Cold. Happy. Home. Goodbye, SXSW.
By Saturday morning many SXSWers were either gearing up for taxi rides to the airport and flights home, or slowly recovering from the previous evening’s late-night festivities. The sun was now long gone, rain was pouring and the wind was kicking up somethin’ fierce.
I left my hotel early with the intention of taking in a panel on “Effecting Social Change via Music and Technology” but was waylaid by the enticing sounds of singer-songwriter Lissie, playing the Day Stage of the Austin Convention Center. Previously recommended to me by my colleague, the Divine Ms. Holly (who always has her finger on the music pulse), Lissie won me over in short order.
This was followed by a quick but satisfying set from the Middle East, with Rogue Wave to wind it all up. I decided that I’d just have to remain in the dark on the question posed by the panel I was planning on attending: “Can China Build a Better Music Business?” Good luck with that, China.
Saturday seemed like the best day to catch as many lesser-known and unknown bands playing in one day as I could. I took in some of the Liverpool Sound City and Best of the Northwest Showcase happening at Latitude 30.
Good down-home set from acoustic Irish duo the Lost Brothers, but the highlight came from Manchester’s Ten Bears, who apparently arrived in Austin with no instruments and no place to stay. Well, thanks to a little Austin hospitality, it worked out. Their energetic set was plagued by technical difficulties, but they redeemed all with a surprisingly good Brit-rock rendition of the techno anthem, “Pump Up The Jam.”
Caught the tail-end of The Aussie BBQ showcase at Maggie Mae’s, which included funked-up rock from a delightfully over-the-top Andy Clockwise and some head-banging courtesy of Violent Soho. Ouch.
Ears ringing, outdoor temperature plummeting, I made my way to the Showdown at Cedar Street to see the Boxer Rebellion and Frightened Rabbit. Neither disappointed. Frightened Rabbit appropriately ended their set with “Keep Yourself Warm.” Me. Cold. Happy.
Side note: judging by the plethora of them, apparently handlebar mustaches are all the rage on the indie rock circuit. As a friend of mine mused: “Hey, I loved you in There Will Be Blood!” Eh, it’s a look.
Also took time to catch some hip-hop beats at Club De Ville’s “Respect the West” showcase. There was already a line of fans and hip-hop backpackers waiting patiently in the frigid cold for the gates to open. I felt kinda bad for Small Black, the Brooklyn band next door on the Mohawk Patio, valiantly attempting to make their music heard above the relentless bass-booming hip-hop soundchecks.
Show finally got started and the unit Afro Classics brought their A-game. And a shout-out to DJ Reflex for his crowd-pleasing between sets spinning. Good head-reelin’ stuff.
From there it all became a wondrous blur: Diz Gibran, Moon Duo, Soulico, An Horse and back to the hotel. Pack up, head home. It’s been a memorable one, ya’ll. Thanks, Austin!