SXSW 2012: Day Two
A misty and wet morning has broken here in Austin, and after watching bands solidly for 13 hours yesterday, I'm definitely in SXSW mode.
As I left you yesterday, I was heading off to see Brown Brogues open the Hype (Machine) hotel. They played a blistering set which included latest Italian Beach Babes single 'Anyone But You'. I've never seen them play in front of so many lights and drums. The spirit of Manchester was as you'd expect in Texas, lacking in the crowd, but they didn't let that deter them. Well worth the hype...
I've been a long time fan of Frankie Rose. Formerly of Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls; she released an album under Frankie Rose & The Outs last year and played a gig in a church in Salford that I missed as I was at ATP. Her new record Interstellar is her first solo effort, and it's absolutely stunning. When I heard she was playing SXSW I decided to head out of town to the Brooklyn Vegan event to see her play. She was charming, sweet and a fresh afternoon sound to these ears. She played a set of tracks off her new album and a few from The Outs album too. 'Candy' got people moving as ever, and 'Know Me' went down really well too.
As I was east side, I headed over to the Fader Fort afterwards to try and grab a viewing of Friends. I'd interviewed the lovely Samantha in Manchester but had to scoot before they played their show, so it was great to finally see them live. The crowd gave them a rapturous response even though it wasn't quite a 'Friend Crush'. 'I'm His Girl' sounded better than ever, and the album seems to be taking a great shape.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra were only in Austin for the day yesterday, and I was determined to see them play. I've seen them support Foster The People in Manchester before and thought they played a top set, including two stormers in 'Ffunny Ffriends' and 'How Can You Luv Me'. They played neither last night when I finally saw them at the Red Eyed Fly at 1am after walking half a mile for a wasted trip trying to see them yesterday afternoon at Shangri-La to be told they played for 15 minutes and left. Thats the thing about SXSW, there are so many unofficial sets that it's hard to keep up. But also, people don't take the unofficial shows as seriously as the official shows. In my experience, many of the unofficial shows have run massively behind time, although the vibes there are far better than the official showcases.
In any case, I stepped back onto official territory by heading to see Londoner Blood Orange play a sweet and summery solo set in the Haven venue. The crowd loved every second, and cheered Dev, with frequent requests for the backing track to be turned up. He did play solo, it was intimate and cosy but exceptionally charming. Coastal Grooves literally does what it says on the tin...
I stepped next door into Frank for some Danish indie rock in the form of The Foreign Resort and was not disappointed. Lots of raw energy, driving bass and drum thrashing. I was pushing time to the limits so I decided on the reliable pedi-cycle to rush me across town to see Daughter and WOW it was worth the trip. There is something a bit xx about them in terms of minimalism, but not so acute. Mixing it up with violin bow on electric guitar action, they were seriously overwhelmed by the reaction they got. The show was packed out and they were so humble. A definite highlight for the day and one to watch for sure.
There has been much written and spoken about Alabama Shakes of late, and with good reason too. Stubbs is probably the largest venue I've been to in Texas and it was pretty busy. Unfortunately for me it was full of couples who thought it was ok to talk over the music, so I left half way through the show. But mark my words for energy, enthusiasm and raw talent.. Alabama Shakes are the one.
12pm brought a conundrum and a half to my mind. I was desperate to see Lower Dens' new material, however, Crocodiles are only playing one official showcase and it was a must see. So I headed down to the French Kiss party at the stage on six patio and was not disappointed. As I tweeted earlier this morning, 'There's no party like a Crocodiles party.' Raucous live show, intense, energetic and really got people moving with a feel good vibe. Lead singer Brandon's wife Dee Dee (Dum Dum Girls) joined him on stage for a duet on 'I want to kill you' and they were joined by a gang of mates which just ended the gig on a high. Check out my twitter for a mini vid that I posted earlier, it was mental.
I finished my night by hanging out with the lovely Ghosting Season. They finally made it to Austin after driving from Houston and are pysched to be in town. They're playing official showcases on Friday and Saturday and are completely rad. Go see them if you're in town.
Thanks to my American family for letting me in at 4am this morning when my hotel room key stopped working, I blame Keane...
More tomorrow, yeah?
Friday at SXSW proved that the festival was still focused on the weekend. Maybe I just got the hang of how to handle Austin or maybe Friday was actually just better than the rest of the week, I'm not really sure. The day started off terribly when the bus driver made me throw away one of the best coffees I've ever had—from Austin's acclaimed Bennu Coffee—and then abruptly ended his route halfway through. [read more]
Thursday was a tough day for everyone. We were sluggish in our hotel until the mid-afternoon, loathe to rejoin the crowded streets of downtown that now seemed steeped in tragedy. My whole plan for the day had been to stay at the Stereogum showcase which, given its proximity to Mohawk and where the accident occurred, had been cancelled. [read more]