It’s taken almost a week but at last we’ve just about recovered from this year’s South By Southwest.
Those who haven’t heard of SXSW, for the music industry, this is where breaking bands break and unknowns build hype. The bands you’ll fall in love with next year, were at SXSW this year.
First up were The Morning Benders at Emo’s, and similarly to last year, the first show was one of the main highlights of the whole festival. Their spritely indie-rock-pop has a bit of a Radiohead to it, minus the psychedelic edge. Their new album Big Echo is a big step on from earlier material, a lot more mature, and live, they’re full of energy and thoroughly honest and captivating.
Moving onto Red 7, Those Darlins had been getting a good deal of hype but the ¾ all-girl rockers were forgettable to say the least. The songs were bland and directionless, and while they could be a lot tighter on record, live they need to put in a bit more work.
The main attraction at Red 7 were Real Estate. A pick in our recent bands to look out for in 2010, the four-piece play slower moving, catchy indie rock, and while they aren’t instantly impactful, their music grows on your fast with a grand feel, and strong lead guitar.
Dawes opened up the evening shows at Club de Ville and easily the top pick of the official shows that night. After catching them at the Troubadour in LA the week before, which instantly catapulted them into the top 5 gigs I’ve ever been to, their SXSW opener was every bit as good with the set time a little trimmed. Their heartful slow moving indie rock debut North Hills featured in a bunch of top ten lists last year, including our own, and with good measure.
After Dawes we raced over to Wave Rooftop to catch Princeton. A fan of their album, Princeton’s light, breezy indie rock is easy to listen to though it struggled a little to stand out from the over-packed festival.
As midnight struck, Warpaint were next and the four-piece put on a great show at Emo’s Jr. The band fall somewhere in between Battles and Fever Ray, though for a SXSW set, can be hard to get into, but they definitely have something different.
One of the big hype bands in music, nevermind at SXSW, Surfer Blood were a fitting end to the first day in Austin, but they were a big disappointment. Their debut album is brilliant, but live they are underwhelming, and came across as far too arrogant for their size. They are hugely hyped, but they’re not big yet.
Long day. Filled with the magic you only get at SXSW though. Roll on the day 2.