The Very Best SXSW Recap

If my computer wasn’t so old, I could’ve posted on Brooke’s site: “Great wrap-up…the way I felt about the performance was definitely driven by the venue. I guess that’s the way it is when you’re “old.” From that Pigeon band to the Doobie Brothers…I’m gonna miss everybody, and I’m gonna miss everybody, and I’m gonna miss everybody, and I’m gonna miss everybody…” However, my home computer is too old, and my work browser is too old and can’t be updated so I didn’t post that. So, this last bit was a comment-by-proxy.

Here’s a little recap:

Bands we saw:


Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt:  Emo’s Annex. All gimmick. Some substance? I can’t remember; there was so much gimmick that it’s all I could focus on. The main guy was painted blue and in a Circus emcee’s costume. All the other guys were also in costume, they handed out other costumes to audience members and then had two girls come up onstage and dance. I don’t mean “dance ::nudge nudge::;” I mean “flail wildly for two seconds then stand awkwardly ::cringe cringe::.”  The two lead guys also did all their singing from the crowd. B & I left when the blue guy started getting closer to our area.

Body Language: These guys were at Mohawk’s inside stage. I know they were good because even though we couldn’t get anywhere near the room to see them, we asked people who they were until we found out.

Thursday: (I think this is where Thursday starts…I honestly can’t remember, except that I know the Pigeon Terror was on Wednesday.)

Man/Miracle: Beauty Bar outdoor stage. They were okay. California guys. Unassuming. I could have done without their lead singer making out with the girl lead singer from Sleepy Sun between their sets. Right in front of the stage. In the middle of a big empty space while everyone in the crowd was focused on the stage.

Sleepy Sun: They went on right after Man/Miracle and I think they’d come straight from the Emo’s Annex? We were going to EA for them & Bear in Heaven but got the Pigeon Terror instead. Sleepy Sun had great music, but the singers were a little too “on” for me. Example: After setting up his own rig and doing his own soundcheck, the guy lead singer took the time to walk over to the “prop suitcase” to put on sunglasses right before he performed. Lame. Great music, though; I can’t leave that out.

The Soft Pack: Max’s Wine Dive. Venue WIN! Free drinks, free food – and good stuff, not just “until it runs out,” or cheap stuff. I was excited about seeing TSP; they sounded good but muffled…people were jammed toward the corner of the room where they were playing, and we were sitting on the floor on the other side of the room. I’d see them again, and definitely go back to the venue/restaurant.

Dawes: Lustre Pearl. This was probably my favorite venue because they seemed to anticipate their audience. Plenty of space, even with tons of people. Dawes sounded great, and reminded me of a band that would be at home at the Ryman or on stage at a country western bar. A must see if they come to Nashville.

Delta Spirit: Lustre Pearl. This is part of the three way tie of my favorite show. I’d only heard two of their songs before, but they were rockin’! Another must see…in fact, I’m adding them to my Pollstar notifications right now…

The Walkmen: Carniville @ the Mexican American Cultural Center. (Click on that link for the RSVP, which will make your eyes bleed.) Very mellow; a great way to end the real first day of SXSW (Wednesday was not so purposeful unfortunately). I’d heard them at ACL last year, and I recommend them to anyone that likes music in the style of 60’s through New Wave Brit Rock. This venue was pretty cool, too; if I’d spent more time there it might have been my favorite. It was set up as a real carnival…


Temper Trap: Cedar Street Courtyard. We highly underestimated the people that would be coming out for this. This might have been around the time Dr. Dog was playing at the same venue? And also someone else? Anyway, we sat on the curb outside and listened to some of Temper Trap; I’d love to see them “up close,” although we heard they were pretty awkward on stage and didn’t have their act together.

Everybody’s in the French Resistance Now: Mohawk’s outdoor stage. These guys seemed to base every song off of another song. Which might have just been a joke? They were very British. VERY British. Think, ah, Good Shoes. They were fun to see; not sure I’d buy their music.

Frightened Rabbit: Mohawk’s outdoor stage. The second band in my three-way tie for favorite. Guys, you MUST listen to their music. So great. Translated well to a live stage, and they handled their obvious lack of sleep very well. I can’t think of the right words to say about how good they are.


Broken Bells: Mohawk’s outdoor stage. This was our first thing to try on Saturday. It was frightfully cold and the line for Mohawk’s wrapped around the curb of the street a block away because the lineup was Broken Bells, The Antlers, then The Black Keys. RIGHT. So, B & I found a nice rock to sit on outside of the venue, stood fast against the cold and wind, and listened to a really good set. When we couldn’t feel our ears anymore, we walked over to the ReadyMade magazine party to see…

Everest: Beauty Bar Annex @ The Palm Door. This was the first band (of SXSW) I hadn’t heard of that I’ve got to see again. They were really, seriously good. I wish the venue’d been easier to find because it would have been crazy with people, but at the same time I’m glad that it wasn’t because we were able to get in to a (heated) building and stand with about 20 other people and just enjoy the music. They were great. ReadyMade, however, disappointed us with a lack of free crafts (unlike the Austin Etsy party from Thursday, which was awesome…I met Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching!).

The Antlers: Walked back toward Mohawk’s to see if the line was any shorter. It was…kinda…so we got in it. We stayed there long enough to hear Sylvia and then left. I think this is when we met up with Samantha, Jonathan and Not-Jonathan. The mission became finding free food.

She & Him: Stubb’s. I’d heard Zooey’s voice when we were walking toward Mohawk’s; they were still playing when we came back and we’d heard there was free food of some kind. Samantha, Brooke & Not-Jonathan got in…the guy was holding my ID when he said no one else in. They were about to kick everyone out and then start re-entry for badge holders only. Lame, but only kinda. Zooey’s voice gets on my nerves and I always wish the music was just M. Ward.

Oh No Ono: Lustre Pearl. Shocker of Saturday. These guys from Denmark were pretty great, although they looked like they were in the Lollipop Guild. Seriously, with their outfits they could have been emo Von Trapps. (Think Austrian-prep. Old World but in candy colors.) Their voices were very Passion Pit/MGMT; it was a shock to see someone flawlessly capture that style live. Also, the guy in front of us LOVED them, which was funny to watch. (Side note, the screaming-Seattle-hipster-metal band that played before them might have been a fave of Joseph Gordan-Levitt. I think I saw him there.)

Sondre Lerche: Lustre Pearl. Just him and his guitar. Perfect! It was so freezing cold, though…he refused to play any ballads.

The Very Best: Carniville @ the Mexican American Cultural Center. Third in tie to be my favorite and a KILLER way to end the weekend. Seriously. We thought Major Lazer was about to come on, but when we got there there was a DJ (and they’d been using DJs between artist sets, so no biggie) and then the DJ introduced “someone someone from Malawi” and I thought “Hey, this could be the guy from The Very Best!” I’d been trying to see them all weekend but it just hadn’t worked out. So the guy from Malawi comes out. Then he introduces someone else from South Africa. Who then introduces some back-up dancers, and also the DJ again, who were from the UK. Then they perform MIA’s Paper Planes in another language (of which I won’t offend by trying to guess which one). It was so great. People were going CRAZY! My favorite part was when the uber-cool, put-together guy in front of us had funnel cake dust (powdered sugar) spilled on him by his friend. He was so pissed! On the way back to the car, we finally put together that we’d seen The Very Best because of the way the Malawi guy’d introduced everyone else…”Here is the very best rapper from South Africa…” “Here are the very best dancers from the UK…” Yeah, I’m quick like that.

Potentially we saw:

Free Energy: I’m not sure where we saw them, but they handed out their cassette tape at several locations. I got home and heard their song on the newest Paste sampler and know that I heard that same song at some point over the weekend, I just can’t remember when or where.

Bands I missed but will have to check out soon before I explode:

Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit (They played before I got to town.)

Temper Trap (mainly just more of them,  although we heard they were socially awkward)

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings (It wasn’t free to go to this show.)

Band of Horses (It wasn’t free to go to this one, either.)

Bear in Heaven (I really wanted to see them, but we either just missed them or were four hours early, I can’t remember which. Somebody said they were the best of the week…)

Cary Brothers (Not free 😦 )

Dr. Dog (Not sure how we missed this…I think we’d already seen everyone else playing around this time, though.)

Major Lazer (It was way too cold to wait for the set to start.)

Bone Thugs (They were even later than Major Lazer.)

Macy Gray/Snoop/Hole  (They were all at the Perez Hilton bash, but mostly I read about the long line to get in and the long line for the bathroom. Not that sad that I missed them, but I bet that was a crazy switch from Snoop to Hole.)

Here are some pictures:


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