Category Archives: Festivals

SXSW 2016 Best Of!

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SXSW may already be a distant memory for some, but the experiences and discoveries are still resonating strongly with us. We’ve had time to let things stew, marinate, and percolate after all the craziness of the week and there are still experiences that are sticking with us that we felt like we had to share. Since many of our experiences extended beyond simply enjoyable sets, we decided to do something a little different this year…

 

Best Ofs- The Best Stuff!

Best New Discovery: Lukas Graham

Lukas Graham was the first act we saw at the official start of SXSW on Tuesday at the Spotify House and was far and away the best act we saw that day. With songs that are more like stories about himself and his band mates, Lukas Graham was an absolutely enchanting act. As Kristen said, he created the “Graham Bar” for the rest of SXSW and although everything else we saw was still enjoyable, nothing ever surpassed the “Graham Bar.” We made a point to see him again at the YouTube Music House where the band performed a full 45-minute set, which is basically unheard of at SXSW. We both walked away from that set with our minds sufficiently blown and throughout the rest of the week would just burst out about how amazing the set was from Lukas Graham. Mind. Blown.

Best Surprise Act: Lapsley

(Kristen)

Sitting in the sanctuary at St. David’s Church late Friday night waiting for the “surprise guest” to appear, I was debating my choice to stick around. I wasn’t sure that anyone could top the stellar evening of singer-songwriters I had experienced and my hotel bed was very enticing. When a woman in white walked out onto the stage, I wasn’t sure who she was, but once she started singing, I knew I made the right decision to stay. Her voice was arresting!  As I sank further into my pew, mesmerized by song after beautiful song, I felt transported. A quick google search identified the mystery act as Lapsley, a rising British artist. I kicked myself for not including more of her sets on my schedule, but sometimes the best acts are the ones you were never anticipating –  absolutely the best surprise of SXSW 2016!

Lapsley ‘Falling Short’ from Jake Scott Cinematographer on Vimeo.

Best Party: Quantum Collective’s Southwest Invasion at Whole Foods

A party so good, we kept going back! Quantum Collective is one of the few parties with a consistently long line, often running down the steps and stretching around the massive Whole Foods building. The crowd was there for a reason. Good music in a comfortable setting surrounded by high quality food. What more can you ask for? For the music, we were able to see favorites like Green River Ordinance and The Arkells as well as discover new exciting bands The Heirs and Great Caesar.  As far as food, we were excited about everything Mama Chia and the all-encompassing Whole Foods salad bar downstairs.  If there was one party to get to early and stay all day, this was it!

Best Dance Party: Mainland & Royal Teeth

Kristen’s pick: Mainland – When multiple members of a band jump into the audience two songs into a set and starting dancing around, you know it’s going to be a party. Mainland delivered on their promise to get my feet moving. Their set at Shiner’s Saloon was so much fun, I made it a mission to see them again. No band made me raise up my hands in the air with such abandon.

Amanda’s pick: Royal Teeth – In all honesty, Royal Teeth were one of a few bands I already knew about coming into SXSW this year and they were one of my favorites from last year as well. They are always a fun, high-energy dance party and there’s something about them that never fails to make me smile. It’s hard to pick my favorite part of their set at Esther’s Follies, it could be when co-singer Gary Larsen ended up on a large speaker hanging over the crowd with an audience member’s phone or when he ended up in the crowd with a drum during their last song Wild and hit the drum with such force he seemed to propel himself into the air.

HM: DNCE – One of the best aspects of live music is when a band can really get you moving. When you’ve been walking all day and your feet are sore, it’s even more of a feat.  So many bands made us get up and dance, but none created the crazy party vibe quite like DNCE.

Best Venue for Snacking: McDonald’s Loft & YouTube Music House

Kristen’s Pick: McDonald’s Loft – I mean, McDonald’s had an ice cream sundae bar. That is hard to top. Aside from all of the McD’s food (including more healthy options like apple slices and Cuties), the event booked some of our favorite and most anticipated bands like Jared & The Mill, and The Score.

Amanda’s Pick: YouTube Music House – This was my favorite place to hang out, eat, and watch bands. During the day there were various juices to sample, six different popcorn flavors to try, free drinks including bottled water, and roving waiters with different things to eat. During the evening it was just the free drinks and roving waiters but it’s really hard to say no to a 5 layer dip with gluten free chips, roasted corn salsa, sweet and tangy meatballs, sliders, and chicken wings. It was the best spot for seeing bands like Banners and Lukas Graham.

Best Swag: Socks and a pillowcase from Casper

The best swag for me is always the most utilitarian…and who doesn’t use socks and pillowcases?!? Casper also provided one of the most unique activations of the week, the nap pod!

Kristen’s HM: Cell phone card holder from Capital One – my favorite piece of swag last year was back in an upgraded version this year (they added some sort of stand/clip to the back) Capital One may be my favorite bank simply because of how streamlined my life has become by using this card holder. Ha!

Amanda’s HM: Safe Catch Tuna– There was a section in the convention this year about food at SXSW and I was directed to the Safe Catch Tuna booth by a friend with food allergies worse than mine. We got to sample the tuna which is lowest in mercury and comes packed in it’s own fish oil so it’s automatically moister (is that a word?) out of the gate than any other brand. A tweet or post tagging Safe Catch would get you a free can of tuna. Who doesn’t need free food at SXSW and something that is healthy to boot!

Best Laugh: The Laugh Button Live! at Esther’s Follies

(Amanda)

It was only Tuesday and I was already overwhelmed with the idea of so much music that was out there for me to see that week and everything I had already been through that day. I was walking down the street when I say a flyer that had my favorite comedian’s name on it, Iliza Shlesinger. I had heard there was a fair amount of comedy at SXSW this year and I had even seen Chris Hardwick’s name on some flyers as well. I made it a point to skip music and see Iliza that night and I have zero regrets about it. There was no other name on the bill I recognized but it really didn’t matter because SXSW is all about discovery, right? I’m happy to report that there were several other comics in the lineup who I really enjoyed including Baron Vaughn, Owen Benjamin, and Alonzo Bodden. The host, Chris Cubas, was really enjoyable as well and I actually saw him around SXSW a fair amount working as a door guy at one of the venues on Rainey St. The whole event was super fun, it was an awesome way to be introduced to new comics that were really enjoyable, and it was great to see Iliza pull out some new material and change up some material from Kaaboo. She’s kind of the best.

HM: The People The Poet – It was all in the delivery with The People The Poet singer, Leon Stanford. Every time you hear Leon talking about wearing sunscreen so they don’t turn into lobsters, it’s hard not to chuckle. The People The Poet were the last band we saw on Sunday (the day after it all ended) and we were all a bit done. It’s not clear if Leon’s stories about having a belly full of brisket would have been as amusing if we weren’t slightly delirious, but the laughter is just as memorable as the music.

Best App Discovery: Tasteful

(Amanda)

Not all of us can eat whatever free food is given to us at SXSW and sadly, I’m one of those people. Taseful is an app that I discovered in the convention center right next to the Safe Catch Tuna booth. What makes Tasteful unique is that you can program the app to show you places to eat that fit your dietary needs/preferences. That means, if you’re gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, low carb, or don’t care it will show you places to eat nearby with possible menu items that fit your needs. It also ranks the places by the how good they are for each dietary concern which means how much food is cooked fresh right there, how much cross contamination there might be, and so on. I didn’t get to try that many options presented to me by the app, although one of the restaurants brought food to a party I was at so I got to sample, but it’s nice to know the options are there if I need them.

 

Other Notables: Things We Can’t Leave Out!

Worth the Walk: The Virginmarys

The Virginmarys were one of our favorites from SXSW 2013 and were a must see as soon as they announced they were returning this year. Unfortunately, they only had two shows announced and both provided some issues. One conflicted with Kristen’s #1 can’t miss set of the week (see below) and the other was a bit of a walk. Well, sore feet be damned, we were determined to see this band so we make the trek across new portions of Austin to the burger joint, Shady Grove, where the band was playing a set in small stage in the corner of the outdoor dining area. As soon as they started to play, it was clear that the walk was worth it. The Virginmarys are one of the most dynamic and enjoyable live acts and their new songs absolutely must be experienced in their live form.

Worth the Wait: AudioDamn!

We had to wait for this band not once, but twice. Technical issues seemed particularly plaguing at their Revolt daytime show, but the band took it in stride and did the best they could with limited time and workable instruments.  Despite the early struggles, we were able to catch the band again later in the week and their catchy songs and energetic performance made them shoot up to the top of list of fave bands of SXSW 2016. Must see again!

Most Nostalgic: Judy Collins + Ari Hest

(Kristen)

This was my #1 must see act of the week and I was not left disappointed. Every time I hear Judy Collins sing, I am transported to my youth (she was my father’s favorite artist). Her new collaboration with Ari Hest takes the iconic voice in a new direction which I absolutely loved. The set was mostly comprised of newer songs, but they stuck in a few classics and I just closed my eyes and became ten years old again.

HM: Rooney – Another blast from my somewhat more recent past was when California rockers Rooney, took to the stage and played many hits from their debut album. Robert Schwartzman has not changed one bit an even the band’s new songs still harken back to the glory days of those early college years.

Most Seen: Dreamers

(Kristen)

You know you like a band when seeing them becomes somewhat of a compulsion. Even if I was only able to catch a song or two, I felt drawn to whatever venue Dreamers happened to be playing.  I’m pretty sure I can now sing along to all of their songs. Honestly, their EP just does not satisfy the craving. They are one to experience live and I did at SXSW, more than any other band.

Biggest SXSW Fail: Wild Wild Horses set time change

It’s absolutely impossible to re-check every single set time originally posted, but we really wish it had for one of our top bands going into the fest, Wild Wild Horses. Their set was moved an hour earlier than original reported time and although we still caught a couple of songs, it was pretty devastating to miss an entire set from this British band. Kristen tried to make up for it by stealing a set list and chatting a bit with the band, but nothing really compares to seeing your new favorite live. She did still make their SXSW recap video so at least there’s that memory…

Band We’re Bummed We Missed: Judah & The Lion

SXSW is filled with difficult choices, but the hardest for me to make was Saturday night. We had to choose between walking a bit further away to see Judah & The Lion or sticking closer to the action and packing in more bands and ended up choosing the later. It’s hard to regret the choice (there is no room for regret at SXSW), but that does make Judah & The Lion our number one band we failed to see this year, especially so after we got reports of how absolutely amazing their live set was. Next time!

Worth Swimming Through A Crowd for: Kaleo

(Kristen)

The free and open to the public Waterloo Records party is always a bit of a crazy one. However, the prospect of seeing Kaleo again propelled us to venture over to the packed parking lot and make our way closer and closer to the stage as opportunity presented itself. Kaleo is one of those bands that you’re not quite sure what you’re getting yourself into going in, but after experiencing their life show, you are hooked for life. I recall a particular moment, half way through the sea of people when the somewhat inebriated guy next to me said something like “that guy has a pretty lady voice, but then he sings in his man voice and it really rock.” I just smiled, nodded my head, and continued to push forward through the crowd.

 

Top Ten Sets of SXSW ’15

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We saw a lot of awesome acts during our time at SXSW thought we don’t have enough time and energy to share with you all of the awesome act we saw, we though we should share with you the highlights of our time in Austin.

Amanda’s Picks:

1. Walking on Cars at Clive Bar

I’m sure you’re already familiar with our Walking on Cars story but just in case you aren’t, I’ll break it down for you… caught half of their first set at SXSW, second set conflicted with another, missed the third (and final) set after literally running there by just a few minutes and lamented them not playing more shows. And then…. the SXSW Magic happens. A band pulls out of a show that a friend is booking, ask them on Twitter if they’re free and want to play another show, they say yes! Like I said, magic. The thing about Walking on Cars is that there’s something really special about them musically. They have a sound that I can’t even begin to classify or describe but I can tell you that I feel their music in my heart and my soul. And it’s a pretty special thing to get a full 30 minute set from a new band love while being around friends who are also dancing along and loving the band you love. this show will forever go down in my personal SXSW History as something so magical and lucky that I still have a hard time believing it actually happened.

2. James Bay at St. Davids

Where to begin with James Bay? I mean, the guy is a guitar and lyrical powerhouse of songs that just pull at your heart and all those emotions you don’t always like to think about. He only had a few shows that were doable schedule wise and one was completely rained out to boot. I only caught half a set at Spotify and that just wasn’t enough James Bay for my taste. The opportunity to see him in a church with those kinds of acoustics is something you’d be hard pressed to walk away from. Truth be told, I almost wasn’t able to get into this show because earlier the showcase had been declared “badge only” and I, the lowly wristband wasn’t allowed in. However, after patiently waiting and enjoying some other music just down the hall, I circled back to try again and as luck would have it, I made it in. The air in the church was palpably electric and the whole room was filled with this charge that went right through your body. It was a feeling that I won’t forget anytime soon. Even though James didn’t play as long a set as he did at Spotify, I can let that go in favor of the story telling behind the song Scars and the feeling of being a part of something really unique and special.

3. Royal Teeth at Stubbs

So this show technically wasn’t during SXSW “officially” but it was still during the week and was kind of a wrap up show. After catching only 2.5 songs of Royal Teeth at the Swan Dive earlier in the week, this was my last opportunity to see a full set from them. The band didn’t disappoint and somehow managed to still have a wonderful amount of energy for the end of the week. Their infectious pop energy was enough to prop me up and keep me going even though I felt dead on my feet. Even though I (sadly) wasn’t familiar with their tunes, it didn’t matter because everyone was bouncing along. I’m not sure what the most memorable part of the show was… when singer Gary Larsen jumped off stage and got into the middle of the crowd for some drumming or maybe when the confetti went flying during their last song and everyone looked so blissfully happy. Regardless, that show was something special.

4. Zeke Duhon at Swan Dive

Truthfully, I don’t know what pulled me to the Swan Dive for Zeke Duhon. I didn’t know him or any of his music but this little voice in my head told me to make sure I made that show and I’m really glad I listened. Zeke was a surprise I hadn’t been expecting and especially after already seeing so much music and reaching a point where it all begins to blend, he was someone who managed to really stand out and make me stop to listen. Probably my favorite part of his set was when he started talking about covering these two different songs and he couldn’t decide which he liked better so he chose to do both. This ended up being a super awesome mashup of Shake It Off and Can’t Tell Me Nothing by Taylor Swift and Kayne West, respectively. I mean, seriously.

5. Colony House at Blackheart

I was so bummed about missing Colony House when they came through San Diego with Sir Sly but I was so happy to see their name on the list for SXSW. Sadly, all their showcases conflicted with something or were just too out of the way. But on SXSW Saturday, I made it a priority to see them and it was especially meant to be because they were just down the road from where I was that morning. Colony House completed slayed at Blackheart on a day that had proved difficult for other bands due to the weather. But some drizzle wasn’t going to stop vocalist Caleb Chapman from hopping onto this box in front of the stage with his mic stand and guitar and then getting some air while jumping back down to the stage, several times I might add. Their whole set was a powerhouse of rock energy that just didn’t let up until they got off the stage. If that’s how they played at the end of the week, I can only image how they are when fully rested, locked, and loaded. Whew.

HM: Jack Garratt at St. Davids

Admittedly, I didn’t really want to stay for Jack Garratt’s set as I had just seen numerous other amazing acts at the church and was pretty darn tired with a write up still to do. However, I’m so glad I did because that guy is something really special. He has the vocals of an angel with the beat skills that is sure to make more than a few established artists jealous. He’s a really interesting juxtaposition of soft melodic vocals and hard bass dropping beats that echo through your chest. As someone in our party said, “he has that combination of soft and hard that Sam Smith tries, and fails to achieve.” He really was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Kristen’s Picks:

1. Irontom at Lucky Lounge

Some might say it’s silly to go all the way to Austin to see a band from Los Angeles, but there is something quite special about seeing your favorite bands in a different setting. There is a comfort and joy in experiencing something familiar and a thrill from watching others fall in love for the first time.  Plus, when it’s the end of the week and everyone is delirious from exhaustion, both you and the band are going to have an experience unlike any you would have back at home. This is what made Saturday afternoon’s Irontom set at Lucky Lounge so very special. I was propped up against a wall when singer, Harry Hayes, called out to me from the stage to check that I was okay. He then proceeded to bounce on and off the stage like I’d never seen before, as the entire band gave their all in their final SXSW performance, the third that day. At the end of the set, Irontom newbies clamored for more and without hesitation, the band launched into an encore. It was a set to remember.

2. Charlotte OC at Des Moines Embassy

When I saw Charlotte OC’s name listed as a SXSW artist this year, she flew straight to the top of my “must see” list. Wednesday afternoon, as my friends were retreating back to the hotel for some rest, I insisted on squeezing in one more set when I saw Charlotte’s name on my schedule. I rushed over to the Des Moines Embassy in time to make it up to the front of the stage before she began. She opened with my favorite of her songs, “Hangover”. I knew I was going to like the song, but her live interpretation took the experience to another level. This woman has a presence on stage that goes beyond simply singing her songs. I wasn’t even able to stay for this entire set, but I was so blown away it had to make my list. Fortunately, I caught a full set at The UMG Party at Palm door a few days later.

3. Brandi Carlile at Central Presbyterian Church

Now, this was a once in a lifetime experience! Brandi Carlile took her band of musicians and unplugged them all. They used the venue as another instrument, playing with the acoustics of the room. At one point, sting instruments were placed around the venue and even up in the balconies.  At another time, the band paraded down the aisles with Brandi augmenting her voice via an old fashioned megaphone. I feel like she got through most of her hits as well as several songs off her new album, Firewatcher’s Daughter. When Brandi and the twins broke into my new favorite song, “The Eye”, I wasn’t sure if I was having an allergy attack or if tears were streaming down my cheek because I was so moved by the song in this form.

4. Frank Turner at Red 7 Patio

Frank Turner seems to be a SXSW regular and thank goodness for that! The energy he brings and can create in a room is infectious. I’m not sure that it’s possible to not have a good time at a Frank Turner show. I, for one, was clapping and singing and bouncing along at the one set I was able to catch of Frank’s at the Red 7 Patio. It seemed to be a “play the hits” kind of evening. I would have liked to hear more of the material off his upcoming new release, but it is always great fun being able to sing along with song after song. Mid-way through the set, there was a t-shirt swap with a fan. I hope this becomes a tradition!

5. The Contenders at Bethel Hall

SXSW 2015 offered the first opportunity I’ve had to see this new duo formed by Jay Nash and Josh Day. I was expecting the music to be good (and it was), but more unexpected was the humor and warmth created by the musicians personas revealed through the in between song chit chat. These guys are rivaling The Milk Carton Kids for the award for best banter! The dapper duo captured the audience in the small church hall, delivering a series of sad tunes with happy smiles. At least I had a goofy smile on my face the entire set. I look forward to hearing more from this band.

HM: Young Rising Sons at Maggie Mae’s

I was familiar with their infectious single, “High”, but Young Rising Sons, had an entire set worth of fun and memorable tunes. I’d also call this set a right place, right time kind of deal. I ended up at Maggie Mae’s because there were a lot of great bands at that venue that night. I was tired, but Young Rising Sons provided a perfect pick-me-up. They were fun and easy to enjoy. Sometimes you need a band with good pop sensibilities that can make you dance without thinking. Young Rising Sons came to me just when I needed them and became one of my most fondly remembered sets of the week.

 

SXSW 2015 Saturday Recap

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I think it was Amanda who said SXSW is all about the small miracles.  From stumbling upon your new favorite band to feeling hungry and wandering into a party with free food to constantly running into your friends, SXSW is just a magical place where everything seems to go right. This year has been particularly generous with the miracles. Today’s manifested itself in a last minute set from our new favorite Irish rockers, Walking on Cars. We were devastated to miss their final show so when a friend had a band cancel a showcase, we helped reach out to Walking on Cars (thank you twitter!) and somehow, about an hour later, the band was on stage performing for us. Dream come true!

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After this unexpected glory, the rest of the day was just gravy. The sky drizzled, but the weather held fairly well as we spent the early afternoon wandering around The Rainey Street area. We sampled parties such as the Culture Collide/Hard Rock event, The Noisetrade Party, and the Closets for Causes event which featured some pretty amazing Australian yogurt. Other band highlights include the incredibly fun and infectious Taymir and Nashville’s Colony House. I had seen Colony House before, but I had forgotten just how hard the band can rock. They made me very excited about their upcoming tor opening for NEEDTOBREATHE.

Our final day party was at Lucky Lounge, our first real venture to the west side all week (!). We went to see Irontom.  I’ve seen this LA band countless times, but there is something special about seeing a favorite band at the end of SXSW on the brink of delirium. Everyone was exhausted but still having the time of their lives. The band didn’t even blink when the audience demanded an encore and they launched into their high energy cover of Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.”  This will go down as one of my top sets of the week…and not just because we got a song dedication.

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Saturday night, I tried to get in as many sets as possible, seeing artists I’d missed earlier in the week. I finally got to see a full set from UK rock outfit, Mallory Knox. I also was thrilled to catch bits of Rueben and the Dark, Not In Your Face, Air Bag One, The Two Tens and Steve Smyth. However, more so than discovering new music, the end of the evening became about spending some last moments with friends, both new and old. I kept running into people on the street which is an amazing feat considering the flood of pedestrians on Sixth Street. The midnight set of Mini Mansion brought out quite a few familiar faces. It was an experience seeing some of the musicians I am used to seeing on the stage, being in the audience and completely geeking out over live music.

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The end of SXSW became like the end of any good show with that slow walk to the door becoming a slow walk to the hotel, taking time saying goodbye and goodnight to everyone. Lots of hugs. Always lots of hugs. I interviewed the singer from Colony House earlier in the day and asked what he learned from his SXSW experience. He mentioned the importance of hugs. I think he knows what’s up.

So, there you go. SXSW, all about miracles and hugs. I already can’t wait for next year!

 

If you are still around Austin, Stubb’s is hosting a great party today. Stellar line-up including several of our SXSW 2015 faves. Check it out here: http://consciousimmaturity.org/

 

~ Kristen

SXSW 2015- Friday Recap

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Although Kristen is still running full steam ahead (however exhausted she might be) I’m beginning to tap out mentally and physically in a way that is not very enjoyable for me. That being said, today was another wonderful day of music even though there were some slight detours and changes along the way.

My day started a little later than I would have liked because I was up until 5 am doing a write up for High Volatage and getting up before 10am was not in the cards for me. After I finally got myself moving, I went on a quest for some breakfast but apparently a girl can’t find any breakfast at 12:30 in the afternoon. I wandered aimlessly around and down 6th St looking for something to occupy myself while I waited to meet up at 1pm for a thing. I heard this wonderful sound but could never figure out where it came from and who was playing.

SXSW: 1 Amanda: 0

Not to be deterred, I did stop for a minute to listen to a band called The Miseries, according to the signage out front of the venue. I thought I would stop for a carnitas bowl at the Wahoo’s stand which I have visited twice already. it’s been a handy thing to have but for some reason, they were not set up despite it being lunch time and the line for Chi’lantro was 10 people deep. No way was I going to make the meet up time with that happening. I blamed it on the impending rain.

SXSW: 1 Amanda: 0 Rain: 1

I decided to hang at the meeting spot and grab a caffeine fix while I waited to meet up with everyone. There was a coffee shop inside the Hilton that served Starbucks coffee. I ordered a black tea lemonade and after realizing they also had almond milk (yay!) I ordered a chai latte. However, the cashier forgot to ring up my lemonade tea and ended up giving me a pass so score for a free drink and serving almond milk!

SXSW: 1 Amanda: 2 Rain 1

We went to our event but sadly did not make it back in time to catch the very last set from one of my new loves, Walking On Cars or older favorite Dear Boy. Things were not looking good as it was already past 2pm and I had not managed to see a single band yet. It’s also worth noting that at this point, there is a really steady drizzle coming down and I have no form of rain protection on me.

SXSW: 2 Amanda: 2 Rain: 2

This is where the theme of persevering kicks in. Hang with me here. Kristen and I decide to head to the Palm Door to catch something interesting on our list and even though the venue was running late, we got to sit down and access the situation and devise a new plan of attack. The rain was a game changer in the sense that there would be no long walks and we would be hanging around 6th or at least finding a venue we could hole up in for awhile. Charlotte OC took the stage at Palm Door and completely blew me away with her vocal prowess. Such an emotive voice with an obvious passion for her music made her a joy to watch. I hope to catch her again this week if I can!

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After Charlotte, I decided to head to the Empire Garage for the Baeble Day Party to check out Night Terrors of 1927. The rain had picked up by then and despite having an umbrella, I was fairly wet and unamused. After catching a few songs, I had to run back to the hotel to change into something dry and bring out the reinforcements in the form of a poncho, rain boots, and a pleather jacket and hoodie.

SXSW: 2 Amanda: 2 Rain 3

After having changed into something dry, it was time to set out again for more music. The show at Empire had a few more acts I wanted to catch so I walked back that way but not before stopping along the way to listen to Lenka who was playing at the Aussie BBQ. It was hard to not walk in but with the rain coming down and the pull of other artists, I had to more on. I made it back to Empire for the tail end of The Mowgli’s set and I caught a song of Cody Simpson’s before deciding to head over to Swan Dive for a few artists there.

I got in during the tail end of the Royal Teeth’s set (it also took some maneuvering to get my ID out of my bag which was under my poncho) but I got in just in time to finish up the dance party. I really enjoyed seeing them play and thankfully they did because their show was originally out on the patio but they moved it inside due to the weather. I’m just glad they didn’t cancel. See? Persevere!

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That being said, there was a rather large lull between 6pm and 8pm in terms of music. A lot of the options were a good long walk away and that just wasn’t happening so I took the defeat and stopped for dinner and some power up time in the hotel.

SXSW: 3 Amanda: 2 Rain: 4

After the much needed chill time (thanks weather), it was time to head back out. Kristen came with me back to the Swan Dive and we watched a very entertaining guy by the name of Zeke Duhon. Not only did I love his voice, he did a really great mashup of Shake It Off and Can’t Tell Me Nothing by Taylor Swift and Kayne West, respectively. On top of that, we got a recommendation from a friend at the show that we should check out the guy out back, Luke Wade. He was another exciting find! However, they were late to get started and we had other plans in the form of an evening at church with Jay Nash and Josh Day- We Are The Contenders, James Bay, and Jack Garrat. It was a short walk with no rain so score for us!

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SXSW: 3 Amanda: 3 Rain: 4

The evening was not without it’s issues for me though. After a lovely set from The Contenders (+1 Amanda) my attempts to get in to the big hall to wait it out for James Bay were thwarted by the venue changing to “badges only” (after Kristen got in) because they were so far over capacity that no wristband was going to get in and some badges wouldn’t make it in either. It was a tough blow (+1 SXSW) but I decided to head back to the smaller room and hang with Chelsea, just in case some miracle happened. I walked in during the last bit of The Bros. Landreth who would harmonize like no other. I wish I had decided to come back earlier to catch more of their set but that’s the way things happen. Next was Hamish Anderson who had a very different feel from the first time I saw him. He played some amazing tunes, great covers, and had some guitar solos that were beautiful on the ears.

It was time to try my luck again for James Bay, especially after Kristen told me half the church emptied out when the act before him finished. I walked up and they were still calling for badges only. Not to be deterred (must persevere!) they suddenly called for badges AND wristbands so I hustled butt and made my way in just before James Bay started. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is…

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SXSW: 4 Amanda: 5 Rain: 4

The feeling in the room was electric and palpable. There’s something about being in a church and seeing artists play. It was amazing. I wish I had better words to describe it but it was just an experience. After a set that was much too short, it was time to see what this Jack Garrat guy was all about. He was an interesting juxtaposition at the start because here’s a guy that looks hip hop but when he opened his mouth, it was like the voice of an angel came out. He was such an interesting mix of vocal prowess, sick beats, and obvious musical chops. I’m sad that this was the only time I got to see him play, but he’s someone I will be keeping an eye out for.

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All in all, despite the rain and a few setbacks, the day was a win. As illustrated by the scores below.

SXSW: 4 Amanda: 6 Rain:4

 

A few options for your SXSW Saturday:

1:45pm- Taymir @ Container Bar
3pm- Colony Hose @ Blackheart Outdoor Stage
4pm- Civil Twilight @ Little Woodrow’s
6pm- K. Flay @ The Brew Exchange
10pm- Mallory Know @ Red 7 Patio
1am- Not In The Face @ Holy Mountain Backyard

SXSW 2015 – Thursday Recap

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Man oh man, I am loving SXSW 2015! My feet are killing me and my memory is foggy, but I’ll do my best to relay the glories of my Thursday in Austin.

The rain held off for another day, but the morning heat was a bit much to deal with. After a breakfast of fruit and bagels at the Planet Quebec Mixer, I found myself standing in the sun, dripping with sweat, waiting for James Bay to take the stage. Thankfully, by the time he got there, I had squeezed my way into the shade of the speakers so I could fully enjoy his set. I keep seeming to miss James but his song “Move Together” is in regular rotation in my head radio. I was thrilled when he played it. Thrilled! If the audience at The Spotify House is any indication, this guy is going places.

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Most of the afternoon, Amanda and I spent running from set to set sampling as many bands as we could. We danced with Misterwives and Whiskey Shivers, ate McDonald’s French Fries with Yukon Blonde, and chilled with The Ballroom Thieves and some Boston-ites at the Berklee Music Party. Today also had some slower grooves. Paper Aeroplanes at The British Embassy sounded like a breath of fresh air after walking down the noise of 6th street. I also really enjoyed Thrice frontman, Dustin Kensrue showing his softer side with just his voice and acoustic guitar.

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At some point, we found our way into the convention center meandering around the Gear Expo and Flatstock, an exposition of poster art design. The later was like an art museum. It was fascinating to see the different styles and techniques. We also had run-ins with a couple bands we saw and enjoyed yesterday, Buffalo Sunn and Mallory Knox.

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The evening began with the Nylon Party at The W Hotel where we were entertained both by the bell-bottomed rocking Zella Day and a photo booth where people could pose with pink Nylon guitars.  Then it was on to dinner and dancing. Dinner provided by the King’s Hawaiian food truck at Rachael Ray’s Feedback Party (desert courtesy of Jeni’s ice cream) and dancing with Rubblebucket at the IFC Fairgrounds and Jared & The Mill at The Feedback Party. The highlight for me was Jared & The Mill’s harmonious “Breathe Me In”.

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We capped off the night with a one two punch from Frank Turner and Butch Walker. After seeing the pair at The Hotel Cafe a couple months ago, having them play back to back seems the most obvious thing in the world. Frank incited the room at The Red 7 Patio, playing hit after hit, joking about his struggles to keep the drinking to a minimum, and swapping shirts with a fan onstage. Butch took it down a notch next door at Red 7, singing songs off his new album, Afraid of Ghosts, and telling tales of his SXSW experiences. The man knows how to hold an audience. The cries for an encore did not move the venue to adjust their schedule, but on the bright side, it meant home and in bed just that much sooner.

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We had one on the street random run-in with Taylor Hanson and thus ended Thursday SXSW 2015.

 

~ Kristen

 

If you’re in Austin, here are a few acts we recommend for tomorrow (Friday 3/20):

1:55 – Walking on Cars at BD Riley’s (Great Irish Breakfast)

2:30 – Charlotte OC at Palm Door Indoors (UMG Experience)

3:15 – Clockwise at Brush Square Park

4:30 – Young Rising Sons at Palm Door (UMG Experience)

6-9pm – Dotan, The Mowglis, and Charles Hamilton at Republic SX Compound

8:45 – Laura Marling, Foreign Fields, Leon Bridges, James Bay, and Jack Garratt at St. David’s Church (go for the whole night and stay out of the rain!)

SXSW 2015- Wednesday Recap

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In true SXSW fashion, Wednesday was chock full of maddening conflicts and as usual, everything magically worked out in the best way possible for a wonderful day.

Consequently, today is also Kristen’s birthday (Happy Birthday!) which is why I’m bringing this post to you. It was full of LMN favorites as well as some new discoveries. The day started at Holy Mountain with Walking on Cars and I immediately fell in love. No joke. They were my favorite band of the day and I’m really looking forward to seeing them play again.

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After that lovely set, we caught a little bit of Until the Ribbon Brakes before jetting over to catch Dear Boy’s set at 96 Rainey as part of the Buzzbands Showcase. We stayed for the full Dear Boy set, which was very enjoyable. After making some new friends there, we had a lovely time catching up with Ben Grey, finding out the best place for BBQ and acquiring hugs before stopping down the road to catch some Hamish Anderson at Clive Bar. That beautiful bluesy guitar was hard to walk away from but the pull of the impending Fatherson show at Latitude 30 was just too strong to ignore. A small bonus for the day was the free food inside! Mac and cheese and salad for all! Score, right? Actually, the score was getting to see Fatherson after missing their set yesterday. They had such a strong and killer live energy which made them a really enjoyable band to watch. Also, a band with a smiley drummer. What’s not to love?

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There was a strong pull to stick around for Mallory Knox, but we had a friend in line at Maggie Mae’s for Dead Sara and when word came that the line was short and moving reasonably well, we booked it over there and hopped in line. Totally worth it. It’s been awhile since I, Amanda, had seen Dead Sara and holy cow…. They’ve only gotten better. They played some new material as well as some old classics like “Lemon Scent.”

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Next there was some bouncing around which included checking out The Black and The White at Buffalo Billiards, Matthew Mayfield at Chuggin Monkey, and Marlon Roudette back at Maggie Mae’s At this point in time, my feet are not at all happy with me so I made Maggie Mae’s my hangout spot for a few acts like Young Rising Sons and  a song or three of Halsey.

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Feet somewhat rested, I wandered over across the way to catch a few songs of The Highly Suspect before making my way up to the church in the hopes of getting into the Brandi Carlile show at the church. This is when the magic happens… Things aren’t looking good for you in terms of getting in but you decide to stick it out, just in case and just like magic, you are whisked into the venue with a few other hopefuls behind you. I only stayed for a few songs of what can only be described as a magical set but I’m so very glad I went. Everything was completely stripped down and acoustic, which combined with the acoustics of a church makes for a very memorable and moving performance. I only stayed for a few songs even though I wish I could have stayed longer because I was really looking forward to Jared & The Mill at Esther’s Follies. I’m so glad I went! The venue was great because there was tons of elevated seating all over as well as a pit area for people to dance in. Taking another load off my feet, because you need to take advantage of that opportunity when you can, I settled in for a wonderful set. Unfortunately, I had some rather chatty neighbors that joined me part way though the set and thought it was a good idea to interrupt and chat with the girl who was seriously enjoying the music. Guess that means, I’ll have to see them again for an uninterrupted set. Oh darn. Not really.

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The night finished off with a double whammy in the form of Plain White T’s and Irontom at Red Eyed Fly. Plain White T’s were playing outside before the Irontom set, so I caught a few songs including some old goodies (pre- “Hey Delilah”) as well as some new tunes from an upcoming record. I bounced back inside to catch some Irontom and just because I could, went back outside to catch some more Plain White T’s because I haven’t seen them in at least 5 years. Probably way more. There was some more Irontom dancing to send me on my way. All in all, a great night and the craziness is only just beginning….

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Picks for Tomorrow:
1pm- James Bay @ Spotify House
2pm- Misterwives @ Des Moins Embassy
4:20pm- Night Riots @ The Blind Pig
5:40pm- Colony House @ IFC Fairgrounds
6:55pm- Cody Simpson @ W Hotel
11:30pm- Traink Turner @ Red 7 Patio

SXSW 2015- Tuesday Recap

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Today being the official start of music means we would normally spend our day picking up wristbands and credentials and then sampling some bands later in the day. That did not hold true for SXSW this year as today was Convergence Day, a brand thing here where people from film, interactive, and music get to co-mingle, talk, and share ideas.

The day started at a podcast mixer full of the best kinds of nerds. We met someone who works for a company with a watch-like device where it records audio on a continual one minute loop and if you tap it, it will save the audio. I guess for parents who want to save precious moments it’s a cool thing but I can only imagine people saving some of the dumb things that come out of my mouth. That’s what Twitter is for, right? Anyway, after chatting with some interesting people at the mixer, we wandered over to pick up our Hype Hotel wristbands and the sky decided that it was going to not really rain or mist but it was going to just spit on us. Interesting. After picking up the wristband, we wandered over to Spotify House and picked up some snacks while we waited for the first act, Vérité, to start playing. Next up, we had BØRNS rocking the stage.

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After catching a few songs from BØRNS, we ambled over to Cheer Up Charlies to catch a few songs of LMN favorite Dear Boy at their first set of SXSW. Despite having just arrived in Austin, they played an awesome set. Although we didn’t stay for the entirety of it, some dancing happened. And it was good.

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From Cheer Up Charlies, it’s was a mad dash down to the Rainey Street area to the StubHub/Culture Collide event at Clive Bar. We made it inside 3 songs in to the Irontom set and danced the rest of the set away. We even got to hear a new song from them called, “My Body.” Pretty rad.

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Hellos, hugs, and love ensued followed by schedule chats, events to see and the like. After that, it was time to check out a panel on music and the brain, “Music As Personalized Medicine.” It was a very intriguing discussion of how music is medicine for each of us in a unique and individual way and the steps being taken to study just how that works in the brain. Something that I personally loved that was said during the panel was that music can cross bridges and do different things for different people. So true.

Pre-dinner was grabbed from my personal favorite food truck, Chi’lantro, which consisted of pork bulgogi kimchi fries. Best. Thing. Ever. It was just as amazing and I remembered it. And yes, I had to share a photo of it.

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Next up was Red Eyed Fly for a taste of Holy Esque before jumping down to Yahoo’s Brazos Hall for James Hersey. That was by far the best venue of the day. Large space, power outlets for charging, free ice cold canned water (weird, right?!), and ample space to sit on the floor. We also really enjoyed the set from Buffalo Sunn there as well. Can’t wait to catch another set from them this week!

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The evening was rounded out with Catfish and The Bottlemen at Latitude 30 for an all around stellar day.

 

It only gets crazier from here and there are so many amazing bands to see tomorrow! Some of our top picks for the day are…

12:30pm and 1pm- Walking on Cars and Until the Ribbon Breaks @ Holy Mountain
2pm- James Bay @Radio Day Stage ACC
3:50pm and 4:40pm- Fatherson and Mallory Knox @ Latitude 30
7pm and 8pm- Jamestown Revival and Misterwives @ Republic SX Compound
9:45pm- Dead Sara @ The Des Moines Embassy
10pm- Highly Suspect @ The Trophy Club
12am- Jared & The Mill @ Esther Follies