SxSW: Day One

I was going to cover my trip down to Austin, Texas for this years SxSW in a single post, but quickly realized it would be way too long.  This is easily the most live music I had ever packed into three and half days.  While I got to see everything that I put on my short list, there were literally four to five bands playing at any one time I would have liked to have seen.

This was my first ever time at SxSW.  I had some rules I wanted to follow: keep the number of garage bands I saw to a minimum, avoid chill wave, and try to see bands  that don’t normally make their way up to Seattle.  Here’s what went down, the abridged version, or as abridged as I can make it.  I arrived Wednesday afternoon with my friend Andrew picking me up from the Austin airport.  We dropped my bag off at his place and then headed out to grab some dinner.  SxSW being what it is, you can’t go anywhere without a band playing, and so we had pizza and beer and watched the Republic of Ireland’s So Cow do their thing while we ate.  They finished with a great cover of Tall Dwarf’s Meet the Beatle.

After checking out the Hozac thing at Trailer Space Records and leaving because there was no one who knew who had played or who was going to play, and then trying and failing to catch Austin shoegazers Ringo Deathstarr we headed over Cheer Up Charlies to meet up with my friend Bill.  When we arrived as Fluffy Lumbers were setting up.  Cheer Up Charlies was called Mrs. Bea’s last year, and is essentially a vacant lot with two small wooden stages and a couple taco wagons.  The place was full of rustic charm, a common trait among the numerous Austin music venues.  While I’m a fan of a couple Fluffy Lumbers songs, their entire set sounded like a tape getting eaten as it played through a boom box.

From Cheer Up Charlies on the east side, be made our way over to downtown Austin to check out Norway’s Megaphonic Thrift (who share a drummer with the Casio Kids) in the basement of Habana Calle 6. The band excel in creating quite a maelstrom of noise part influenced by the heavier side of shoegaze and more than a little bit of Sonic Youth.  It was all right, but they could have added some actual songs to their juggernaut sound.

After Megaphonic Thrift, we moved across the street to the Galaxy Room to catch the sole performance of ex-Pippette Rose Elinor Dougall.  The place was full of boys, not surprisingly since Ms. Dougall has a bag of catchy pop songs and she’s easy on the eyes.  She didn’t disappoint,  looking and sounding great in her black leather jacket.  Her songs took on a more Cocteaus/Siouxsie sound to them than their recorded version. No complaints from me.

Not content with staying in the same place for too long we headed over to the Brooklyn Vegan show at Club Deville to see Serena Maneesh. We got their and Califone had just started who I didn’t really pay attention to, opting instead to grab a beer and converse.  Serena Maneesh didn’t come on until about 1:30 and I’m trying to pace myself, so I stayed for a couple songs and then headed for bed.

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