SXSW Review: Glasvegas and School of Seven Bells, March 18-19, Vice and Mohawk lounge

Austin – Hello from the panicmanual’s ‘American Correspondent’ – I’m Alli, and I’ll be writing from time to time when I make it out to gigs down here in Texas.

I’m along for the ride at SXSW 2009, and here I sit in our hotel room at 11:30pm on the second night of the music portion of the festival. Crazy, right? What am I doing in so early? I’ll admit it, I can’t hang. I’m not used to all this excitement. So I’m gonna attempt to write a bit about my favorite parts so far.

The main draw for me to this fest, aside from the option of seeing any of the 1800 bands playing in less than a week and tons of free booze, was the Scottish band Glasvegas. Of all people, Tim Booth of James recommended them to me – first through a blog he wrote on James’ website, then personally when I met him last fall. I downloaded their self-titled album and fell in love with it quickly. Many people compare them to Jesus and Mary Chain, which I guess I get, as they are both Scottish and both have a knack for that “wall of sound” technique first perfected by Phil Spector in America almost 50 years ago. Comprised of four members (three male and a female drummer), Glasvegas recreate said wall of sound perfectly in a live setting, which is exactly what I was hoping for. We arrived at Vice, the club here in Austin where they headlined last night, a few hours early so as not to miss them and the place was absolutely jammed. They have quite the buzz following them around town this week and rightly so. More comparisons fly when singer James Allan takes the stage; with his wayfarers, pompadour and swagger he reminds you of Joe Strummer, almost exactly. He sings his heart out through every note and you feel it, especially during the personal “Daddy’s Gone”, a great set closer. Personally I had a lovely time singing along at the top of my lungs with every song; as best I could anyway as the Scots lyrics are nearly unintelligible (but nonetheless irresistible) upon first listen.

After seeing Glasvegas I felt like I could turn around and go home happy, even though I had just arrived at SXSW that evening. I made it my mission to see them at least once more during the festival. Lo and behold they had another gig this afternoon at Mohawk, where a party for Rhapsody was being held. Also on the bill were School of Seven Bells, whom I was very impressed with. The two female members of the 3-piece are actually identical twins, whose voices are also equally beautiful and mysterious. It was difficult to get a lot out of their set with the whole party atmosphere going on but I really enjoyed their set. Glasvegas played after them and once again packed the venue and did not disappoint. I think they may have been suffering a bit from the events of the previous night, their sunglasses stayed on and several swigs of beer were taken which only added to the charm of a daytime performance. I talked to several attendees who were there to see them simply because they kept hearing their name, even though they knew nothing about them. Awesome few hours out of the very long day that was day 2 of SXSW..

Posted on by Alli in Concerts, South By Southwest