I suppose if you are reading this you are already aware that every year SXSW seems to get bigger and bigger, this year bringing in massive acts like Metallica, Jane’s Addiction and Kanye West. (I missed Metallica, but pics of JA and Kanye are forthcoming) The increase in overall scope has led to more shows on the Tuesday before the official music portion of SXSW and at the end of SXSW Interactive, and as such I’ve been heading to Austin a day early for the last couple years. This year The Western Civilization set my new record for earliest band seen at SXSW, playing @ 4pm @ Gruv as part of the Matthew Wettergreen curated Houston @ SXSW event. I caught a bit of Wayside Drive and Benjamin Wesley before heading off to BMI’s Howdy Texas party at Stubb’s for some free BBQ and my first free beer of the week.
Next up was Daniel Francis Doyle at NYC DIY show promoter extraordinaire Todd P’s Tejas Means Friends party @ Ms. Bea’s. Only a few hours in and I had already found one of my favorite surprises of the week. As part of his live show every song seemingly has two parts, the first in which he plays a series of guitar riffs, recording a few moments of each with a delay pedal, and the second in which he plays drums and sings while rapidly triggering the guitar fragments with his left foot. It is truly incredible the way he puts it all together, I suggest you catch him at the FPH Westheimer Block Party on Saturday. While he is from Austin, his sound was much more in line with the stuff coming out of Houston in recent years and I expect many of you will love him.
Next it was back to Gruv for a few songs from a stripped down version of Tha Fucking Transmissions featuring Fat Tony and then off to the IFC Crossroads party for Gomez and The Decemberists.
The venue for the IFC party was Pangaea, a plush Austin nightclub that I doubt I will ever step foot in outside of SXSW, but with a capacity of about 400, a terrific place to see a show like this. I liked Gomez’s first few records but haven’t followed them since. They did put on a great performance and I’m sure the open bar didn’t hurt.
I’m a huge fan of The Decemberists first three records but was a bit afraid they were going to lean towards their new record as they were playing it in its entirety the following night at Stubb’s. I was quite happy when Colin Meloy announced at the beginning of the show that they would be playing nothing off the new record. The Decemberists are definitely a band some love and some hate, Colin Meloy’s goat-boy wail isn’t for everyone, but for those who had stood in line for hours (even over night I heard) at Waterloo Records for the free tickets, the show was superb.
After the show I raced back to Gruv to try to catch B L A C K I E at 1am, but was too late and decided to call it a night early as I knew that option would probably not present itself again for a while.