Day three of the South By Southwest Festival dawned and the thoughts that shot through my head were twofold: how can it already be half over and did I really drink as much beer last night as I think I did? SXSW was indeed halfway done, but I never really did get an answer to that second question. Fridayís calendar was bulging with bands galore in the evening and parties aplenty during the day. There was no way to possibly attend everything good that was occurring on Friday, but I decided to try my best to fit in as much as I could.
The Spin Magazine party ended up being the first stop of the day and the lineup beckoned with one of the finest bills of the week: The Hives, The Von Bondies, The Killers and The Bronx were all set to rock Stubbís and the industry insiders who filled it. I arrived too late for the Bronx, but if their set were anything like their previous nightís gig, the crowd would have been more than entertained. The Killers ended up being my initial live act of the day and it was quite the way to kick off the festivities. The Las Vegas quartet were on fine form, easily filling the much larger space with their nu skool Duran Duran groove. ìMr. Brightsideî and ìSomebody Told Meî were exceptionally lively, but it was set closer ìAll These Things That I've Doneî from the bandís upcoming debut, Hot Fuss, that was the stunner, as the band rehearsed a local church choir for a mere hour before the show and then brought them on stage to add a whole level to the trackís live rendition. I canít wait for the album to drop and foresee big things in the future for these City Of Sin veterans. Big ups to Killers fans Christine Chiappetta, Geordie Gillespie, Braden Merrick, Robbie Lloyd, and especially Carlyn Kessler, who let me borrow her disco-ass sunglasses when I was squinting like a newborn opossum.
It was two Von Bondies gigs in two days at Stubbís, but that didnít make the show any less enjoyable or vital. The amassed music industry drunkos took to the Detroit quartetís songs quite quickly and each successive song was met with louder applause, until ìCíMon CíMonî brought the house down. Even all the free beer and BBQ couldnít keep the applause down after the bandís hit single. As the VBís left the stage and the Hives prepared to take it, the general mood was on an upswing, after the great sets that had preceded, as well as the anticipation of the Swedish rockers' extravaganza to come. And an extravaganza it was. Frontman Pelle Almqvist is a quintessential showman, constantly engaged in banter with the crowd and quite accurately calling SXSW ìA&R Spring Break.î The band mixed past hits in with material from the bandís pending long player and the atmosphere was thick with excitement over the new material. Veni Vidi Viciousí success seems to have been no mirage and the garage rock explosion that Fagerstaís finest helped to bring on looks to continue burning brightly on the strength of the new Hives songs.
From Stubbís it was now time to head back to my SXSW HQ, the Fader/Leviís Lounge. On tap for the rest of the day at the outdoor live space were The Like, The Washdown, The Decemberists, Head Automatica, The Secret Machines, and Brian Jonestown Massacre. I only had time for the first four acts, with the all-girl indie pop of The Like, the punk-garage fury of The Washdown and the eclectic alternative vibe of the 'Automatica resonating the loudest with both the crowd and my own personal tastes. Time to fit in a tasty Mexican food snack with Adrian Moreira, Tom Osborn and Tracie Verlinde before scooting along to Stubbís for one of my favorite gigs of the week, Snow Patrol. These lads from Northern Ireland via Scotland have not only released one of the finest albums of the year in Final Straw and playing before a very packed Stubbís, put in one of the performances of the festival. As with the album, the shining points were ìRunî and ìSpitting Games,î but in this live arena, all of the new record received a powerful kick up the ass and people were talking about the show for the rest of SXSW.Mike Peer, Jenni Sperandeo, Alan Miller, and Paul Dellafiora all seemed to enjoy it, as well.
A show I had hoped to talk about for the rest of SXSW was Hidden Cameras. However, after waiting for thirty minutes with no starting point to the set in sight, we alighted for an old school favorite, Trash Can Sinatras. Every since the first time I heard ìOnly Tongue Can Tell,î Iíve been a fan of the Trash Cans, and was excited for my first opportunity to catch them live. Even though the gig was outdoors in a steady sprinkle and no old songs were rocked, the Trash Cansí Smiths-influenced jangle pop still sounded great and getting wet was worth it. The Slim's SF tag-team of Tracey Buck and Pat Danatar seemed to enjoy it just as much as I. Luckily, the rain had ceased for our walk back into town, as Moreira, Christian Unruh and I headed for the eveningís final showcase featuring Londoners The Crimea. Once there, it was a reunion, running into Crimean drummer and proper music journalist Owen Hopkin, label man Gavin Nugent, and fellow UK industry man Joe Taylor, as well as a number of domestically-based peeps with good taste like Linda Yang, Danny Wirtz, Alan Sartirana, Wendy Kayland, Mike Savage, and probably others my beer-addled brain is causing me to forget. Playing a set heavily based on singles for a crowd unfamiliar with their music, the Crimea let the music speak for itself, winning the crowd over with standouts like ìWhite Russian Galaxy,î ìLottery Winners On Acid,î and especially ìBaby Boom.î As the last note echoed into the distance a handful of us stumbled into the street to fight the white trash pizza battle. Watching drunken steroid cases posture and challenge each other to fights outside pizza places is THE COOLEST. Have another beer, cretins. Having the aforementioned pizza places neglect to have any late night veggie slices WAS NOT. Oh well. It was about the worst thing that happened to me on a wonderful Friday at SXSW. Not really much to complain about, then.