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Thursday, March 18, 2010

SXSW Day One - Counterpoint!

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Tacos from Torchys.
  • Tacos from Torchy's.

SCORECARD
Bands seen: 10, I think.
Tacos: three
Shows I failed to gain entry to: Not sure, there were at least three that I gave up waiting in line for.
Overall drunkenness (1 to 100, a la WW's new movie rating system): 42, same as Alice in Wonderland, and due to tiredness, about as similarly surreal. A score of 42 is pretty low; yeah, I had some beers but considering it was St. Patrick's Day (oh, and there were plenty of locals in green wandering around last night who didn't give a fuck about SXSW) it could've been a lot higher.

Ezra kind of covered it already, but here's a rundown of what I saw, heard, and put in my mouth.

After scoring a badge from the convention center, it took some wandering around and abandoning a few long lines to get to the first band (Washed Out didn't seem worth the wait), so ended up seeing Those Darlins and Toro y Moi. Then Roky Erickson backed by Okkervil River, which sounded promising—and Okkervil has never sounded rawer—but was too far away and the sound was too crappy to really tell. Frightened Rabbit followed, but their equipment didn't quite cooperate, so they played a somewhat acoustic set. It was good but nothing transcendent for a band that otherwise traffics in remarkable experiences. Wandered around the corner and saw Sleepy Sun finish their set with the Austin Children's Choir. They did a cover of the Guess Who's "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" which was both awesome and adorable.

Taco break. Had three ginormous tacos from Torchy's. Our cab driver on the way back was blasting Barry White, which seemed absurdly perfect, then during recon at the hotel to figure out what to see that night we discovered Alex Chilton had died, which severely bummed us out. A short argument about the best Big Star ensued. ("September Gurls." It's "September Gurls.") We took a shot in the dark and went to go see a London band called Vadoinmessico, who played energetic acoustic stuff kind of like the Rumble Strips. Tried to get into the IAmSound show, but gave up waiting in line after three minutes, so wandered over to where a band named Beaches was scheduled to play. I saw a few songs by Ume, who rocked, then I wandered over to the Vapor Records showcase to see if Neil Young was there. When I got there, David Fricke was there so I thought I was onto something. Neil Young's wife Pegi Young played a set (she is not the equal of her husband) but I didn't see Neil so I bailed to get in line for Frightened Rabbit's evening showcase. Got inside in time to watch the end of We Were Promised Jetpack's set, a band I don't especially care for. Then Frightened Rabbit took the stage and delivered a set that was so incredible, it blew me away—and I've seen the band several times before. I won't say it made me cry, but during more than one song there was a lump in my throat that wouldn't go up and wouldn't go down. Yes, the new album is good. No, it isn't as good as the last one. Yes, they are still a fantastic fucking band. I got the sense they are even just now hitting the peak of their powers as a live act.

Dazedly wandered over to try and catch Surfer Blood play the roof of a bar, but it was too insanely crowded. I could actually hear them quite well from the street. Then moseyed over to see the Veils destroy their instruments. It seemed excessively loud, but I was shattered by that point, so wandered back to the hotel and collapsed.

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