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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.