Back in October, a little idea of doing a little CMJ party mutated into a really big idea to do a really big SXSW party. Long story short, we pulled it off.
Long story long, we decided early on that the only way we would do it is if it could be different from all the rest. It had to stand out. The bands had to be good. The schedule had to make sense. Everything had to happen exactly as promised. It had to be classy. And with the help of Consequence Of Sound, The Rock It Out! Blog, Some Kind Of Awesome, and TwentyFourBit.com (casually dubbed the Axis Of Audio), along with Austin promoters Knuckle Rumbler, we threw a party that at least one band called their “favorite showcase ever.”
The day kicked off at noon with The Silent Comedy, who were playing their final SXSW show before heading to Houston to rejoin Ryan Bingham’s tour. The San Diego 5-piece switched their set up, calling it one for the fans, playing rarities and even a brand new yet-untitled song they had never played in public before.
As The Silent Comedy wrapped things up, Seattle’s Fences geared up on an identical stage on the other side of the wall, and jumped into an emotional yet upbeat set after barely a couple of minutes of downtime. Despite the party starting relatively early for a town full of young adults who had been spending every day of the week getting completely obliterated, Fences drew a loyal following while simultaneously capturing the attention of many passers-by. A few of the bands throughout the day name-dropped Fences, every bit as impressed as we were. Check out their MySpace if you missed them in Austin.
At 1:10, LA underdog extraordinaires Sabrosa Purr dove into a set of sweaty, grimey Rock N’ Roll, turning many a head with professionally seasoned grooves and extended chemical breakdowns that you might not expect if you didn’t know better than to think that the buzz bands of the week can work the stage better than bands like Sabrosa Purr who have been doing it all the hard way for years. That’s not how we do things at Antiquiet, and that’s not how we planned our showcase.
Then it was The Gay Blades. Damn. We’re not too big on hyperbolic ranting around here, but these guys killed it. Like The Black Keys with a little more… how you say… raging youthful passion? They had the grooves, the energy, and the sort of attitude that endears an artist to Antiquiet for a lifetime. They were the first of many bands to wander into our crowd of classy partygoers, leading a sing & dance-along, ensuring that there was not a single stick remaining in any butt come 2:30. We’ll be following up with some focused coverage. They were brought onto the table by a couple of other sites in the Axis, but they proved to be one of a few big discoveries we took home from SXSW this year.
Dirty Ghosts and God-Des & She upped the eclectic factor as the day hit its stride and Peckerhead’s reached capacity. Hollerado then took the stage at 3:20, following up The Gay Blades’ precedent of audience participation and spontaneous wisecracks that just melted any pretense that may have been lingering in the venue. The Canadian four-piece had previously drawn our attention with a cute video and great ethics, and on Saturday they earned our respect with powerful and experienced musicianship and showmanship.
By the time A Place To Bury Strangers took the stage, the room was already full with excited fans ready for a relentless assault on the senses. Perhaps the loudest act of the day, APTBS kicked off crazy hour with a distorted, explosive fury before handing it over to Le Butcherettes’ unhinged, self-destructive force of supernature known as Teri Gender Bender. The latter introduced all of us to the genre of Garage Tapatio Punk, which may or may not be an actual thing. The LA Times’ Todd Martens went so far as to call Le Butcherettes “The Best Act” he saw at SXSW, not that that’s a reliable indication of victory. But if that means we had a buzz band on the lineup, at least we went with the one most likely to bite a Pitchfork blogger’s throat out just for the hell of it.
In between Ezra Furman & The Harpoons and Jukebox The Ghost, the superduo of Astronautalis + Doomtree’s P.O.S. drew, and tamed, a rabid crowd of Hip-Hop heads and rockers alike, who packed in tighter than for any other act.
We were honored to have Third Man Records’ The Greenhornes shut things down professionally as the sun set on Austin. The reunited band of troubadours featuring Jack Lawrence of The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs played a long-for-SXSW 45 minute set pulling from nearly all of their four full length albums, along with the smoldering Shelter Of Your Arms from 2005’s East Grand Blues EP.
So granted, we’re a little biased, but we feel confident in saying that we did what we set out to do at least, which was to set an example of what a music festival should be, in a microcosm anyway. We walked away from our show, and from SXSW, with a few great new bands for our libraries. We hope you were able to swing by our big little shindig if you were in Austin. And we hope to see you there next year either way. In the meantime, we’ll be following up with more than a few of these guys to keep that good stuff flowing through your speakers.
As for the rest of SXSW 2011, check out our full coverage here. See you in 2012!