Officially the South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) began yesterday, but March 10 (often called overlap day) featured day parties stocked with bands and booze. Monday was also the first Jimmy Kimmel Live taping at the Long Center with Austin's own White Denim.
Yesterday we hung at the Spotify House for Jungle and Future Islands then beat it over to the Fader Fort preview with Charli XCX and Chromeo. Tuesday evening ended at the Sailor Jerry House where surprise guest Kurt Vile entertained folks who managed to find their second wind as the set began late (around 12:45 p.m.) Despite illogical brand activations, a crush of people in town for overlap day and a hectic schedule, the first two days at SXSW Music revealed a couple gems.
We will get to all the above after you click through to the list items which include some cool images like Snoop Dogg getting some brownie love from a fan, a birdseye view of the Fader Fort layout, White Denim showing the Kimmel production crew how to finish a show, Austin's Not in the Face tearing it up and your new favorite band, Future Islands.
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Not in the Face at Strange Brew III SXSW 2014
Not in the Face (NITF) an Austin foursome that began as a duo, appeared at the Strange Brew III party hosted by Do512 managing editor, Lawrence Boone. Boone also publishes a popular music blog, Covert Curiosity. His taste in music spans from outlaw country to psych rock to heavier stuff like NITF who we like. A lot. Often when bands tinker with their roster they end up not sounding like the original intent. NITF, however, pull off the foursome better than they did the duo (guitar and drums). In fact when Jonathan Terrel and Wes Cargal decided to expand the lineup the group's influence grew right along with the number of band members.
Not in the Face play the Midcoast Takeover party today at Shangri-La at 4:30 p.m. Check their full tour schedule here.
White Denim at Jimmy Kimmel Live
Nothing has made us happier than late night comedy show Jimmy Kimmel Live coming to SXSW and featuring one of Austin's best local acts, White Denim on the first night of taping this week. In fact this is the first time Kimmel has shot the show outside of Los Angeles. The guests on Monday at the Long Center were comedian Seth Rogen and the ubiquitous (at least at SXSW) Snoop Dogg.
To paraphrase Andy Langer, the Jimmy Kimmel people did their homework in preparing to shoot in Austin. The neon sign set featuring headers from local standbys like Continental Club and Alamo Drafthouse was impressive. Kimmel's monologue filled with inside jokes about Austin was pretty darn good too. The message was clear: We know we're an L.A. show shooting in Austin and we respect your town and people.
Both Rogen and Snoop were entertaining guests. Rogen even made a video with Kimmel prior to the taping that spoofed popular television show, True Detective. But the night belonged to James Petralli and White Denim who delivered a knock out performance. After playing a song that appeared in the broadcast of the show the band continued playing about a 30 minute set. Kimmel invited fans to hang out an enjoy the show.
White Denim kick off a world tour in support of their latest album, Corsicana Lemonade on April 3 at Stubb's BBQ. Check out the new material on Spotify.
Snoop Dogg at Air Bnb Park
Tuesday morning we got over to the East Side and wandered into the AirBnb Park for West Coast hip-hop artist, Snoop Dogg's brunch which consisted of sandwiches made with eggs, sausage, cheese and grape jelly on Texas Toast. Even better, one of our favorite food trucks, The Peached Tortilla prepared them while laid-back reggae tunes spun.
The layout of the space on E. Sixth Street across from Gypsy Lounge was similar to what many venues are doing this year, astro turf on the ground, simple but classy and functional wood tables, chairs and benches. Snoop held court in the boxy portable with a glass wall talking to media. He also accepted the occasional gift including a bag of special brownies a fan gave him (see photo).
Future Islands at Spotify House
Yesteday we saw two notable sets at the Spotify House on E. Sixth Street. The first was Jungle and if you like dreamy, high-quality synth-pop you will love them. We did. The second made us stand up straight and take notice. Future Islands from Baltimore turned in the best performance we saw on Tuesday.
The trio is a synth-pop band but that hardly tells you anything about their sound. There are 80's sounding keyboard riffs to be heard over the intense voice of vocalist, Samuel T. Herring. Herring was magnetic, heavily emoting while he made uncomfortable eye-contact with fans often crouching right by the audience and getting his face inches from them.
The songs were beautiful, the performance full of energy due to Herring's histrionics and a Spotify House jammed full of Future Islands denizens of which we are now one.
We grabbed a few seconds of Instagram video during the set.
Future Islands list a ton of upcoming dates on their website (see link above), many of which are sold-out. It is easy to see why the band is enjoying a lot of attention at the moment.
Special thanks to Miguel Angel (Ulovei) for recommending this performance.
Fader Fort Preview
The Fader Magazine celebrated their 15th year by launching the Fader Fort at SXSW for the 13th consecutive year. Title sponsors Dell and Converse supported a lovely layout at Pine Street station that included a ton of astro-turf covering the dirt ground while serving up Captain Morgan rum cocktails and Budweiser tall-boys.
Guests ate sliders, avocado-stuffed corn fritters and sweet potato fries from Fire Bowl Cafe in addition to an unnamed stand that served nachos and chicken tacos as production staff prepared to bring first Charli XCX and then headliner Chromeo on stage. More natural wood patio furniture was spread around and there was an impressive structure housing part of the production team as well as Dell product activations, video games and more. The sponsorship was done tastefully and with class. Nice job Dell.
Both acts put on solid but not spectacular electro-dance sets with a ton of pro lighting and fantastic sound. One reason the performances appeared a bit lackluster was the audience was filled with less than interested Dell employees, clients and executives making the event feel more like an Interactive than a Music Week event.