Friday March 14
Friday began with a plan. Too bad I cant read schedules and the Friday schedule I wanted to see was really happening on Saturday. I ended up catching the tail end of Neulore and I really enjoyed their sound. I was bummed I didnt catch more of their set, but I was intrigued and will catch them some other time.Then it was off to Maggie Mae’s which was PACKED!! The first band The Soil & The Sun which had a folk-rock sound were quite good, but the sound was so bad it really didnt help. I lasted about 20 mins before taking off to (hopefully) catch Jungle. On the way – I met some guys who were working for Vans/Mohawk (should have taken advantage of it) at some random stage. We were all yelling at the band to figure out who they were. The 2 people on the stage rocked — really great voice, really amazing guitars, the female had some kick ass moves. After a bit of yelling, we found out they were called Schisms. Finally it was off to Vans – Mohawk. I arrived to find a line down the block, up a hill, around a corner (and that included badge holders). So again – I would have to miss Jungle and a bunch of other bands. Story of my life with a lot of the day showcases.
So it was back to the beginning (ie Maggie Maes) — with a quick stop to listen to a really great indie/70s band who had some great songs. The band was so catchy and their sound filled the air. Really punchy guitars, soaring vocals — the band was Temples. OMG. They sounded even better than when I saw them and they were playing even catchier songs. I was standing outside Stubbs — which was impossible to get into (I think Lady Gaga or someone else of that caliber would be there). It worked for me, Stubbs sounds way better outside.
So then I just wandered 6th street and started hearing really great bands. Some guys invited me into a showcase at Trinity Hall (Old School Bar) and damn — it was quite the showcase. I couldnt see everyone, but I wished I could have. I was able to catch another set from Terraplane Sun — still sounding as excellent as before. Same catchy songs – but the guys seemed a little subdued (perhaps the crowd). Music was still as awesome as ever and a few of us were dancing.Then was able to catch about 20 mins of Hey Moonshaker. I wished I had seen longer because these guys were great. The 2 guys had a brotherly love for each other and they talked so nicely about each other. One of them had mad skills with his beatboxing. He had the entire small bar on their feet, making a circle around him. The other guy was great on guitar adding a blues sound to it all. The blend was smooth and they were exciting to watch. 20 mins was way too short and I knew that I needed more.
The next band I had heard so many good things about I was beyond excited for. Although it was back to Maggie Mae’s and that I was worried about. The place was packed (even moreso), but I was somehow able to squeeze in towards the front. I was beyond glad that I did. The band was Team Me from Norway. I had met one of the guys in the band earlier in the day and he was cheerful and friendly. The band had to be the cutest bunch of kids with the young guys in headbands dancing around. The whole band seemed to always be dancing — while playing the keyboards, guitars whatever. They were the HAPPIEST band ever! They also played the cheeriest, sunniest pop music ever!! It was impossible not to enjoy the set and everyone was dancing and clapping. The band ended the set with bringing their instruments and mics into the crowd and singing from deep inside the center of the crowd. Others were playing their instruments, singing with them. It was just pure fun and it couldnt have been a better set!So I was off — a really great band — what would be next. Mumiy Troll from Russia. The band was quite possibly the best band ive seen here. Funk meets glam with rock. Lead singer Ilya is awesome. He works the stage wearing his black jeans covered with a hula grass skirt. He danced around, played the keyboards, he worked it up a storm. The band entertained and were easily one of the best I had seen.
After that — while I probably could have found more great bands, I opted to check out Gruff’s film ‘American Interior’. I love everything about him and loved the film no less – which retraces the fantastical adventure of his 18th Century relative, the Welsh explorer John Evans. The people Gruff encounters along the way are pretty cool and is a nice look at the other parts of America. Its worth seeing if youre at all interested in history or just love Gruff.
From Wales it was off to Scotland to see the lovely ladies of the Cairn String Quartet. The 4some were quite magical with 3 of them playing violin and the lone cellist. The band performed current beats to classical pieces and just sounded lovely. They had some great song choices with one of Lorde’s song which was easily recognizable and also played from some Scottish artists. They really had a complete range of styles and the crowd just loved them. They ended the set by playing a song from one of the more popular Scottish bands – Franz Ferdinand – and had an awesome rendition of ‘Take Me Out’. The women seemed so excited to be playing and informed us their next set would be very different as they change it up depending on the venue. I would love to see them again sometime and hopefully they will be doing a full tour.
FMLYBND, from Isla Vista (home of UCSB), is a band I was beyond excited to see. Im pretty local to my SB bands and so much wanted to like them. The club was one of those places Id never be caught dead in – offering shots to those on the street and just seemed the total club to be seen. The band, had some major issues, and couldnt seem to get their instruments set up. It took about 40 mins (almost their entire set) before they were even read to play. By that time, their set should have been over. I caught 2 songs and the band sadly just seemed so much more interested in themselves than actually playing anything remotely good. It was somewhat dance-y with lots of guitars and keyboards, but overall just forgettable.The only thing that I was happy about, is that I left when I did. I had really been wanting to check out Mas Ysa from Montreal. He is a one-man show blending different styles – folk meets electronic meets love songs. Its a bit melancholy, yet watching him play and manipulate the instruments is far from that. He takes you on a journey with his music and you just get lost in it. He was that good and sounded even better in the church. So of course, I stayed for another artist – Forest Swords from the UK. The band is a twosome with one guy playing guitar and the other one on keyboards. It works well in a very experimental avant-garde style. The music is at times quite heavy but it lifts you at the same time. I didnt last their entire set (was getting sick) but enjoyed them very much.
I also managed to catch some of EMA‘s music – the lead singer was battling being sick so it was a short set and she was losing her voice. The band sounded great. Saturday – which was a bust – I did manage to catch Tumbleweed Wanderers from Oakland — which was an alt country/folky band – not what I was expecting but good and saw another performance from Mother Falcon – even better than when I had previously seen them. Just loving that band.
Overall, SXSW was a huge success. Despite my day being totally ruined on Saturday/Sunday – I got to see a fair number of bands – saw bands I would have never seen (Mumiy Troll from Russia) and saw some other bands that I might never be able to see. This is definitely a festival I will have to do again, but definitely takes a toll on the body.