Thursday at SXSW is always the busiest; everyone is in town, they’ve acclimatised to the festival and are ready to really throw themselves into it.
First up where Tijuana Panthers. Seeing the three-piece from Long Beach was a long time coming, and though the sound wasn’t the best at Trailer Space Records, the band bring surf up to speed for the modern day and with tracks like Summer Fun will be breaking the mainstream before too long.
Indoor at Palm Door, Yacht were next; a heavy, dancier White Rose Movement, though they were a little heavy going, and with The Growlers due straight after, their set was a little too long.
The Growlers were worth the wait. Playing psychedelic indie rock with a Beatles-y feel, they have a great on stage presence, the lead singer especially, and their songs are up to scratch as well, pushing Tijuana Panthers all the way for performance of the day.
Delta Spirit, hadn’t played yet though. Running through a handful of old tracks at the Lustre Pearl, an old house converted into a bar, Delta Spirit’s new stuff causing equally big groundwaves. From Bushwick Blues to White Table, the crowd quickly got into the unfamiliar material, with excitement quickly building for the second album History From Below
Paying a visit to the Austin Carnaville, The Walkmen closed the day at SXSW’s unofficial playground. To a backdrop of carnival rides, their classic slow drawl was right on form, with new songs debuted to the crowd going down a storm.
Keeping an LA feel, and our first show at the huge outdoor Stubb’s venue, we caught Robert Francis to open the evenings shows. Backed by a motley band, including our friend, ex-Shys bassist Alex Kweskin, Robert play heartful country rock and it’s no surprise he’s already been snapped up by a major label, and set for a big nationwide tour later in the year.
After Robert Francis, and a quick bite to eat, we raced over to Cedar Street Courtyard for She & Him. Apart, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward have huge reputations, one a filmstar and the other a famous solo artists, but together they’re still finding their feet somewhat, it was however, always going to be packed. After unintentionally jumping the entire queue though, we got in, but weren’t prepared for the letdown that would ensue. Putting a ‘no photos please’ notice out over the PA before they emerged and then playing in near darkness with just a couple of red lights illuminating the stage, with Zooey’s moviestar demands they killed the atmosphere, appearing 30 minutes later to then play seemingly shortened versions of their songs. Their light country folk can draw you in on their records, but live they where underwhelming.
For the final show of a packed day 2, we headed to The Phoenix for We Are Scientists. Arrived a little early we caught the band before, The Chapman Family, a British heavy rock/scream band, and nevermind going against my aim to try and avoid all British performers (as I can just see them in London) they were awful, leaving the audience praying for silence rather than their 30 minute set.
We Are Scientists, however, didn’t disappoint, and with an amazing on stage presence and charisma between frontmen Keith and Chris, the packed venue were in raptures after every song, and in every break inbetween. What’s more, their new songs are sounding great and classics from the first record and equally impressive follow-up are just as good today as they were when released.
Phew, long day.