by Bill Pearis
I didn't get in till 6PM so unfortunately I missed the first of our Hotel Vegan day shows, but I rolled into downton just in time for the start of the official BrooklynVegan showcase which took place at Bar 96 on the now hopping Rainey St strip. Like a lot of the clubs there, it used to be a house so it had a backyard vibe, with a good African food truck in the back yard. (I must say, as a New Yorker, the Austin food truck explosion has made eating during SXSW a much more pleasurable experience.) Very chill, very party-like. The area in front of the stage was carpeted in artificial turf, which invited sitting down and chiling out.
"You can sit for the first two songs, but then lets get up and dance" said Vincent Cacchione of Caged Animals who opened the set. He played affable host, running into the crowd and dancing (and hugging people). Nice mellow start to my week.
After that it was 2:54 who have gotten exponentially better than when I saw them at Pianos last year, a much more confident band. I am a sucker for their dark, moody, shoegazy sound. Good set, though it was cut short a song by equipment problems.
Cashier No. 9
From there I ventured out to other shows. I really wanted to see Ireland's Cashier No. 9 whose album To the Death of Fun made my Best of 2012 list. The tiny Tap Room stage could barely contain the band's six members and the bassist played on the nearby staircase when their weren't people going up and down. The band reproduced the album's lush sound and rich harmonies ably.
Half Moon Run
From there I went to the M for Montreal showcase and caught Half Moon Run who would play our day party the next day (3/15). Part Radiohead, part '60s folk rock (CSNY comes to mind) the trio sound great -- look out for their debut which comes out at the end of the month.
I then lost an hour to find my friends and wandering around the Red River strip which has smoke machines and lasers going all night, making the street seem like Ibiza or the Terminator "future" set. I headed back to Planet Quebec to catch Craft Spells (who played our day party on 3/16) who have recently relocated from Seattle to San Francisco. Last time I saw them, nearly a year ago, they were pretty green but a year of gigging later has made them a really good live band. Still very '80s, but more New Order than the Cure which is a good thing. They had a new drummer, only their second show with him, but he seemed up to speed.
Last of the night, after some delays, was Cadence Weapon (aka Montreal resident Rollie Pemberton) who played Hotel Vegan on Saturday (3/17). He was good but I was fading after a day of travel and too many Lone Stars, the ubiquitous Texas tallboy of choice.
Better pictures and reports from the entire week of BrooklynVegan shows coming soon.