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Arts and Entertainment

LAist On Location: SXSW 2010 - Day 4

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sxswday4.jpg
Photo by Matthew Craig for MJR


Photo by Matthew Craig for MJR
It was almost as if a giant, grumpy deity wielding a garden hose came down from the sky on Saturday morning and announced, "You kids are having too much fun! Cool it." Rain poured from the sky in the early morning, and the gorgeous seventy degree weather evaporated over night. Austin was suddenly engulfed in forty degree temperatures and high wind, turning the summery celebration into a chilled autumnal fest. Not that it stopped anyone from attending shows outside. The masses were out (granted in slightly decreased numbers) wrapped in scarves and hats, ready to rock out.

The first stop was the Coffee? No Pants Day Party at Red Eyed Fly put on by WXPN and Aquarium Drunkard. I got there just as local favorites, Dawes was taking the stage. Now I had seen these guys before a number of times in Los Angeles and had always been a little underwhelmed. Sure they sounded pretty, but there was something lacking. Perhaps it was the cold or the early hour or perhaps it was the crowd, but I'm pleased to announce that Dawes killed it in Austin. Lead singer Taylor Goldsmith wrung the life out of every single one of his vocal chords, giving the usual sweet lyrics a raw quality that Bruce Springsteen would have admired. The country-folk band took their beautiful melodies and edged them with something harsh and unfiltered, which pushed the band from good to extraordinary.

I then went inside just in time to catch Lissie's set. Apparently she played two shows at SXSW four years ago and no one came. This year, she had nine shows and every inch of the Red Eyed Fly was packed for this up and comer's set. Dressed in just a white t-shirt and jeans with no makeup or hair adornments, no bells and whistles of any kind, and armed with just a yellow electric guitar, Lissie Maurus blew the crowd away. Unlike most female artists who feel the need to add embellishments to attract attention, all that lady has to do is open her mouth; Its haunting, rich low tones bring to mind gospel influences and early Patsy Cline. When she sings about anything—be it the Mississippi river, by her hometown of Rock Island, men she dreams about, or decisions she shouldn't have made—the entire audience feels it too.

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Running outside to grab a hot dog from the cart outside, I heard something wonderful coming from around the corner. In the outside patio of The Side Bar 40 Watt was holding a day party and FUTUREBIRDS were in full swing. These six dudes from Athens, GA looked like they hadn't showered in days and were wearing borrowed clothing, but that only seemed to empower their performance. Paying homage to folk, country, and psych rock these kids whipped themselves into a frenzy on this tiny wooden stage. Newly signed to Autumn Tone records, I'm very excited to see what their full length will sound like.

Zooming around the corner to the No Pants Party, I reached it just in time to see The Middle East take the stage. I've been dying to catch these Australians for a long time. Their debut album came with a wave of critical acclaim, but the question was "Can they recreate that rich multi-instrumental sound live?" Yes, yes they can, even the whistling in their single, "Blood" was spot on. This seven piece band only played a five song set, but each song was done beautifully. Switching between banjos, harmonicas, guitars, glockenspiels, and trumpets, these talented musicians made the whole album come alive with a vibrancy that was surprising. Stopping every few minutes to blow their noses and warm their fingers, the weather only seemed to encourage the Middle East to defy the odds and play better. If there is a band to look for at Coachella, these guys are probably it.

SXSW Roundup: But when are they coming here?

Titus Andronicus is coming to the Bootleg Theater on March 23rd.

The Low Anthem is playing two shows in Los Angeles back to back. One on March 24th at The Largo and one on March 25th at the Bootleg Theater.

Miike Snow and The Middle East will be playing Coachella this year.

Toro Y Moi will be in LA on April 14th at the Echo with the Ruby Suns.

Codeine Velvet Club will be in LA on March 26th at the Hollywood Palladium with Metric.

Dum Dum Girls will be playing at the Echo Curio on April 18th.

Band of Horses will be playing the Greek Theater on Sept 25th.

jj will be playing the Echoplex on April 17th.

The Middle East will be at the Henry Fonda Theater on June 4th.

Lissie and Dawes haven't listed any local shows just yet, but they're both native to Southern California, so keep an eye out.

FUTUREBIRDS also aren't coming around any time soon, but you can get their debut EP here for free.

Missed some of our coverage from Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday? Fear not, it's all here.