The Austin Convention center is an anthill of activity, with humans from around the world clustered and writhing in a clamoring mess to get checked in with their proper credentials. After an hour or so I was set and hit downtown Austin like a bearded hammer.
First stop was to meet up with Loney, Dear at the Forcefield / Terrorbird party at Red 7. The first act I caught at SXSW 2009 was a 25 minute set from Waves Wavves, a drums/guitar duo with a rudimentary, straightforward approach to garage-punk. Set to ’60s surf and floor tom beats, simple songs about being bored and getting high got a good portion of the audience pumped. I was looking for something a little less juvenile-focused. I’d find a hyperlink for them, but they’re called “Waves” and therefore, fucking impossible to find on the internet. (Note: Whoever wrote the set times on the side of the stage spelled their band name “Waves,” which is why I spelled it incorrectly, I mean, correctly, earlier…I mean, whatever.)
Up next, Loney, Dear (Polyvinyl) played as a three-piece, replacing their drummer with something far more dependable:
Their short set was comprised of songs entirely from their latest album, Dear John — but sadly, not the title track, a personal favorite. The more recent material isn’t quite as sugary lap-pop as previous efforts, instead delving into darker material. Emil later explained during our interview that the darker emotions are tough, difficult for him to deal with, so it’s better to express that darkness though his songs.
Since I had followed Loney, Dear over to the Paste magazine party to conduct our interview, I checked out whoever happened to be performing. Amanda Palmer was biting into her Gibson hollowbody and belting out soulful alt-country, backed by three-piece band. She’s certainly one to look out for.
Now two beers deep on an empty stomach, I set out in search of a bite to eat and stumbled upon the Canadian Blast BBQ. I engorged upon meats and fixins as Two Hours Traffic rang through some delightfully melodious indie rock. It’s nearly impossible to pass up delicious free food and Canadian pop. Canada: imagine that, a country that financially supports its artists. Makes you want to migrate.
By the time I met up with FoA and headed back to the Paste party for M. Ward and Superdrag the line was out the door and down the street. I took that as the perfect opportunity to initiate the group on the most important motto of SXSW: Act Like You Own The Place. We went around the back and came in through the alley, bypassing all the bullshit and finding a place to view M. Ward. Sadly, it was announced that Superdrag canceled. Even more sadly, M. Ward’s music didn’t'suit the room and the mix was far too boomy for just acoustic guitar and voice. Still, his songcraft can not be denied, and he delighted the audience with a variety of songs from several of his albums.
From there on it was a search for free drinks, more BBQ and finally, a freaking nap. Six hours of walking around in the sun catching bands can take its toll.
Tags: anthill, canadian pop, dear john, drummer, empty stomach, fixins, free food, garage punk, guitar duo, hyperlink, indie rock, loney dear, paste magazine, polyvinyl, proper credentials, simple songs, straightforward approach, SXSW, SXSW 2009: First Day On The Town, three piece