At SXSW it’s impossible not to hit a wall at some point. Your feet hurt, you haven’t slept in days, the crowds get bigger and bigger and you feel like your ears are being assaulted from every angle (literally, you can’t walk three seconds without hearing 5 bands simultaneously). I know it’s a privilege to be here, so when I get this feeling, I try to fight my way through it.
Lucky for me, when I was flailing in indecision about taking the entire night off, my friend Jeff Safran saved the day with a recommendation to see the Canadian band Yukon Blonde. You see, as soon as you hear a really good band here at SXSW (and the percentage of those is very small), your spirits are lifted and you’re reminded about why you are here in the first place. These guys played like they’d been touring their bums off for years and it energized me.
Next, we decided to see an LA band I’ve been hearing a lot about for the last few months, the Allah Lahs. They totally transported me to another era with 60’s garage rock reminiscent of the Animals. Even though they are mining territory that has already been covered, they do it incredibly well and I know I will burn a hole in that record when it comes out. (They’ve released only a couple songs so far).
We raced over to the next venue hoping to catch the end of another LA band, Walking the Moon, only to find out after a few songs that it wasn’t them. (It was Fanfarlo, not a disappointment!). I ran into Jordan Richardson, drummer for Ben Harper (as part of the Relentless 7) who excitedly told me about a new solo record he’s working on as Son of Stan, which he described as “Hall and Oates but by a drummer” . Intriguing!
Speaking of drummers, the next band Tennis, had their album produced by the Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. After seeing them live, I have a new favorite song (off a record I can’t recommend enough), “Petition”.
Other highlights of my day include parking myself in the lobby of the Driskill hotel and spotting both Skrillex and Adam Durwitz. Catching moments of Three Blind Wolves, Howlin’ Rain, Lumineers and Caveman, all of which sounded promising.
Also, dancing to Reptar (with a lead singer that makes the craziest facial expressions and dance moves while purposely wearing shoes many sized too big because they were only $7.) and watching Zulu Winter, only playing their second show in the U.S., do a group hug before they hit the stage and then kill it in hot weather that UK bands are not accustomed to.