SXSW Review: Built To Spill, March 17, Cedar Street Courtyard

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest | Leave a comment


The Panic Manual is a model of inefficiency. Case in point: the last day of our annual trek to Austin found the entire four man Panic Manual crew (2 writers and 2 photographers) stationed at Cedar Street Courtyard to check out Built To Spill’s final set of the week. A bit redundant of us perhaps, especially considering that only two of us had any real familiarity with the band, but it’s a cool little venue and they’re a great band, so why not?

And so, after the bartender mixed us perhaps the best mojito I’ve ever tasted, we were primed and ready to take in some Built To Spill. There was a fair number of fans in attendance (I overheard one guy standing next to me saying he had seen every set they’d played at SXSW this year) who knew exactly what they were in for: Doug Martsch and co. working their way through some intricate, extended guitar jams.  Songs like “Strange” and “You Were Right” (with it’s classic rock quoting lyrics) sounded great and not at all like the band were worn out from playing shows all week.

Then again, maybe they were a bit weary.  It’s kind of hard to tell.  I mean, Martch’s voice has always been a bit weary sounding and it’s not as if the band’s ever been known to do that much jumping around onstage or anything.  Still, even if they weren’t necesssarily super energetic, it was still a solid set by the band and a nice reintroduction to them.  Apparently, the band is currently working on a new album.  No word on when it’s likely to arrive, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.

SXSW Review: Clock Opera, March 16, Parish

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

Among the unknown bands I saw last year, England’s Clock Opera was the band that impressed me the most. Their soaring melodic take on electronic music captured my imagination and I’ve been keeping track of this four piece band since.

Fast foreword to this year and Clock Opera has finally completed their debut album and it’s scheduled to arrive in April. With that in mind, Clock Opera blitzed SXSW this year with a series of performances. I caught their showcase at the Parish on Friday night.

The forty minute set proved what I suspected – Clock Opera is good and ready to roll. Their synth driven sound is augmented nicely by singer Guy Connelly’s voice, which in its most tender moments, reminds me of Guy Harveys voice. The band’s flair for the dramatics in all their tracks in my mind, separates them from similar sounding bands. I’ve already mentioned my love for Once and For All , but also tracks like Lesson Number 7 and Belongings are driving examples of the epic type of music Clock Opera is capable of and they sounded great live, much to the delight of the packed crowd at the Parish.

I fully expect this band to take off when their debut album drops in April, check them out if you have the chance.

SXSW Review: The Heavy, March 17, Stage on Sixth

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | 2 Comments

The Heavy became notorious a few years ago when they astounded the audience at the David Letterman show with an incredible rendition of their hit single “How You Like Me Now”. According to the PR emails I recieved, it was one of the few times in which Letterman asked a band to play again after their initial performance. It was primarily this reason why I was able to drag myself to the Stage on Sixth for their 1 am performance on Saturday at SXSW.

I was sober, my legs and back hurt and extremely tired from a week of SXSWing.

It was irrelevant.

The Heavy were amazing.

Lionel Ritchie and Jesus & Mary Chain aside, they easily put on my favorite show of SXSW.

Lead singer Kelvin Swaby’s charisma and showmanship is off the charts. Clearly coming from a soul revival/gospel background, Kelvin Swaby sings, preaches, engages the audiences and even sings directly into people’s faces. That’s right, throughout the show, he would pick out random people in the crowd, look them dead in the eye, put his face about five inches away from theirs and sings. Talk about a personal experience. There’s something to be said about a frontman who can engage the audience in a rousing call and response session for a completely new song that no one has heard before. That happened last night.

The Heavy’s blend of soul meets hard rock is one that I haven’t seen much, but the band makes it work. It’s riveting, energetic and definitely one that can garner a lot of attention, which is why I’m quite perplexed a band with such an amazing live show is still mostly obscure. This performance at SXSW might end that, be sure to check them out soon.