SXSW is all about pacing. So after a long day in the car (drove 10+ hours from Kansas City to Austin) and waiting in the lines to check-in (which moved surprisingly quickly), I chose to ease into SXSW with some familiar acts and short-lined venues, which allowed me to see bands such as The Very Best, Cold War Kids and more.
To begin my evening, I ventured up Red River Street to Club Deville where the Very Best was putting on one of the very best shows I’ve ever seen. The band mixes dance and hip hop music with some of the traditional music of Africa and it makes for a fun, upbeat sound that got people dancing. I arrived just in time for the band to invite everyone up on stage to dance with them.
After that I went to see a local Austin band play at the Red 7 Patio. Driver Friendly is a pop rock band that delivers a wildly energetic live show. Back and forth vocals from its large ensemble and some attention grabbing brass solos make them stand out. The guys mostly stuck to their new material since signing to Hopeless records, but even though I was more familiar with their debut album, it was nice to hear that their sound had matured with the new music and not altered too drastically.
After a few unsuccessful attempts at waiting in line (Macklemore fans better line up extra early if tonight was any indication) and venturing past several unique street performers, I ended up at the Hype Hotel. This party was moved to a new location from previous years, which made it easier to explore their unique offerings (Taco Bell, drinks, massages and a photo booth), but also to enjoy their musical acts without the distractions of the side events. Bear Mountain was delivering an electro pop set when I walked in. Next was a European group that I was unfamiliar with, Little Green Cars, but I liked their multi-part harmonies. Ra Ra Riot followed with their string-heavy tunes and performed a set that included music from their first two albums as well as their upcoming third, which sounds downright sexy. Finally, Cold War Kids ended the night with a rocking set.
Stay tuned for updates and photos from the rest of my week at SXSW.