastly I met up with a friend of mine to watch a dynomite variety of comedians at Ester’s Follies. The comic line-up included Chelsea Peretti (who I have a huge crush on), Chris Cubas (NOT Reggie Watts), Glenn Wool (a crowd favorite), Rob Cantrell (one of my favorites), Amy Schumer (hilariously adorable), and Austin’s own very funny Bryson Turner. After the show I couldn’t figure out a good enough reason to close the night nor a reason to stay up any longer. It was time to catch up on some sleep and probably get up way after everyone else again. Yay me!