Jared & The Mill busking on Sixth Street for cash. On Tuesday before any other Arizona musician arrived at SXSW, Jared & The Mill set up their instruments on 6th Street and performed several sets all day to anyone who’d listen. At one point they had a crowd over about 40 people in the center of Sixth Street while they performed favorites like “Breathe Me In” and “Tailwind”. The crowd continuously changed, and the band continued to perform all afternoon.
Amanda Palmer’s ninja gig.
Amanda Palmer, known in part for the theatrics and disregard for corporations announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon that she’d be performing a ninja gig for fans who follow her twitter or tumblr. The performance would be in an hour. We hurried over the BitTorrent party where Shepard Fairey was completing an OBEY mural; Amanda arrived minutes later and announced to follow her once Neil arrives. Yes, that Neil. Neil Gaiman, her husband, prolific writer of The Sandman Comics, Coraline, American Gods, etc… Once we were assembled, and after a group photo with the three of them and us fans, Amanda had us follow her to the “rape bridge” where she performed “The Killing Type” on ukelele.
The TMI KWSS showcase was during the day on Friday at the Hickory Street restaurant. The venue had a larger outside stage (that seems to be seating area when there’s no show) and a smaller inside stage set up. Now, it is a restaurant so the acoustics weren’t awesome but the vibe was pretty cool. Four Peaks Brewery sponsored and TMI handed out free drink tickets through the first hour or so. An official showcase venue during the evenings, the AZ Showcase drew a large daytime crowd. Fan favorites included decker., iamwe, The Wiley One, and the lovely Ruca.
Sony MTV/Hype Party
MTV Hype proliferated SXSW, and we found ourselves at one of their rooftop parties at the Six Lounge. Across the road on another roof was another Hype party. MTV bands alternatingly performed on each stage. When one would play, the other party would stream the video and audio through their A/V systems. Sugary MTV pop band Dinner and a Suit performed for about 30 of us; the band was what is big now but I still need to pause each time I try to recall their name.
Skype Live Nation Party
The highlight of the trip. After tweeting how he excited Joe was to see the Kongos, he received a message back from @skypeevents offering tickets into the Live Nation Skype Mobile Lounge to see Kongos and several other bands. We immediately agreed to attend after they assured us we could photograph for Live Nation while there. They wanted a fan who would interview Kongos via Skype so Joe prepared two questions before the event. While there we saw not only Kongos but also five other that included Andrew WK, Eagles of Death Metal, and Atomic Tom. The second night, Skype invited us back out to see The Neighbourhood, Capital Cities, Willy Moon, and Colt Ford. Update: Skype recently blogged about the event here.
I’ll be honest, many of the Skype Live Nation bands at their Belmont showcase were brand new to us. We googled their names and websites while they set up, and while we were impressed with the variety, we’d heard of only a few. But the moment Atomic Tom took the stage, we could not forget this band. Not at all. Frontman Luke White exuded rock star from the leather jacket to the slight curved center stage stance. There’s also an awesome YouTube video of the band performing their hit single “Tame Me Out” on iPhones.
Village Motor Inn
We drove to Austin with no rooming plans and after spending way too much money the first night we would do pretty much anything to not repeat that situation. A musician on the street mentioned the Village Motor Inn on South Congress. After calling several time, someone finally picked up and quoted us a price we couldn’t pass up. Arriving there, we were greeted by a three-story ghetto that was probably kitschy in its heyday. The “swimming pool” was filled completely with dirt and weeds and the bath tub mold was furrier than me.
Splash Artisans Lounge
The Splash Artisans showcase at Lucky Lounge echoed the vibe on a Saturday night in Tempe, AZ. The lounge a block from The Belmont held a mid-70s post-rock/disco vibe with glowing drop lights and glowing oranges. Several AZ bands descended on this venue Saturday for a day of melting the faces of Austin concert-goers. The lineup included Arizona favorites Avery, Bad Lucy, Anamieke Quinn, Field Tripp, Sundressed, Captain Squeegee, The Hourglass Cats, and the rocking Japhy’s Descent.
Palms at The Grackle
We drove in Monday so by the time PALMS played The Grackle on Thursday morning, we were ready for some familiar faces. The Grackle’s outside stage was huge and had food trucks set up, but PALMS played the inside stage. Patrick, the sound guy, was very cool and helped me set up some of his lights so we could get better photos of the event. Melody and the men, having driven in from the Fort Worth area that morning, were eager to take a Southby stage and didn’t disappoint. The Grackle show would be the first of three times we saw them perform in Austin.
Fitz and the Tantrums
Old School Bar & Grill hosted a StubHub party giving away free shirts, stickers and other swag. We arrived during the last few songs by The Airborne Toxic Event (which were fantastic) but up next was Fitz and the Tantrums. Our friend was beyond excited for this show, so we three pressed our way to the front of the audience with cameras in tow. Joe (who measures 5 feet tall soaking wet) got a great spot behind a wheel chair bound woman in the front row. The three of us jammed through their entire set with 500 of our closet fans, and we also had the opportunity to record Fitz playing his hit single “Money Grabber” toward the end of the set.