South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Gomez, March 19, Stubb’s BBQ

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Gomez, March 18, Stubbs, SXSW

Austin – Having ignored Gomez for the past few albums, I went into the concert on Thursday night with mild expectations. Most of my Gomez experience has been with the albums ‘Bring it On’ and ‘Liquid Skin’ so I was expecting a folksy – bluesy kind of show. Little did I know that in the decade since ‘Bring it on’, the Southport 5-some has transformed themselves from a folksy/bluesy band to an adult contemporary rock band. I should have known that this was not the Gomez I listened to when I saw the band setting up and there was a laptop with a synth there.

Arriving on to the stage, Ian Ball immediately asked if the crowd’s feet were ‘glued to the floor’ and urged them to start dancing. I was like, what? Apparently this new version of Gomez features a steady diet of guitar rock mixed with some synth action. This is the new Gomez. They were good. Ben Ottewell’s voice is so unique in that sandy sounding bluesy way. Having three vocalists, you can really see the band use each persons voice to great effect. They played a bunch of songs I didn’t know, but all of them sounded pretty good. One of the songs I knew – Girlshapedlovedrug had a great reaction from the packed crowd at Stubbs. “See the World” also got a good response. It is also nice to see a band completely in their element on stage. At SXSW, a lot of times you see bands who only have been around a year or two or less, and are visibly nervous on stage when there is a large crowd. Gomez, being festival veterans, strolled out like superstars, engaged with their audience and created a good festival vibe during their set, either with witty banter, call and response and just all in all a very crisp performance.

Despite not playing ‘get myself arrested’, ’78 stone wobble’ or ‘we haven’t turned around’, I was pretty damn pleased with the show.

SXSW Review: Chairlift, Red Eyes Fly, March 21 2009

Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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Austin TX – Brooklyn’s Chairlift gained instant celebrity through ipod’s nanochromatic campaign, indeed that’s how I heard them first. The super flighty and infectious “Bruises” has had 3.7 million hits on myspace alone and I have to say, it’s very different from what’s on the rest of the album, which are placidly mood-setting. Because of this difference, for the longest time I had them mixed up with another 3 person boy-boy-girl band called Headlights from Illinois and actually thought I was going to see the latter instead… My bad.

This set was extremely short. But my guess is when the vocal came on stage with her blue workshirt and lace stocking half of everyone else became longer to compensate. There weren’t that big of a crowd, though. They played only 4 songs (Planet Health, Bruises and 2 others…) I think all from the first album. The singing was dead-on, but always a bit flat and not as flighty as the recordings. A few people were dancing, the general crowd reaction was respectable but a bit withdrawn, which could be why they didn’t play much… or maybe they have to wrap and head to the next show at Dallas.

I can’t really write a fair review on a short show like this… guess there’s always next time. I just found out they’re playing with PBJ in April at Phenix Theater (Toronto). Would that I didn’t wait 1.5 hr for PBJ to warrant an almost permanent No-No…

SXSW Review: Viva Voce, Red Eyes Fly, March 19 2009

Posted on by Gary in Concerts, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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Austin, TX – On the first post after 18 shows in 48 hrs, I found that there isn’t much patience in me for heavy music. Sitting outside of the outdoor Primal Scream set at 15C 1am in the morning wasn’t very nice. An actual lyrical, singing band is always nice and relaxing. Viva Voce from Portland fits my bill but they didn’t play at the wee hours of the night when I needed soft soothing songs the most. The weather was sunny, with beams of light streaming onto the stage – very nice unless you happen to look down and then you’re instantly reminded you’re at south-by with 100,000 other people…

I think they followed a band called Alberta Cross (don’t know if they are from Alberta), unlike some certain bands, they quickly set up as their crowd assembled. The percussion actually joked and let the sound guy know that he needs to not pay her extra attention and check-up on the lead vocal… funny. For some reason I can’t ever hear the lead guitar but he does sing, probably another doing when the sound-man checks out girls in the band. Their playing is dead-on with the recordings. Good songs like Free Nude Celebs and From the Devil Himself were all smooth and very enjoyable. I’m not going to describe the feeling of standing sun-strewn in a lazy bar listening to flowing guitar rifts, but you catch the drift. The band themselves are also very swimming people – there’s not much showmanship required, just music, which is the way I like it. MC made fun of the vocal and apparently he was turned on whenever she grabs the whammy… nothing wrong with that! :)

As we go on to more shows I hope we get to see more of these guys and more acoustic bands (yeah, I know, they’re not technically acoustic; sue me). If they are all as enjoyable as Viva Voce I will be a very happy man.

SXSW Review – White Lies, Cedar Street Courtyard, March 20

Posted on by Alli in Concerts, South By Southwest | 6 Comments
White Lies

White Lies

Austin – A fun afternoon was had by all at the Filter magazine party yesterday afternoon, which was filled with the sounds of several good British bands. Seeing how us Panic Manual folks love the Brits, we knew we’d enjoy ourselves.

Upon arrival we thought we were going to miss White Lies headlining due to conflicting schedules, but the stars aligned and things got changed around. Formerly known as Fear of Flying, the Ealing (London) natives draw comparison to bands like Editors and Joy Division, though I felt that live many similarities faded away. Jason Bentley (host of KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” in LA) introduced the band and had trouble expressing just how much he loves this band, and I can understand why. Singer Harry McVeigh has the strongest, most powerful voice I have heard in months and most certainly here at SXSW. During the chorus of “Death” I realized goosebumps were dotting my arms, and not because it was cold out (I was sweating my ass off). It was the first time that happened this week despite seeing a lot of bands I really love, which says a lot for them in my book.

There is a very serious air about White Lies, but upon a little research I found they covered Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” on BBC radio – beautifully, of course. They seemed very humbled and appreciative that so many people had stood in a crowded courtyard with the sun beating down on them all afternoon to watch their short set. They apologized that they “may sweat a bit” since they weren’t used to the Texas heat. The band was so tight and I felt every note moving through me, unable to help swaying around and closing my eyes – okay, now I am starting to sound like an emo teenager. Anyway, don’t write this band off just because of the cliche comparisons you might read – they are going places.