Our first two days at SXSW were nothing short of an epic introduction to what the city of Austin has on offer as well as the magnitude of the festival
The level of tired that we felt upon arrival (Sunday 12th) is something that is difficult to truly explain, it’s a sort of delirium that belongs in an Alice And Wonderland story. The 10 hour flight pushed us all to our edge, time went slow, but the reward on the other side was truly something to behold. We’re already gushing about SXSW and it’s only two days in to our experience.
The sun rose on Austin, Texas on our first day and as pasty brits we were greeted with a warmth that was most welcome, especially as we left the country was about to be thrown yet another storm. We made our way into the city to collect our passes and try take in the skyscraper pebbled city. Architecturally, Austin is a real mix of old and now, making it for a constantly visually interesting place, not to mention the amount of amazing art that plasters a lot of buildings.
After getting acclimated and donning our passes we made our way to our first piece of live music in the form of the Bristol based rockers Saloon Dion. The lads, a few beers deep took to the stage at the JNL smokehouse, a bar/liquor store/bar/venue, an interesting mix that created an unique experience. As people sat around drinking beer and eating a variety of smoked meats, Saloon Dion brought their usual riotous energy. It wasn’t long before a few tables ditched to food and went full hog for the boys. At this point I want to remind you, the reader that Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” and the next thing that happened encapsulated this phrase. As the band tore into ‘Pressure’ two horses, with riders trotted past on the pavement (sidewalk to our American readers) and begun to dance and headbang, all the while still sat firmly on their steeds. As each member of the band realised what was happening they nearly had to stop playing due to the laughter, something that I myself shared, I thought I was going to faint! Never in my life have I seen anything like this, ever.
After this experience we made our way to Hotel Vegas, arguably one of the most trendy and ‘cool’ venues in town. Our feast for the night was the Iguana Death Cult, who were playing one of the venues many stages, this particular one was on their Patio. The band came flying out with their fast-paced, angular indie-rock sound that has a striking resemblance to artists such as Parquet Courts. It was a fiery set by the band that saw them shred through their impressive back catalogue of raucous music.
After a tickling of the ears we jumped on our e-scooters and made our way Downtown (insert Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown’ as our theme song). Now our journey took us to the British Music Embassy, hosted out of The Courtyard. Our entertainment for the night was the Welsh punk outfit Panic Shack, a band that has been a topic of conversation in the music world and, dare I say it, a divisive band. I was excited to witness Panic Shack live so that I could form a confident opinion of them, it’s easy to see a video or hear a song and not truly understand its impact till you see it live. Every negative thing I had harboured in my brain or preconceived notion was firmly blown out of my ears with after their first track ‘Baby’. Off the bat it was clear to see that through the simplistic punk music was a poignent and honest songwriting. A track that looks at the pressures of women to be maternal, to be homely, to be obsessed by babies, particularly others. This poigency is a theme throughout their music and runs through the very core of their sound. It was utterly fantastic and all criticism that the band receives became very clear. They’re women (and a male drummer) that are speaking a truth that perhaps makes (men) feel very uncomfortable, but the truth is, if this was a male fronted punk band the criticism would simply not exist. On the side of music as well, each member absolutely shreds, frontwoman Sarah Harvey encapsulates the very essence of the role, whilst Meg, Romi, and Em all hold it down tight around her. Drummer Nick Williams is an utter powerhouse as well, providing huge fills and hard hitting percussion throughout, they’re all incredibly talented.
Lastly, I want to mention the introduction of theatrics into their set as well, that really tied the bow on their delightful present. Throughout songs such as ‘Mannequin Man’ the band had a variety of dances or movements that they displayed, giving you something else to be visually striked by. Panic Shack are the real deal and they deserve all the success that comes their way. Their SXSW set was truly all the evidence needed.
You must log in to post a comment.