Words by Popejohnpaul12 and Brokenbrooklyn
Pictures by Brokenbrooklyn
Our longest and most excellent day of the festival started at Pitchfork’s Showcase at Emo’s. Girls was the first band to go on (at least when we showed up) and they come from the San Francisco area which may explain their 1960′s Californian pop style. This isn’t the Beach Boys revisited though and everything they touch seems to get all covered up in lots of reverb. The lead singer/guitarist suggests a Zepplinish, pre metal virtuosity that never really makes its way into their music, though there are moments where you feel like it may someday. Their songs seem well constructed enough and aren’t totally boring, but if they let themselves rock out just a little bit more or piled on a some stranger atmospherics, it would likely take their sound to the next level. The singer’s voice suggests an early Conner Oberst, but it comes off as affected in a different sort of way, one that I’m not sure if I buy yet.
Up next we saw The Mae Shi play another raucous show. Already a Minorprogression favorite, they still know how to really bring an audience to exuberance, even in the early afternoon. They played some new tracks as well as some older show staples; bouncing all over the place, singing A capella, running through the audience and covering them with their huge parachute. This set the sites for the day pretty high.
Running inside, we caught the beginning of Little Boots set, but her lack of energy after the high of The Mae Shi’s performance left us feeling a little antsy. It’s not that we don’t like soft spun electro-pop, but we like it when it either sizzles or slithers. Little Boots seemed as though she couldn’t really make up her mind to do either, though who knows what her future may bring. She’s already been snatched up by the hype machine, but taking her name from the awful 70′s film Caligula doesn’t exactly start things out on the right food
Restless, we started out on ours and headed towards the eastern side of Austin, with a lot more trees and open space than in the claustrophobic downtown area. Music still drifting through the air everywhere we walked and the sun not even thinking about letting up, we arrived at our destination, The Salvage Vanguard Theater, to see Najeeb Sabour perform. Najeeb is a local Austin artist though he was born in New Orleans, grew up in Houston and spent time in both Boston and Prague before settling down here. His rich and beautiful music suggests all of those places at times, but refuses to be defined as being one thing or another. He plays cello and sings with a rich, soulful bari-tenor and plays in front of a full backing band with two guitarists, two drummers and a mandolin player. His music suggests folk, jazz, soul, reggae and rock and the varied communal powers of his band keep things rolling along genre-less and spiritually grounded. With a surprise ending that literally included fireworks (much to the Vanguards panic) it was a set that was unquestionably worth the trip.
Also worth the trip was the show Edie Sedgewick played after Najeeb’s. Edie Sedgewick is a glam, electro, dancey punk band from NYC that knows how to dismantle conventional norms for the sake of a good time. Half way through the set someone yelled out, “what’s your name?” The singer, a reborn Eddie Sedgewick we’re assuming, responded with “We’re art man. What’s it matter to you? It’s not like we get to know your name. In fact, it’s so dark in here it’s not like we can even see you.” She went on to throw a hadnfull of CD’s and records from the merch table into the crowd, later admitting that the merch she tossed into the crowd wasn’t even hers and she didn’t want to be responsible for it. The major bummer about the show was that we were too surprised and enamored by them to remember to get pictures so check out their myspace for some of those.
After seeing Edie Sedgewick play we headed to the Handsome Furs show at Waterloo records – Popejohnpaul was asked to check his bag (which was smaller than most of the ladies handbags and purses there) by some girl, so he accused her of being sexist. A small scene was quickly made it was checked, whilst all the biologically female patrons shopped unchecked secretly sneaking merchandise into their huge bags. Handsome Furs finally came on and we felt like we were in 2003 in Los Angeles. Their sound was fun but the music they’re making and their live show fall far from being enlightening. This was (as they admitted early on) their last of many SXSW shows, so maybe that had something to do with it, or maybe we were still pissy from the bag incident, so to cool off and set things back on track we went over to the Flagship Whole Foods store to get our first and only real dinner void of queso, mexican food and smoked meats.
From Whole Foods we walked back downtown to see Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele; he’s a fabulous crooner and his lyrics are romantic and whimsical. He dressed like a nerd but that feels sort of like it’s put on, as does some of the rest of his shtick. Unfortunately the venue he played at was a bit to big for the crowd and his sound wasn’t enough to fill the space, leaving traces of gimmicky on our ears. It’s impossible not to like him at all and some of his songs are really great but it seems like the golden boy he was two years ago sold out for a trip to Europe. It’ll be interesting to see if he is able to make his Ukulele remain cute or if he quickly becomes an obnoxious has been.
Next we headed back to emo’s to see Brooklyn’s Woods play their official SXSW set since we’d missed them earlier during the afternoon’s Pitchfork showcase. Brokenbrooklyn had seen them play before at a Todd P. show in a warehouse in the dead of winter and he thought it was actually more appealing to see them play a smaller space. They play Psychadelic folk rock but their music is far creepier than that of Girls. The singers voices are processed through strange microphone vocoders that make Sparklehorse’s vocals sound like Bruce Springsteen. They have a member who looks like something out of a horror film, with some sort of device that covers his mouth kneeling upon the center of the stage manipulating tapes and electronic elements, adding an exciting element to their shows, and giving an extra layer of exciting textures to what is already some of the better strange psych-folk to be coming out of anywhere lately.
After drinking all day we needed uppers and dancing so we put on some eyeliner and went to a party at the old, vacant Salvation Army on South Llamar. Mapei took full ownership of the stage right when we got there, giving us what was our warmest arrival welcoming. Thank god we were not late because she totally killed it! She’s like a hard rapping Lil Kim with the stylings of Uffie, she takes her cues from Brooklyn hip hop and Swedish dance pop. Her energy and skills were enough to even get Brokenbrooklyn into it and we danced till our bodies started to collapse our hearts stolen by this Swedish by way of Brooklyn up and coming headliner. After too many free beers we hopped in a car nearly ready to retire, only to stumble upon a late night bridge party. All the dirty bikers and punk kids getting drunk on the bridge threatened to break it into pieces but unfortunately they didn’t and we arrived just as the Vivian Girls were starting to play. Depressed at our musical listening option but stoked on our surroundings Popejohnpaul12 turned to a girl that was into S/M and started talking sex. This lead to the two of them taking turns smacking each other in the face while her bereaved boyfriend helplessly watched the two flirt making the most of the moment while Brokenbrooklyn smirked knowingly into his face. People in Austin are so nice, it really blows our minds.