South-by-Southwest returned to Austin, a week earlier this year, but still extended to Monday-Saturday, March 11th-16th. Even without University of Texas teens volunteering or partying during their spring break, there was a strong turnout. Yes, SXSW isn’t the massive sponsored juggernaut it was even just five years ago, but instead there was a diversity of acts playing downtown, often multiple gigs over the week, and you could actually see a lot of what you intended to (and still get free drinks).
If you’re doing South-by-Southwest right, you have a day where you need a break, need a rest, need to see less (and drink less, and eat less…). For your correspondent, that was Friday, but he still caught some great stuff.
Rachael Ray’s Feedback House party
Jamie N Commons, 6:30pm
No better place to make a late start than at Rachael Ray’s Feedback House, with free food & drink, plus the soulful Brit Jamie N Commons. Bonus points for handling his guitar strap coming undone: handed it to his back-up player, who retied it while Commons did an a cappella stomper. “It’s almost liked we planned it this way…”
Just Loud, 7:30pm
While Just Loud did American soul, the most happy to be at Rachael Ray’s were Aussies Castlecomer. The singer told the crowd that his “mum” is a huge Rachael Ray fan, follows her on social media, and asked that people take a pic of him and tag RR, to make his mother so happy that, “She’ll never make me get a real job.” Their big dance party included an appearance by Ray herself, as well as a cover of one-hit wonder “She’s So High”.
New West Records showcase @ Mohawk
Wild Moccasins, 9:20pm
But left Rachael Ray’s early for longtime QRO Texan favorite Wild Moccasins at their label New West Records showcase. Your correspondent met the Houston act at his first SXSW ten years ago (QRO recap), and has seen their sound grow. They have great energy, a really compelling frontwoman, and should be huge, not playing indoor at Mohawk.
Instead, it was the likes of Seratones and their big soul who were outside, in a packed Mohawk Outdoor. So packed that security kept enforcing an arbitrary, unmarked ‘no standing zone’ by pushing people in tighter.
Dan Luke & The Raid, 10:20pm
Meanwhile, Mohawk Indoor was packed to spilling out for the upbeat country-rock of Dan Luke & The Raid.
SXSW showcase @ 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn
The Rad Trads, 12:00am
Had already called it quits for the day, but later headed to a friend-of-a-friend’s band, The Rad Trads, on the 18th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn. Had always been curious about the official space (that was usually at the top of the alphabetical official listings), and there’s a way different vibe in a hotel event space, but chairs, nice view (impressive, if you’re not from NYC…), and the cleanest bathrooms of SXSW.
The Rad Trads had big band blues soul, which actually kind of fit in a hotel, with an older crowd, even if it was an awkward slot at an awkward place.
-Rachael Ray’s Feedback House was serving Stubb’s BBQ, not the first place at SXSW ’19 to do so.
-Seriously, the bathrooms on the 18th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn, which is right in the middle of things, could be next SXSW’s public bathroom stop, especially as they’re open into the night.
-Lily & Madeleine, SYML and more @ Four Seasons, 10:00am – 2:00pm. BMI Acoustic Brunch.
-Broken Social Scene @ Radio Day Stage Austin Convention Center, 2:00pm – 3:00pm. Would have been nice to see BSS in a calm, indoor, air-conditioned setting.
-Japanese Breakfast, Cherry Glazerr, and Nothing @ Container Bar, 4:00pm – 7:00pm.
-Broken Social Scene @ Hotel San Jose, 8:00pm – 9:00pm. Admittedly had seen BSS enough by this point, but Kevin Drew encouraged your correspondent to head to this South Austin spot.
-Nicole Atkins @ Cooper’s BBQ, 9:00pm – 10:00pm.
-*repeat repeat @ Barracuda, 9:45pm – 10:45pm.