South by South West – Messing with Texas (part 2)

Thursday 18th March

On Thursday Allo Darlin’had an early show at Waterloo Cycles, a small bike shop located north of central Austin. With too many of us to fit in a normal taxi, I decided to take the bus and walk to the venue. It turned out to be quite a trek, but it was a lovely afternoon and walking is such a great way to get your head around a city.I got to Waterloo Cycles just in time to see Standard Fare.

 

There really is something special about this band. Every single song on their album is great and live they’re just so charming and sweet and well…just great.

Allo Darlin were on next and again, they played a great set. Again, there wasn’t a huge amount of people there, but the people that were there seemed to appreciate it.

The sun was shining, there was free beer….what else could you ask for? More music! The Lovely Eggs were up next and despite having been promised a drum kit, there was none to be seen. They’re not really a band that would let a minor thing like that stop them and they soon managed to collect some bits and pieces for a makeshift drum kit of sorts.

 

The band was great as usual and I don’t think the crowd knew quite what hit them. Again, I tried to convince them to play Tyrannosaurus Rex For Christmas, but they weren’t having it. I guess I’m just going to have to wait until they play a December show somewhere.After they finished we made our way into town. Me and Elizabeth rushed off to catch Say Hi (formerly Say Hi To Your Mom) who was playing a solo show. I absolutely love this guy, but was a bit disappointed to see him play his whole set on acoustic guitar, rather than the usual warm synthy keyboard malarky. He played a few old songs, including Let’s Talk About Space Ships, and it was just nice to hear some music that wasn’t loud for a change.

In the evening it was time for the Cakeshop/Slumberland Records showcase and I headed over early to make sure I got in. Summer Cats were on as I arrived and they were quite fun.

Frankie Rose and The Outs were up next. Frankie Rose is the drummer from Dum Dum Girls and her own band does a similar(ish) thing, but with ALOT more reverb. Fuzzy 60’s style girl-pop with bucketloads of harmonies.

They were followed by Grass Widow, who I really like and was very excited about seeing live. More of that fuzzy reverby girl pop that is so popular at the moment, but with a rockier edge to it. Their new album is a cracker and well worth checking out.

Eventually, it was time for the headliners of the evening, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. By now the place was mobbed and it was great atmosphere. The Pains get better and better every time I see them and it was just a great show.

Saturday 20th March

The final day of SxSW, this was always goning to be a busy one. Allo Darlin’ had three shows lined up, the first of which was at the British Music Embassy at noon. Despite the early start the place was busy. The promise of a free bar and free food always ensures a good crowd.

 

Allo Darlin’ played an amazing set, probably the best I’ve ever seen them do. Everything was just spot-on and the crowd loved it.

 

Four bloody Marys later I left the British Music Embassy and headed down to far east of 6th Street, where Adam Green and Let’s Wrestle were meant to be playing. Unfortunately, they were having technical difficulties to say the least. Both the PA speakers and the monitrs had blown and theyr were running several hours behind.

But all was not lost. Instead we found The Vivian Girls playing an acoustic set in a tiny room.

I’ve only ever seen them once before and that was an insanely loud show at The Old Blue Last, so it was nice to actually be able to hear their melodies for once.

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking across town trying to catch Math The Band, only to find out that they had cancelled. Instead, we watched a sweet band called Candy Claws playing outside in the freezing cold.

Made a second attempt at seeing Dum Dum Girls, this time at a small venue called Spider House. Luckily, the cold must have been keeping people away, so we were actually able to see the band….and they sounded just as great as they looked.

The busy and freezing afternoon soon turned into an equally busy and cold evening. Allo Darlin’ played their final Austin show, this time at a Mexican restaurant. The band was great as usual, but the crowd was mainly there to have their Saturday dinner, so there was not much of an atmosphere.

In the evening it was time for the closing night party, again at the British Music Embassy. Hosted by MOshi Moshi Records, it featured Best Fwends, Still Flyin’, The Wave Pictures and Slow Club.

It was just a brilliant way to finish off an already great week. All the bands were great and Still Flyin’ joined Slow Club on stage for a big sing-along to finish off the evening.

That’s it really….we went home to catch some sleep and on sunday morning it was time to say goodbye to Texas.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be back next year….

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