Posted in music on March 23, 2012
by Bill Pearis
Mikal Cronin at Trailerspace
Final day of SXSW. Saturday. St. Patrick's Day. It shoulda been a recipe for disaster, and I did see my first puking girl at 12:30PM, but I think the hard partying types burned themselves out the night before. It was an enjoyable last day.
First stop of the day was to Red Eyed Fly for the Oh Goldenrod day party (thrown by some friends of mine) for a couple bloody marys (why does NYC not have Zing Zang?) and a couple bands: LA's funky party rockers American Royalty, and loop pedal genius Dustin Wong.
Playing hooky from the big Hotel Vegan party that day, I then headed over to Trailerspace Records who were hosting this year's Trouble in Mind Records party which has been one of my favorite SXSW week events for the last couple years. Got there just in time to catch the last of Mean Jeans' set. The Portland trio's is both poppy and punky without being, y'know, pop punk.
The Wrong Words
Next were San Francisco powerpop band The Wrong Words who sound (and somewhat look) like they were transported straight out of 1979. Tight, tuneful and rockin'. Their new Trouble in Mind single is pretty great too.
The Resonars from Tuscon, AZ were next who I was unfamiliar with but thought were just terrific and packed an insane amount of hooks, harmonies and crunch into their short songs.
And then the biggest reason I was there: former Moonheart Mikal Cronin whose self-titled debut was one of last year's most overlooked albums. He and his band (including one Ty Segall on lead guitar) tore the place up. A brief 25 minutes at most, but what a show. Easily my #1 highlight of SXSW 2012, it was so good I'd go see him again later that night at Mohawk.
From there I stopped next door at East Side Pies for a slice (easily the best pizza I've had in Austin) and contemplated my next move. I headed back downtown, swung back by Red Eyed Fly and then on my way across Red River caught a bit of local boys Bad Sports who were playing to the street outside Beerland. Their song "Teenage Girls" is a great bit of Damned-esque punk.
Then it was time for the evening program and I started at The Parish for the Captured Tracks showcase. I was surprised to see a long line outside -- they hadn't opened the doors yet, which they did exactly at seven, the same time the Florida's Jameses went on. Which meant a lot of people in line, who like me were probably there to see the Jameses, missed half their set. (I did get a sweet metal Captured Tracks pin, though, upon entry.) I'd been wanting to see the Jameses for nearly two years, and was a little underwhelmed with their performance but maybe they played the best stuff early on?
I went next door to Planet Quebec (aka Spill) for Montreal's psych-pop combo Elephant Stone who I've seen a few times over the years but this was easily the best. Frontman Rishi Dir alternated between guitar, bass and sitar (he played the latter with the Black Angels at our party on Friday) and the band performed a lot of new songs, all of which were good. (New album soon.)
Having run into Eternal Summers' guitarist Nicole the night before, I went to go see them at this space called The Studio by HGTV which was a bit on the underpopulated side for their set. No matter, they sounded great as always.
I always seem to end up at Latitude 30 on the last night of SXSW as it hosts the British Music Embassy and there's usually one band worth seeing there Saturday night. It was packed for Django Django, who played our day party on Friday but this crowd was much more ready to dance. Primo set from one of my favorite bands this year.
On my way over to Mohawk I stopped into Valhalla for the Dirtnap showcase, hoping to run into a couple New York friends. They weren't there, but Mean Jeans were and even though I'd seen them a little earlier in the day I stuck around for a few songs. These guys have a following that were going full-on for them.
Then to Mohawk to catch Mikal Cronin again for another killer set...
With Ty Segall playing in Cronin's band, and the White Fence/Ty Segall collaborative album that's coming out (and is very very good), I fully expected White Fence's set to feature songs from Hair (not the musical). But it was not to be, but White Fence were just fine without him and much less tinny than on most of their albums.
Heading back to the Night Owl Bus, I stopped back in at the Parish for the Captured Tracks showcase and Brooklyn's Beach Fossils. I've seen them plenty in their hometown, so I only stayed for a few songs but they are always entertaining. See ya next year, Austin.