SXSW Day 1

Posted in Music, New Bands, SXSW
By Sam Bathe on 19 Mar 2009

Beyond the craziest music-filled 4 days, as a SXSW newcomer, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the legendary, press-orientated, music festival.

Day 1 was the busiest of them all. With day parties kicking off all over town, venues were packed out even for the very early acts and I was lucky to catch the band that would turn out to be my top break-out band of SXSW.

Playing to a packed Red 7 patio, Wavves wowed the crowd with their grungy We Are Scientists-esque indie rock. Their lyrics are angsty and the guitar riffs never-eneding, producing a remarkably full sound for a band without a bass guitar.

On my way to the next venue I caught a brief sniped of Shout Out Out Out inside Red 7. Boasting two drummers and 4 multi-instrumentalists switching between synths and bass guitars, the six-piece posed a very danceable sound, in effect, a harder version of Chromeo.

Onwards next to Radio Room where Amanda Palmer continued her development as a solo artist. Unsurprisingly sounded very similar to other project the Dresden Dolls, the highlight of her set came at the end as she closed out the performance with an acoustic, ukulele performance of ‘Creep’ by Radiohead.

Then it was back to Red 7 for most of the afternoon. Yoni Wolf (of Why?) played a solo show, bursting their the bands intriguing back catalogue, bursting with catchy lyrics.

Hyped up to the levels of many of this year’s buzz bands, Fol Chen have an air of White Stripes about their music, but dressed in uniformed patterned clothing, they don’t pull off their look.

Similar to one of SXSW’s previous showcasing artists Eastern Conference Champions, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart offered hearty indie rock, though many of their tracks sounded fairly similar.

Before the evening’s main events, Vivian Girls were the star attraction Wednesday afternoon. Uncompromising in their sound and with reverb laid heavily over vocals, gutiar and all, the NY trio played througha few of their newer tracks which sound even better than their buzz rock first album.

While I had promised to myself that I would set out to only see non-UK band while in Austin, with the proposal of free food and drinks, it was hard to refuse a trip to the Brit-centric event Latitude 30. Catching Dananananaykroyd, a zealous Scottish band, exciting on stage with emphatic rock to back it up.

Deciding who to see that evening was the first real difficult choice of the festival. A tonne of great bands were playing across Austin, but I went for Ladyhawke on the huge Stubb’s stage. While her wonderful spritely electro has made her a big name in the UK, it was a muted performance from the New Zealander, though her hits still shone though.

From there on it, the first evening was a simple choice. The Von Bondies were playing at Vice in a show you’d have been foolish to miss. Mixing classic tracks from their back catalogue and song from their new album, The Von Bondies wowed a packed crowd with cool again garage rock.

After Jack White’s foes finished their set, I headed back east to Elysium for Kap Bambino. With the venue rapidly filling up from a sparse state for the band before, Kap Bambino are still an unknown to many music fans but the French scream-punk-electro two-piece have a strong core following. With some travelling for hours to catch them play, despite a few technical difficulties they made a lasting impression and show the next step on from the likes of Crystal Castles.

Deciding on which headliner to see was a simple choice. Delta Spirit were playing at the Radio Room but one of the biggest venues at SXSW was packed, with a huge queue quickly forming outside. Despite a little queue-jumping from a few festival attendees, however, we got in, and our current cover stars proved once more why they have quickly built up such a big fan base in America.

Day 1 over. Legs tired. Thoroughly jet-lagged, but excited for the rest of the festival.

FAN THE FIRE is a digital magazine about lifestyle and creative culture. Launching back in 2005 as a digital publication about Sony’s PSP handheld games console, we’ve grown and evolved now covering the arts and lifestyle, architecture, design and travel.

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