The sun was shining on a gorgeous 75-degree afternoon in Austin as the first official day of music kicked off yesterday at SXSW. People packed the city’s downtown and eastern corridors in search of daytime showcases, sponsored parties and freebies.
The New Zealand showcase took over Brush Square Park at 5 p.m., squeezing six bands with loads of talent into a short three-hour stretch. The beautiful Brooke Fraser, who has been at the top of the charts in her home country and Australia, displayed her high-energy guitar playing and sweet vocals as her band rocked out to tracks like single “Something In The Water.” The hard-hitting tropical punk trio Street Chant followed. The band’s Emily Littler and Billie Rogers provided the perfect palette with their guitar and bass playing for drummer Alex Brown to go nuts, absolutely tearing apart his kit. The most anticipated appearance that the NZ showcase had to offer was that of Auckland-based the Naked And Famous. The five young band members’ reverberant shouting vocals and crunchy synthesizers could be heard from blocks away while crowds of non-badge holders lined the sidewalk just outside the fence surrounding the tent.
Late Wednesday night at Club De Ville, the Paradigm/Coda Agencies showcase featured husband-and-wife band Tennis. The awesome outdoor venue had a great sound with the stage placed in a large cut-out of a hill, projecting each band off a wall of rock and sand directly into the faces of the audience members. Alaina Moore’s laid-back singing style overpowered the distorted and echo-y guitar, acting as a lullaby to the sunburned and tired audience.
Yuck was the final band of the showcase, and after playing at least one if not more shows earlier in the day, it was understandable that the band members were not the most animated at SXSW. Yuck was fun, its album rules, its music sounded great, but after 12 or more hours of drinking and trekking around Austin, you really just want an excuse to let loose and dance around, and this wasn’t the show for that. One of the great things about SX is that you can be nit-picky about even the smallest little detail, like a crowd’s unwillingness to jump around or a keyboardist looking like he’s got somewhere else he wants to be, because you know the best show ever could be right around the corner.