Mar
2009

Hot Hot Heat

Back home in Boston (wishing it was as warm here as it is in Austin right now) and ready for some serious relaxation and recovery time, but first I wanted to do a quick wrap-up of my third and final day at SXSW. I’ll do a big wrap-up of my whole SXSW experience with photos, observations and recommendations, but for now here’s my SXSW Friday recap. It was another packed day, to say the least. I was in heaven. Here are the highlights.

Cetan Clawson – When I ordered a bloody mary at Radio Room, the bartender insisted I’d thank him for sending me to the bar Lovejoy’s just around the corner instead. He was right, not just for the drink recommendation but for the chance to catch some of Cetan Clawson’s show, a rock trio from Detroit who got a standing ovation from the crowd for the thrashing, psychedelic jam that closed their set.

Cut Off Your Hands – I’d heard great things about this band so I was excited to see they were playing right before Ra Ra Riot at the Onion party at Radio Room. I now know what all the fuss is about, there’s so much passion in their live set it’d be impossible to ignore. I’ll definitely see these guys again next time they’re in Boston.

Ra Ra Riot – This band was at the top of my list of shows I wanted to catch in Austin and ended up delivering one of the strongest sets I saw all week. The live strings were a nice bonus too. If you don’t already have their album, The Rhumb Line, get on top of that.

Department of Eagles – I was determined to see these guys, which meant standing in a pretty long line outside of Emo’s in the blazing hot sun and then waiting about an hour before they came on, but it was worth the effort. Some cool sampling of live vocals on a few songs too.

Beach House – I was really impressed how well this band’s sound translated live, actually outshining their album work for me. The vocals reminded me a little of Patti Smith. They played to a huge crowd at the Blackberry party, so it was nice to see them getting the well-deserved attention.

The Low Anthem – Wow, I’m still surprised I hadn’t heard about this band before considering they’re from Rhode Island and worthy of some serious attention. The Central Presbyterian Church was a perfect venue for their folk-leaning, revival-style rock. The three band members each rotated through several instruments, alternating between softer folk songs and howling blues songs.

Lisa Hannigan – I’ve been meaning to check out Lisa Hannigan’s debut solo album for a while now. I remember taking note of her name when I saw her perform with Damien Rice a few years ago (she’s the female voice on his albums O and 9). None of her own more ethereal songs necessarily stuck with me, but her vocals sounded as amazing ever, especially on a gorgeous cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.” I’ll definitely try to track down a recording of it.

Laura Marling – I stayed for her midnight performance following Lisa Hassigan’s despite having seen her the day before. I couldn’t resist the chance to hear her sing with the acoustics inside that church. Marcus Mumford accompanied her again (on top of playing his own show with Mumford & Sons an hour earlier across town) and made a joke about how the sound was so clear in there that he was afraid we’d hear every mistake. I certainly didn’t hear any. It was a longer set than I heard at Entertainment Weekly’s party so it was definitely worth staying to hear a few different songs than the day before. OK, enough out of me for now. I’ll be back later with some updates about the final day of SXSW.