SXSW '11 Day Four Recap

On the fourth and final major day of SXSW many more terrific acts displayed their skills and things got out of control. The NewsHouse was there to bring you the best moments.

SXSW doesn't wind down, it goes out with a bang.

Friday was the last real day of the fest and it brings out the biggest names and the largest crowds.  When the sun went down in Austin the atmophere was wild and the streets were packed with weekenders looking to live up the last of the party.

Reunited Riot Starters

It’d been five years since the noise rock duo Death From Above 1979 took the stage, so fans were rabid for their first show.  Rabid might be an understatement. The show was held at the Beauty Bar’s backyard stage, which only accommodates 200 people (though way more were crammed in) and is separated from the outside by a chain link fence.  So when DFA1979 kicked into a raucous set just past 1 a.m., highlighted by tracks like “Black History Month,” the legions gathered outside the fence broke into a frenzy.  As the set drew to a near, the mob outside tore down the fence and things got ugly.  Security was able to keep anyone from entering the stage area, but mace, tasers, and mounted police soon followed.  The band had to postpone their set as cops cleared the alley.  The set went on once order was somewhat resorted, but the fact remains that out of the thousands of bands in Austin for SXSW this week, only one was truly awesome enough to be chaos educing.

Death From Above 1979DFA1979 Riot


Best Spring Break Lit


While my brain tuned out anything scholastic while on Spring Break, Okkervil River attempted to jumpstart my literary synapses with a performance at the Lustre Pearl.  As always, Will Sheff’s lyrical storytelling prose took center stage.  The Austin natives tested out a handful of new songs which sounded terrific and mixed in a fair share of old gems including “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe.”  The band even did something unheard for SXSW – an encore.  Finally closing out with the brilliant tribute to poet John Allyn Berryman “John Allyn Smith Sails,” the band left the crowd gathered cheering and, perhaps, a bit more intellectually stimulated.

In Need of Northern Exposure


Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada isn’t exactly a musical hotspot, but the Haligonian husband-wife rock duo Dog Day can certainly kick out the jams.  Their low-fi sound translated well in the small confines of Black & Tan.  The duo’s vocal melodies compliment the warm guitar fuzz and straightforward drum beats.  Dog Day isn’t the most complex music, but sometimes a simple treat is oh so sweet.



Most Laid Back Punk Show


Fake Problems stripped down for an acoustic set at Plush in the early afternoon and exposed the heart at the center of their tunes.  Acoustic shows can sometimes be a hairy proposition for punk groups, but considering the band was started as a solo project of frontman Chris Farren, things went off swimmingly.  Farren echoed the style of fellow Floridian Tom Gabel (Against Me!), both in earnestness and vocal delivery.  It may have been more subdued than much of the heavy reverberations coming from the surrounding venues, but it’s always admirable for a band to show their versatility without falling on its collective face.


Best Clash Between Performance & Venue


St. David’s Historic Sanctuary starkly contrasts with the crowded bars of downtown Austin.  The crowd on Saturday night packed the pews, and was treated to an emotional (and slightly blasphemous) performance by songwriter Kevin Devine.  The first line of Devine’s opening number, “Between The Concrete and Clouds,” went “Walked in the world became a Catholic, the oil and their guilt.  Somewhere in high school switched to atheist, your anger and your will…”  Biting lyrics like these carried Devine’s performance in the divine setting.

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