Day Three: My Friday at SXSW began by meeting an old friend at the Australian BBQ, as is the tradition, although it being early the grill wasn’t yet going. We watched a song or two from Aussie songstress Kate Bradley and band, which sounded nice and worth checking out, and headed over to the Envy magazine party on 6th Street. There, I met the new editor (a nice guy), took a few photos, and watched a Dallas band called The Bright.
We met back up with my wife (who, despite being ill, was a real trooper) and headed next door to see Sleepercar, the new side project from Jim Ward of Sparta, and a band I definitely wasn’t going to miss. As I expected, it was an incredible, well-attended set and most definitely the musical highlight of my Friday. Sleepercar’s songs are a departure from the alt-rock of Sparta; there’s an alt-country and sometimes Tom Petty-ish feel to the music. The album, West Texas, comes out in April and I can’t recommend it enough.
The band that played before Sleepercar, Tempe’s What Laura Says Thinks and Feels, was great as well. Really jammy, but talented and a nice find.
A quick note for those not able to attend SXSW this year: It was super-hot in Austin on Friday–I feel for all the people not used to the Texas heat. Actually, I feel for me. It was in the mid-90s and just brutal and I felt like I was walking in a furnace at times. I think I walked for a longer period of time than I watched music, which is not a good thing during SXSW, and the heat certainly didn’t help. It wore me out quickly. The heat was affecting everyone, especially the bands, but every band that we saw thankfully didn’t let it affect the music.
After Sleepercar’s set, we headed to the Fader/Levi’s party to see The Lemonheads, who were supposedly playing It’s A Shame About Ray in its entirety. Since my friend had just arrived, we waited in line with him for half an hour for him to get his wristband, eventually running into the folks from The Duke Spirit and British Sea Power on our way in. I expressed my kind regards for their Thursday sets and they were nice about being accosted by a sweaty American.
After finding out The Lemonheads canceled their 2:30pm appearance, we hung out a while and from there, H headed back to the hotel and my friend and I headed to Emo’s. Due to the crowd, we left to see British Sea Power (again!) at the Hot Freaks party at Mohawk. They played a different set than Thursday–half older stuff, half new album–and the crowd was really into it, which was good to see
After making the trek to Lucky Lounge to see a song or two by Electric Touch, we ate and hung out in air conditioning awhile on the 18th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn (a great place to stay, by the way–thanks Chip!). The 18th floor has a great view of the city (and decent food) and everyone at the hotel was very nice and helpful.
We hit the Idol Records showcase to see former Chomsky guitarist Glen Reynolds, whose set was way more rocking than his album–which actually kind of disappointed me. Not that it wasn’t a good set (the band did rock), I was just expecting to hear the softer side that’s apparent on his debut solo album, In Between Days. I wanted to stick around to see the label’s other bands (especially Black Tie Dynasty) but it wasn’t just me at this point so I had to leave.
Despite RSVPing, we were unfortunately unable to get in to see The Giraffes at the PureVolume Ranch and instead ended up meeting another old friend who manages a few bands in Los Angeles. Shortly after, I called it a night–I planned to catch South creekside at the Hilton Garden Inn at 1am to see if they would make up for their lackluster set but ended up not bothering. Other than Sleepercar and BSP, Friday was pretty much a wash, music-wise, but overall I feel positive about what I got to see. And hanging out with old friends in a “foreign” city was nice.
Two bands I didn’t get the chance to see at this year’s SXSW but that came highly recommended were Yeasayer and Bon Iver. I will definitely check out Bon Iver’s stuff, which has been described as being like the Red House Painters. I like the Yeasayer album and can only imagine it would be good to see live.
Day Four: On Saturday morning, we got coffee, breakfast tacos, more coffee, and hit Flatstock 16, the concert poster art show. As always, I was amazed and inspired. I love seeing these designers each year and was blown away by much of their work. There’s too many to mention, but one that blew me away was Crosshair from Chicago. Here’s a sample of the work:
Another one was The Small Stakes, from Oakland. Here’s a sample:
All in all, I loved the music and friends at SXSW, and hated the crowds, heat, posturing, and marketing–but it never fails to restore my faith in music, which sometimes starts to waver. While I always leave Austin and SXSW behind on Saturday morning feeling completely drained, I never regret going and always look forward to the next year.
Be sure to check out Done Waiting’s SXSW site for their recaps.