Tuesday 11 March 2014 Austin Texas

After weeks/months of preparation, it was time to leave our -25 degree city of Toronto and hit Austin Texas; it was shorts and t-shirt time!

Flew into Austin, straight to the convention centre for badges and checked into the hotel and then off to a fabulous brew pub “Craft Pride” for some beauty cask ale. Then off to Moonshine Bar and Grill for a meal at our favourite restaurant!

Now it was time for the first night of shows. Just could not skip the showcase at Haven, with being able to check off so many boxes with one show it had to be done.  The venue was crowded which was consistent with the rest of the week. The City was packed. First band was Young & Sick (visual artist turned soul singer).  Band is pretty slick..electro pop/r&b, very smooth and I can see why the place is packed, very solid set. 

Sadly, this venue is perhaps the worst in the city and its getting really crowded and with a good portion of the venue dedicated to “VIP” table service guests (bottle service starts at $400 a table) it's getting messy in here.

The lovely Syd Arthur is up next on my list of must see’s but sadly the sound issue demons start here tonight and they struggle to get the mic’s working. So out of a 8 song set, we probably hear 4 songs by the band and losing much of the vocals, they lose out. What I do hear is very sweet, he does have a lovely sound inspired by 60’s & 70’s psych-rock and I will be sure to try to see them again. 

Thankfully the sound issues clear up for the whimsical synth band Glass Animals. Very lovely and the use of experimental keyboard strokes and harmonies makes for a very solid set and they do sound great.   Sadly, the vocal demons strike again for the next band, ”Arthur Beatrice” who I had been quite excited to see. Sad for this band as all members of the band take turns at singing and their dance and pop mix rely on hearing their voices but what is not lost is a great rhythm section, the songs that do work best, closer to the end of the set, are beautiful and was worth the wait.  

The venue is getting more packed and many are here for Banks who is playing after the next band, The Preatures. Having come off a highly popular showcase at CMJ in New York City, these guys are the hotly tipped band for SXSW and I can't argue with that.

I love what I have heard from these online and am most looking forward to this one.  Fortunately the sound is sorted for these guys and they are pure rock n roll. Great guitars, and a stunning vocalist (Isabella Manfredi), it's hard not to fall for this singer, she is powerful, animated, and intense and “Is this how you feel?” their biggest song of the set and my personal favourite is huge and despite the surging crowd, I am still able to enjoy the entire set.   Great band, great set and the highlight of the night for sure and thankfully I got to see them here as its one of only a few shows they were doing

Now it's time for us to escape as the Banks crowd have taken over and this club is now at capacity (or well over) and it's become far too uncomfortable.   quick run over to Latitude 30 for the chance to see Jungle.This club is packed as well and there is no chance of getting inside so we stand outside as 100 others are doing already and we dance around to the rhythms of this clever electro funk soul dance band.  Very tasty stuff and I am already checking out more shows of theirs.

Sadly its 1am and after flying in/craft ales/moonshine/crowded Haven bar, we have to get to the hotel. As Wednesday is looking like a very very long day!

More to come…

Jim  @totolondon