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SXSW Highlights

I plowed through SXSW seeing 20-something bands in 5 days. I figure the least I could do is share the highlights. The ultimate highlight of my week, by far, was a 2am house party in the woods where I caught a hot showcase of Hacienda featuring Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. No contest. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen every day, to me at least.

I started off the week easy with free breakfast tacos at Club De Ville and performances by Explode into Color and the Shaky Hands. I was pretty impressed by how heavy Shaky Hands got, since I’d previously only listened to some of their more melodic, folky songs. Don’t be fooled, these dudes can shred. Also, their drummer makes wild expressions AND their bassist took his socks off while playing without skipping a beat. I think that should be noted among his talents.

King Kahn & The Shrines must have played a million sets throughout the week, but I was happy to catch them at Birds Barbershop after watching The Handsome Furs tear it up at the Fader Fort on Thursday morning. Lots of energy in both acts, complimented perfectly by all the free booze. Somehow in the blur of events I lucked out getting into Red 7 for an afternoon showcase of Lucero and The Hold Steady, both of which I’ve seen a handful of times and am always pleased by their consistency. Good old rock n’ roll.

Friday I got to Emo’s just in time for the Mae Shi, who dazzled me last year with their midnight show at the Austin Children’s Museum. I second guessed their talent, but they’re the real deal. Loud and energetic. Running between the indoor & outdoor stages I caught pieces of showcases by Little Boots, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, School of Seven Bells, and Woods. They all sounded good, but no real stand outs. Pains of Being Pure at Heart, like the others I’m sure, played like 14 shows over the 5 days, and I heard from others that this was particularly a poor showing of their abilities. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I just find Emo’s lackluster these days and was eager to head over to Flamingo Cantina for Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy) and Camera Obscura.

camera obscura @ flamingo cantina

Flamingo Cantina’s afternoon showcase was a cool breeze on a sweltering summer day. Complete with palm trees and island drinks. Add that to a beautiful back-to-back showcase and I was a happy camper. Front row for Camera Obscura (one of my favorite bands, hands down) was a definite highlight. They make beautiful music and I cannot wait to hear the entirity of My Maudlin Career. Delightful.

Later that night I was shocked and awed by Peter, Bjorn and John. I anticipated a cutesy show with cheesey crowd whistling but instead found myself amongst a sexy dance party. Their night show at Fader Fort was intense. I realize in retrospect that this is all very logical because their new album is PHENOMENAL. I was pretty sure they were the ultimate experience of the week until I made it to that crazy houseparty with Dan Auerbach.

dante hacienda & dan auerbach

After being THISCLOSE to Dan Auerbach and staying out until 4am drinking their fine tequila, I took it easy on Saturday. I spent the afternoon at Waterloo Park. While drinking warm beer in the hot sun and getting all sorts of sunburn, I bopped my head along to Cursive, Thao Nguyen & The Get Down Stay Downs, Vivian Girls, and The Thermals. I was happy that Cursive played “Recluse” (listen above) and am definitely interested in this Thao Nguyen group. They are one of the bands I am most excited to have been introduced to by the magic of SXSW.

Saturday night I passed on the insanity of Kanye and Common at the Fader Fort. I knew about it, I just didn’t want to get involved with that hot mess. I opted for the lazy fields of Auditorium Shores for a short set by Erykah Badu and the ambient amazing-ness of Explosions in the Sky. A very relaxing closure to one of the most chaotic weeks of the year, with FIREWORKS!

explosions in the sky!

Author: Jessica S

Category: SXSW '09

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