SXSW - Day One - A review in pictures - Austin Texas

South By South West is an industry based music conference / festival located in Austin Texas.

An average of 1,500 bands play over a period of four days so it's a great opportunity to watch the latest "up and coming" acts from around the world alongside more established bands playing slightly more intimate venues than they are used to.

I travelled to Austin a day early this year meaning I was full of energy for the start of my 2008 SXSW as I had had a decent sleep the night before. I headed to the convention centre around lunchtime to pick up my pass that allowed me quicker access to all the events, followed by my photo pass which allowed me to photograph bands without hastle and use the photo pits in the handful of Austin venues that had them.

I walked up a couple of blocks, deciding to start my musical journey at the Emos venue. I was waiting for The Ravonettes to appear, watching UK band These New Puritans and US Dance Maestro - Yacht.

TNP didn't do anything for me but I was impressed by Yacht. Yacht is the brainchild of Jona Bechtolt, joined on Emos stage by Claire L Evans. The pair whipped up a dance frenzy in Emos pit with the predominately female audience jumping about far too much for an early afternoon show!!

Yacht's set gave me the same sort of buzz as Mika's SXSW set the year before, although they are radically different musically. Jona seems to have a fairly large fanbase so I'm suprised he hasn't appeared on my radar previously. He's playing a huge amount of UK shows leading up to the Summer though so I'll certainly be in attendance at some point.

Yacht's set was so much fun that The Ravonettes appearance was a bit of an anti climax. Running through tracks from new album "Lust Lust Lust" alongside old favourites the band were decent enough but didn't seem to have much energy to their performance so I left their set slightly early.

I headed across the road to an outside venue that I believe was also part of Emo's, watching a couple of nondescript bands while relaxing with a beer. I was waiting for UK cult favourites The Wedding Present to make an appearance as they were headlining the afternoon's festivities.

I was a bit disappointed when they took to the stage as it was a bit of a swizz as it was only David Gedge and a female guitar (bass?) player onstage. It was fun for a few songs but I had a lengthy walk ahead of me as I was heading to La Zona Rosa, a venue that always seems to be at the edge of the world compared to the other Austin venues used for SXSW!

I walked along Sixth Street where the majority of venues are, grabbing a sandwich from Jimmy John's my regular SXSW food stop on the way.

Halfway through my journey I decided to pick up my wristband for the Levis / Fader day parties at the Fort venue. SXSW generally consists of official scheduled showcases in the evening with the afternoon set aside for numerous parties, sponsored by magazines, record labels, clothing companies etc. The parties are a great way to catch all the acts that you'll end up missing in the evening and occasionally offer free food and drink too.

Most events only require you to fill in your details on a website as a RSVP so it's worth applying for as many as you can. The Levis / Fader event is one of the most popular on the SXSW calender. Luckily your wristband saves you standing in a long line if you pick it up the first day you arrive.

I noticed UK band Does It Offend You Yeah? were due onstage within minutes so decided to pop into The Fort to watch their set. I photographed them a couple of months earlier at Brixton Academy with fairly poor results.

One of the shots ended up published in a UK paper but I felt the agency I work for could do with some decent pictures of the band. They were more fun than I remembered and I ended up with several good shots so it was 30 minutes well spent!

I was heading up to La Zona Rosa as living legend Van Morrison was playing.
I'm not a big fan of Van the man but I have enjoyed several of his singles over the years. Van had performed at the far larger Austin Music Hall the night before and I had overheard someone mentioning that his set didn't tend to dwell on his classic tracks so knew I probably wasn't in for a singalong to "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Moondance".

I walked the remaining journey to LZR with a young guy who was hoping for some Morrison magic in the form of the old favourites. Unfortunatly he was due a disappointment as the set dwelled on tracks from his new album. I managed to squeeeezzzeee my way into the very cramped photo pit nestling under a tall persons armpit, taking pictures for a couple of songs, giving someone else an opporunity to stand bent double for the remainder of our three song allocation!

The mighty REM were headlining the Stubbs venue later in the evening but after Van's cramped conditions I decided to take it easier visiting quiter venues. Sixth Street's Buffalo Billiards was my first port of call for the remainder of my Wednesday evening, watching LA's Jesca Hoop perform, playing as part of radio station KCRW's "Morning becomes eclectic" evening.

I came across Jesca's "Kismet" album last year so was looking forward to seeing what she was like live. It was a great set, with both Jesca and her backing singer (whose name I didn't get) impressing me. After Jesca I was hoping to head over to Antone's to watch part of the Domino Records showcase. Unfortunatly the lines to get in were huge with even Domino's employees left out in the cold.

I may have got in eventually but decided to go to Lattitude 30 to see the UK's version of The Partridge Family - Kitty, Daisy and Lewis!
The three teenagers were joined onstage by their Mum and Dad, ploughing their way through 50's inspired Rockabilly and Skiffle type songs. One of the things that featured heavily through SXSW was sound problems as bands are generally reliant on inhouse engineers, unaccustomed to strange set ups.

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis's set suffered from this for the first few songs but eventually the band were able to enjoy themselves as much as their audience.
The family are a real party band, with the Lattitude 30 crowd dancing and singing along within minutes of their set beginning.

This included a very drunk Joe Lean, frontman for UK Indie kids Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong who danced his heart out from his front row position. The band's set was cut short due to the previous sound problems but they were still able to go out on a high with their cover of "Buena Sera", featuring one of the girls on trombone.

I returned to Buffalo Billiards, spending the rest of the night at the KCRW showcase watching a couple of UK acts. First up were The Ting Tings.

I'd seen the Manchester duo a a couple of times previously but the jury was still out. I really love their "That's Not My Name" single, especially the "Are you calling me baby?" section but haven't had the same admiration for anything that's followed. By the end of their Wednesday set I still hadn't decided but was still up for seeing them again.

My final band of the night was The Duke Spirit. The band seem revitalised with their new "Neptune" album receiving rave reviews everywhere giving the band even more onstage energy than they previously had. Singer Liela Moss performed in the smallish venue as if she was headlining Wembley! Unfortunatly even that wasn't enough for me as I found myself after almost 14 hours pounding Austin's streets and standing up for a lengthy period falling asleep where I stood! This was nothing to do with the band as they were putting on a great show but my tiredness had got the better of me.

I knew I was potentially seeing the band the following afternoon so wandered off into the Austin night...

SXSW 2008 - Day Two

SXSW 2008 - Day Three

SXSW 2008 - Day Four

Last updated: 19/04/2018 00:02:04

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