Bill’s Week in Austin (Day 2 – Yuck, Austra, Obits, Edwyn Collins, Weekend, Magic Bullets, We Barbarians & more)
by Bill Pearis
Yuck @ Barbarella (BV Party photo by Amanda Hatfield)
Moving on from Wednesday... Thursday, in some ways, was a bit of a bust for me. I blame St. Patrick's Day, one of my least favorite holidays. It is amateur hour. Attendance was up 40% at SXSW this year, and I'm guessing a lot of that was college kids on spring break all of whom already seemed to have had enough to drink by the time I hit 6th Street after the BrooklynVegan-curated portion of the Day Stage. It was a day spent trying to avoid getting puked on or punched.
Anyway, I headed over to our other Thursday afternoon event at Barbarella/Swan Dive, which was crowded but chill, arriving just in time to catch the end of Fergus & Geronimo and Beans' sets. Trying to navigate between the two connected clubs -- blazing sunshine at the patio stage, pitch black for the Barbarella inside stage -- was a bit tough.
I watched most of Yuck's set and thought they sounded great. Not the most exciting band to watch, but that's okay, not everyone can bounce around the stage like Superchunk to whom they owe more than a little sonic dept. Speaking of, Mac McCaughan was their for their whole set which I thought was kind of awesome. I asked him if he was there to collect royalties from Yuck. He laughed and said, "No way, I love these guys!"
Obits @ Barbarella (BV Party photo by Amanda Hatfield)
From there it was out to the Patio for Obits' set. There's something about their pedal-to-the-metal rock that sounds a little better in Texas. Plus they played the two songs I really wanted to hear: "You Gotta Lose" from the new album Moody, Standard and Poor, and their first-ever single "One Cross Apiece."
After scarfing down some tacos (courtesy of the El Diablo truck in Barbarella's backyard, yes a sister truck to the one here at Union Pool), I caught a little of Screaming Females, rip-roaring as usual, and Menomena before heading East to pick up my Fader Fort wristband. Probably a mistake to go to the one place with truly unlimited booze on St. Patrick's Day, it was a phantasmagoric scene of oversized spectacles, day-glo clothing, long lines, and marketing. And booze. Oh...and bands. Mazes, who I'd seen the night before, were playing and not many people seemed to be paying attention.
Most people seemed to be having the Best Time Ever but it was just a little much for me, so I opted for the green grass and relaxed vibe of the French Legation to catch Edwyn Collins which was just a pleasure. With a shit-hot band, including legend Dave Ruffy on drums, we got a 40-minute or so set, half of which was from his new album Losing Sleep, the rest from his back catalog, mostly from his Orange Juice days.
Missed opportunity: they didn't play OJ classic "The Day I Went Down to Texas." But otherwise no complaints. Just like at his Rock Shop show, the set's highlight was Losing Sleep track "In Your Eyes," with Edwyn's son Will singing co-lead, the part sung by Jonathan of The Drums. The Drums' Jacob Graham came out and played guitar with them too. Like his dad, Will Collins has pipes perfect for croony melodrama. Get this kid his own band!
Edwyn Collins @ French Legation
I zoned out at the Legation for a while before heading to Beauty Bar to see Swedish soft pop band Pacific! I love Pacific's first album, Reveries, a melange of '78-'82 soft rock influences, but had no idea what their live show would be like. I certainly wasn't expecting them to come out in cloaks and hoods. Backlit, they looked like Grim Reapers, albeit ones making music that would fit right in beside Air Supply and Falco.
From there it was off to Emo's Jr. to catch San Francisco's Magic Bullets. If you are ever in need of a pick-me-up, go see this band. Their singer is the dancin-est frontman I have ever seen, and the whole band really seems to enjoy playing...which is infectious. They ended their set with a cover of Altered Images' "I Could Be Happy," which fit right in with the band's sound (that owes more than a little to early-'80s Scottish pop).
Austra was playing at Emo's proper so we went to catch them. Buzz is just started to build for them but I think when their debut, Feel it Break, hits they will be unavoidable. The record is all hits and they've got a really good live show too, including identical twin sisters as backup singers. Eminently danceable, with soaring choruses, Austra have got it. I left before the Kills who went on next at what was the Domino showcase.
From here I met up with friends at Palm Door, near the Convention Center, and caught the tail-end of We Barbarians' set. The Long Beach trio's sound is not a million miles away from Bear Hands or Local Natives, dancefloor friendly rock. I thought they were pretty good. They hit New York in a couple weeks for two sold-out shows with Foster the People and Grouplove: Mercury Lounge on April 8 and Knitting Factory on April 9.
"You ready for some killer dubstep?" That's Shaun Durkan, bassist/singer for Weekend, who were up next. He kids, he kids. Intense and very, very loud, Weekend take a load of post punk influences and really do make them their own. They are just so good at what they do. You're knocked back by sheer force as Durkan's vocals swirl in and out as if from a parallel dimension. Easily one of the best sets I saw at SXSW. Weekend are in town in two weeks, for two shows: opening for Wire at Music Hall of Williamsburg on April 5, and then an early show at Mercury Lounge on April 6 with Toronto's Little Girls.
We decided to end the night with Gayngs at large outdoor club Mohawk who are supposed to be on at 12:30 but are still setting up equipment an hour later. With what seems like 30 people in the band, I can see how it would take so long but my energy flagged and I took off before they played, deciding to catch the Night Owl bus back to my friend's apartment instead.
A few more photos below, some video, and applicable tour dates...
Magic Bullets - "I Could Be Happy" at Emo's Jr 3.17.2011
Austra - "Lose It" at Emo's 3.17.2011
Obits @ BV Austin Day Party 5.17.2011
Obits - 2011 Tour Dates
APR 2 BROOKLYN, NY AT THE BELL HOUSE RECORD RELEASE SHOW W/TIJUANA PANTHERS & SUNDELLES
APR 7 NORTHAMPTON, MA AT THE ELEVENS W/POWERBLESSINGS & GIMLET SLIP
APR 8 BOSTON, MA AT BRIGHTON MUSIC HALL W/BLACK HELICOPTER & REPORTS
APR 9 MONTREAL, QC AT CLUB LAMBI W/BLACK FEELINGS & SOLIDS
MAY 8 KORTRIJK, BELGIUM AT THE PIT'S W/MARK SULTAN
MAY 10 LONDON, UK AT THE LEXINGTON W/FISTS
MAY 12 LE HAVRE, FRANCE AT LE CABARET ELECTRIC W/THE FLESHTONES
MAY 13 PARIS, FRANCE AT MAINS D'OEUVRES
MAY 14 LA ROCHELLE, FRANCE AT LA SIRENE W/VON PARIAHS & ROBOT ORCHESTRA
MAY 15 BORDEAUX, FRANCE AT HERETIC CLUB
MAY 20 MADRID, SPAIN AT NASTI W/FRUSTRATION & NACHO HOLY COBRA (DJ)
JULY 14 WASHINGTON, DC AT BLACK CAT BACKSTAGE W/OFFICE OF FUTURE PLANS
JULY 15 PHILADELPHIA, PA AT JOHNNY BRENDA'S
Weekend - 2011 Tour Dates
01/29 San Francisco, CA Hemlock Tavern
02/08 Edinburgh, UK Voltaire %
02/09 Glasgow, UK King Tuts %
02/10 Bristol, UK The Fleece %
02/12 London, UK Windmill
02/14 Amsterdam, NL Paradiso %
02/17 Madrid, ES Moby Dick %
02/18 Barcelona, ES Sala Apolo %
02/19 Rimini, IT Velvet %
02/21 Rome, IT Circolo Degli Artisti %
02/22 Milan, IT Live Club %
02/25 Munich, DE Atomic Cafe %
02/26 Berlin, DE Postbahnhof %
02/28 Cologne, DE Luxor %
03/01 Hamburg, DE Knust %
04/01 Toronto, ONT Lee's Palace %
04/02 Montreal, QC Cabaret Du Mile End %
04/03 Cambridge, MA Middle East %
04/05 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg %
04/06 New York, NY Mercury Lounge
04/07 Washington, DC Black Cat %
* = w/ Catwalk
# = w/ Exploding Flowers
% = w/ Wire
Gayngs Affyliated at Mohawk 3.17.2011