SO yesterday was my first full day at this year's SXSW. There's always a little piece of me that dreads it. Every year it seems to get more and more crowded and chaotic, which means it's harder to get into shows and meet up with friends you haven't seen in some time. The last couple of years I've figured out the best approach is to be completely oblivious to who is playing and not to adhere to any sort of schedule. Of course, Origami is involved in 4 events this year, so I have to be in certain places at certain times, however the added freedom around these shows enables me to go through the day and night with the ability to see things I may have never known about and tag along with friends who may be on a stricter agenda. So far day 1 worked out incredibly.
After waking up a little late, I headed into East Austin, a part of the city in which I hadn't explored too much in years prior. On first impression, it seems this is the part of town that's really coming up. Dive-y bars, great little family owned restaurants, and food trucks galore. Seems like my kinda place and was shocked I hadn't really ventured in these parts. I quickly devoured a BBQ brisket sandwich from the BBQ School bus and was on my way to our joint party with Rawkblog, Twenty-Four Bit, and Etnies. I was able to catch a great performance from Little Scream who are signed to Secretly Canadian. They have a very beautiful approach to their music with soaring harmonies, wind and string instruments, and keys. It was a nice mellow set to start the day. Next up was Ravens & Chains, who kinda disappointed. It had some Arcade Fire/Bruce Springsteen elements to it, but it seemed a bit uninspired. At that point I was finishing up beer 2 and heard that there was a Japanese showcase happening next door. I opted to go grab a beer over there and scope the scene.
Let's just say it was a bit emotional to be there. Seeing these young Japanese kids pouring their hearts out through their music and knowing that for them this may be a temporary moment when the recent disaster wasn't on their minds. It was pretty awesome and I was so proud that this collection of musicians made the trek all the way to Texas to continue the fulfillment their dreams.
I then headed back to our event to catch Pepper Rabbit. Last year, they played the shop and it was really impressive. They sparked some comparisons to the mellower side of Grizzly Bear and what-not. This year, it just seemed they were a little less enthusiastic on stage. Maybe they were tired, or had played a ton of shows already, but it just seemed to be a bit sleepy.
From there we left the party and headed down the street to Shangri-La to see some friends and catch La Sera's set. It was a great little touch of 50's inspired pop and gave us that mid afternoon second wind. Katy's voice sounded great!
Once they were done, I tagged along with the Etnies crew to hit the Vice Records party. Since I didn't have a badge, it was a small struggle to get into the show. Thanks to my buddy Phil from FYF, he was able to work his magic and get me and my friends in.
This show was AWESOME! It kicked off with the Puerto Rican punk rock outfit, Davila 666, who just continue to blow heads off. They are so fresh! Next up was OFF! Keith Morris has been coming into Origami since we opened and it was nice to return the favor in terms of support. It brought me back to my high school days and I caught myself banging my head and desiring to hit the mosh pit. Maybe that was beer 6 in me at this point. Luckily, I still had some sense in me and kept myself at bay. I must say, OFF! is probably the best thing I have seen down here and it will be VERY hard to top it. After OFF! went off, Black Lips took the stage. These guys have a ton of energy and are like the early era Beatles with a punk rock attitude. Super hooky songs that are played super loose and with anarchistic energy. Once Black Lips were finished the next band was a mystery and everyone around was trying to figure out who the surprise guest may be. At first we all thought it was going to be Death From Above considering they are a Vice Records artist. No Luck. The second guess was Odd Future as all of them were hangin out. No Luck. At long last it was DOM who set-up to play. To be honest I haven't really understood all the hyper surrounding this band, but decided to stick around to catch a couple songs. Yep, still don't understand what all the hoopla is about. Whatevs...
Around this time, I was handed a silver bracelet that got me into the Spin Shed at Stubb's. WHOA! It was a pretty big hook-up since Stubb's is where all the big bands and secret shows happen. I haven't been there in a couple of years, because it's always a project trying to get in. Not now. Which meant I was able to close out the night with TV on the Radio. Which are awesome and I am so glad to see they are back to making music together again.
TV on the Radio
Well I'm off to start Day 2 here in a minute....'til tomorrow...over and out.
Photos courtesy of Alex Makabali