Here it is again, SXSW in Austin, Texas. This past week, I have spent some time getting to know Texas (and some Texans) quite well. I’ve never listened to more country music or worn cowboy boots as much as I have recently.
So, with a solid background, I walked into this trip with a better idea of Texas’ live music Capitol.
After a late start, first stop was the Thrasher party at Scoot Inn in the East Side. The main attraction was the Black Angels, which in my opinion was a perfect kick start to the festival, being that they are a hometown Austin band. Having seen them once before, at SXSW 2012 actually, I had an idea of what to expect. A rock, guitar-driven, and yes, epic, sound where the vocals act as another rhythm section, the five-piece swaps around instruments, sometimes adding keys or an extra guitar. All in all, a solid beginning to the festival, setting the bar high for what was to come.
Agreeing to stick to the East Side, we headed to Hotel Vegas, home of last year’s Brooklyn Vegan party (where I admitingly spend a lot of time). We came to see Spindrift, a psychedelic four-piece with a heavy influence of the Old West, spaghetti westerns in particular. Honestly, and I don’t say this often, they created a unique sound, adding a modern, (dare I say it) “spin” to the clickety clack of Old Western soundtracks. Once or twice, the vocals became Native American chants, which I’m hoping were covers of America’s first songs. Imagine Western meets metal meets psych rock and you’ll have Spindrift. Cant believe I haven’t heard of them before.
After a few minutes checking out the two other stages in the venue, we moved on. A walk and a drink and a walk again around the East Side and it was already getting late. Last band of the night was a hidden surprise; I stumbled upon Vitamins at Grackle. They caught me as I walked by and I was tangled in by a ten-plus minute song. The duo created such a well-rounded sound, I was shocked to see there were only two of them. The rock-slash-metal-slash-noisy instrumental song kept me watching from the gate until I was pulled away.
Words and photos by Stephanie Niedospial