Day two of SXSW official music showcases began with my friend George and I meeting up with the rest of our Southby crew and heading down to Rainey street for one of our buddy Chris’ picks.
We ended up at Lucille’s, which for SXSW this year is masquerading as “German Haus”, to see a band called La Femme, an electro euro-punk outfit from Paris, France. While those of us non French speakers were clueless as to the lyrics being sung most of the time, it really didn’t matter much, because the attitude and the music was universal and we loved it. La Femme were like a slice of early 80’s new wave, back when that rebellious punk attitude still permeated the music. Overall it was a good time and a great way to start the evening.
Our next stop was back in the Red River area so our crew made the trek up north and arrived at Holy Mountain just as The Mowgli’s were starting their set.
In our SXSW planning spreadsheet (yes, I make a spreadsheet to plan for SXSW. I take this shit seriously) Chris had simply added the comment “Fun!” to The Mowgli’s based on what he had heard on Spotify. In truth it wasn’t a poor label for this group of indie popsters, but after they broke out the Hall & Oates cover we felt we had heard enough and decided to move on. Chris had Eagulls on his list, so we headed over to Stubb’s to check that out. As is often the case during SXSW though, the line at Stubb’s was immense, with the wristband line alone stretching around the corner. With nothing particularly pressing to see we decided to take a load off an grab some drinks at The Red Eyed Fly instead.
After a bit of chilling it was time to head down 6th street to Lit Lounge for one of my picks of the evening, a band out of Boston by the name of Bent Shapes.
There is a soft spot in my heart for well-played jangle pop and after hearing Bent Shapes on Do512’s SXSW playlist, I got the impression that they might just fit the bill. As it turned out I wasn’t wrong and Bent Shapes’ dancey, up tempo guitar pop got myself and the rest of the crowd upstairs at Lit Lounge moving. For fans of former Austin jangle rockers Literature, I’d definitely recommend giving Bent Shapes a listen.
For our last stop of the evening we were on our way back to Rainey street. This time the destination was Bar 96 for a group called Cherub that Chris had admitted would either be “amazing or meh”.
As it turned out, Cherub were both. A two-piece guitar group HEAVY on the drum kit and synth loop backup, at their best Cherub conjured sonic memories of Prince while playing guitar backed dance numbers that you couldn’t help but move your feet to. At their worst they played some rather forgettable clubby songs, that the audience seemed to get into, but was not what we had really come for. With 2am approaching, we snuck out before the end of their set and headed back to our cars.
As George and I were heading back to our homes from downtown we saw a mass of police cars toward Red River that seemed to be more than just the usual SXSW presence. George mentioned that his sister had texted him saying that there was some kind of accident, but it wasn’t until this morning that I became aware of the full extent of the situation. As I’m sure most of your are aware by now, early this morning a drunk driver evaded a police checkpoint along the frontage road for 35 and plowed into a crowd near Mohawk on Red River, killing 2 people and injuring several others.
There’s a lot of music and a lot of drinking to be had at SXSW and indeed any given weekend downtown. When you get behind the wheel drunk you’re endangering your life and the lives of others and when something like what happened this morning occurs, it casts a pall over what should be a good time. I know our public transportation system is woefully inadequate, especially late at night, but if you can’t catch a bus or the train, call a cab, call a friend, walk, whatever. Don’t drive drunk. Just don’t. It’s not worth it.