SXSW Diaries: Day 1

by Sara Graham

So, Austin is nuts. Not only is SXSW music madness perfectly suited to this a very cool, weird, and musical city, it was a breezy 75 degrees, just delightful for wandering venue to venue to sample BBQ, beer, and bands. Totally a way I can happily spend my day. It’s predictably hard to get into good, free shows, because of lines and crowds. After getting my bearings on the venue-packed main drag, 6th street, I was bummed to see an epic line for the Paste Magazine party, which M. Ward headlined. Instead, I headed to Ms. Bea’s, a tiny dive with a sprawling patio, where New York Noise had a showcase. I met Shirley Braha, the very cool lady behind the indie rock, music video NYTV show in New York, scoped some cute, shaggy dudes and saw some super-fun bands, mostly from New York. The crowd down here was into it!

After Ms. Bea’s, we headed to 6th street for more lines, and when we found out the Rub DJ party was packed, we did some wandering. I’m not into roaming SXSW without a plan, reminds me too much of college freshman party searching, so I decided to make it an early night and sleep off the flight of the morning. On my way to the car, walking down 6th, i.e. the temporary center of the indie musical universe, I chatted up VJ John Norris about some party was happening at Emo’s and ran into King Khan and the Shrines. Then, I noticed a crazy looking lady with sequined leggings and some headband madness. Turned out to be Juliette Lewis, obvy.

On my drive home, I did not get carried away into the Texas night on a lone highway. Driving in Austin is easy-peasy! I did however catch a hot new GS Boys song on some dirty south rap radio station, and upon extensive YouTube research, I now know how to do the ‘Stanky Legg ‘ Looks good.

 Catch full concert highlights after the jump!

The best thing about showcases are short sets and tons of bands. It’s like a tasting menu, and you are never force-fed: if a band blows, they only have, like four songs to blow for. And if they are great, you can look forward to when they come to a town near you for a regular-length set. Here’s what I was digging.

California 7-piece band, Still Flyin’ was a fun live show. They had a dude who was just onstage dancing with maracas, and there was a trumpet, all of this gave them little touch of ska, but somehow I was okay with it. Their danceable world rock vibe gave ’em cred. They made me want to hug someone. Or maybe that was the beer.

 Brooklyn babes, Here We Go Magic are totally worth checking out. They toned down the line-up with moody, ambient art rock, featuring a girl who was playing the bass pretty gnarly and a way-cute drummer/singer.                                                                           


After everyone was zenned-out by Here We Go Magic, Pains of Being Pure A Heart upped the energy with fuzzed-ut anthems about being a teenager. And in love. And, you know, a teenager in love. This Brooklyn band seems to be everywhere these days, and their live show last night proved why. High energy, sincererity, and keyboards to break your heart.

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