SXSW Day 4 – The Kills, The Strokes, Foster the People and More

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Photo by Sabrina Talerico (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Today I decided to stick with the sure things, but throw in at least one wild card to keep things interesting. I’ve decided I need “tactics” to handle all the options down here in Austin so I don’t get overwhelmed!

The Kills were everything I hoped they would be in studio for Morning Becomes Eclectic. My favorite moment was during soundcheck when they were checking out Allison Mosshart’s vocal mic and she was singing a capella. Man, what a voice! She has a powerful presence and its clear her musical relationship with Jamie Hince elevates them both to a higher level. Watching them lock into each other’s groove is a beautiful thing – and hearing them play some new songs was even better. They seem pretty serious but were actually tons of fun in the interview. It’s worth a listen.

I ran over to Filter’s Cedar Street showcase right after our live broadcast to catch Cults but, alas, I missed them! I couldn’t really be too disappointed after what came next.  Certainly one of my favorite performances so far this week—Foster the People. They have one HUGE song “Pumped Up Kicks” – which everyone in the packed crowd knew every word to – so I was curious to hear other material. And EVERY song was good. They all had that magic, and the band was tight. Perhaps best of all, the audience was ecstatic.

So many times at SXSW shows you get cross-armed observers rather than people engaged with the music. I know it can be disheartening for bands to perform that way so it was nice to see an audience sending the energy right back.

That also happened with Monogold, my indie wild card of the night. DJ Dan Wilcox suggested I check them out and I was not disappointed. Animal Collective is the easiest comparison, but they have more of a dance vibe. It’s a trio and it was fascinating to watch each of them individually. Great players.

Speaking of huge audiences, I couldn’t resist a chance to see The Strokes, who played a free show at an outside venue on the lake. They played all the songs that fans like me have been waiting to hear live again for years — “Sometimes,” “Under Control,” “Reptilia.” And by the time they got to “Last Night,” a fireworks display was launched  over the water. Post-show fireworks were definitely a SXSW first for me!

I finished things up with Bombay Bicycle Club, a band I’ve loved since Jason started spinning their song “Always Like This” a couple years ago. They are touring the U.S. for the first time so I knew this was my chance to catch them early. I was impressed, but after a long day I had to sneak out early to rest my weary legs.

More tomorrow!