Thursday, June 23, 2011

SXSW 2011 Recap: Day 6, March 20

Sunday was to be my final day in Austin, TX. It was not an “official” day of the SXSW festival but there were still places with showcases the entire day. It was a calmer affair and the perfect way to send off an incredible week of music. I was unfamiliar with most of the bands so it was also an enjoyable day of discovery. There were some truly great acts that I was able to catch and I would recommend staying the extra day for anyone considering it next year.

12:00 PM: Burnt Ones – Beerland

Burnt Ones SXSW 2011 1
Burnt Ones SXSW 2011 2

The day got to an early start with Burnt Ones at Beerland for the Hangover Breakfast showcase put on by Panche Booking annually. I was unfamiliar with the band but their infectious lo-fi tunes became something I could immediately get onboard with. The garage rock trio played a laidback set including standout track “Gonna Listen to T.Rex (All Night Long)”, a song that I can identify with and have played endlessly since seeing them.

Burnt Ones - Bury Me In Smoke from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo

1:45 PM: Luger – Headhunters

Luger SXSW 2011

After needlessly walking across town to see Ringo Deathstarr whose set time was moved, I stopped into Headhunters and happened upon a Spanish band called Luger. They were playing some unusual but captivating post-rock which I begain to enjoy the longer I watched them. The music was almost entirely instrumental with the occasional repetitive vocal melody. They had a percussionist who viciously bashed a steel table with a tambourine lying on top. It seemed gimmicky but actually added a welcome texture to the music.

2:00 PM: Heavy Cream – Beerland

I briefly caught the end of Heavy Cream’s set but loved what I was able to hear. They were a female fronted punk band that had crazy energy and catchy melodies. From the small amount I heard, I would say The Ramones and The Runaways are definite influences.

3:00 PM: Turbo Fruits – Beerland

Turbo Fruits SXSW 2011 1
Turbo Fruits SXSW 2011 2

Turbo Fruits were up next and set to impress. They played a great set of guitar-driven garage rock with the showmanship of rock stars and the energy of a punk band. The frontman even spent some time in the crowd shredding guitar on the ground. Their single “Mamas Mad Cos I Fried My Brain” besides being hilarious is the perfect example of their talent as songwriters. Hearing it pumped out of the speakers live made it an even more powerful slacker anthem.

3:30 PM: Pujol – Beerland

Pujol SXSW 2011

Pujol toned down the energy from Turbo Fruits and played a more relaxed set of lo-fi indie rock. The band employed a jumble of rock, punk, and indie influences with a dash of twang. It worked when mixed together but something wasn’t clicking for me. Their style was most successfully on the single “Black Rabbit” which is definitely worth a listen. They are gaining steam in the blogosphere so maybe I should give them a few more spins. After Pujol, one of the biggest highlights for me came when I finally got to eat at the famous Stubbs. I have been using their BBQ sauce for years and the original location did not let me down like some of the bands had.

PUJOL - Too Safe from Stewart Copeland on Vimeo.

6:15 PM: Grass Is Green – Headhunters

Grass is Green SXSW 2011

Next, it was back to Headhunters to see my second performance from Boston favorites Grass is Green. The audience looked like they had just about had it from the rest of the week but that didn’t stop Grass is Green from rocking their faces off. They played a much different set than the one from The Blind Pig Rooftop and included some standouts from their 2011 release Chibimoon that I had not previously seen them play. After bobbing and weaving through mathy rhythms, even they seemed to be wearing down along with the audience. The group ended up performing a welcomed slowed down version of their song "Gallery Place" which they dubbed "Sludge Gallery.”

7:00 PM: Bridge Farmers – Emo’s Main Room

Bridge Farmers SXSW 2011 1
Bridge Farmers SXSW 2011 2

The annual Goodbye Southby showcase from Radar Recordings which took place at Emo’s was actually the last official showcase of SXSW. Bridge Farmers started it off with a bang. The psychedelic metal band were Austin natives and put on a thoroughly impressive show. They had a lot of diversity in their set moving from sludgy metal tunes to bluesy rippers complete with excellent guitar shredding. They played songs from their debut EP Din of Celestial Birds, which comes highly recommended having spent more time with it. Also starting the showcase off with a “bang” were the $2 Magic Hat beers, one of the standout deals of SXSW.

8:00 PM: Shapes Have Fangs – Emo’s Jr.

Shapes Have Fangs SXSW 2011 edit

A brief detour was taken as I moved inside to catch Shapes Have Fangs at Emo Jr.’s. Their debut Dinner in the Dark is one of the most underrated albums of 2011. I’m seriously amazed that I haven’t really heard any buzz around it given the nostalgic, fuzzy sound which seems oh so popular right now. They have a psychedelic pop sound that is fitting for listening to at the beach. In fact, they immediately brought to mind Beach Fossils. They put on a great live show too with the crowd getting into it and dancing all over the place. The standout for me was “Shapes Theme / Only Blood” which I imagined in a Tarantino movie where a man would walk into a smoky bar. You'll get that when you hear the song. I’m pretty sure we will be hearing about these guys from more than just this blog as the year progresses.

9:00 PM: Junius – Emo’s Main Room

Junius SXSW 2011 1
Junius SXSW 2011 2

It was back to the main stage to see Junius, another Boston band and one of the best post-rock bands still in action. I had wanted to see them forever and it was quite an experience to have done so all the way down in Texas with such a great crowd. The band tore it up with their atmospheric post-rock dominance accompanied by a killer light show. For good measure, they snuck in a cover of “Firehead” by Hum to warm applause. Fan favorites "Elisheva, I Love You" and "Stargazers & Gravediggers" from their flagship album The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist sounded tremendous in a live setting.

10:00 PM: Mose Giganticus – Emo’s Main Room

Mose Giganticus SXSW 2011 2
Mose Giganticus SXSW 2011 1

Next up was perplexing electrometal outfit Mose Giganticus. The group played thrash metal that featured a lot of electronic elements like synths and vocoders. Yes, that is a keytar the frontman is playing in the picture above. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it, but the band possessed a giant electronic workstation that looked like it had cost a million dollars. I was unsure what it did but they had to program it to sync with each song and I’m pretty sure it malfunctioned a few times. Overall, Mose Giganticus was interesting but not very exciting.

11:00 PM: Tombs – Emo’s Main Room

Tombs were the most brutal band I got to see during all of SXSW. I don’t think a lot of the audience were ready for the seriously dark, menacing, and heavy sound of the trio. The singer/guitarist was lurching over his monitor, screaming bloody murder while beating the shit out of his guitar. To most, I think it came as frightening but for me, it was a refreshing change of pace. Songs like “Vermillion” and “Gossamer” are perfect combinations of doom metal, hardcore, and even a tinge of shoegaze. Their 2011 album Path of Totality is out now and I highly recommend it to those unafraid to venture out into the heavier side of the musical spectrum.

12:00 PM: Caspian – Emo’s Main Room

You can talk all you want about Explosions in the Sky but those who really follow post-rock know Caspian are where it’s at. Their music ebbs and flows like mighty tides sucking in quiet melodies before erupting in dynamic crashes. Their crescendos find the band flailing around the stage together in beautiful harmony. It is quite a spectacle and has the wordless emotion of the best movie scores. They closed with “Sycamore” which ended in a huge tribal drumming session with everyone in the middle of the stage. You can sort of make it out on the crappy picture above [my camera ran out of battery right before their set so I had to use ye ol’ cellphone]. Such an epic conclusion to their set also served as the perfect ending to an incredible albeit exhausting week of music. The next morning, I said goodbye to my gracious host of the Preston Maddox of emerging noisy shoegazers Bloody Knives [see below] and was off on the 2,000 mile journey back to Boston.

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