First full day at SXSW, and it was one band after another from lunch on. The day, according to bands:
Contact High Five. Friend’s band that was playing a 1:30 show at the Dog and Duck. Can’t be impartial, but I can say that this was one of those “holy shit” moments you have at SXSW. The band before them was a competent and enjoyable rock band full of kids. Like too competent for their ages—the lead singer and lead guitarist looked 17-18, but the bassist looked 12 and the drummer 14, tops. They rocked the house and looked cute preening in their black suits, black ties and caps. I’m sure they’d die if they knew I thought they were “cute”.
We Are Scientists. I was thoroughly prepared to hate this band, who I saw as pretentious as fuck. In addition, they kept up a stream of inane chatting between songs that they clearly thought of as witty banter, due to the white guy privilege of never having to prove you’re funny to get accepted as funny. But they pulled it out during the second half of the set, and I had to begrudgingly admit they were good.
The Hounds Below. Due to a traffic jam, I missed half their set at wine bar on the east side. Working out daily at the gym is paying off, however—I was able to run for nearly a mile to catch the second half and was a teeny bit sweaty when I got there. (Yeah, warm weather!) But it was worth it. They were fucking awesome. Lead singer Jason Stollsteimer (of Von Bondies fame) has an amazing voice, and they just generally kick ass. I want to see them again, and they play like a million day shows, so I have a good shot at getting my wish. Wish me luck. Marc told me they played a rockabilly version of “Where Is My Mind”. That alone makes it worth it. Stollsteimer expressly requested that people download all their stuff for free at Last FM, so have at it.
Thwarted! Attempt #2 to see Andrew WK was thwarted. First of all, when we showed up at Headhunters, we discovered that he was just a special guest of another band. Worse was that they were running way behind, like 3 bands behind in the day showcase for Mint Records. Then the band that started just douched all over the stage. It was 5PM, and I wasn’t in the mood to hear whiny indie rock boring fucking nonsense. Of course, I can’t think of an hour where that works for me. So we left…..
General Electriks. ….and went to the France Rocks Austin showcase, catching the entire set for General Electriks. I am almost ashamed of how much fun I had at that show.
Then dinner. And then the night shows.
Scorpio Rising. Austin band I’ve been a fan of for a long time. Dance pop, completely over the top stage show. I bought an oversize gold scorpion necklace from them that is so gaudy I intend to wear it all the time.
Brownout. Another Austin band that I just fucking adore. They’re Latin-infused funk, and they were playing in one of my favorite spaces in the whole city, which is the backyard of Scoot Inn. Probably my favorite space in Austin, honestly. If you like funk at all (who doesn’t?), check them out. The DJ that played between sets was also awesome, especially his cool mix based on the bass riff in “Groove is in the Heart”.
MEN. I’ve been all about this band for awhile now. They were great, however the Beauty Bar sucked balls as usual. The sound guy never managed to fix the mix, no matter how much the musicians and the audience begged. Maybe it was a tech failure, or he just didn’t give a shit. The audience rallied around and showed support, because even through that shitty mix, you could tell the band was really awesome. They’ve become more New Order-ish since I last saw them.
Man or Astroman? The more things change, the more they stay the same. I saw this band last 9 years ago at Emo’s, and last night at Club Deville, I was there with the same friend that I saw them with then (amongst others). And they were still awesome.