SXSW: Day Three
feeling the after effects of a poor diet and a couple of late nights, it's a
minor miracle that I was able to gather the wherewithal to make it to the
venues before evening. Attendance swelled, evidenced by the long lines snaking
out of any club offering a daytime show. Although my original intention had
been to circulate among various shows, I recognized the necessity of picking
one and staying with it. My decision was to wait for the Brian Jonestown
Massacre set at Red Eyed Fly--a show rumored to have free beer available.
Unfortunately, after waiting almost an hour to get inside, I was greeted with
the information that BJM wouldn't be appearing, and that instead, the local
garage psych-ers The Black Angels would be. Shortly following this, it was
made clear to me that the free beer was tapped out. Disappointed on two
levels, I sucked it up and took in a rather long, somewhat indulgent number by
The Black Angels, which was great for what it was, but my frustration overrode
my losses quickly, I marched southward to Emo's IV to see if I could catch a
bit of Frog Eyes before the afternoon wound down. Luckily, they were still
playing when I got there, and I was able to take in a few of their herky-jerky
rock nuggets. Stocky and with a bit of evil in his eyes, Carey Mercer
controlled the stage with his staccato guitar attack and his stinging vocals.
At one point, during a song where Mercer was chanting "I don't do drugs"
repeatedly, he stopped dead in his tracks to shoot a cold glance at a fan who
was singing along rather loudly. The fan seemed to take great pleasure from
this chastising, as evidenced by an expression of bliss crossing his face. I
can't honestly say that I've ever witnessed anything quite like that moment at
a live show before, which is indicative of the unique demeanor of Frog Eyes.
All in all, their performance was a nice recovery for my afternoon.
Taking a little time to refortify myself for the evening, I hit the Fox &
Hound where Mum were just finishing a (unremarkable) DJ set, and First Nation
were getting ready to hit the stage. A recent addition to the Paw Tracks'
roster, they are obviously from the not-playing-well-together-equals-u-r-xperimental
school of thought. For the most part it seemed that each member was
improvising without necessarily listening to the others. Vaguely Eastern
guitar lines clashed with smatterings of drum and bass, and the mess created
could best be described as uninspired. Having my bar lowered once again, the
next band, Storsveit Nix Noltes, practically floored me. A nine-piece ensemble
of Icelanders playing punk- and post-rock-informed Bulgarian folk music, it
was unlike any music I've encountered before. Their energy was palpable, and
the crowd really got behind them, dancing in the more lively moments and
standing in rapt attention for the subdued passages.
the scene was set and the stage was warmed for Ariel Pink. A definite recent
favorite of mine, I was looking forward to the opportunity of witnessing the
live persona of Ariel. The show started slowly with Ariel gently (and almost
undetectably) moving from soundcheck activities to his first song/noise
collage. Standing in front of a table of gizmos with a mic in hand, he wove
together hints of melodies with looping bass lines and cacophonous drum
machine rolls. Unwilling to engage with the audience, Ariel looked to the side
of the stage. After a couple of pieces, a four-piece band joined him onstage,
at which point he assumed a crouching position by a monitor, obscuring himself
from most of the crowd. The band was good, and their version of "Last Night at
Miyagi's" was impressive; however, Ariel's reticence kept them from whipping
the audience into the buzz that the song should have triggered. Ariel
unceremoniously cut the set short, leaving me unsatisfied. I guess it serves
me right for getting musical crushes on socially awkward people.
I waited through The Mutts and Tom Brosseau, neither of which made any impact
on me, in order to see Animal Collective. Having never seen them live before
and recognizing their constantly shifting sonic identity, I was prepared for
something heretofore unknown to me, and that's what I got. With an intense and
stuttering drum machine loop providing the backbone, AC played a set that was
in essence one sweepingly epic movement. Multiple times the band would build
to a state of frenzy where the chugging guitars and chirping vocals sounded
like some type of pagan mantra summoning a deity of musical inspiration. The
sound was not Feels-friendly, but the audience didn't appear to have
any problems with that. Leaving the audience excited and satisfied, AC were a
perfect closer to put a decidedly upbeat spin on a mixed-bag of a day.