About Last Night – Friday, March 17th @ SXSW

Your friendly ATH team somehow made it out for yet another day of fun and music at SXSW in Austin on Friday. Though a few of us were struggling to survive, we still manage to see a ton of bands at all kinds of locations throughout East Austin and on Red River. As usual, we each selected our top bands from the day and have a few thoughts to share from our experience throughout the day. Hit the jump for everything you need.

RayRay’s Top Bands

Why Bonnie – After our show on Sunday, I honestly didn’t go out of my way to see many of our local artists as I had a ton of international bands on my list of must sees. Why Bonnie gave me a shot of ATX local love early on Friday with a spirited and engaging set on the Cheer Up Charlies outside stage. My real highlight was a few new songs the band played to let us know that though their latest album 90 in November is a true gem, they don’t plan to be content and even more hits are coming. If you don’t know them yet, you should.

Lifeguard – The age of these young upstarts from Chicago certainly made me feel like a senior citizen, especially with the absolute quality of musicianship these lads display at such a young age. They may be part of the grunge revival at times, but also throw in a ton of classic rock inspiration like Sabbath or even Deep Purple for a sound that can be subdued yet also heavy on rock n roll.

DreamendGraveface had a fairly mellow party at Kitty Cohens away from some of the downtown madness and label owner Ryan was a highlight of the lineup with his project known as Dreamend. Of course I love the atmospherics with intricate and jarring guitar work, but also appreciate the occasional Americana thrown in there to give it a hint of Savanah twang here and there. Lovely day party with some amazing bands on the Graceface label.

RayRay’s Random Thoughts

Once we start talking about six straight days of SXSW activities, one can get a little beat down of course and sometimes struggle to get in the right headspace during big crowds for St. Patties day. For me, finding little gems and moments to share with friends is the best way to snap out of it and find those positive vibes again. A few moments of zen if you will:

  • If you hadn’t heard, the old North Door is now The Parish and the old back bar The ND is now My Oh My. The new back bar has been totally redone with quality speakers, a true DJ table, and vibrant orange decor, but they couldn’t remove the STANK of our rowdy ATH DJ nights. I spy with my little eye, an OG ATH sticker still stuck to the wall. Those things were durable as hell. Good times.
  • Love seeing new friends at Lazarus who are just kicking off the music week and are all about feeling the music and getting into it.
  • Have to throw love to Graveface again as my favorite indie label in the country. Super happy to see them come to town and also take a bunch of my money with limited SXSW shirts and new vinyl pressings. Stay real friends.

Nathan’s Top Bands

Joanna Sternberg – Self-deprecating and witty. The songwriter charmed from the minute we walked into Cheer Up Charlies. It was the perfect way to set up a relaxed day of shows, particularly as the setting was the intimate indoors of Cheer Ups.

Spllit – This is one of those bands that had a few people buzzing, at least in my small circle, so Brian and I hit up Chess Club to catch them. To me, the band highlighted the concept of taking risks; they’re structures and delivery were odd and off-kilter, yet they were so incredibly tight, their ability to stretch into the weird might have gone unnoticed.

Nathan’s Random Thoughts

The more I dwell on it, the more I get perplexed by folks hating on SXSW as a whole. I mean, sure, pay for artists will be super important in the conversation, but what else is there to complain about? Tons of great bands, tons of great places to watch bands, and friends from all over the world in one spot; it’s equal parts friend hang and rock show, which is perfect for this old fella.

BGray’s Top Bands

Moon Panda – Charming pop with a walking bass line and flourishes of synth, well worth the listen and theyll make a great Sunday soundtrack when doing SXSW things. The band is a blend of Southern California and Denmark following recent relocations and band member additions and the vibe shows it. The crowd started stoic, but gradually softened and started the slow shimmy in time to the groove. Have a listen to the record What On Earth to see why.

IST IST – Manchester does post punk well. Who knew? Driving rhythm section, occasional mood setting or filling synth, baritone vocal, it was a packed house at The Velveeta Room. They just released Protagonists. Listen to Stamp You Out to get the picture.

BGray’s Random Thoughts

Covid-free cough still hanging with me, it was a packed time out given my shortened session. I love when bands are scheduled in the twenty past time slot next door to other bands you want to see. Glad I made it out. Got to see some friendly faces at the Spaceflight showcase.

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