The final day for all the major performances and showcases on Saturday marked the fruition of the most ultimate festival I have ever attended, including around 1,600 official bands, almost 100,000 attendees and probably millions of bottles of booze consumed throughout the week. Saturday, for many, was a day of early rest; for the troopers and latecomers, it was one of the busiest days of the festival. A final day to grab that last free T-shirt, to see that one band who would blow your mind or to meet someone in the industry who would change your life forever – if it hadn’t happened yet, it would have to be today. Luckily, I had crossed off quite a few of these to-dos already so it was off to the Aussie Barbecue for some home-grown talent and wine tastings.
Rocking their guts out on stage early in the morning was The Novocaines. Blasting out an early morning set doesn’t usually work too well, but the guys managed to pull it off just like another afternoon in a dingy garage to make pure Australian rock. Hidden in the side room was The Snowdroppers – who could have been mistaken for a group of crazy people who had just escaped from the Jika Jika division of Pentridge prison. Johnny Wishbone provided much more-than-loud vocals for entertainment purposes, pausing in between vocals to jump offstage and work on a few push-ups (and to throw “the blood of Christ” on an entering audience). On a slightly softer note, Sydney group Boy & Bear eased the audience into the afternoon with a soft blend of vocals, keys and light drums. The band has made massive leaps and bounds since appearing on the national Australian station TripleJ and performing a cover of Crowded House’s “Fall at Your Feet,” and are quickly establishing an international name for itself while flying the Aussie flag high.
Across from the rowdy crowd at Maggie Mae’s at the Austin Convention Center, Toro Y Moi was performing to a much more placid audience lying around on bean bags and lounge chairs while absorbing the band’s mesh of melodic sounds. Lead singer Chazwick Bundick, keeping up with the popular fashion statements at SWSW, donned a pair of round spectacles, pulling of the ‘shabby geek’ look all too well. A much faster paced Tapes ‘n Tapes followed the ‘chillwave’ band on stage to liven up the scene. While the louder faster songs were well-played they weren’t so well received. Half the audience was asleep on the floor or too busy trying to grab the free internet to notice when one song had finished and another was about to start. The band would have been more suited to a audience that was paying attention to its effort.
Back at the Aussie Barbecue, The Boast People kept the now slightly wine-buzzed crowd entertained as they sipped on the free reds and whites being passed out like sleeping pills in a retirement home. A few technical mishaps seemed not to phase the band as it pushed through to put on a solid performance. This was not the case for Little Red. The Melbourne band took its time setting up due to the amount of lead vocalists in the band, who either pissed off the sound tech so much they purposely screwed with the levels or it genuinely was too difficult to do correctly. The band was off vocally, instrumentally and on stage as performers. Chatting to other members of the audience who had seen them early in the festival, it seemed to be a one-time thing, although it may have been detrimental to the band’s image – it was probably one of the worst performances I saw seen at SXSW. In the Gibson room The Jeffersons played some light punk rock to entertain the crowd, although it became background music. Downstairs, Hungry Kids of Hungary blasted out an awesomely sweaty set jumping around on stage splashing on any close member of the crowd. The boys kept a tight set due to time restraints but showed no sign of rushing as they managed to pump out around seven crowd-pleasers.
Across the road my fellow commonwealth brothers and sisters of the Canadian Blast were putting on a showcase including free beer and food – so naturally that was my next stop. The Goodluck Assembly kept it classy on stage in black tie but managed to play a rockin’ show to the massive turnout. Also showcasing the Canadian talent was My Favourite Tragedy, who hit out a massive amount of decent hits proving Canada is more than snow and… Well, what else is there? Four beers and a bowl of fries down and it was back over to the Aussie Barbecue, landing at Maggie Mae’s just in time for what was one of the best performances of the festival.
Matt Corby is a young gentleman of ex-“Idol” fame, but as a solo project he has managed to do away with the pop-like elements so natural to the show and incorporated a folk acoustic tune into his amazing live performance. Using a vocal loop, he layered choral like notes upon each other only to sing over the top of them. Mixing them his acoustic guitar, light drums and bass he entrapped the whole audience in his performance. Picture Eric from “The Little Mermaid” listening to Ariel for the first time – this was the exact scene Corby managed to re-enact. I can easily say he has one of the finest and most inspirational voices of an Australian artist today. I have no doubt that if this young man keeps slugging away he will become something internationally brilliant. Up on the main stage Natalie of Blue King Brown donned her usual face paint and sang upbeat jungle rhythm tunes that got some booties shakin’. Rockin’ out the dying hours of the barbecue was Wolf & Cub, who brought some pure punk to the chilled-out venue. Then a reversed Australian version of The White Stripes, two piece band An Horse worked the stage like it was in its own backyard.
However, I wasn’t able to stay up forever and with word the line at the Kanye West show was longer than the BYU vs. SDSU horror show at Viejas Arena, it was off to bed. Without a doubt SXSW is the biggest, busiest and most tiring festival I will ever attend. If you plan to go next time, bring a phone that has access to Twitter, a bike – oh, and be at least 21 years old. With those three things you can’t go wrong.
SXSW is a must for any music/ film/ interactive lover – if you have never attended, you truly haven’t experienced it all.