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South By Fly By

2010 March 23

Last week was my first time at SXSW, and yes, I say first time because I am already planning on going back. South by Southwest, or South By to those in the know, is the annual music festival (SXSW also features Interactive and Film portions of the festival earlier in the week, but for my purposes, it’s a music festival) that takes place in Austin every spring. Basically, it’s 4 days packed full of as many shows, parties, and panels that you can possibly attend before dropping from exhaustion or dehydration (beer does not count as hydration).

Joe and I were able to see about 25 bands total, and I only missed a couple of acts that I wanted to see. Here’s a quick and dirty breakdown:

Best Show, Overall:

Delta Spirit I’ve been a fan of Delta Spirit for quite a while, but haven’t seen them live before (I had tickets last year, but a nasty cold prevented me from going). They play solid, rousing rock, and the lead singer’s raspy wail is oddly charming. Despite my enjoyment of their music, I honestly wasn’t expecting such a fantastic show from them–maybe it was the sun, or the beer, or the buzz of my first sunny afternoon in Texas, but whatever it was, the rest of the crowd felt it too. I’ve never seen a group of people so excited about a trashcan lid. Recommended listen: “Trashcan”

Best Show from a Band Unknown to Me:

Local Natives This show packed the Galaxy Room’s Backyard and the crowd was grooving from the opening chords. I was too far back to get a good look, but I didn’t have to see–it’s just good indie rock. Local Natives was definitely one of the more buzzed about bands at this year’s South By, and they played a grand total of NINE shows. Though ours was #6, they didn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. I listened to the album (“Gorilla Manor”) yesterday when I got back to work, and it made me very nostalgic as I sat in my cube. Recommended listen: “Airplanes”

Album I’m Most Looking Forward to Downloading:

Surfer Blood We saw Surfer Blood at one of the many daytime parties–it was our first show of the day, and though it was only shortly past noon, and I had never heard the band before, I was instantly sold on this band. Just about as soon as the second song was over, I was making a note in my pocket notebook to “GET SURFER BLOOD’S ALBUM.” The sunny riffs are fitting for a group that hails from West Palm Beach, Florida and transport you to a dreamy summer afternoon–just what I need in March! Recommended listen: Floating Vibes”

Best Show from a Group of Adorable Icelandic People:

Seabear I became a fan of Seabear when a friend of mine put a song of theirs on a mix for me 2 years ago. Their quiet, melodic sound is calming–the perfect soundtrack for laying on a hammock and letting your thoughts drift, or for a stressful, rainy commute, say. Though I’ve been a fan for quite some time, I had no idea that they were such an eclectic bunch of Icelanders! We left a show to go see them at 1 am–exhausted and run down from a full day of sun and music and barbeque. They played in a tiny black box-style theater in the back of a coffee shop called, aptly, The Hideout. As soon as they took the stage, my fatigue fell away and I was in rapt attention–captivated by the lovely keyboardist in her amazing glasses and citrusy dress, the wispy violinist, the intent brass player, the drummer hidden in the shadows, the guitarist and his funny hat, and the hilariously deadpan lead singer. “Let’s play the music.” Attention Bostonians: They are playing at TT the Bear’s in Cambridge this Sunday, March 28. Tickets are $12. GO! Recommended Listen: “Seashell”

Most Badass Female Lead Singer, Smiliest Drummer, and Coolest Tech Set Up:

Twin Sister I had seen this Brooklyn band in a loft there a couple of months ago and really liked their trippy songs. Full disclosure: Joe knows the keyboardist. The female vocalist is a tiny spitfire (rumor has it that the band had to talk her out of bringing a shotgun to guard their van) who rocks a romper like nobody’s business, and the rhythms flow together in such a way that you’re bopping your head before you even realize it. Recommended listen: “All Around and Away We Go”

Craziest Dance Party:

Yacht It was in the 30s on Saturday night in Austin and Cedar St., the venue where we saw Yacht play, is a narrow outdoor courtyard sandwiched between two sides of an indoor bar (it’s actually probably my favorite of the places we saw shows). I was wearing 5 layers and brought the hotel blanket for warmth. Turns out, I didn’t need the blanket–as soon as Yacht took the stage, the men dressed in tuxedos and the woman (looking delightfully like Annie Lennox, circa The Eurythmics) rocking spiked hair and a badass asymetrical dress, the crowd was jumping and dancing and shouting to the beats. The energy was near riotous, and it was the perfect way to wrap up my SXSW experience. Recommended listen: “Psychic City”

Honorable Mentions:

Frightened Rabbit–I have loved these guys for about 3 years now, ever since I saw them play at Great Scott in Allston. They’re Scottish, they’re sarcastic, and the beautiful honesty of their lyrics will make you laugh, then cry. Recommended listen: “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

Spoon–You’ve heard this band, but they’re great live and constantly have new things to show us with each album they release. Recommended listen: “Don’t You Evah”

Dawes–Great show, solid energy from relative newcomers. Recommended listen: “Love Is All I Am”

Stay tuned for a couple of South By style posts this week!

2 Responses Post a comment
  1. NMR permalink
    March 23, 2010

    Thank you for once again providing enough fabulous looks to make me an utterly useless employee.

  2. Big Todd permalink
    March 23, 2010

    At least you have a place to stay next year!

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