South by Southwest is now over and luxuries such as sleep are readily available. It was a great week full of amazing shows, surprises and sightings all over Austin, Texas. Surprises such as Mister Heavenly playing a show in the parking lot of 3rd and Congress, Jack White with a performance at Frank, and of course, the “surprise” performance by the Foo Fighters on Tuesday allowed first time SXSW fans a chance to see groups never seen before and groups that could soon be the next big thing.Some of the best bands noticed by the live music examiner during the week, and the worst performances will be mentioned in this recap of the week.
One of the first bands that caught the attention of the Live Music Examiner were Royal Bangs on Monday night at the Thrillist party held at Antone’s. The song, “Fireball” quickly took the crowds attention with the amazing drum opening and the chaotic sounds that somehow managed to mingle together in a beautiful and insanely catchy song. They were an amazing group to check out if you are a fan of Fang Island.
Another group worthy of mentioning were Ponderosa. Hailing from Athens, Georgia, these Southern Rockers had a sound comparable to The Black Crows and Kings of Leon having an estranged love child. The vocals were raspy; the guitars were filled with light distortion and the wonderful addition of the organ-sounding keyboard added to the unique “Ponderosa” sound.
Apollo 18 at Hoeks Death Metal Pizza brought their brand of Korean metal to the small outdoor stage in the rear of the building. Having not slept for a few days, their energy was electric and their music was on point. The tempo changes during the first song showed the talent of the group as well as the individual members. With music sounding vaguely similar to that of the Deftone’s “Adrenaline” album, the group gained more fans in the state of Texas.
Finally, The Joy Formidable were one of the best groups seen throughout the week. Playing at the Atlantic/Chop-Shop day party in Brush Square Park, the indie rock band from the United Kingdom were simply amazing. The vocals were a perfect fit for the well-crafted and catchy music. With the talented drummer backing the group, he energetically fueled the tempo of the upbeat and at times heavier songs. Although the band had played previous dates at the festival, they still seemed excited to be in front of others and appreciated the amazing crowd interaction.
With the good always comes the bad. And sadly, we were subject to some bad shows. With so many musicians around the city, the phrase “you can’t win them all” seemed to be uttered one too many times. Having seen Duran Duran before, high hopes were set. However, these hopes were crushed like a cockroach in a kitchen. The group just wasn’t that great. Of course they played the hits such as “Hungry Like a Wolf,” and “A View To A Kill.” They were expected to play those, but when the group played a new song “never played before” they seemed to fall apart halfway into the chorus causing them to start over. Not impressed. A band of their caliber should have mastered the new material. Needless to say, the show was packed and throughout the first 30 minutes, the audience started trickling out.
Another disappointing show was Neon Hitch. Surely a very nice young lady, Neon Hitch was indeed a disaster. The petite singer had a sound all too familiar in the “Guido” dance clubs. Prancing around the stage adding mediocre lyrics to bad dance music, the only thing to do was laugh at the amateurish performance with even worse explicit lyrics.
Finally, the “it” hip-hop group at South by Southwest this year known as Das Racist fell off my “albums to buy and bands to follow” list. Following Freddy Gibbs and The Cool Kids, Das Racist seemed amateurish. The members on stage looked as though they were fulfilling one more promise to play a show and did not put any importance to the performance. Numerous times throughout the set they invited the “white rapper” on stage and treated the night as a joke.
Many more performances were noteworthy throughout the entire week, however, to write about everything would have made for a great short novel rather than a review. Watch out for the bands mentioned above on television performances, soundtracks and tours in your area.