Here are some quick thoughts on other SXSW acts I saw.
DIIV, Mohawk Lounge – These guys had a rather long sound check and their shoegazey-distorted indied rock sound didn’t really do much for me. I found out later that they had been moved from Red Eye Fly so that the Polyphonic Spree can have a two hour set. Anytime you are an up and coming band that gets moved from one venue to another in favorite of a cult-twee band, you have a right to be upset and thrown off your game, I guess. It should be noted that Zach Cole posted a massive rant on twitter during SXSW criticizing the whole thing for commercialism. I am surprised that he was surprised at this. I guess he didn’t see the giant Doritos stage when he was coming in.
Foxygen, Hype Hotel – One of my biggest disappointments at SXSW. Foxygen’s retro psych-rock album was the album that MGMT should have made after their initial debut. Foxygen’s showcase at the Hype Hotel was mired by technical problems, buoyed by a sound check that seemed to last forever. Foxygen’s set was delayed by almost an hour and the crowd was definitely getting restless. It was probably not the band’s fault. The vocals were too loud and it would appear that Sam France was off key and honestly just sounded like a glorified karaoke singer up there behind his keyboards. Maybe it was on set improvisation, and while that might be okay on any other day, at South By, it just adds aggravation to exhausted and probably drunk crowd. Considering they basically had a meltdown on stage the following night, I am guessing these performances are an anomaly. I hope so, because I really liked their album.
Kitten, Cheer Up Charlies – Playing a 1:00 pm slot at SXSW is what most people would call “paying your dues”. The crowd is usually inattentive, still trying to recover from a hangover or trying to score free booze or just trying to figure out their schedule for the rest of the day. It takes a special something to wake the crowd up. Chloe Chaidez of the rock act Kitten might be one of those special something. Despite early technical issues, the firecracker of a singer just lit up the tiny stage at Cheer Up Charlies with all the head banging and hip gyrating moves that you can fit in half an hour. I have to mention she gave one of the photographers probably the best photo gigs of his life. The band performed with a intensity usually reserved for a bigger show and definitely woke up a few people in the crowd with her moves and vocals. I will say that some of the band members decisions to make black sweaters on a hot Texas afternoon had me questioning their senses, but you don’t need senses to pull off the good hard rock they delivered.
Cayucas, Cheer Up Charlies – If there was ever a band whose music made you want to quit your job, take up surfing and drink a fruity drink on a beach, it might be Cayucas. Their debut album Bigfoot will soundtrack many summer parties and while their live show doesn’t really deviate from the album form, listening to this band play an outdoor stage at 2 pm on a sunny Texas day in March is kind of perfect.
Youth Lagoon, Club Deville – ZZZZZZZZZzzzzz. Should have known. The band played a short set because Trevor Powers lost his voice, but still.
Savages, Club Deville – It’s a wonder that they would put Youth Lagoon right after Savages because those two bands are at the opposite ends of the energy spectrum in terms of live shows. With her shaved head and ever so manic stage moves, lead singer Jehnny Beth goes almost full Ian Curtis on stage. An intense performance that backs up the preceding hype that the London quartet carried with them to this festival and beyond.
Toy, Cedar Courtyard – I’m sad that Toy lead singer Tom Dougall didn’t bring his super hot sister (Rose, of the Pipettes) to Austin. Sporting the most British of haircuts, Tom Dougall and friends are known as Toy, a band that tried to bring back shoegaze in all it’s glory last year with their self titled debut. Not only did their music channel the period, their live show did too, as the band was mostly content on standing in one spot to play their tracks. While not stimulating on stage, the band’s release was good enough that the music maintained my attention.