It’s day three of SXSW and I’m starting to feel the burn. Luckily, I was able to keep my downtown ramblings corralled mostly to the 6th street vicinity last night and avoided the back and forth to Rainey or points east.
My buddy George and I arrived downtown around 8pm as usual, but since we didn’t have anything pressing lined up I decided to drive around for a bit to see if I could find that precious SXSW unicorn of a free parking space … or at least one cheaper than a $20 lot. After 10-15 minutes of driving around we decided to give up and use the same lot we’d been using all week.
This is the first year since I’ve been going to SXSW that I haven’t been able to find street parking within a reasonable distance of the festivities and if that doesn’t speak to Austin’s growth, I don’t know what does. In a city that regularly stays up past 2am, there are few transportation options that are as affordable or direct as simply driving and paying to park. This is a problem, a dangerous one as evidenced by the other night’s drunk driving tragedy on Red River. I don’t mean to preach, but let’s just remember this when the time comes to vote for urban rail or any other mass transit initiatives.
Anyway, after parking, the rest of our crew was nowhere to be found. Apparently they had made a trip to Gourdough’s and were shaking off the resulting sugar and carb coma. With nothing on my schedule until 9:40pm George and I decided to head over to The Parish and chill.
The band on stage when we arrived was called Saint Rich and they played fairly standard indie rock with some definite classic rock influence. They were at their best during their faster songs, but I found the slower stuff (which made up the majority of their set) to be somewhat boring. Regardless of what they were playing, they definitely had more charisma during the songs than between them. Their between song banter just made me feel like they were bratty teenagers.
The next band to take the stage last night at The Parish was Brooklyn’s Hospitality who were the reason I had chosen this as our chill out spot to begin with. While I dig their music and it sounded decent live, I was somewhat bored by their stage presence. For a band playing such fluffy, bright rock music I guess I kind of expected a little more charisma. Fun in the studio doesn’t always translate to fun on the stage though, but these guys are still worth taking a listen to. I believe I described them to my friends as “like if Feist were in a post-hipster indie rock band”.
By the time 10pm rolled around Chris, Andrew, and Spencer had napped off their food comas and were finally downtown and at the Driskill’s Victorian room to catch Lushlife. You may remember that I caught Lushlife for the first time at this very location last year and if you’re looking for Charisma, this guy has it. The Victorian Room tends to host fairly laid back affairs, but Lushlife was able to get the room moving and singing along. I tend to be a little more picky with hip hop than some other types of music, but Lushlife hits all the right notes. As I said when I reported on his performance last year, “Lushlife brought both the beats and the rhymes and was equal parts danceable, soulful, and raw.”
After a brief excursion to the other side of Congress for Chris’ next pick at The Iron Bear venue(that turned out to be way behind schedule) we promptly turned around and headed to The Central Presbyterian Church to catch Typhoon.
This was another of Chris’ picks and one I hadn’t heard before. Featuring about 10 members or so, Typhoon was a mix of strings, horns, drums, and vocals, playing vaguely folkish rock tunes with heartfelt lyrics. More than once they reminded me of Austin’s own Mother Falcon during their folkier moments. I even think I saw a couple members of MF (who had played this venue earlier in the evening) catching the show from the balcony.
The timing of the sets at Central Presbyterian kinda threw our schedule off kilter a little, but since my final pick of the evening (one of my must-see’s) was going to be at Metal & Lace on Red River, we headed over there after Typhoon and partook of some delicious New York-style pizza at Hoboken Pie to kill some time.
The group I had brought everyone to see at Metal & Lace were a two-piece from Cali call The Littlest Viking. We were probably the only people actually there to see this band in the space that seems have slid back downhill where it started before its Bar Rescue in 2012. Luckily most of the people who were just hanging out seemed to get into what The Littlest Viking were bringing and honestly it was hard not to. Before seeing them last night, I hadn’t known that the band was just a two-piece. Through creative use of pedals, frenetic drumming, and truly heroic guitar work The Littlest Viking built a sound that was larger than life. Full of time changes and angular riffs, these guys play the kind of mathy, punkish, rock that grabs my attention without delay. Add into the mix some sincere and witty stage banter and we all came away impressed.