SXSW 2012 Wednesday Recap

<img src="https://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/sxsw2012d2.jpg" alt="SXSW 2012 Wednesday Recap : Live" /><br /> The first ‘proper’ day of South-by-Southwest was a full one in 2012. ...
SXSW 2012 Wednesday Recap
SXSW 2012 Wednesday Recap

Even as we await the Mayan Apocalypse, South-by-Southwest goes on.  The 2012 edition of the music industry festival in Austin was an expanded one, taking in both previously unofficial parties such as FADER Fort, as well as growing to an extra day in Tuesday.  Though Syria burned and the interminable Republican Presidential Primary contest went on, it all became background noise to the sweet sounds of SXSW, March 13th to 18th:

 

Wednesday was still the ‘proper’ first day of SXSW, but arriving on Tuesday (QRO recap) had at least one extra advantage – instead spending the day running around getting official & unofficial credentials, as well as moving into wherever one is staying, can start early with the music in the early afternoon, after a good night’s sleep (like if you were a local).

 

[note: Wednesday’s entry also includes writing by Ted Chase and Robin Sinhababu and photo galleries from QRO’s Jessica Alexander, Chris Becker, Rick Kern, and Terri Wise]

 

 

Force Field PR & Terrorbird Media party @ Red 7 – Terri Wise

Mr. Gnome

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Before Robin or Ted were even up and about, Terri Wise was at Red 7 & French Legation Museum for Mr. Gnome & finally getting to see Hospitality.

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Warby Parker party @ French Legation Museum – Terri Wise

Hospitality

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KCRW showcase @ Radio Day Stage Austin Convention Center – Jessica Alexander

Alabama Shakes

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Jessica Alexander caught one of the official day shows at Austin Convention Center – the hot-hot Alabama Shakes playing the day after they taped an appearance on Austin City Limits (QRO Indie On Late Night TV).

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Party @ FADER Fort – Ted Chase

White Arrows, 2:05 PM

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I was staying on the east side of Austin this year, so started the day at the biggest thing on the east side, FADER Magazine’s FADER Fort.  Running Wednesday-Saturday, from 1:00 PM to (roughly) 9:00 PM, FADER Fort always has a strong line-up, if one heavily weighted towards hip-hop (like the magazine – weekly e-mails from them highlighting their coverage makes it look like an alt-Vibe).  But that just meant the indie-rock was in the daytime, and a perfect excuse to get start your free drinkin’ early.

FADER Fort had this lemonade with a new honey Bushmill’s in it – either that whiskey is great or they went light on it in the lemonade (which was pre-mixed, out of a cooler, for thankfully quicker distribution at the bar), because the lemonade was great & refreshing (wouldn’t put it past FADER/Bushmill’s to go light on liquor – it’s cheaper, the pre-mix means you can’t tell how much is in there, it’s not like they were cheating anyone since it was all free, made the lemonade nicely refreshing during the hot day, and anything to tone down the drunkenness at an event like this is a plus).

White Arrows kind of tried to mix twang and disco-ish, not so well.  And the singer (who looked & dressed a lot like the main man in later-at-FADER Oberhofer – see below) had an annoyingly twang-y voice.

 

Django Django, 2:50 PM

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While I was somewhat curious about White Arrows, was definitely interested in Django Django.  They’d just played NYC – their first-ever shows in America – the weekend prior (QRO review), and have a great single in “Default”.  Even if “Default” was their best song, they were some nice Anglo-dance, but could use some stage banter – and seemed like the kind of English band who could have funny banter.  Perhaps at a regular show, not one during the day where their time was so limited.

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BrooklynVegan & HobNob Wines party @ Hotel Vegas – Ted Chase

The Drum, 3:40 PM (Volstead Lounge)

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I headed up a block to catch The Drums (QRO album review), but instead it was The Drum (no ‘s’) who were playing the Volstead Lounge, the small indoor third stage of BrooklynVegan & HobNob Wines’ big ‘Hotel Vegan’ at Hotel Vegas on the east side of Austin.  The Drum were just two guys turning some knobs, but there was free wine & ice cream…

 

 

Frankie Rose, 3:50 PM

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Somehow QRO’s giant SXSW Preview didn’t have the schedule at the Hotel Vegas Patio, so I had no idea the great line-up there.  First up was Frankie Rose, who I didn’t even recognize until someone told me who was playing – I still remember her from her days drumming for Crystal Stilts, when she looked like a brunette Claire from Lost (QRO photos).  I’ve never been that wild about her stuff, but it was decent, not too lo-fi or unskilled, like so much garage-rock these days.

 

Japandroids, 4:30 PM

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But the best surprise at Hotel Vegas/n Patio was Japandroids.  Most guitar-and-drums duos are all the same, unimpressive No Age (QRO live review) knock-offs, but not Japandroids.  These Canadians are as active as any garage-rock pair, but also more-than-capable musicians.  All of the movement does make it hard to take not blurry photos, but certainly exciting for the crowd (though I did spend a bunch of the set outside, around the corner, at a food van eating a – vegan – bacon cheeseburger).

 

Future of the Left, 5:10 PM

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When did this loud-but-skilled band (in the vein of an English A Place To Bury Strangers – QRO spotlight on) get a girl?  Biggest surprise since Titus Andronicus (QRO album review) added a female.  The main indoor stage at Hotel Vegas was packed for Future of the Left.

 

 

Bear In Heaven, 5:15 PM

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Only caught a bit of this band (but saw them again later), as I had to run – sounded like Bear In Heaven, which is good since Beast Rest Forth Mouth (QRO review) was such a breakthrough and it’s been a long hiatus.

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Party @ FADER Fort – Ted Chase

Oberhofer, 5:55 PM

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Left Bear In Heaven & Hotel Vegas to head back down a block & return to FADER Fort for Oberhofer.  This band is seriously blowing up – the photo pit was full, with a one-in, one-out policy by the time I got there.  Did make it kind of hard to focus on the band, and left early.

Photographer Chris Becker took those photos of Oberhofer, and before that at FADER Fort Friends and 2CHAINZ, plus after that for headliner Santigold:

 

Friends

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2CHAINZ

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Santigold

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Can’t Stop the Bleeding party @ Beerland – Robin Sinhababu

OBNOX, 2:00 PM

OBNOX

Fanzine mogul, ‘90s NYC record executive, and current Austenite Gerard Cosloy is several years into his fourth career: sports blogging.  Can’t Stop the Bleeding is his site, and what better way to promote his brand of wry, esoteric, anti-ESPN sports journalism than the open-tuned, monolithic riffing of OBNOX?

The band, normally a solo project of This Moment In Black History’s Lamont Thomas, featured Elijah Vasquez on drums.  Thomas held forth with loud, fast guitar riffing and some of the best fronting of the week.  Both his singing style and what lyrics I made out were funny.  With song titles like “Do the Horsecock” and “Only Black Man in S. Dakota”, it’s no surprise I had a fun time.

Vasquez was important.  His short-swinging, hard-hitting style gave the tunes depth and agility, the latter especially important considering that Thomas isn’t an agile guitarist.  His open tunings often seemed less about their sound than about their convenience.

Although Thomas’s guitar skills were the weak link in the show, it wasn’t a big deal.  Where he might have needed a solo or at least some cool licks, he pulled off some good flourishes with feedback.  And the simple, hard-charging approach makes his rudimentary playing close to ideal for the band.

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Consequence of Sound party @ Beauty Bar – Terri Wise

QRO’s Terri Wise caught three acts at Consequence of Sound’s Beauty Bar party, Mikal Cronin & his tight band, Screaming Females, The Men & the cheapo, awesomeo equipment, and the girl in Bleached wearing what appeared to be high-heeled Doc Martens:

 

Mikal Cronin

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Screaming Females

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The Men

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The AudioPerv & KnuckleRumbler party @ Peckerhead’s – Ted Chase

The Chain Gang of 1974, 6:15 PM

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Peckerhead’s might have been on Sixth Street, but it wasn’t an official venue, and there was a reason for that – it’s ‘stages’ were upstairs, one next to each other, with poor lighting (save for the windows behind the bands) and poor sound.  Oh, and the men’s bathroom had pictures of naked ladies on the wall above the urinals – not really the time one needs to be turned on…

But giving it their all despite the location was The Chain Gang of 1974.  Not that familiar with the band myself, but QRO did a great interview with them, and their was certainly dancing to this dance-rock band.

 

Paper Route, 6:35 PM

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But the reason I came to Peckerhead’s was Paper Route.  I saw them on my first day of my first SXSW (QRO recap), and they had been amazing – so much so that I held off ever seeing them again, for fear of diminishing my love for the band.  But their Absence (QRO review) has been a regular on my iPhone, and three years was long enough.  Peckerhead’s couldn’t match where I’d seen them before, plush at night with great lighting (QRO photos), plus the bow-tied singer’s microphone didn’t work for the first song – “I can hear you guys singing more than I can hear me, which is cool, but…”

I was worried that, after all of that time, Paper Route would be playing new songs, but there was only one, and it was a good one that fit right in with the Absence playlist.  The singer joked that this was, “The best show of South-by-Southwest,” and while it wasn’t as good as SXSW 2009, was still good (and at least this stage at Peckerhead’s had a mirror on one side, which led to some neat photos).

 

Ume, 7:05 PM

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Another band I’d heard of but never heard, Ume, was playing on the other stage, so caught a bit of them after Paper Route.  The trio was girl-fronted garage like Wye Oak (QRO live review), or Vivian Girls (QRO album review), if the Vivian Girls were good.

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NPR Music showcase @ Stubb’s – Rick Kern

Fiona Apple, 7:15 PM

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QRO’s Rick Kern endured the massive line to enter Stubb’s to catch the return of Fiona Apple.

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Paper Garden Records party @ Uncorked – Ted Chase

Whale Belly, 7:30 PM

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Headed back to the east side of I-35 for Friend of the Q (‘FoQ’) Paper Garden Records and their four-day showcase at Uncorked.  Just to the east of the interstate, but up the hill, Uncorked does provide a nice view (of the interstate & a gas station, but still…).  Had come for EULA (see below), caught some of prior act Whale Belly.  The band was missing half their members, but still had some decent-sounding garage-country.

 

EULA, 8:15 PM

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Another FoQ, EULA is more girl-fronted garage that is actually good.  Admittedly reminiscent of Ume (see above), not that that’s a bad thing, though perhaps shouldn’t have seen them so close together, time-wise.  EULA is a little rough around the edges, “Sorry if we’re too loud,” but the frontwoman does rock.

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101X showcase @ 1100 Warehouse – Ted Chase

Tribes, 9:00 PM

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I headed south a few blocks for 1100 Warehouse to see Tribes, but the mad line to get in was people buying tickets to see the next band, fun. (see below).  The big crowd and lack of any photo pit (there was a space between the stage & the crowd, but seemed occupied by no one) meant one couldn’t get close.  Tribes sounded decent, but not what I was hoping for.  I was also tired, so sat down in a corner of the warehouse and fell asleep before they played “We Were Children” (QRO mp3 review).

 

fun., 11:00 PM

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Woke up & got up to check out what all the fuss was about fun., intending just to see a bit of them and then head elsewhere (see Unfortunately Missed, below).  However, fun.’s 10:00 PM start time came & went, with no one on stage.  The absence continued on and on, with roadies working on various things on stage.  Andrew W.K. (QRO live review) was supposedly hosting the event, but barely saw him.  Eventually, the crowd turned restive, mixing chants of “We want fun.!” with out-and-out boos (nothing physical, mind you – this is still a teen pop act’s crowd…).  Someone came on stage at about 10:45 PM and apologized, said there were technical difficulties but fun. would perform.

At 11:00 PM, fun. finally came on – without any drummer, just a singer, acoustic guitar, and a keyboardist.  Oh, and the keyboards didn’t work.  The singer was about as pissed as a teen-pop singer could be, asking, “Am I a fuckin’ human being?!?” when checking his mike (which only intermittently worked).  He apologized profusely, said it wasn’t their fault but that they planned to make it up to everyone, had never been so angry before, etc.  They did gamely try to perform an acoustic set, the keyboardist even pressing his non-working keys in the vain hope that they would start up.

That all enough for me, for the entire night – went home (relatively) early.

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Brown Paper Tickets showcase @ Esther’s Follies – Robin Sinhababu

Kurt BraunohlerKurt Braunohler

Kurt Braunohler obviously had some nerves: his two running commentaries were “What are going to talk about?” and “Look at how much I’m sweating.”  The lights did seem exceptionally bright, so maybe the second tic was less about nerves and more about not wearing an undershirt.

You shouldn’t have to agree with the comedian to enjoy him, but I was excited to see someone take aim at Chatpack.  I hate Chatpack, and not only because this girl at work thinks that it’s okay to play Chatpack instead of doing side-work.

Unfortunately, it was during the funny Chatpack section that his humor started to get more aggro, which looks especially bad on a non-bro-looking comic like Braunohler.  Overall, I didn’t get much out of his set, and bonus negative points for reading off the stool, but he’s got some good (self-curated) YouTube clips.

 

Jerrod CarmichaelJerrod Carmichael

Most of these comedians seemed underprepared for their sets, and since the humorless meta-comedy of commenting on one’s every failure is in vogue right now, many of them tried to turn this lack of material, into material.  None did it better, or more completely, than Jerrod Carmichael.

He was super lackadaisical, and even had his back turned for what I’d call bold lengths of time.  Some of this was to comment on the SXSW backdrop you see at every showcase, which has the logos of all the major, mostly music-unrelated sponsors like Esurance and freecreditscore.com printed on it.  Some of it was just because.  What material didn’t come from the banner right behind him came from the audience in the first couple rows, with whom he improvised jokes.

The boldness of his laziness was unique and funny, but like the other underprepared comics, he played it up too much.  Unlike them, he’s got a drawl that sells it well.  “I got the light,” he said near the end, “but I don’t know if it’s because its my time, or because they realized how unorganized I was.”

 

Pete Holmes

Pete Holmes, who has been on Conan (QRO Indie On Late Night TV), was easily the most polished and the least funny of the three comics I saw this tonight.  His actual jokes weren’t landing, so he kept trying to resell them with “Come on, that’s funny!”  He dug himself in deeper and deeper, the worst of it coming when he literally threatened to beat the audience into submission if we didn’t laugh at his ‘Ryan Gosling is King’ bit.  Which was even less funny than Chuck Norris jokes were ten years ago.

His almost-saving grace was the McDonald’s joke, which actually benefited from his self-flagellation; he skillfully exploded the tension created by his unfunniness.  It was a great moment.  Of course, he then spent the rest of his set reminding us of it.

The “Accigone” sketch I watched on his website later was funny, and way better than anything he delivered on stage.

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Suicide Squeeze & Scorpitones showcase @ Swan Dive – Terri Wise

The Wedding Present‘s Scorpitones label had its own showcase at SXSW, with British indie of decades past (though they’re from the Midwest) Tammar, which Terri Wise caught (Tammar’s only SXSW show!):

Tammar

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The Wedding Present

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Hardly Art Records showcase @ Hotel Vegas – Chris Becker

QRO was at Hotel Vegas Wednesday night as well, in the form of Chris Becker catching Cold Showers & QRO favorite Xray Eyeballs:

Cold Showers

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Xray Eyeballs

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NPR Music showcase @ Stubb’s – Jessica Alexander

Alabama Shakes

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Jessica Alexander had a second drink of Alabama Shakes on Wednesday.

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SXSW showcase @ The Iron Bear – Robin Sinhababu

Gay Witch Abortion, 11:15 PM

Gay Witch Abortion

Jesse Bottomley has some moves.  It’s fun to watch someone play guitar with such abandon, while making such precise sounds.  It’s like a music video, or air guitar.

However, I’d much rather be at this bar, ‘The Iron Bear,’ than in front of the television or at my niece’s.  I don’t know whose idea it was to combine iron crosses with this beloved gay subculture, but I think they’ve done a nice job.  Not that I plan to visit again soon; I’m not into either of those things.  However, if good live sound, friendly staff, and well-lit stages are what make bears bears, because it sure seems that way, then you can expect me back soon.

Shawn Walker’s drumming reminded me of Elijah Vasquez’s earlier in the day, despite the huge differences between the guitars.  If Gay Witch Abortion make the trip from Minneapolis to your town, go see them.

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Panache Booking showcase @ Beauty Bar – Robin Sinhababu

Dirty Ghosts, 12:10 AM

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I walked into the Beauty Bar a bit early for Football, so I figured I’d check out this band that was nearly set up on the inside stage, Dirty Ghosts.

Although bassist Erin McDermott is tall, and Ben Tuttle sits up straight and hits hard, the band’s presence is concentrated in singer-guitarist Allyson Baker, who is of slight build.  She’s a dexterous guitarist, but the mix didn’t make it easy to hear her.  One reason might be that her tone was pretty thin, especially compared to McDermott’s sound.  She also appeared to play quite a lot of light, funky riffs that didn’t look good.

However, she delivered a cool, underwater-sounding tone one song, not unlike the solo in “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.  Coupled with more lyrical playing, which was better than her purely rhythmic stuff, it was the best part of the set.

Like Silversun Pickups (QRO album review), of whom I was reminded a couple times, this band has a superfluous keyboardist.  I much preferred when Nick Andre left his synthesizer alone and just played percussion.

 

Football, 12:20 AM

Football

Apparently Football played a 13-minute set, because when I walked outside, I saw only one leg kick from Mike Lust before their set ended.  I made plans to see them the next day.

 

Thee Oh Sees, 1:10 AM

Thee Oh Sees

I saw Thee Oh Sees play outside at Scoot Inn the night before, and they showed way better there.  I can’t say whether they played better, it’s just that they’ve got six people on stage, and their sound was totally muddled under the Beauty Bar Backyard’s dome.  Petey Dammit’s deep, incisive bass, which for my money is their biggest asset, sounded basic and clumsy.  Double drums, which I think are generally a bad idea but were pulled off pretty well the night before, weren’t distinct.  John Dwyer’s prickly guitar, which provides the bulk of the band’s melody, lacked punch.

For their last song, the drummer from the Fresh and Onlys joined them, and the drummer he replaced picked up what looked like a Silvertone, playing it well before deciding to climb the poles holding up the dome instead.

It was cool to watch, but the song was a mess.  One reason Thee Oh Sees’ double drums work is that the guys keep their ambitions modest and don’t get in each other’s way.  Due to some combination of playing a busier beat, not being as in sync, and rocking under a plastic dome, I felt like I was listening to a Black Eyes record, not the precise, Krauty groove that Thee Oh Sees seem to be aiming for.

Does Dwyer know what to do on long jams?  I don’t think he generates enough activity; my mind wandered a few times.  The vocals are definitely key to capitalizing on the repetition.

 

Terri Wise also closed her Wednesday night at Beauty Bar, with Chapter 24 and Habibi:

Habibi

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Chapter 24

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Frenchkiss Records & Publishing showcase @ The Stage On Sixth – Chris Becker

And Chris Becker ended his hump day at The Stage On Sixth for the Frenchkiss showcase with Crocodiles, The Big Sleep, and The Drums (so at least someone at QRO saw The Drums on Wednesday…):

 

Crocodiles

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The Big Sleep

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The Drums

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Unfortunately Missed – Ted Chase:

-The Love Language (QRO spotlight on) & Hospitality (QRO album review) @ French Legation Museum, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM.  Two Merge Records bands I definitely wanted to see at SXSW, though at least Terri caught the latter of the two (see above).

-Zambri (QRO mp3 review) @ Club 606, 2:15 PM – 3:00 PM.  Need to see the band at SXSW, and the Flavorpill & A Heart Is a Spade showcase would have been a good opportunity.

-The Drums, The Love Language, Reggie Watts & Hooray For Earth (QRO spotlight on) @ Flamingo Cantina, 2:25 PM – 6:00 PM.  Under the Radar Magazine had three great days at Flamingo Cantina, but had seen Hooray the night before (QRO recap) and thought I was seeing The Drums at Hotel Vegas (though that would have been a tight timetable for the band…).  Plus Chris saw The Drums that night (see above).

-Say Hi (QRO spotlight on) @ Studio HGTV, 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM.  Always interested in what Eric Elbogen (QRO interview) is doing.

-The New Cassettes (QRO photos) @ Deseo Lounge, 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM.  A band I’d never heard of that I accidentally saw last SXSW and really was really impressed by (QRO recap), definitely wanted to see them again.

-Princeton (QRO spotlight on) @ Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room, 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM.  My (not) hometown boys have really grown with just-out Remembrance of Things To Come (QRO review), and definitely wanted to see how that translates into a live show.

-Crystal Fighters (QRO live review), Lower Dens (QRO photos), Milagres (QRO photos) & We Are Serenades @ ND, 10:00 PM – 2:00 AM.  We Are Serenades are a side-project by Adam Olenius (QRO interview) of Shout Out Louds (QRO spotlight on), and I ran into him at FADER Fort earlier in the day.  He actually recognized me, which made me feel even more that I should see his new band (plus, I love Shout Out Louds…), but I missed them at ND that night thanks to fun.’s late start.

-Paper Route @ The Velveeta Room, 1:00 AM – 2:00 AM.  Paper Route’s singer promised no technical difficulties at their Velveeta Room show later that night, and while the band is definitely better suited for late at night, The Velveeta Room held comedy acts on other nights of SXSW – really doubted how good its sound could be.

 

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