Day Five of official SXSW showcases is here and it’s a good thing too, because I’m beat. As is customary, Chris’ case of SXSars kept him from experiencing the full week of festivities and he elected to sit Saturdaynight out, but this didn’t keep the rest of the crew in the form of Ann, Andrew, and Spencer from coming out in his stead. Since they were running late after a purportedly epic dinner at Uchiko, they chose to meet George and I at our second stop of the evening while we instead headed to East 4th’s Quantum Lounge to catch Deleted Scenes.
I don’t recall where I first heard about this band, but I first saw this DC-area quartet two years ago at SXSW. For some reason I never fully jived with their studio recordings, but I remembered liking their live show and once again this year I was not disappointed. Deleted Scenes have an angular and at times arrhythmic post-post-post-punk style that’s both technically pleasing and listenable. On stage they have the kind of geeky charisma you’d expect from a band that probably knows more about equipment and time changes than most other groups within a 100 yard radius at Southby. Unfortunately a non-live music venue on the west side of town doesn’t draw much of a crowd and in the end there were maybe seven of us actually into what Deleted Scenes were doing. Still, they played their best and I’m looking forward to their next release, hoping they’ve done in the studio what I get from them live.
Our next stop was all the way back on Red River where the rest of our crew was waiting for us at the now notorious Empire Control Room. I say “notorious” because if you haven’t heard anyone complaining about Empire Control Room or Garage this SXSW, then you haven’t been listening. Empire is already one of those venues that prefers the club-style anti-signage approach to advertising. Yes there’s the “Empire Automotive” sign, but that’s not where the entrance is. Like a swanky club it seems like you’re supposed to know where Empire is by being cool enough to know where it is. This just compounded the situation at Southby with Empire being two venues side by side, both with general admission and wristband/badge lines that inconveniently did not start and stop where one expected. To make matters worse, the volunteers working the lines (even Stubb’s had fewer people for this job it seemed) all seemed to have different information. I got shuffled around to three different lines that were sold to me by three different volunteers as the wristband line for Empire Control Room before George finally decided to check with one of the venue employees at the door after which we gained immediate entrance.
Eventually we got inside (after waiting in another line before being allowed into the near-capacity performance space) and soon after,Anamanaguchi began playing.
I think I’ve mentioned Anamanaguchi before in reference to chip tunes and similar styled bands. This is a group that blends 8-bit chip tunes techniques with live instruments to create dance music for game geeks and clubbers alike. As frustrating as getting into the venue was, Empire Control Room (with it’s multiple projectors) was the perfect venue for the audio and video onslaught of Anamanaguchi. For 40 minutes it was a full on geek dance party with rocking guitars, dope beats, and digital video mania. Despite the lines and the complete lack of ventilation inside, it was still a great time.
Anamanaguchi’s set had been a bit of a late start and it was already ten after 11 when we got out, so rather than wait in line to get into Holy Mountain across the street for Shakey Graves’ backyard show already in progress, we decided to hoof it back across town to Lambert’s on 2nd to catch The Eastern Sea.
A week’s worth of walking across downtown was definitely taking it’s toll by the time we got to Lambert’s and once again, the ventilation was lacking, with windows open instead of AC on as (I assume) an attempt to draw people inside by means of the music wafting out. Around the time The Eastern Sea went on a booth opened up for the more weary in our group, though I chose to stand. I think heaped a bit of praise on The Eastern Sea here at OVRLD previously and it’s no exaggeration to say that they are as good live as they are in the studio, bringing a charisma and charm to the stage that’s its own unique experience. Last night’s set consisted almost entirely of new material from a forthcoming album that hopefully we’ll get to hear soon. I had heard a few of these new songs at an Eastern Sea show back in August and hearing them again plus more has got me really excited for this next release.
With The Eastern Sea checked off the list, there was one stop left for our SXSW week: The Victorian Room at the Driskill for Cello Fury.
I had mentioned in our OVRLD SXSW Artist Preview that Cello Fury were one of my “must see” bands for SXSW. A four piece ensemble from Pittsburg, PA consisting of 3 cello’s and a drummer, these guys play original prog metal compositions with a classical accent. Cello Fury both look and sound the part, with their black clothing, heavy metal hair, and massive, driving arrangements. The room was in awe of this group and even drew a atypically SXSW encore out of them. It was a great way to end the week.
If you’re interested in checking out anything I saw during SXSW, check out my Out of Step – SXSW 2014 playlist.
– Brian Audette