Lost Weekend SXSW day 1 pics: U.S. Girls, Okkervil River, Speedy Ortiz, IDLES, more
BrooklynVegan and Margin Walker’s free Lost Weekend 2 SXSW day parties at Cheer Up Charlies in Austin began on Thursday (3/15) and they continue today (Friday, 3/16) and Saturday (3/17).
The Thursday show — presented in partnership with M for Montreal — kicked off bright and early at 12:15 PM with Ex Hex/Flesh Wounds offshoot Bat Fangs on the outdoor stage and alt-country artist Becca Mancari on the inside stage. Bat Fangs were a welcome jolt of energy that early in the day, and singer/guitarist Betsy Wright was even more of a force than she is in Ex Hex. Becca and her band were also great — every musician was super tight (including her pedal steel player who was hooked up to a ton of effect pedals) and Becca’s voice soared.
Then recent Secretly Canadian signee Stella Donnelly played solo on the inside stage, and even with just her voice and an electric guitar, she had a ton of command over the room. Outside, Ezra Furman and his band were rowdier than I’d ever seen them, with all kinds of crazy sounds going on and Ezra bringing his voice to a killer scream quite a few times.
Next up inside was the wild UK post-punks IDLES who really put the “punk” in “post-punk” and whose live show is truly over the top (in a good way). Basically every member flails their body around and goes totally nuts, and at least a couple of them ran into the very packed crowd. They’re not all antics though; they’ve also got a “fuck you” attitude that gives them a dead-serious vibe. Outside at the same time, it was basically the total opposite vibe with dreamy pop band Men I Trust whose airy sound was great in a very different way.
Then Flasher, who are fronted by Taylor Mulitz of Priests and just signed to Domino, took over the inside stage. Compared to Priests’ fired-up post-punk, Flasher have more of a driving, trad-style indie rock sound and they’ve got hooks for days. If there was any doubt, this is no side project. Flasher are the real deal.
After Flasher inside, hometown heroes Okkervil River played a reliably awesome set on the outdoor stage. They’ve got a new album on the way and they used the opportunity to preview a lot of music from that (including one called “Famous Tracheotomies” that has lyrics about Ray Davies and a guitar solo that uses the vocal melody from The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset”), and the new songs sounded great. They also made time for such classics as “For Real,” “Black,” and “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe,” the latter two of which closed out their set with a bang.
After Okkervil, I ran inside to catch the end of Common Holly and unfortunately was only able to hear the last two songs, but main member Brigitte Naggar and her band (which included a cellist) sounded great, equal parts jazzy and rockin’. Then Girl Ray brought their featherlight indie pop sound to the outdoor stage, followed by Montreal indie rockers Corridor on the inside stage. Corridor had one of the tightest sets of the day, and has Bill has said before, you could hardly notice they sing in French.
Outside, Speedy Ortiz were up next and they were joined by Ted Leo/Downtown Boys collaborator Adrienne Berry on sax, who really helped flesh out the songs from their upcoming album Twerp Verse. (Sadie said something to the extent of “I’m making this joke at every show we play but we weren’t smart enough to put sax on the record, but Adrienne is making the songs sound really great live.”) The new songs sound very promising, and of course it was great to hear some older favorites as well.
Then UK band Shopping closed out the inside stage with a set of their high-energy post-punk which is always a great time. And U.S. Girls closed out the outdoor stage with one of the best sets I’ve seen at SXSW thus far. They’re fresh off releasing their excellent full-band album In A Poem Unlimited and main member Meg Remy is touring with a full band too (at this particular show there were 10 people on stage), and the band is truly next level. I’d seen Meg solo before but this was my first time seeing the band, and I can’t recommend seeing this band enough (if you’re in NYC, you can see them three times in one night in April). They’re groovy, psychedelic, incredibly full sounding, and their chemistry is unreal. There was as much dancing on stage as there was off stage — the whole outside of Cheer Up Charlies was in a trance.
Pictures of all of Thursday are in the gallery above. and you can watch sets of Shopping, Flasher, Corridor, Bat Fangs, Ezra Furman, and IDLES here. If you’re in Austin, come hang at the two remaining Lost Weekend day parties, and if you’re not you can watch select performances via the PressureDrop.TV livestream.
photos by Amanda Hatfield