The last day of SXSW happened to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, unfortunate for all official Music attendees. The streets filled with rowdy, drunken jocks, getting across town can be a hassle, with revelers filling out venues despite having no interest in what is going on on stage.
Our first music of the day, however, came from the sidewalk. Playing a private Virgin party at Live House, Jurassic 5, Charli 2na et al ran through their greatest hits and a few tracks from famous friends too. With the audience lacking inside the gates, on the street, a bigger bunch gathered, and we were much livelier too.
With time to kill, we headed east to see Friends again, but first up, were a band called Widowspeak. Playing at Baby Blue Recording Studio, though the performances were actually out on their lawn, Widowspeak’s reverb-free lo-fi took a little while to get going, but once they were in full flow it’s easy to see why they’re starting to attract a lot of attention. Like Dum Dum Girls without the audio backlash (I know it’s hard to imagine) and you’ll have something close to Widowspeak, they’re refreshing and play pretty well.
Friends were something of another story, though it’s unsurprising given their schedule. Still quite impressive despite obviously feeling the rigours of their many festival shows, even Samanthi Urbani looked tired, and not drunk for a change.
Onto the evening stuff, I was starting to feel the strain of four days of shows myself. The same certainly couldn’t be said for DIVE. Fronted by Beach Fossils’ Zachary Cole Smith, (pleasingly) they sound very similar, though the guitar is perhaps a little more psychedelic. Largely instrumental, when Smith’s vocals do come in they let it down a little bit, but there’s still a lot to love, DIVE sound as if Foals were from Brooklyn and grew up listening to surf.
With the line-up on SXSW’s final day proving to be a little lacklustre, Forest Fire at Red 7 Patio were the best up next, playing breezy atmospheric indie pop. The sort of thing you need to let sink in over an album, they’re not instantaneously impacting but still pleasantly good.
Pretty much on the floor by now, made worse by the heaving St. Patrick’s Day crowd, we trudged across to The Parish again for Soft Materials, and they made it more than worth our effort. A spacey, unrelenting electro duo, the beats verge on dance and are very easy to be swept along by. Expect to see a lot more from them, with the backing music especially impressive.
Packing out every day this week, afternoon or evening, we couldn’t believe our luck when the queue for Hype Hotel appeared to be nonexistent, that was until we saw a “Badges Only” sign. Even though it was an official showcase, SXSW wristband holders (ie. us) weren’t allowed in for the show, only badge holders or those with a Hype Hotel wristband, which the staff agreed was utterly ridiculous, so it was onto Clive Bar instead.
While waiting for the headline act, Kids These Days took to the stage with a lot of form. A bunch of arrogant teens playing big band hip-hop they did, however, follow through on their bravado, full of energy and boasting a great drummer.
Lissy Trullie suffered a different set of problems. With no proper soundchecking across the whole festival, it can be hit or miss as to how a band sounds, and with big reverb issues leading to an impromptu second sound check mid-set. Her new songs though were good, one in particular that’ll be the toast of an upcoming debut album as the indie rock four-piece put on a decent show.
Back to The Parish for the third time in one night, Beach Fossils had attracted a massive crowd for their, and our, last show. Playing an amazing set, the audience really got into it with endless crowd surfers and a frenzied circle pit. These guys are the future of indie, or at least they should be.
And with that, our SXSW experience was over for another year. To be honest, we were all kind of relieved, it has been a hectic but massively fun week, and you can be sure we’ll be back in 2013 to do it all again.