Day two was definitely more of a mixed bag than our inaugaural day in Texas which was perhaps down to the combination of our SXSW inexperience and some scheduling / capacity issues. Even an average day at South By is better than an average festival day however. It starts at the Gorilla Vs Bear Party, which is way way way out of town. As you leave the downtown area, a mile away, it changes to a different landscape, all self-built houses, churches and patios. We do encounter a wonderful ’60s garage rock set from a band called The She Creatures in the parking lot of Breakaway records. The band, three girls and a boy are sporting blue beehives and silver glam clothes. Lead singer Princess Slayer announces they are from Venus but we think we detect an English accent.
By the time we reach the party (tip: next time follow the railroad track), drenched in sweat from the midday sun, we need a drink pronto and a beer is most welcome. The venue itself is a miniscule country pub room the size of a big bathroom. Girls are playing and are suitably laid back solid indie-rock to match the sweltering heat but their music is not enought to keep us there much longer. A pedicab is called and it’s to the Convention Center to catch Mumford & Sons, who play folksy, bluesy tunes with lilting harmonies. Yes, it sounds like Fleet Foxes but that’s no bad thing. The singer was such a showoff he not only played guitar but was the band’s sole percussionist in the form of a kickdrum.
Some of the unofficial day parties have excellent line-ups so the decision is taken to visit the IamSound/ Sup Magazine party where a handful of promising bands are playing. The event is hosted by a hilarious local drag queen and it takes place a little bit away from the madness of 6th Street on the westside. We catch the end of a punchy The Mae Shi set and then, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart who are playing between 10 and 15 shows in Austin this week (though the singer points out The Mae Shi did 18 last year). Their set consists of solid indie-pop taken directly from the ’80s and if you like ’80s indie you’ll like this.
Telepathe have a long way to go before they are match fit thought the promise of the debut of their two dancers is a step in the right direction. Dance Mother is a great album but this was not a great performance. Stuck behind a desk with pads and mixers, the two girls dished out treble and bass-heavy electro grooves but they never seemed to catch. It ended up being two gangly Brooklyn girls who bang and press things without the real cerebral effect of the album. When the two dancers debut it’s more like high-school interpretive dance than anything else.
The final set is left to Little Boots, the English disco girl who it is revealed on a chance meeting with a very forthcoming labelman that she has just signed to Universal in the US. He had the papers and the attorney on hand to prove it. After nearly an hour of delay, Victoria Hesketh and band kicked off with ‘Magical’ before playing some new material. It was likable enough disco-electro-pop and the crowd were clearly here to see her but it wasn’t until ‘Stuck On Repeat’ kicked in that the audience made their true feelings known by dancing about, all smiles and camera flashes. The outdoor second floor balcony overlooking the skyscrapers of the city helped the atmosphere no end.
After a brief rest, the rest of the night was spent running around catching bits and pieces of everything we could including the first Irish showcase. A packed Chairlift show draws us to the hard-rocking hip-hop sounds of P.O.S in the Rhymesayers showcase. Gritty rap done with pananche, guitar solos and Kraftwerk interludes. Incendiary.
Rumours were whispered of a Leonard Cohen show in the Hilton Garden which didn’t happen yet two rumours did come to fruition: Jane’s Addiction in a grocery shop and a surprise Dinosaur Jr. show. The night also had us catch glimpses of the dirty club hop of M.I.A’s protege Rye Rye, the slightly disappointing The Temper Trap , Primal Scream playing in an alleyway between two buildings, We Have Band who were covering Pet Shop Boys ‘West End Girls’ and a failed attempt at the Big Boi show in the Austin Music Hall.
Frankly, our feet were killing us after all the walking so shortly after 2am, State went back to the hotel to get some rest for the Irish breakfast the following day.