Hi again from Austin - this year at SXSW, I'm reporting a few times live from the festivities. It's a little easier now that I have the right wristband and can lounge in a fabulous red leather chair while pounding free Vita Coco. Once again I'm at the Hype Hotel, presented by Feed the Beat and Mazda, this time for Consequence of Sound's party, which features a bunch of my favorite bands. I tend to like day shows better, because I'm still running on my energy from breakfast and a full night's sleep, so I'm particularly excited about this one.
Natalie Prass kicked things off with a perfect set to start the afternoon - she's an emotive, hypnotic songwriter, likely to appeal to fans of Sharon Van Etten or Angel Olsen, accompanied by a fabulous backing band and a toy Godzilla to whom she sang at least one song. Her songs had a perfectly old-school vibe, like something you might catch in a speakeasy.
Next up, the Districts from Philly, whose raucous, massive rock I hadn't heard before. They're pegged as one of SXSW's most exciting new bands to watch, though, and I understand why - their anthemic sound is stadium-sized, their lyrics perfect song-along mantras, and their stage presence intense; you can sense the quartet's dedication to their craft in their every movement. "We write honest music and are passionate about doing so," the boys say on their website - it shows, and at SXSW where musical honesty can sometimes feel like a rarity, we're grateful.
King Tuff melted our faces with a few truly relentless riffs, then Twerps took the stage for a few afternoon-perfect slow-burners, most from their latest LP. Their songs sound like a long roadtrip through the desert, maybe not a perfect fit with the absurd amount of vodka lemonades I'd been drinking, but soothing nonetheless. I was impressed by guitarist Jules' work - her playing recalls old-school Flying Nun bands, effortlessly melodic and nostalgic. I hope to see these guys again, preferably somewhere outside while the sun is setting.
Next up - Viet Cong, who've made my favorite record of 2015 so far. I spent most of SXSW 2014 trying to figure out ways to catch their every show (I saw two out of three) so I was psyched to see them again this year now that they've garnered a bit more of a following. I was hoping for them to close their set out with "Death," the 12-minute emotional juggernaut that all of us at PMA are totally obsessed with, but they didn't have time - regardless, we got treated to a set of material from their self-titled LP as well as the cassette EP they released in 2014. I'm happy to hear these guys still playing "Throw It Away," as well as "Bunker Buster," handily one of my favorite songs in recent memory, both of which which still make me want to dance around like an idiot. Added bonus - a little bird told me they're already planning a second full-length, to be recorded very soon.
I was psyched to see Twin Shadow, knowing he'd probably bust out new material. Clad in an enviable striped jacket, George Lewis Jr. and company powered through a set of hits new and old, opening with my personal fave "Five Seconds." These guys have live chops - they had a massive crowd also intent on free drinks paying rapt attention. I can't wait to hear recorded versions of the band's new songs.
With that, until next time - I'm planning BBQ and coffee, then another round of gigs. Wish me luck and stay tuned - I'll be back at the end of SXSW week with a roundup of my favorite new bands, killer shows, and inadvisable cocktails. In the meantime, follow along with me on Twitter over at @pmablog.
Brought to you by Mazda, official automobile sponsor of #HypeON. #MazdaSXSW