Today we venture east to a venue we have never checked out before, the new renovated Scoot Inn. a large outdoor stage area, a comfortable inside stage, it is well suited to a day of rock n roll. There are a few showcases today but this one featured one band I was particularly interested in so we commit to this spot
Outside stage features the first band, local guys ..Otis The Destroyer. These guys are loud and a rather messy wake up call to those who have arrived early. Think Queens of the Stone Age, Foo's...but louder for the most part. These boys can sing when they want to but much of the set is driven by guitars, and I am glad we are sitting further back on the outside patio
inside we have Zunis, a competent psych alt rock band that mixes in a bit of funk flavor to spice things up.
Back outside, we have one of the main bands we are here to see so we take up our comfortable position sitting on some stools and watch Illiterate Light. These 2 guys who met at university in Virginia have apparently been together for while. Jeff Gorman plays guitar (despite originally being a drummer and who's uncle was the original drummer in Black Crowes) & Jake Cochran who plays a minimalist drum kit while standing beside Jeff. Without a doubt, these two put on the most entertaining, and blissfully sweet set of music we were to hear all week (enough so that we fit them into our schedule 2 more times).
I kept coming up with My Morning Jacket comparisons but whoever or whatever they sound like, we loved them. Beautiful harmonies, manic musicianship, wonderful chemistry, humor and an honesty that washed over us as we sat mesmerized. Not only did they do their single justice (Better than I Used To) but each song gave us something different. Never really sure where they were going but we were committed to going with them....it really was fantastic. We were not alone in this assessment..as we sat and listened, others gathered, including band members from other performing bands, and a very enthusiastic crowd let these guys know they were appreciated. This show was a treat
Inside we have Adam Melchor singer songwriter from Jersey, a nice little change of pace, good storyteller and a good voice and performing all on his own.
Outside we have our Canadian boys Pottery. This 5 piece surf punk pop psych band have only recently (November) released anything but their live show has been much talked about. All the rumours are true about these young men is true..they produce some sweet sounds live..almost Talking Heads meets Thee Oh Sees..and they clearly enjoy playing. Its a big sound, and at times loud, but done in a way that will not alienate any crowd. Considering how young these guys are, it really is a treat to see them play so well and appreciated by the crowd and I look forward to where they go next
inside we have Sego, a messy sweaty math rock band who do what they do rather well. Next up outside is Pink Sweat$ Another much buzzed about performer here at SXSW, he to would garner much acclaim this week and would join Angie McMahon as mutual winners of the best performers at the festival. His smooth R&B performed alongside a solitary guitarist, is done effortlessly. A great songwriter, his silky smooth voice drifts over the crowd and has everyone's attention. Its clear this young singer is destined for much bigger stages and just glad we got to see him here.
Inside we have Barrie. They are a dream pop band from Brooklyn and they do Dream Pop very very well. Big synths, energetic members and catchy songs, its a fun little set. They clearly take their live performances seriously and they too seem to be having fun. Its a nice warm sound that works well.
Outside again and it seems up next is a local favorite Duncan Fellows. He has quite the following...a big sounding 5 piece indie rock band, the place is packed with college kids wanting to sing along. Its pretty tasty stuff and everyone is singing along which is fun enough but when you don't know any of the words and are getting hungry yourself..we are off after half the set to find some dinner.
As plans get made, many plans fall apart or shifts are made and tonight is no different Plans were to see Island and Fatherson but we just couldn't pass up another showcase when we knew we could see Fatherson later in the week now. So we are off the Elysium for the night First up is ethereal indie pop singer Ambar Lucid She has a great powerful voice but its often lost in a early evening crowd. It still sounds quite lovely but is often hard to hear with the crowd talking.
Next up and easier to hear is Westermen. This Electro pop performer starts on stage solo but is joined by a full band and it truly is some graceful pop. It is very very soothing and though they seem to encounter a few glitches with sound quality, its a strong set. It is summery with some samples and big bass and guitars and a solid voice and its an enjoyable second show of the night.
J.S. Ondara is up next. I have been following JS for a while now. This Nairobi born singer songwriter is a talent. He was lucky enough to have won a green card lottery at a young age and having been obsessed with American music in general, moved in with relatives in the US and continued his obsession with Bob Dylan and American folk music. Thankfully it allowed him to create somewhat of a fusion of styles, deeply based in American Folk but with a bit of an African flare. His voice is beautiful, just him onstage with his guitar. He is as personable as can be which was proven even further later when I was able to chat with him after his show. It feels like an old soul up on stage sharing his wisdom and that works. His falsetto is glorious and his stories are enchanting, its a wonderful set of music.
Broken Social Scene are up next. These Toronto boys..and girl (all 9 of them) have some serious local ties as they played in Austin often before they signed their major label deal. The university crowd has piled into the showcase to watch and they know every word. I have taken these guys for granted for a lot of years having seen them plenty during the early days but it takes very little time to realize why they have been so successful...It is an epic sound..horns..Sax, beautiful voices and great guitar work, its a full sound that I had rather missed. They cover their hits and its indie rock at its finest, and it makes this old Canadian proud to see and hear.
Last performer here tonight is Cautious Clay. He is a smooth R&B singer who also plays Sax. His album is coming out at the end of March so he has some new tracks to play that I have not heard. He is hotly tipped to be the next Big Thing and it shows. He is clearly talented ...and comfortable on stage singing some rather sultry R&B He does not lack confidence and is joined by a guitarist and drummer and the combined sound is pleasing the crowd. He has no problem being center stage and is clearly a very accomplished musician and no doubt his future will include an album deal and a lot of touring.
It is now I make a break for the Barracuda bar to check out old favorites The Chills. The crowd here is considerably younger then the last crowd I was in! This band from New Zealand first formed in 1980 and played for many many years and I am reminded quickly that they did have a few hits. They have been described as producing "heavenly pop" and I have to agree. Its rather heart warming to see these guys (and gal) perform after all of these years. Still producing wonderful live shows together with a documentary having been shown at the film portion of the festival, there is plenty of interest with this crowd and that interest is returned by the band with a lot of smiles and some great energy.
As their set is coming to a close I decide to wander home and I happen to pass by the Brit Embassy and I am able to enjoy a couple of songs by Georgia. Again, sometimes safer to stand outside...I can easily see that Georgia puts a lot of energy into her solo show. Standing alone, playing some rather energetic songs to the crowd and it has clearly become a late night dance party here. She is using samples, synths, drum machine to get the songs moving and its quite clever. Glad I wandered over but its time to get to bed..