Wednesday at SXSW stands for one thing apart from more music – wells. Yep, all the free wells you can get your hands on.
I headed over to the official Tumblr party — imagine all the hipsters in SoCal (which is pretty much all of Hillcrest) shoved in a tight little outdoor bar. Tattoos and fancy shoes were the accessory’s of choice with neat little nametags announcing each individual’s personal website for future stalking. However, not all my time could be spent discussing who can simultaneously pay the most money for their clothes while looking like the poorest person in the room. Like the social butterfly I am (lie) I fluttered off to the Paste party on Sixth Street. In the search for free tacos I stumbled across my favorite band of SXSW so far. Lost in the Trees is an eclectic group of what I will now refer to as ‘halterndies’ – hippy alternative independent artists. Hailing from North Carolina, the group mixes strings, acoustic guitar and some gnarly vocals to create a smooth folk rock sound. If you like Mumford and Sons or Lara Marling chances are you’ll like these guys more — just saying.
Also on the line up of surprising little-known artists was Matthew & The Atlas. This time Matt was joined by the whole atlas, who played in a little corner stage standing just one foot above the audience. The intimate setting bode well with the crowd as they were easily won over by the soft harmonies and old school accordion tunes. After the Paste party ran out of bands Red 7 was the place to be for the Secretly Canadian/ Jagjaguwar/Dead Oceans label showcase. Band of the night: LIA Ices. Its leader singer is petite little thing who can not only rock a flowing floral one piece, but can also belt out one smasher of a note. The band played to a much smaller crowd than deserved on the patio outside.
From intimate settings to massive crowds, James Blake pulled one of the largest turnouts of the night at Stubbs. The outside open air theatre was a stellar setting for the Massive Attack-inspired artist. While his voice along with few but precious musical notes was incredibly captivating, it would be nice to hear it without the auto tune. But his cover of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love” was probably the best version I’ve ever heard.
Darwin Deez’s gig had a much more upbeat atmosphere at a fully enclosed venue for the NME showcase. “Radar Detector” kicked the crowd onto its feet and had the audience dancing almost as feverously as the man himself. Flawless vocals and a great stage presence, capped off by a prayer for all to be safe at SXSW, made for a winning combination. He is a man you will want to see live.
In similar style Ellie Goulding drew an enormous crowd at The Bat Bar for the Neon Gold showcase. While it seemed most of the crowd had no idea of any of the lyrics they still managed to bop along to the poppy yet punchy beats. Unfortunately for the lead, the keys and the drums blew out her vocals. Nevertheless she is great performer and managed to go on for much longer than her set time, hence, it was my bed time.
Until tomorrow, peace out from Austin ya’ll.
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Here’s some shots Jack took of the shows and the crowds: