« Joanna Newsom played Grand Rapids Michigan w/ Bowerbirds (pics), Town Hall in NYC & DC (listen @ NPR.com) | Seabear is here from Iceland w/ a new album, Via Tania & Soley, played SXSW & by:Larm - pics, video, MP3s & tour dates »
"Hello, and welcome to Portland, Oregon," quipped James Mercer, as he and Danger Mouse greeted the freezing crowd at Mog Day Party on the final day of SXSW. A 40-degree drop in temperature from Friday caused flip-flops and t-shirts to be replaced by hoodies, coats and gloves. Broken Bells were just one of several excellent bands that filled the indoor and outdoor venues of the Mohawk.
I finally made it downtown before 2pm by taking the rather efficient Metro Capitol bus. Traffic along I-35 into downtown took almost an hour the day before from just 10 minutes north. Arriving a little after noon Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers were already on inside. Ray was squeezing the hell out of that squeezbox and her raspy, scowling voice was alarming so early in the day. It certainly set a tone. And Free Energy complete with free cassettes started things outside with their unabashed good times garage rock.
Back inside The Dum Dum Girls were up next with more of the same hazy lo-fi pop that drummer Frankie Rose was laying down the night before on the same stage with her band. I skipped back outside for Demolished Thoughts though Andrew WK (an advertised member along with Thurston Moore and J Mascis) was absent and the bassist for Fucked Up was filling in. It was thrashing punk stuff with silly songs like the 45-second "I Hate Kids" (those were the lyrics) followed by the 45-second "I Hate Sports" (some videos below).
Then it was back inside for a little dance - hip hop with Rye Rye and then back outside for Broken Bells - who kept busy at the festival. For a band only a couple months old they were tight and the songs sounded great. Inside again for Freelance Whales and then back outside for The Antlers, back inside for Real Estate and finally back outside for the Black Keys who straight up killed. Mercer and Danger Mouse (who produced the Keys' Attack & Release) and members of the Antlers were sidestage rocking out. The crowd was hanging over rails and pushing in toward the stage. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney had everyone riveted and rocking. Certainly the most polished performance of the day, perhaps the festival.
Unexpectedly, as I ventured back to the convention center, I stumbled upon Fanfarlo about to perform in Brush Square with free drinks (Shiner Bock!) and heaters to keep the tent warm. Fantastic live show. "If we knew there were going to be so many photographers, we'd have done better," quipped multi-instrumentalist Cathy Lucas about the the band's appearance.
For the evening it was all about finishing strong. I made my way to the Victorian Room at the Driskill for Miss Li who was great and her band was stellar, over to St. David's Bethel Hall to see some Texas bands as part of the Western Vinyl Showcase, including an unimpressive Matthew and the Arrogant Sea. I decided to go all out and dashed over to Barbarella for the excellent Best Coast who also played a couple of new songs that sounded really good. Back to St. David's for the ambient Sleep Whale (formerly MOM) from Denton, TX down to Paradise for crazy afro-beat inflected dance music courtesy of New York's Tanlines (it was a full-on dance party.) Finally, it was back over to St. David's for the beautiful, classical-leaning experimental band Balmorhea.
Dum Dum Girls
The Black Keys
Matthew and the Arrogant Sea
The Bewitched Hands on the Top of Our Heads