Meet your friends in passing during SXSW and each one will have a different set of highlights with maybe one or two acts overlapping with yours. Take some from them, look at the schedule and head off again. That’s the beauty. Each showcase has a different look-not to stereotype- but there were shows dominated by bearded indie guys, backward hat types, and gorgeous Texas women… And I was at a lot of them. A 63 year old guy sticks out a little and one 20 something Austin couple who ran into me 3 nights in a row at way different shows thought it was fate and had to have our picture taken.
If you are looking for something definitive this ain’t it. And how can it be? Bands I didn’t see that got mentioned a lot were Mutual Benefit, Diarrhea Planet and Future Islands
Discoveries: The indie-folk-pop band PHOX from Baraboo, Wisconsin with front woman Monica Martin. She has charisma to burn and the band has tunes. they have a self-titled album coming on artisan in June. Thanks to them and all the bands that played our KUTX breakfast at the Four Seasons including Kins, Bright Light Social Hour and Wye Oak. Also liked the 20 year-old Oklahoma folkie Parker Milsap. He has an amazing voice and some strong songs. Moses Sumney has a gorgeous voice that is magical when he starts looping it.
Lots of blonde women and preppy types at the packed Royal Teeth show, The New Orleans based pop band started the show shooting confetti over the crowd and it was just as effervescent throughout. Cross between fun and Rilo Kiley.
First time seeing the Australian down-tempo artist Chet Faker. One man show with deep and squelchy electronics, Fender Rhodes and Chet’s sexy songs.
Lost In The Trees new songs had great intensity aided by the band’s new stripped down format.
What Are They Up To Now?:
Spent some time catching up with faves. Put Damon Albarn’s new solo project in that category. It took me just a moment to connect because the new songs are quite quiet and delicate, but in the end very beautiful. They played The Public Radio Day Stage. The Hold Steady were also there to preview songs from Teeth Dreams their new project.
Lucinda Williams. I have not seen a better Lucinda Williams show in a good while. She says she has written 65 new songs and is releasing a double album. The new ones she played were strong and she nailed her classics and even covered Neil Young.
Rhett Miller put over the new Old 97s songs quite well at the ATO/Billy Reid Shindig at Weather Up a very cool venue that was new to me. Very fun hang.
My personal best experience– Venue, crowd, and most especially band was the French world music band Lo’Jo at The Flamingo Cantina. Charming venue with hanging tiny lights over the stage. A strikingly beautiful crowd with Europeans and Africans mingling. Plus a magical set from this band that features a strong rhythm section, a swooning violinist and two very contrasting women singers who play kora and clarinet and percussion. Plus Denis Pean who I call “the French Leonard Cohen” on vocals. They don’t come to US very often and if you have a chance, take it. They are playing Joe’s Pub in NYC tonight.
Best Street Performer– The guy playing tap-style acoustic through a great system at the corner of 6th and Congress always had a huge crowd. Give him a showcase next year.