Hi from Austin, y'all - in case you haven't noticed, I'm down in Texas for my fifth SXSW (you can follow along with me in real-time at @pmablog) and this year I'm bringing you some highlights live from the action as well as a complete post-fest write-up. Right now I'm at East Austin's lovely Fair Market, usually a wedding venue and now host to the Hype Hotel, presented with Feed the Beat and Mazda and now probably not the best place to get married, unless you want to get married surrounded by emptied cans of free Miller Lite (we won't judge), charging my phone plugged into a socket in the center of an ibeam eight feet off the ground, craning my neck at the screen and thus exacerbating my moshpit-induced neck-ache. The things I do for you...
I'm here for Blah Blah Blah Science and All Things Go's collaborative showcase, which boasts one of my favorite lineups at the Hype Hotel this week. We kicked off the night with COIN, whose infectious synthy pop got things going in a big way. I love seeing bands on the first night of SXSW when they still have the energy to bound around the stage, and these guys were no exception, except I bet they'll keep their effervescence up all week. Next, we dialed it down with some drumless, ethereal, perfectly moody pop from London's Laura Welch and her hypnotic backing band. Even on the Hype Hotel's massive stage, Welch's music - which would probably fit more appropriately in your living room or an as-intimate setting - commanded attention. Between sets, we danced to a DJ set from Skyler Spence, FKA Saint Pepsi, or I awkwardly moved a little while my friend Jordan completely showed me up with some sinuous, vodka-red-bull-influenced moves to a remix of Drake's "Worst Behavior." I'd sign a petition to name Mr. Spence the best masher-up currently in the game.
Ryn Weaver followed that up and delivered one of the best sets I've seen at SXSW so far - she and her band led us through a rollercoaster set of older tracks and cuts from her upcoming record The Fool, closing out with her starmaking hit "Octahate." Every year at SXSW I see a bunch of bands I expect will be huge, and if I had to pick one so far this year I'd probably say Ryn. Her sound will appeal to fans of Haim as well as lovers of alt-country and pop; her poetic lyrics and infectiously excited stage presence (jazz hands, overalls, singing impassionedly to her fans in the front row) set her apart and make her really something special to look out for. The Hype Hotel is a big stage for SXSW, but it still felt like a blessing to see her like, not at a stadium. Don't sleep.
Best Coast was next up and the last act my exhausted knees and Miller Lite-induced headache could handle - but I'm glad I stuck around. Bethany Cosentino and her band delivered a set of new and old material, including now-classics like "Boyfriend" alongside new cuts from their forthcoming LP, California Nights. Basically, the state of California should hire Bethany and company to write a state song - tracks like "Only Place" (refrain: "why would you live anywhere else") make moving to Cali seem imperative despite the fact the state only has a year's water supply left. But the sunshine!!! I'm psyched to hear what the band have in store on the record - I always forget that Bethany's lovely, singular voice (especially in a live setting) is something I could probably listen to forever.
With that, until tomorrow - I'm off to find some non-Taco Bell tacos, for a change, then head to bed so I can do this all again. Stay tuned!
Brought to you by Mazda, official automobile sponsor of #HypeON. #MazdaSXSW