SxSW 2013: The Spin Party @ Stubb’s

While it is usually a rather homogenized list of artists, this year’s Spin Party featured some names I wanted to see. Parquet Courts and CHVRCHES were included in the day’s agenda which also gave me a shot to double back on Unknown Mortal Orchestra and check out Solange (Beyoncé’s “indie” sister, y’all). Sorry, had to skip Kendrick Lamar for Girls Names and Small Black . I am sure there were some freebies which I ignored. I got to skip the line with my fancy Red pass and there is a photo pit at Stubb’s, so thank you Spin Mag.

Read on for plenty of pics and my notes on each artist…

This was my first run in with weird security at SxSW. Sure, I had a few overzealous bag checks, a bit nerve-inducing when you have uncapped lenses getting ham-fisted, but this was stranger. Stubb’s had a HUGE photo for SxSW, biggest there in probably two years. The security, obviously new to this area of the venue, saw otherwise. They were going to limit it to four photographers. Four. Routinely, we have fifteen at Stubb’s in smaller pits. It got to a point where I was given the “my pit, my rules” speech by the newb. Thankfully, one of the event guys hired by Spin heard what was up and got their bosses to tell them to chill out. Spin wanted us to shoot to promote the mag. Security still limited to about twelve but would cycle people in and out. Not ideal, but whatever.

Parquet Courts was up first. I am not sure if the early arrivals for Kendrick and Solange were down with these guys. I sure as hell was, because I missed them earlier this year at Beerland. It was a fairly short set, but it was rock and roll. I even managed to capture a few airborne band members during the first three songs. “Stoned and Starving” was my highlight, mainly because I love that jam. I recall them changing up the order of the lyrics, the bit about “contemplating Swedish fish, roasted peanuts or licorice” was earlier than the recorded version. Not that it matters, the song live is all about the little improv flourishes in and long departures from the patterned hook. Best on the day for me, but it got close.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra was next. Having seen them with Foxygen just a few weeks ago, I had them low on the priority list. I was left a little uncertain after their set at the Mohawk. I should have left it at uncertain. I just didn’t like this set. Maybe the environment? Maybe the late in the conference morning spot? I just was left flat. Mohawk was a far better venue.

CHVRCHES saved me. They have some real catchy synthpop floating around the internets and they have two tracks in heavy rotation on SiriusXMU. Lauren Mayberry is the diminutive lead singer of the band; she has strong pipes despite the Scottish subtleties. Though not exploring her range, you can tell she could sing just about anything, but doesn’t. The songs are keyboard crafted and pads are tapped and knobs are turned. Everyone is fairly set to their positions on stage, though in motion at their stations. The latest, “Recover”, was lovely, “The Mother We Share” was a closing sing along (mommy issues abound, I guess). The dude on stage left may look familiar to fans of The Twilight Sad; Martin Doherty is a touring member. The dude on stage right, Iain Cook, has been in plenty of bands, has even done TV/Movie score work. The point being, the band has pedigree. They sound good, and Martin even took lead vocal duties for a song. Only reason they weren’t top band of the day was that I got a jump shot of two guys on Parquet Courts.

Solange is pretty. She can sing. She has indie cred for blasting the music biz in recent years, despite being manufactured as a backing vocalist and fill-in member of big sister’s group. She is very talented.

I bid the scene adieu and headed to Flamingo for another day party, more on that later…

More pics at the photo site

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