Taking the afternoon off unofficial shows to recharge, we hit things hard in the evening. First up were Snowmine at Treasure Island, Austin’s very own pirate-themed bar. Producing silky, chilled electro, their music is inoffensive but still catchy. Snowmine are very solid, they just need that one big hit to make a real name for themselves, effortlessly playing spacey vocals off against a harder bass to give them punch.
In our busy schedule Vacationer at The Hideout were next, surprisingly in a small cinema at the back of a coffee shop, but they were so late on we had to leave before the first beat.
We had a lot of hope for Com Truise before SXSW, a big fan of his multiple releases to date. Live though the Princeton, NJ, chillwave star is somewhat underwhelming. Bringing a more spikey feel to the horribly-named sub-genre, Truise has a lot of punch live but came across as nothing more than Kavinsky-lite.
An example of where the queuing system fails at SXSW, getting into Bar 96 was a nightmare. With the venue “at capacity”, the official on the door was only letting one or two people in for every five that left, mysteriously wanting to clear out the venue at the run up to peak time. With badge holders taking priority and lowly wristbanders waiting by the side (never mind the 200-odd general public queue on our other side), after pleading with the power-hungry gatekeeper, we got in. And for the record, the crowd inside was pretty sparse. Howler though were good, a lot more emphatic live as their straight-up indie rock translates well to the stage. They’re quite raw but that’s part of the idea.
Ducking to Vice as we had time to spare, Heartless Bastards couldn’t have done more to turn us off so we abandoned their forgettable classic rock and took up residence at The Parish ahead of Friends at the end of the night.
Slow Club were up first though the folk-influenced pop duo never really got going as their set grew boring before too long.
Picking Friends out as one of our “Big in 2012″ picks, after missing them at Hype Hotel opening night, hanging around for their set was a no-brainer. The five-piece have a reasonable repertoire of tracks but it’s singles Friend Crush and I’m His Girl that take most of the limelight, or at least they would if lead singer Samantha Urbani didn’t attract all of your attention. Sure to make it big even if the band don’t, you can tell she’s a handful (bassist Lesley Hann disapprovingly rolled her eyes on a few occasions with Urbani still AWOL 15 minutes after they were due to start), she jumped down into the crowd to slow dance with audience members during the band’s opener. Music-wise, they play cool indie pop and despite a few drawbacks, still put on one of the better SXSW shows of the day.