All Photos by Clint Miller
We started day two with a mad dash through traffic to make it to the I Guess I’m Floating day party in time to catch Oh No Oh My. We made it moments after they began their set, and they went on to play all my favourites off of Dmitrij Dmitrij plus a new one. It was a really good first set of the day.
Next up was a band called Arizona. I have no idea how I have heard of this band, but for some reason the name sticks out to me. They turned out to be great, with some serious guitar jams. The lead singer had a really unique, weird voice that added an interesting dimension to their sound. Check it:
The venue was a huge outdoor patio and the vibe was very chill. This day party was a bit off the beaten path, so it wasn’t overcrowded like the 6th St scene, but there were still a significant amount of people there for what i felt was the best lineup going at the time. I Guess I’m Floating is one of my favourite blogs on the web, so I expected that some of the names I didn’t recognize would probably be worthwhile. My assumption was correct, and my first discovery of SXSW played next. They were a band called Bell, comprised of two percussionists each using both conventional drum sets and electronic drumming devices, and a chick singing while playing keyboards and keytar. They had a weird trip-hoppy, Portishead and Bjork meets a vile of LSD thing going on with lesser, weirder vocals.
After that was a duo called Golden Animals that dressed like they were a freak-folk band, but sounded like somewhere between the Black Keys and the Black Lips. It wasn’t really my thing. Then it was time to see the band I was most excited to see here, Women. Their self-titled album was one of the best to come out last year, so I was hoping they could match their studio quality live, and it turned out to be just as impressive. They channel Sonic Youth unlike any band I can think of, with jams across the spectrum from noise to gorgeous. The dynamics of the set were a slowly building crescendo and I was too busy rocking out to capture the most explosive parts of the set on video, but here is the beginning:
Next up was the band I was obsessed with last SXSW, Evangelicals. Their last album is also one of my favs from last year, but I felt up to this point that they couldn’t quite capture their studio brilliance live yet. Not that they were a bad live band, because they were still really great the three times I had caught them previously, but they never sounded particularly tight. Well, they have obviously addressed this as “tight” was the operative word for this set. The songs all seemed to have a different composition that played to the strengths of their live setup now, and it totally blew me away. The two sets of Women and Evangelicals were probably one of the best back-to-back show combos I’ve ever seen. Serious props to I Guess I’m Floating for putting this one together.
After that we headed to 6th St for a bit and then headed to Mohawk for their night show. One of the many hott new albums I’ve discovered along this road trip is the self-titled album from Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band. They were the first band to play, and went through pretty much everything on their record flawlessly. They sort of remind me of early Bloc Party in the way that every song has fast and forward momentum. If you haven’t heard of this band yet, I guarantee you will be hearing about them soon everywhere.
The party wasn’t at capacity as early as the Church show the night before, but they were overstuffing that place with people and it was clear that we were going to have to choose one stage to hold down a good spot, so we picked the outdoor one. We lucked out a grabbed a place on the second level overlooking the stage and audience on the floor in what felt like box seats. The first act we saw out there was Phosphorescent. I was worried we’d get a set mostly of Willie Nelson songs, but instead we got mostly new versions of gems from Pride and a new one I captured below, so that made me happy. He seems to have traded more of his guitar duties to his band and is doing the frontman thing more, and while I typically would think that was lame, he pulls it off rather well.
Next up was a band that I had been hearing some buzz about, but hadn’t quite looked into yet, BLK JKS. They are a 4-piece from Johannesburg, Africa and they rocked out hard. They definitely sound like they are from Africa, but they also sound like they are intimately acquainted with hip music relevant to me. It is the best hybrid of this nature I have ever heard by far. This is another band that seems poised for a blow up across the blogosphere very soon.
We finally broke our Akron/Family curse from last SXSW and caught a full set from this band that I absolutely love. I was interested to see what they were going to do after losing Ryan Vanderhoof, who played such a pivotal role in their music, and now as a 3-piece, they haven’t seemed to have lost a step. They sound just as full as they did before, and even the Love Is Simple material they played sounded perfect without a 4th member. I don’t think anyone has rocked the crowd harder than these guys all of SXSW so far, and they just simply killed it. If you haven’t yet jumped on the Akron/Family bandwagon, you are missing out. They transitioned between every song without a break, so here is a 10 minute block of their set:
The secret guest of the night got revealed by BLK JKS during their set to be Dinosaur Jr, so that was certainly a win. If you count the various members’ solo shows and other projects, I have seen this band about 15 times and it still never gets old. They blasted through the hits from the entire Dinosaur Jr catalog, and as always it was incredible. The crowd in front of the stage was raucous and fun to watch from overhead, especially seeing Evangelicals‘ Josh Jones go crowd surfing. The set was highlighted by a guest appearance from Broken Social Scene‘s Kevin Drew on vocals, and here’s the video from that:
Afterwards, we headed to Ms. Bea’s for the Todd P unamplified late night party. Last year’s event was one of the highlights of my SXSW experience, but this year the scene was a bit different. Last year, it was held on UT campus and the vibe was very chill and everyone would get quiet for the performances. That probably had something to do with the lack of alcohol the setting required. This time it was held in a small field behind the venue, and it felt like an outdoor house party. We fit right in with the cooler of beer we brought with us. Each act played two songs without any instruments that use electricity, and each act varied greatly from one another, but there were some cool sets, especially from Still Flyin’ and Psychedelic Horseshit. We ended up heading back to our homebase at 4am, so it lead to a late start for Friday, but damn Thursday was epic.
Best Friends Forever:
Well, I’m halfway through SXSW, so I’ll jabber some more later after I catch about ten more bands.
- Posted by Davy Minor on March 20, 2009 at 4:41 pm