Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SXSW Friday Recap

To make up for my lack of shows on Thursday, Friday was filled with show after show of really good stuff.

My first stop was at Momo’s for the SXSW Underage Party. I didn’t know the show featured under-aged bands so imagine my surprise when I walked in and saw that I was one of the oldest people there. All the other adults seemed to be parents of the bands and fans in the venue. So my immediate reaction was “What did I get myself into?”

But my pessimism quickly went away when I heard Chief Rival. The band obviously looked like they still had some years left in high school (if they are even in high school) but the music they wrote sounded like they had been a part of the game for a while. I wouldn’t be surprised if the members were in band or orchestra because the songs were written in movements as they flowed seamlessly to one another. For fans of Explosions in the Sky, this band is worth checking out. If it’s any implication of how much they impressed the crowd, I bought the last EP they had (with handmade packaging).

Chief Rival @ Momo's

Up next was The El Guapos. One of the vocalist/guitarist, Aaron Miller, actually worked with our Faculty Advisor, Matthew Connolly at Akins High School so he requested a reporter to cover the show and I was like the lucky volunteer. What a treat they were. The band was all dressed up but Miller and other vocalist/guitarist Cory Dennis really ran with the idea and wore bright colored-coordinated suits.

The El Guapos at Momo's

The show itself was full of high energy as the band danced their way through their short 15-20 minute set. The music was fun and catchy. I received a cd and got to sit with the band and interview them so a more in-depth profile will be published in the near future.

I waited for the bus to head over to Breakaway Records on 5th Street to see Choo Choo since I missed them the night before but unfortunately, the bus never came so instead, I went to see Val Emmich at Troubadour Saloon.

Val Emmich @ Troubadour Saloon

His name may sound familiar to Ugly Betty fans. I’d admit I didn’t know who he was until I first saw him as Jesse.

His show of his melancholy indie pop music was a welcoming change from the high-energy shows I had been watching. He played a newer song called “Absolutely Still” which he co-wrote with Better than Ezra who is apparently releasing it as a single in the near future. There were a few laughs in the crowd when Emmich stated “I’m not sure how I feel about that.”

I made the trip back to Momo’s to interview The El Guapos and grab some free dinner. When I walked in, Blues Mafia was playing. The music isn’t really the type of genre I normally listen to but the singer’s voice was just amazing. That girl has pipes.

After I did my interview with the El Guapos, I stuck around and caught Fireants. Wow, out of all the bands I saw during SXSW, this is the one band that really impressed me. Seriously.

Fireants at Momo's

Their country rock is well-written and the vocalist Ian Stewart is a great front man. There was no weak link as the entire band was super talented. I never played that well (as a flute player) at their age. Luckily for us, they are from Austin so you have opportunities to catch one of their live shows.

They were the headliners so the venue kicked everyone out so they could set up for the official SXSW showcase that night. I decided to head home and drop off all the swag I’ve gotten and take a break before the night shows.

I rested longer than I wanted to so I was late to my show at Blu Café. I didn’t plan my trip accordingly either so I ended up walking a lot because I got lost and the café was a lot farther than I had planned. I caught the end of the band playing but didn’t catch their name. What I heard was very mellow and show gazing like.

The Drawing Board, who I went to go see, was running a bit behind so I took a small walk around the 360 Condominiums, which is where the Blu Café is located. I discovered a new frozen yogurt place, Yummy Yo that was giving out free samples. It was so good. Since I can’t have milk products, this place will satisfy my ice cream craving. I recommend visiting this place if you get the chance.

The Drawing Board is pretty much my favorite band in Austin, but they rarely play shows so the last time I saw them was during my SXSW free show last year. I have been patiently waiting for a new album and during this show, I got some gratification when they performed the new songs I haven’t heard before.

The Drawing Board at Blu Cafe

I haven’t formed an opinion of what I think of their new direction, which is headed away from their happy pop music I fell in love with in the past. It’s definitely more experimental than the last released album “Clear to the Far Side of Way Over Yonder” but I don’t know if it’s just me refusing to accept the change.

Before I ended my night, I was walking abound aimlessly when I ran into Trent from! I’ve been reading his celerity gossip blog for over 3 years now so meeting him was awesome. We walked around looking for a venue so he could catch the end of Erin McCarley’s show.

Trent and I went our separate ways and I headed towards Pangaea to try to get into Tinted Windows. I was a little skeptical when I saw two long lines at the door. But it confirmed my skepticism when I overheard the guy in front of me say to his friends that he had been waiting in line for an hour and they were only letting badges in. I didn’t want to wait in line forever and miss the show so I called it a night and went home.

One more day to go!

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