SXSW 2014 Music Wrap Up

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Category: stuff_i_use, travel

I realized I haven’t even done a wrap up for 2013, but that’s because an error in judgment led me to thinking that leaving early (Thursday) was a good idea. Wrong! So in 2014, back to music at SXSW, but minus Saturday night. Sorry, but by Saturday all the bands are ragged out from playing 2 – 3 shows a day, I’ve been there over a week, and it’s just not as much fun.

This year I also wanted to spend more time with film goings-on, so I got a chance to see Tilda Swinton speak. Not only she is swoon-worthy, but her vocabulary is so rich and imaginative. Should we all be so erudite every day.

Of the 33 bands I managed to see this year, a few performances stood out, detailed here:

  1. Fat White Family at the Mohawk indoors – This was a most entertaining train wreck. Was the lead singer going to whip his dick out on stage or take a dump? Was that only beer he spit on to the crowd? This was pure punk, but deliberately so. I couldn’t tell if I were watching a master of music marketing at play or actual greatness. In the end it didn’t matter. Energetic and entertaining, it was the most rock’n’roll show of the week. Recommended band reading.
  2. Ex Hex at The Parish – This remains one of my favorite music venues in Austin (on par with the Mohawk) and the evening’s Matador showcase was terrific, but I have to say Ex Hex was phenomenal. After seeing several good but not great shows, watching this band showed a mastery of stage presence and showmanship, not to mention the music. I was truly sad to leave.
  3. The Deslondes at the Flatstock Stage at ACC – Delightful in every sense. A song about a boy who gave up his Matchbox car for a frog and one called Louise. Truly excellent connection with listeners in a sterile environment.
  4. Jetta at Clive Bar – I’m really waiting for her to become the next major talent. Besides the incredible voice, she’s got a great look, incredibly accessible pop songs, and stage presence. A major shout out to two very tall people who nicely asked if I wanted to stand in front of them so I could see.
  5. The Fresh and Onlys at Swan Dive Indoors – While I haven’t managed to see them yet in San Francisco, this show ensures that I’m going to be dragging everyone to see them. It was a great venue for their sound of sharply refined recorded nuggets turned into rough, live gold.
  6. Those Darlins at Shotgun – This was a last minute addition to my plan and was well worth it. Vibrant and tight, this band knew how to put on a live show and keep folks entertained.
  7. Marshall Ford Swing Band at the Victorian Room at the Driskill – Honestly, we were looking for a quick, easy-going show before seeing a movie, and this perfectly fit the bill. Unpretentious. My notes say “like an eminently drinkable alcoholic beverage – not original per se, but likable.”
  8. Parquet Courts at Bar 96 – This was the band I was most looking forward to seeing. The performance was fun but the crowd and venue left much to be desired. I will admit to laughing when someone flew by crowdsurfing while wearing Birkenstocks. Not a combo I’ve often seen.

In my prep this year, I listened to about 500 bands and used SongDrop to curate a list of some thing. It’s not complete, but you can take a listen.

2 comments on “SXSW 2014 Music Wrap Up”

  1. I really wanted to see Ex Hex. Thank you for sharing this list, will have to check out the rest. Sorry I missed you guys too!

    Kara
  2. @Kara – they were so good! I know you saw some really good stuff too.

    — Carla