By now, you’ve already seen countless recaps, both on blogs and in print, of this year’s South By Southwest music festival, and they’ve all been pretty much the same: Daniel Johnston is really into Nazis now, Peter Bjorn & John played about fifty times, and it’s official that day parties and late night after-parties have eclipsed evening showcases. Consensus is nice, but here’s what stood out as the highlight of each day for me.
Thanks to a series of delayed/cancelled flights, we arrived in Austin a bit later than expected, so I didn’t see a whole hell of a lot on the first night. But fortunately, I was able to catch Bayside, a pop-punk/emo band from Queens that had the young crowd going absolutely bananas, singing along and practically crying. Say what you will, but when you see this stuff live, it’s hard to make jokes.
Thursday: Tokyo Police Club
I didn’t exactly see this one coming, but I was blown away by these folks and their high-energy, immensely danceable take on post-punk. The vibe at the show was infectious: five dudes, none over 21 years old, jumping around and playing their hearts out to crowd that was eating up every second of it.
Friday: Page France
This was the dark-horse band of the week for me, a Maryland quintet that sits somewhere between the country-ish leanings of mid-era Wilco and the heavily orchestrated, epic feel of Neutral Milk Hotel. The presentation was understated and perfect, allowing singer/songwriter Michael Nau’s strong, narrative style to take center stage.
Saturday: The Black Hollies
After three days of non-stop show-going and excessive drinking, it was nice to end things with local favorites, the Black Hollies, who played to a huge, boisterous crowd that couldn’t get enough of their 60s garage pop. The band was even joined by Brooklyn’s Dansettes for a boozy, rowdy cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Hush’.