I honestly thought by this time I would be physically and mentally exhausted from the past two days of non-stop music, walking, and BBQ pork. But I guess it was the sheer excitement from what this specific day had in store that kept me going. My feet were already starting to hurt though, despite bringing comfortable shoes. That’s my major problem with this festival; people will tell you to wear comfortable shoes but you could be wearing those ugly Bare Foot Sports Shoes and by Thursday I can guarantee you’ll be wishing you had a Segway to get you around downtown Austin.
Band: Team Me
Venue: Guero’s Taco Bar
Thoughts: Team Me was at the top of my list of bands to see this SXSW. Their Mew-like vocals and progression mixed with their high energy choruses caught my ear as a youthful punk rock Sigur Ros. I don’t think I expected such a lightning strike of a performance from the band though. Especially not at a taco bar at noon with a crazy sundressed lady who danced through every song (not part of the act). The band jumped off picnic tables, ran around in the crowd, and started a sizable dance party that was impossible not to smile at. This isn’t over-exaggeration when I say I felt instantly happier after seeing this band. Definitely the highlight of the festival so far.
Sponsor: Taco Bar Dance Parties!
Band: Lee Fields & The Expressions
Venue: Hype Hotel
Thoughts: I only caught the last two songs from this man, but when people say he’s James Brown re-incarnate, they aren’t kidding. For someone that had 3 shows that day, he seems to put a whole lot of energy into every waking moment on stage. Sweating and screaming until the last second of the show, Lee Fields seems to understand the dedication to his talent.
Sponsor: The Ghost of Sam Cooke
Band: Youth Lagoon
Venue: Hype Hotel
Thoughts: It takes guts to follow Lee Fields, but lucky for Boise, Idaho artist Trevor Powers and his guitarist, the crowd thinned out from soul fans to fans of Youth Lagoon’s brand of lo-fi electro-pop. They were exactly what you would expect if you’ve listened to last year’s The Year of Hibernation; charming, dreamy, and lackadaisical. While it was a decent performance, I would have opted for an outside venue for this group. Their music just seems to fit better in the outdoors.
Sponsor: Vintage Hair Metal T-Shirts
Band: Dana Falconberry
Venue: Swan Dive
Thoughts: I just caught the last song of this adorable group of musicians. This Austin collective of harmonious folk sweethearts did a fine job luring me into the Swan Dive bar on Red River. Also to find out they’re giving away free Dos Equis. Score!
Sponsor: Butterflies and Running Through Fields With No Shoes
Band: The Ettes
Venue: Swan Dive
Thoughts: I stayed for a few songs in the beginning and realized that this wasn’t my type of music. The Ettes are a chick fronted “mild-punk” act that have a problem with on-stage energy balance. You see, their drummer would thrash and throw herself around while the rest of the band kind of just stood there. My girlfriend said the drummer looked like Animal, but if Animal played with a normal band…you get something like this.
Sponsor: Red Bull
Band: Sea of Bees
Venue: Swan Dive
Thoughts: I knew I had to support a few Bay Area bands during this trip so what better band than the wonderful Sea of Bees. Julie’s voice was as ethereal and heartbreaking as ever and the addition of new songs from this year’s new album, Orangefarben made the set that much more enjoyable. Plus the moving version of John Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane closed the set nicely.
Sponsor: The Bay Area baby!
Venue: Trinity Hall
Thoughts: I had my heart set on Halifax’s Wintersleep playing maybe one song of off the three albums that I hold dear to my heart (2003’s Wintersleep, 2005’s untitled, 2007’s Welcome to the Night Sky) but what I got were brand new songs and a few off the 2010 mild disappointment New Inheritors. Granted the Wintersleep spirit was still intact and the show was pretty solid. The new track Resuscitate made a appearance as well, which finds the band take a more “psychedelic space rock” approach. More power to them.
Venue: Hype Hotel
Thoughts: Next I ran back to the Hype Hotel to get some more free drinks before heading face first into another long night and caught a few songs from the all-girl outfit Bleached. Put simply, they sound like Best Coast. Maybe a little less lifeless than Best Coast but still that chick garage rock that we all know and are kind of sick of at this point.
Sponsor: Hazy, Dreamy, blah blah blah BLAH!
Venue: Treasure Island
Thoughts: Snowmine was another band that I was looking forward to seeing at SXSW. Mainly because I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to see them live since they are strictly touring the East coast while they record their new album. The band was as resolute and forceful as I wanted them to be. Their style of spacious tribal beats and lush orchestration was still intact plus the band had an imaginative ability to fill in the string arrangements with keyboard effects and tricky guitar licks. Add that to the homemade and improvised projections that coated the band during their performance and you have an ace set from a stellar band. The new stuff was refreshing to hear but it was nice to finally hear tracks like Beast in Air, Beast in Water, The Hill, and Let Me In. I could have ended the night right there; a flawless set.
Sponsor: Your new favorite band
Band: Dry The River
Venue: Stubb’s BBQ
Thoughts: I figured it would be a good idea to swing by one of the larger venues at SXSW and see who’s playing there. Luckily it was one of the more creative “new-folk” acts out there, London’s Dry The River. They definitely fit that huge stage and projected their enormous sound well to the unsuspecting audience that night. I was slightly familiar with their music at the time but wasn’t aware of how unyielding their stage presence was. You wouldn’t think folk rock and head banging would go together well but they made it work.
Sponsor: What The Fuck Is “New Folk” Anyway?
Venue: Club De Ville
Thoughts: Fanfarlo was supposed to be huge by now. They won me over with their 2009 debut that seemed like an answer to unhappy Arcade Fire fans that wanted less Neon and more Funeral. But for whatever reason that didn’t spark as bright as I hoped. Now with a tighter and more focused album, the band did a decent job showcasing that to the large Club De Ville crowd that night.
Sponsor: C’mon People! Buy Their Record!
Band: Milo Greene
Venue: Maggie Mae’s Rooftop
Thoughts: At this point I wanted to just sit…anywhere. I could be standing on a pile of dog shit and I would sit in it. My feet were KILLING ME at this point of the night. Thankfully I had this impressively dynamic 5-piece of a band called Milo Greene to shake me from the pain (only temporarily though). The amount of fun these guys were having on stage was kinetic and soon enough the audience joined in on the festivities. Plus their cover of Sufjan Steven’s Chicago was a near perfect interpretation. A nice close to another successful SXSW day. Only two more days left….
Sponsor: Dr. Scholls