Sunday, March 25, 2012

SXSW Day 1 - Thursday, March 15th

I apologize for not updating for so long, and also for taking so long to post this.

For the first time since living in Austin, I attended SXSW. I know, crazy right? Now, a lot of people think you have to have a wristband or a badge to see any music down there, but that's not true. Every single one of the 20 bands I saw were for free (the key is to RSVP to every party and look up all the shows of course)! Next year I'd probably be willing to fork over some money to see some more known artists (especially since there were quite a few acts that I've mentioned in here that I didn't get to see), but it was great experience to get turned onto so much great music.

This will be in three parts since I went three days, so here is Thursday, day one.

The Little Willies at Waterloo Records
The day started in the early afternoon at Waterloo records parking lot. Blitzen Trapper is a folk/country band with some experimental tendencies from Portland, Oregon. This band is not really my kind of music, but they're good for what they are. "Might Find it Cheap" is a pretty good song. The Little Willies were up next and are one of Norah Jones' side projects founded in 2003. The band mostly performs country cover songs. Despite Jones' assertion that she just woke up, she and the group sounded great and you could tell that they were enjoying themselves. They played a few songs from their new album For The Good Times, including Loretta Lynn's "Fist City," the bluegrass fun of Ralph Stanley's "I Worship You" and a beautiful rendition of Dolly Parton's "Jolene."

SXSW - Kimbra @ La Zona Rosa
Kimbra at La Zona Rosa (photo by Kirk Stauffer)

From there I headed to La Zona Rosa's Warner Music showcase to check out The Staves, a folk trio of sisters from the UK. Their music makes for some hauntingly beautiful voices and melodies. I wouldn't say I was blown away, but I enjoyed what I heard. Things changed gears completely with Crystal Fighters, a British/Spanish electronic band from the UK. Their music draws from many influences such as basque, Spanish punk and dance. They got the crowd hyped and were a lot of fun to dance to. It was pretty cool how they performed live band dubstep in the track "Swallow." You can view some of that song's goodness as well as "I Love London" here. Headliner Kimbra is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand. You might have heard her voice on Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know." She's definitely a good enough artist on her own. She played a stripped down set at the Warner Sound show at La Zona Rosa. What can I say? The girl can sing her ass off, perform extremely well, and write some great lyrics. Check out Kimbra performing "Two Way Street." Her album Vows will be out in the US in early May.

Keane at Cedar Street Courtyard (photo by
Surely you've heard of British rock band Keane? Or at least know one of their songs "Somewhere Only We Know" or "Is It Any Wonder?" They were one of the bigger bands I saw at SXSW who I just happened to stumble upon. Their set at Cedar Street Courtyard, which included the aforementioned hits, was amazing. The band sounded clean, and the singer's vocals were on point the whole time. The band performed a new single called "Silenced by the Night," which you can check out here, as well as "Somewhere Only We Know" here. Their new album Strangeland comes out May 7th.

Cairo Knife Fight at New Zealand showcase

Electric Wire Hustle were part of the New Zealand party showcase that I attended. Their music is electronic based with hip hop/r&b influences- very chill sounding. It was also a perfect setting and atmosphere to be sipping on the free wine the party provided. They definitely have an interesting thing going on. Cairo Knife Fight, a hard rock duo, were the next New Zealand band. For just two guys, they make a lot of noise ala Death From Above 1979 and put on quite a show- musically and energetically. After quite a long wait, folk group Avalanche City played, but were boring and not very impressive so I left after two songs. The sound was also very off for their performance, so I give them the benefit of the doubt since the studio versions are better.

So my first day of SXSW was a great success. I never thought I would get a chance to see so many bands in one day. Lastly, here is a playlist I made of all the artists I saw. Enjoy, and stay tuned for SXSW days two and three!

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