The final day of SXSW 2011 started with the Mog party at Mohawk. No free beer at this one but a good set from the young Smith Westerns playing brilliant indie rock with some great melodies.
A pulled pork sandwich and a stroll through town took me to the Chop Shop & Atlantic Records Party, where I got my second dose of Portugal. The Man at SXSW. He was even better this time round, the sound quality was brilliant and his guitar playing was outstanding. Next it was down to the Wichita Records Showcase at Latitude 30. First on was Her Space Holiday, who were rockier than I expected.
|Her Space Holiday|
A walk along 6th and down Red River Street took me to Beauty Bar for some DJ action, with LDFD followed by Shlohmo. After a last night meal at El Sol y La Luna it was time for the highlight of the evening at Emo's JR - FM Belfast. This Icelandic outfit really new how to party - their cover of 'Killing In The Name' was a dancefloor killer, while other tracks featured the percussionist rapping from 'The Power' and 'Pump Up The Jam'. Clearly enjoying themselves, the whole band ended the evening performing in their underwear, with their 'Bez' figure crowd surfing in his pants!
|FM Belfast work the crowd at Emo's Jr|
18/3/11 - The Queen of Denmark & the King of Austin
A relaxing morning and then a walk downtown past the Capitol Building to the Third Man Rolling Record Store, a customised van in their trademark black and yellow colours.
|Rollin' n' Chooglin' - the Third Man Store|
In the evening it was time for a complete change of scene as I headed down to the Central Presbyterian Church for the Bella Union / Zeitgeist showcase. Alessis's Ark was on first doing her thing (which if you don't know is fragile acoustic songs mixed with weird inter-song banter. Tonight it covered Austin taxi drivers who liked Fawlty Towers, and how, as the first act on, she was the garlic bread of the evening). JBM was interesting - a one-man band with great guitar skills and good songs. He also played harmonica, and on a couple of songs he sat and played drums at the same time as singing and playing the guitar.
|Lanterns on the Lake|
|John Grant and Midlake|
17/3/11 - Saint Bob, hipster film stars and the best gang in the world
Thursday started with Bob Geldof’s keynote speech at the Convention Centre. He talked for 45 minutes without a script and was constantly entertaining, wandering from reminiscences of Radio Luxembourg and Dr. Feelgood to berating America for 1 in 5 people being on food stamps, complaining about the death of rock’n’roll and the lack of revolutionary, protest songs, and saying the ‘f’ word a lot, as you’d expect.
A walk down Red River Street took us to Beauty Bar for the Pop Montreal / Bamm.tv Nacho House party (free nachos of course, and very good they were too). Superhumanoids were ok, then after a couple of so-so bands Esben & The Witch really got things going. Much more engaging live than they are on record they have pounding rythms - at 1 point all 3 were banging the same drum - and great female vocals. By the end of the set the drum was in the middle of the audience having the life beaten out if it while the singer walked round thrashing the cymbal in her hand. Best British band of the day by far.
|Esben and The Witch|
PS I Love You have the most unsightly front man in rock, but he’s a good guitarist & their songs were ok.
In complete contrast Cadence Weapon was a rapper from Montreal, with a drummer and the uncoolest DJ I’ve ever seen (DJ Co-Op). The raps were good though and he got the crowd going.
Most interesting band of the day was Portugal. The Man - new to me but a really good mix of songs. Loud guitars, occasional reggae rhythms, interesting vocals and definitely an album to check out when I get back.
A short walk down Red River got me into Mohawk in time for Doomtree - 2 Djs & 5 rappers from Minneapolis who got everyone’s hands in the air while they bounced around on stage. The whole evening at the Mohawk was curated by Gayngs, who headlined the show. There were about 15 musicians performing at any one time as they ran through most of ‘Relayted’ and the rest of the acts were lined across the back of the stage, occasionally taking turns to perform. Har Mar Superstar joined them for a cover of George Michael’s ‘One More Chance’ which went down a storm, and the whole show was great fun, with 5 or 6 vocalists singing, sometimes all together, and general feel of everyone being best mates. Har Mar said that Gayngs was the best gang in the world. And watching them on stage you could believe it.
|Gayngs onstage at The Mohawk|
16/3/11 - Guitars, Americana & ROCK!
A long day started with a trip to Plush for the Top Shelf Records party. Emo / punky type bands, great little record label run by 2 guys were having a great time. Quote of the day came from one of the bands, who said ‘We’re looking to play a house party tonight, so if anyone’s got a pa we can borrow, or a house, then let us know.
Then it was next door to The Swan Dive for the K-Swiss / Billy Reid American Songwriter party. This was a great find, with free Firefly cinnamon whisky & iced tea bourbon, and some really good acts.
First up was Keegan Dewitt. One man but with a really tight backing band, the rythmns were a bit like Friendly Fires. Next was The Romany Rye - brilliant Americana, with harmonies & guitar & hammond solos, led by front man Luke. Apparently they are the 1st unsigned band to be on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
|The Romany Rye|
|Jessica Lea Mayfield|
A walk round the trade fair (lots of handouts and free beer) was followed by a pit stop at the Canadian Blast party for free chilli before the walk down to La Zona Rosa for the evening showcase. No problems getting in, first on were Beast Make Bomb, a 2-girl 2-boy four piece band with a great rude song about a prostitute.
|Beast Make Bomb|
|The Black Angels|
|Queens of The Stone Age|
|Josh Homme serenading the ladies|
16/3/11 - First official music day
Picked up our badges yesterday then went for a wander round town to get our bearings, visit Waterloo Records etc. Went to the SX Fusion Party - weirdly no music but free pizza so it wasn't all bad.
Word was then out that Foo Fighters were playing Stubbs so it was off to the queue - to cut a long story short we didn't have the right priority badges so we didn't get in, but we did hear the Foos play most of their new album which sounded pretty good.
Then finally some music - into Emos / Emos Jr to end the evening. Weekend were a noisy three piece from California with some average tunes & some very out of tune vocals. Next up were Beach Fossils - a definite improvement, spiky pop, lots of jerky guitars, and by the end of the set the singer was in the mosh pit getting slammed about while he was singing.
Then it was through to Emos Jr for Londoners Mount Kimbie. Despite battling sound problems they played a good set but as they said themselves, by the end of the week they'll be much better.
Last on was Essex boy Gold Panda. He played a storming show, with some frantic footwork building up loops as he went through most of the tracks from 'Lucky Shiner' and then ended with 'Quitter's Raga'. Despite the crowd shouting for more he wasn't allowed an encore, so the night was over and it was time for the calf-aching walk up the hill to the hotel.
|Gold Panda (& his trusty Mac)|
15/3/11 - SXSW is go!
Arrived here in Austin yesterday, 13 hours after leaving Heathrow. Had a quick look around downtown on the way out to dinner - a great restaurant called Moonshine, highly recommended if you're in town.
This morning we're off to the Convention Centre to pick up our passes etc. before the music begins...