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Reviews: SXSW Part 2 (Thursday 3/18 and Friday 3/19)

March 25, 2010

Welcome to part 2 of my SXSW review/recap!  I’ll be covering Thursday and Friday of the music fest.  Most of these videos are courtesy of other people, including the concert video-taker extraordinaire @rideincircles.

Thursday, March 18th

6:30 pm – Levi’s/FADER Fort

The Levi’s/FADER Fort was our first stop after a long day of recording with Venice is Sinking and Quiet Company and editing for ME, and we quickly [got in a really long line] to indulge ourselves once again in the free Southern Comfort and tea.  Being later in the day, the Fort was a lot more crowded than it had been the afternoon before, and everyone was a lot more drunk.  This is the sort of environment that lends itself to single people macking on each other, and word to the wise: there’s a reason why they call them drunk goggles, folks.  Just say no.

Anyway, The Morning Benders were on the stage.  I know nothing about them, and unfortunately, I wasn’t really into them at all.  They were a little too bright and poppy for what was becoming a dark and nearly debaucherous environment, and didn’t have enough grit for my taste at that moment.  However, they did seem good at what they do, and I’d be willing to give them a listen post-SXSW.

9:30 pm – 101X Official Showcase at Dirty Dog

This was another one of my recommended showcases, mainly because I really wanted to see the Austin bands The Soldier Thread and Alpha Rev.  However, in what shall be known as SXSW Mistake #2, we had a serious time mix-up and missed The Soldier Thread.  I’m still disappointed by that.

So the next band up by the time we did arrive was Glint.  Let me just say that I didn’t enjoy Glint.  There was far too much sneering and not enough rocking for me.  We decided to forgo waiting several hours for Alpha Rev and moved on to the next place.

10:15 pm – SXSW Official Showcase at Wave Rooftop

When we arrived at Wave, experimental lady band Explode Into Colors had just begun their set.  This was more like it.  Explode Into Colors is good music for dancing aimlessly, head-bopping, or a host of any other fun-having activities.  They were high-energy and their minimalist music was punctuated by piercing melodic vocalizations.

We had come to Wave to see Quiet Company‘s official show after they had played an acoustic performance for us earlier that day.  Despite several problems with sound, a busted snare drum, and one of the house speakers seriously about to die, I’ve already said how impressed I was with their performance.  It was one of the best SXSW performances I saw all week – they looked truly happy to be a band, have tons of energy, great songs, and any performer who can handle that many interruptions with funny stage banter wins points in my book.

After a successful evening, we headed home.

Friday, including my review of Carniville, Neon Indian, and more, after the jump!!

Friday, March 19th

3:30 pm – Carniville! at the Mexican-American Cultural Center

Another contender for best party of SXSW is Carniville.  First of all, the Mexican-American Cultural Center is an amazing place to have any event, and the people behind Carniville really used the entire space to its best advantages.  I loved the free carnival rides and the attendants running them, the carnival food was very reasonably priced ($2 hot dogs!!), there were shaded areas, and the stage was nice and big.

The only downside was the really, really, REALLY long lines for the free beer, and the fact that they only gave you one at a time meant that you had to go back frequently.  I’m not sure what the logic here was, but the free Red Bulls and waters were a nice touch at least.

The first band we saw was The Death Set.  Ugh, this band totally annoyed me, so sorry if you’re a fan, but their stage appeal was about zero.  Their music was pretty decent in a generic punk-rock band type of way, but what was the deal with the “chicks,” “babes,” and “too many dudes on the stage!!!!” schtick?  It got old really fast and I was happy to spend most of their set in the beer line.

Next up was experimental club band Yacht.  Their set was pretty entertaining for shakin’ it.

The last band we saw at Carniville was the highly buzzed-about duo Sleigh Bells.  They were one of the SXSW acts that truly lived up to their hype.  Alexis is a bonafide bad-ass on stage and their crunchy electronic sound enlivened the lazy crowd’s early evening slump.  I can really appreciate anyone who carries on with that type of energy on stage and still busts out with on-key vocals and shrieks.  Awesome.

9:00 pm – SXSW Official Showcase at Club de Ville

Does this look familiar?  Because if it doesn’t, you probably weren’t at Club de Ville partaking in the barrels of (for some reason) Diet Mountain Dew.  Maybe they were afraid of giving real Mountain Dew to the people there to take in the electro-dance music night.  Anyway, corporate sponsorships are dumb, but getting free beverages is cool.  So, I’m officially part of the problem.

Classixx was holding down the house all night, and you know what?  Sometimes I couldn’t tell where one artist ended and their set began and vice versa.  They kept the party going all night and did an awesome job of blending sets together.

The first official band of the night was Solid Gold.  Their rhythmic deep bass grooves were interesting, but with the venue still filling in and people trying to cram their way through to the bars, most of the crowd seemed disinterested during their set.  We gave up the sweet seats we’d scored by being some of the first people inside in order to get a better view of the stage for the next acts.

Next up was another SXSW buzz band Tanlines.  Is that calypso they’re blending into those loops?  Whatever it is, Tanlines’ set at Club de Ville was marred by technical problems and got cut short as a result.  There were probably better places to see them if you’re a fan.

The band that most people (including us) seemed to be waiting for was Neon Indian.  Despite the many distractions that are the layout of Club de Ville, I loved Neon Indian’s set.  They just did their thing, and totally killed it, plain and simple.  I can’t wait to see them again.  Plus, Sean pointed out Adrian Grenier to me during Neon Indian’s set and he was standing like, 3 feet away.  I know it’s lame to be excited about celebrity sightings, but he’s pretty handsome in person and he was really, really nice to some drunk photographer pitching him something during the show.  Yeah, his whole life is Entourage apparently.

Night 4, success.

The last and final Part 3 of my SXSW recap coming up shortly!

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