Back in Asheville, and relatively rested, I wanted to jot down a few takeaways from last week spent in Austin.
1. What an incredible time. Though, by the time I made my way into the Saturday night Donovan show (yes, Donovan, as in “Mellow Yellow”) on aching feet, I was wondering if I could actually take in one more band. There’s actually a limit to everything, even good music.
2. I’ve been asked by a few people about highlights. There were many.
Meeting Clif Norrell on a shuttle ride (he engineered Bruce Springsteen’s most recent album) is up there on the list because he was just such a genuinely nice and interesting guy.
Seeing Missy Thangs play with Fan Modine, then jump off stage, race down the block and jump on stage in another venue to play with The Love Language: Awesome.
Band style everywhere, like leather pants in the middle of the afternoon is totally normal: Also awesome.
Wandering into St. David’s Episcopal church (really just because I wanted to buy an espresso brownie made by the church kitchen) and happening on an Elizabeth and the Catapult show — so good. Singer/keyboardist Elizabeth Ziman is not just a fantastic vocalist and songwriter, but also really funny. See this band if you get a chance.
Also see: Canadian indie-pop band Said the Whale; French-born, Mexico-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Andrea Balency; and Feist guitarist-turned solo act Alfie Jurvanen, AKA Bahamas.
3. Amidst all the great music I saw, the Asheville bands at SXSW did a great job of representing our little corner of the music world. In fact, I feel confident in saying Asheville’s music scene is absolutely on par with what’s happening in the rest of the world. Now we just need to let everyone else know about our scene!
4. Along those lines, I’ve been thinking about how Moogfest is kind of tiny SXSW and even though that festival is just two years old and constitutes a handful of venues, there no reason for Asheville and its musicians to make the most of Moogfest. SXSW is huge thanks in part to so many non-official showcases and performances. So why not do the same during Moogfest? Why is every venue not hosting its own showcases, both during the day and the evening? Local and regional bands would benefit from the exposure, especially since there’s a national audience (not to mention press) in town. Just a thought.
Late night, Saturday. This is the crowd gathered outside the open windows of the British music showcase. It actually nicer to watch from outside. By this point in the evening, five days of bands, hundreds of thousands of festival goers, vats of free beer and the fortunately (or unfortunately) coinciding St. Patrick’s Day had all come together in the perfect storm. I’m not taking all-out mayhem, but there were plenty of ambulance sirens and people being hauled off on stretchers.
A couple more things to post… While at SXSW I was trying to post more or less in real time, but by Saturday there were so many people in downtown Austin that it was a challenge to get let alone maintain a wireless connection.
This is a video clip of an Austin band playing at a vintage clothing flea market beside the highway overpass. I came across them when I took a wrong turn. They had tons of bravado and were dedicating songs to the girls who were walking past. Here, they’re doing a fairly convincing INXS cover.
Austin Chronical style writer Stephen Macmillan Moser.
Patrick Riley (in the white jeans) of Tennis.
Style at SXSW. There have been so many outfits that the fashion blogger in me wants to photograph, but everything is moving so fast here, and my phone battery dies so quickly. Next year!
Said the Whale, an indie-pop band from Vancouver, performs at the Canadian showcase. This is a clip of their folkiest song - that wasn’t intentional, it just worked that way.
The Canadian bands are among my favorites, and I think it’s because they tend to remind me of what I love best about Asheville bands. Experimental, quirky, sincere, focused on lyrics more and fitting a specific genre less.
Mike Gray (Firecracker Jazz Band) who’s been living in Austin, busks on the street Saturday afternoon. In the time it’s taken me to write this post, he’s attracted an audience of nearly 100. Mike says he’ll be moving back to Asheville next week.
A video clip of Crooked Fingers performing a gorgeous slow jam. Eric Bachmann has such a warm, resonant baritone, and Liz Durrett’s dusky harmony is a perfect balance. Swoon.
Eric Bachmann (Archers of Loaf) with his band Crooked Fingers at the Merge Records showcase.
Super rocking Americana. I’m standing on a bench, on the opposite side of the room, and the drum and bass are vibrating my calves. Which, after walking all day, is sort of nice. Rock ‘n roll massage.