In case you missed, I talked about some of the non-musical experiences at SXSW earlier this week.
Now on to the meat and potatoes, which bands are worth checking out and who was a waste of my precious (and at SXSW it IS precious) time? The standouts for me were bands I’m already familiar with. This is actually surprising because I go to SXSW in search of new talent. But honestly, stars are stars for a reason. Stage presence and confidence just can’t be replaced. The absolute highlight of the festival for me was Jack White’s solo show. His label Third Man Records showcased many of their artists including The Black Belles (more on them later) but of course everyone wanted to hear Jack’s new stuff. I waited in line for well over 3 hours and every minute was worth it! His backing bands (he has one all female band and one all male band) were on point and a great addition to his sound. He hit a little bit of everything, from old White Stripes hits and well known Raconteurs stuff to up tempo and slower songs from the new album. Here he is with the all female backing band rocking ethereal white dresses.
|Jack and his lovely ladies at The Stage on Sixth|
And this is the mobile Third Man Records bus- which I was standing next to and grumbling for said 3 hours
|You can also catch a glimpse of the line on the left hand side.|
|Santigold and one of her backup dancers. Loved their ruffled shorts!|
|Crosses and biblical art at St. David's|
Shiny Toy Guns was another highlight. We saw them at the Pandora party early in the week so it was a fairly small crowd. They sounded tight and well rehearsed, and the two new songs they played were great. This one was a pleasant surprise for me.
|Asymetrical rocker hair at Antone's|
Other highlights were the Brooklyn electro pop band Friends. This would have been a fun, high energy show, but it started late and wreaked of the free Taco Bell they were handing out, one of the sponsors for the showcase. I blame Hype Machine since it was their party. But get a load of the singer’s Blossom-esque outfit- complete with a ponytail on the very top of her head, patterned high waisted pants, and a smock full of paillettes as big as your fist. And hey, they were also handing out free Tito’s vodka so it wasn’t all bad.
|Friends singer Samantha Urbani. Is she wearing Keds?|
I saw Reptar and Band of Skulls at Cedar Street, an awesome day party in a courtyard with bars and actual bathrooms (as opposed to port-a-potties) on either side. When the sun is out, your beer is in a koozie, and the music is on point, it’s one of the best parties in town. This chunk of the line-up did not disappoint. Reptar is an upbeat band out of Athens, GA. And we all know Band of Skulls from the “Twilight Saga: New Moon” soundtrack (or is that just me?)
I was hugely impressed with the sheer energy of Black Pistol Fire. They are a two man group that’s old fashioned garage rock. VERY similar to The Black Keys. All of my friends say they are too similar, but if Poison/Motley Crue and Back Street Boys/NSYNC can coexist, why can’t these guys?
Yellow Ostrich and Alberta Cross were also worth checking out, and I was super into the rockabilly vibe of Sugar and the Hi-Lows, a female fronted group out of Nashville. Check out her high waisted skirt with suspenders and ruffles.
|At The Paste party outdoor stage|
My biggest let down of the whole week was The Black Belles. I had seen them perform on The Colbert Report and they are on Jack White’s label, which I take as a ringing endorsement. I was stuck standing in line when they played that showcase so I caught them at Mohawk later in the week and they were truly atrocious. The singer apologized multiple times for her out of tune guitar and forgetting the songs. Now SXSW IS grueling for these bands- but who doesn’t know how to tune their own guitar? We left about 3 songs into their set, but not before I got a few shots of their cool witchy crochet look. There’s definitely something to be said for the power of a gimmick.
|More hats and lots of black at Mohawk|
We closed out the festival with Pennywise. This was not my choice, as they are SoCal mainstays and I’ve seen them several times, but boy was I glad I went with my group consensus- since Matthew McConaughey and his fiancé Camilla Alves decided to check them out too (actually I’m pretty sure they were there for the headliner The Black and White Years- a local Austin band). In any case, Matthew looked amazing and was only inches away from me. A truly A-list sighting! Seeing him fist pump to “Bro Hymn” was hilarious and unforgettable.
As far as food is concerned (and it wouldn’t be a post on Bundts of Steel without mentioning food) the choices on 6th Street are quite limited. BBQ at Stubb's, lots of trucks to choose from, and plenty of Shiner beer. One of our only sit down meals was at Moonshine (you may have seen tabloid shots of Bachelor Brad Womack and Emily leaving this place). They have delicious southern inspired dishes and a killer hard lemonade made with Tito’s and fresh mint. Dinner comes with jalapeno cornbread and fresh whipped butter. No complaints here.
|Horseradish crusted salmon, beans, and a good ole' mason jar at Moonshine|
The best bar we went to had to be the East Side Show Room on E. 6th Street, out of the hustle and bustle of the actual festival. They have a cool speakeasy vibe, delicious drinks, and cute bartenders. Extra points for the ambiance of old fashioned lights and huge ice cubes.
As for the best spot to satisfy your sweet tooth, there is nothing better than the Hey Cupcake! truck. Its brightly lit cupcake is a beacon in the night after standing in line for hours or suffering from your drink being spilled all over you. Flavors like the Michael Jackson (brown cake, white icing) and John Lemmon tie in perfectly with SXSW. I make my pilgrimage to their truck at least once every year.
|Shiny airstream deliciousness|
Honorable Mention for best meal goes to Thendercloud Subs and their Nada Chicken sandwich. As a somewhat recent vegetarian I was struggling to find good protein choices the whole trip and unfortunately I didn’t find this one until I was on my way back to LA- but I’ll be coming back for more next year for sure!
…..and that brings my SXSW 2012 round up to a close. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think of the bands. Hope to see y’all on 6th Street next year!