SXSW Day 5: Quilt, Saintseneca, Kan Wakan, Asgeir, Chet Faker, Gardens and Villa

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Asgeir by Jon Gordon McKenzie (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

After raving about Temples to NY Times music critic Jon Pareles the night before, he suggested I immediately seek out a Boston-based band called Quilt, who also have a retro flair. They played an excellent set and, of all the bands I saw in Austin, they’re the one whose album I most wanted to track down upon returning.

I found Quilt playing the Brooklyn Vegan showcase and popped in just in time to see Columbus-based folk band Saintseneca getting the crowd riled up. The band is fronted by multi-instrumentalist Zac Little and made a great first impression. They have a new album called “Dark Arc” due on ANTI records on April 1.

Kan Wakan by Jon Gordon McKenzie (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Kan Wakan seduced the audience into a dream-like state for their set at Cedar Street. A large band employed a multitude of instruments to create layers and layers of sound. It was really impressive and sounds like the score to a movie that is yet to be created.

Icelandic singer-songwriter Asgeir followed and performed an epic cover of “Heart Shaped Box— easily one of the best Nirvana covers I’ve ever heard — and closed the set with a fantastic version of the song below.

SoCal’s own Gardens & Villa shared songs from their new-ish full length. They are definitely my favorite band that utilizes a flute regularly in their songs. Overall, they really bring it live! Check out that crowd.

Gardens & Villa crowd by Jon Gordon McKenzie

My nighttime adventures began with an 8pm set by Australian Chet Faker. He was at the top of my list of artists to see and it was no easy task — there was a line wrapped around the building by 7:30 and once we got inside, a crush of people strained to see him. I hid out in the sound booth and enjoyed the set as much as I could given the circumstances.

He’s pretty much the R&B/electronic version of Andrew Bird — a one-man band who is equally as good at creating sounds and singing, which is a rarity. He got the whole crowd singing along to his cover of “No Diggity” and it was the one moment that eased the tension in the room.

After the set, I wandered 6th Street looking for inspiration, popping in and out of venues and walking amongst the giant crowds. I didn’t find it, so I journeyed further East to Rainey St, where a dozen venues are tucked away. The first band I came across was an Australian blues band OXBLVD. They were clearly having fun and therefore were really fun to watch.  There was a couple making out in the crowd to this track.

After a few other stops — including the instrumental sounds of the Mexican band La Orquestra Vulgar and LA duo the Ferocious Few — I called it a night. Another SXSW for the books.