Every day of SXSW is somehow completely different and yet the same. It’s a weird paradox or vortex or whatever that we get sucked into here in Austin but it never fails that there is some kind of theme for the day. Today had two very distinct themes…. awesome parties (yay!) and some major technical difficulties (boo!).
We started our day at Volcan Gas Company to check out Audiodamn! but upon our arrival, we realized they were no where close to being ready to go and we were 15 minutes late in the first place. Not wanting to stand around twiddling our thumbs we walked down to the street to Pandora where we heard a rumor that they were giving away free Chick fil A. I can confirm that was indeed the case a the awesome Pandora party. They also had some swag bags if you participated in some fun little things but I didn’t participate in that because 1) I really don’t need more stuff and 2) I was too busy eating my free sandwich. Priorities.
As there was no music going on at Pandora, we wandered back down the road thinking that things at Volcan Gas Company would be up and running. We were wrong. So very wrong. Audiodamn! didn’t start playing until 40 minutes after their listed set time and from what I saw, the problem had nothing to do with the band. I felt really bad for them because they clearly wanted to play and get the show going. Sadly, they only played 3 songs. From what I can recall (it’s been a long day) the bass blew out during their second song. They finally got it working again but by that point in time, they only had time left for one more song because they had gone so far over time. Such a sad way to start things out. So, we had our first awesome party experience of the day and our first major setback.
From there we moved on to the YouTube Music House for some Banners. Let me tell you, that party had it on lock. It was air conditioned, which is important, but it also had juice, gluten free pastries, 6 different flavors of popcorn, free non-alcoholic drinks, seating, and an outside space. In addition to all those perks, there were trays of food that wandered around every so often. I sampled the sweet and tangy meatballs that came out in addition to some fresh home made guacamole. I did see some sliders and I’m bummed I missed them but I was too busy enjoying Banners while those came around. The set from Banners was really enjoyable and I hope to catch them again later this week. Sadly, it won’t include the awesome projection that was going on behind them during their set (and I never love projections, so this was clearly done well) but I think I can manage. Another point for another awesome party.
From there we went to see Everything Everything at Barracuda only to discover that once again, the band was no where ready to go. So we went around the corner to the Beehive Party at Swan Dive. There was some free swag including bags, t-shirts, mini shampoo and conditioner, some Kind Bars, and some other things. Although there was no food (Kind bars don’t count) it was still a pretty awesome party and Aurora was on stage and on time! There was a massive crowd for her and I didn’t feel like squeezing around but from what I could hear, I very much enjoyed her. Would love to see her again and really be able to see her. We went back around the corner to Barracuda and Everything Everything was still not on stage. They ended up not playing at all. What a bust. Kristen poked her head outside to catch some Grace Mitchell but I was too comfortable sitting at a picnic table to make the effort. Ah well.
From there we walked over to Rainey St. and caught some Grizfolk at Clive Bar. There was different levels of free swag for doing different things. I ended up with a carabiner and Kristen got a t-shirt. Swag from a party is always good but at this point, hunger was setting in. So down the road we went to the Reeperbahn burger party where we had the easiest check in ever and a free burger with fries. Zero complaints from us. Free food is always good!
From there, we meandered back to Rainey St. to Blackheart for Sara Hartman and Tor Miller. We were sure getting in was going to be difficult and every place we walked by that had a line we thought was where we were going but alas, Blackheart and absolutely no line. Zip. Zero. Zilch. No complaints here, just some mild surprise. I really enjoyed Sara Hartman and her energy. She was a lot of fun and very enjoyable. One of her songs reminded me of a Jack Garratt song lyrically and I internally amused myself with the idea of them getting together. Also, her drummer did some really awesome and unique things during her cover of a Jamie xx song. Tor Miller was someone I had been looking forward to seeing with a band. I saw him open up for James Bay last year in New York where it was just him and a piano in a very massive space. This is was completely different setup and surroundings so I was curious about the difference. He was just as enjoyable with a band as he was acoustically last year. It was cool to hear a song I was already familiar with (Midnight) with a different kind of arrangement.
By now I would have figured all the technical issues that seemed to be happening earlier in the day at various venue would have been resolved. Well, they weren’t. After walking over to Shiner’s Saloon for Mainland’s 11pm set we discover that they are a full band behind schedule. Instead of Mainland starting, a band from Munich called Kytes were just getting started on their set. They were an enjoyable band to listen to while I sat, relaxed, and did some decompressing. They were fun and I wasn’t mad to be there listening to them. Around 11:45pm/12am Mainland started playing. They were a high energy bundle of bodies and two of the guys decided to come off the stage and into the crowd during the second song. I wish I could have stayed and watched them longer but Rooney was playing down on 6th St. and there was no telling how crazy that line was going to be. There was no line. We walked right in and found some seating while we waited for whatever was happening on the stage to get off. By now, I was running out of gas so I managed to stick it out for 2.5 songs before I had to head back to the hotel and call it a night. I wonder what surprises tomorrow has in store for me.