Not sure what the contributing factors were, but it seemed like everybody was a little frustrated yesterday down at SouthBy; people showing up to the right day party at the wrong time, jumbling their schedules, taking wrong turns in what’s otherwise the most easily navigable downtown you’ll ever see. And our day was no different. (Okay, we were actually describing our day right there — but we swear other people were bitching, too!) Somehow, though, despite the late start and the wonky show mojo, we escaped our Thursday in Austin with a good number of great bands under our belts.
After whiling away precious daylight hours blogging the previous day’s goods for ya, we ambled down to the Tag Team party in time to catch Andrew Bird whistle sweet nothings into the Emo’s punters’ ears, with our other favorite multi-instrumental madman Martin Dosh behind the kit. After taking in a few Armchair Apocrypha tunes, we broke in our boots with the LONG walk to Todd P’s party at Ms Bea’s on 6th St. for the fret-blazing exploits of one Ms. Marnie Stern. We’re huge fans of the Sleater-Kinney-meets-Shreddie Van Halen sound Marnie’s concocted on her excellent debut In Advance Of The Broken Arm — and had no idea she was so dreamy in person — but playing (and singing) along with a fully-arranged version of her tunes from her nano (which was impressive only when she’d harmonize her tapping, and uncomfortable when she’s miscue the track) didn’t impress. Wish she had a karaoke version of the record to play with, but no matter; we remain steadfast Stern champions. (She also rocks a note-perfect Rodney Dangerfield impression to kill time: “Get in the caaaw, these heels are killing me!”)
Marnie was late to perform, though, which meant we could soak up the metal-minded wailings of Kemado artists Danava, who were quickly followed by pre-teen punk rockers (and MySpace sensations) Tiny Masters Of Today, whose House Of Pain cover “Jump Around” momentarily forced the fact that we’d only seen one band by 6PM out of our minds.
From Ms Bea’s it was on to the FADER space for the Toronto rockers Sloan, going fifteen years and looking little worse for the wear. After hearing ‘em give us “Who Taught You To Live Like That” and crowd fave “The Good In Everyone,” we wandered about town, underestimating the drawing power of The Besnard Lakes, whom we lined up to see thirty minutes before set time, by which time we were last in a two-block line queue. Maybe it was being forced to take in the set from the other side of a porous fence (which we pried apart to snap the pic you’ll find below), but they sounded absolutely fucking amazing, lush guitars underscoring dreamy, driving writing. Easily one of the top sets of the festival.
After catching Lambchop with The Tosca String Quartet (and opener The Hylozoists) and catching sets from Cloud Cult (setting fire to “Chemicals Collide” and “Living On The Outside Of Your Skin”) and New Violators (again!), we sealed our fate by deciding to see red-hot Brit-soulstress Amy Winehouse at Eternal. Figuring we’d avoid the misstep of not turning up early enough to The Besnard Lakes, we hit the club at 10:15, nearly two hours before Amy’s scheduled midnight appearance. By 12:40AM, we thought the notoriously flaky Winehouse had bailed on yet another gig, which, honestly would have made for a fun story. (Such bloggers, we know.) Of course, the fault was ours; somewhere, somehow, her set had been rescheduled for 1AM — so when she hit at 1:30, she was only thirty minutes late. Pretty good, given her track record. Our poor legs were inconsolable, though. Tardiness and crowded quarters aside, the set was great, Amy giving us “Rehab,” “You Know I’m No Good,” and, awesomely, Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing).” Everywhere you turn this week people are talking about Amy, and everywhere she goes there’s a massive scene to see her. And though we’re not sure she’s someone we’ll be listening to in ten years, it’s clear that she’s having a moment — and SXSW is the perfect place to celebrate it.
ANDREW BIRD & DOSH
TINY MASTERS OF TODAY
THE BESNARD LAKES (THROUGH A FENCE)
LAMBCHOP W/THE TOSCA STRING QUARTET
Here’s a smattering of MP3s from Thursday’s bands.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
Our man with the cam Jon Bahr was doing some showcase hopping of his own, delivering these sweet shots of Sub Pop Swedes Loney, Dear at Mohawk Patio; Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes at the ASCAP Showcase, where she offered a spellbinding cover of The Boss’s “I’m On Fire”; Scandinavian Stereofaves Under Byen at Emo’s; the psychedelic sounds of Midnight Movies at Blender Bar At The Ritz; and the shady indie pop of To Live And Die In L.A. at Dirty Dog Bar. In addition, Abbey Braden snapped a show of Elvis Perkins at the XL party at Emo’s Annex. Enjoy, and scroll down for some MP3s.
BAT FOR LASHES
TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.