In many years of attending SXSW, I’m a little superstitious that the first show you see is often an omen for how the entire week will go.
In the case of SXSW 2015, I threw my bags in my room and hopped in a pedi cab headed for a house party in east Austin hosted by the state of Michigan. Yes, the state of Michigan.
Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr showed their Detroit pride by agreeing to headline the evening — their only show of SXSW (a true anomaly).
The show was great on many levels, but most of all because they played it for the right reasons (not some fast food payday) and they did something different, playing a stripped down 45-minute set, including songs they’ve never played live before (“Gloria” and “Dark Water“, both from their last album “The Speed of Things“.
Josh Epstein jokingly called it “deep cuts Monday”.
Then later introduced “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor)” by saying “if we were Bon Jovi, I’d say our next song is our hit song.”
“Nothing But Our Love“, a gem from their first EP (which is four songs of gorgeous pop) was a real standout with their stripped down set up. It was magical, as the sun had gone down and night was closing in.
They’ve been in the studio working on their 3rd full length and gave us a preview with a brand new song they had written just days earlier closing the show.
With introspective lyrics and an upbeat Beatles-y swing, it was pure DEJJ. The band said it may not even make the new album, which means we are in for a real treat when we hear the songs that did.
Speaking of the Beatles, a band called MPV opened the show.
The female-fronted band killed with a cover of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and we all dug their originals too.
A good omen for sure.