There’s a saying in Texas that if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case on the 4th day of the music portion of SXSW when a bout of severe weather blew into town and lasted long enough to effectively shut down just about every outdoor showcase of the festival. It was even worse in the Texas Hill Country where myself and a few thousand others had gathered at Willie Nelson’s ranch for the Luck Reunion, a mini one-day festival featuring a slew of acts ranging from Lucius and Jenny Lewis to Willie himself. Formerly known as the Heartbreaker Banquet, the event opened its doors to the public with ticket sales last year after having previously been an industry-only function. As a result, logistical issues such as parking and long lines have caused some growing pains. But none of that mattered when a storm came in and shut down music for the day just minutes after Swedish Americana group Alberta Cross had taken the stage. Attendees – many of whom had taken shuttle busses – were told to evacuate to their cars to wait out the storm. Hours later the storm passed but any chance at a full day of music was gone. Those that stayed were treated to a set from Willie Nelson in the Revival Tent, but it’s hard to say if that was worth the price and hassle. For us journalists who made the trek, the day was sadly a bust.
Luckily, Glide contributor Caitlin Teibloom was back in Austin and managed to catch a few bands around town. Here are Caitlin’s favorites from day 4 of SXSW! –Neil Ferguson
“How crazy that we’re all in the same hotel together. Let’s get room service,” joked Coast Modern guitarist and co-founder Luke Atlas as the band launched into a song at Hype Hotel. The performance — one of the first ever official shows for the band — was definitely intimate, giving off vibes like you might just be jamming at a friend’s house party, if that friend had hired a super talented up-and-coming pop rock group with charisma for days. Songs like “Magazine” and “Dive” are easy to dance to, and “Comb My Hair” gives every member of the band a chance to stretch their vocal chords during the raucous chorus. The standout tracks are the two the band has officially released — “Animal” has an easy groove, and “Hollow Life” begs for group sing-alongs. Despite their humorous claim of being “America’s Newest Band,” Coast Modern is picking up steam fast, leaving dance parties in their wake.
The Empire Garage was sweltering by the late afternoon on Friday, sticky with humidity that would bring thunderous rain later in the night. But before the rain came The Heavy, making their own kind of thunder through funky rock songs that bellowed out from the stage. The band is skillful, laying down powerful rhythms and licks, but vocalist Kelvin Swaby commands the stage, instructing the audience when to dance and when to sing along, and by the second half of their set, the audience obliged. Their latest single, “Turn Up,” was a jam-and-a-half, with Swaby pointing skyward during the chorus to prompt the audience to scream, “Up!” But the definitive moment of the set was with their closer and best-known song, “How You Like Me Now?” The band and audience alike let loose, dancing, singing and sweating out of every pore till the last note quieted in the speaker.
Here’s a South by Southwest riddle — what do you get when you combine infectious energy, sweet pop tunes, and a dark, sweaty room? On Friday, you got the GIVERS’ set at Empire Control Room. This Louisiana band is immediately lovable, in part because they seem like they’re having as much fun as their fans are with their music. They dance, jump, scream, and sing with all their heart, and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Tiffany Lamson even came down into the crowd to serenade a lucky fan at the end of the set. In Light hits “Saw Your First” and “Up Up Up” are still some of the most fun in the GIVERS repertoire, but newer singles like “Record High, Record Low” are vying for attention now, too, and are easy to sing along to even if you’re a first-time listener.
Check out our photos and reviews of SXSW Music:
Stay tuned to Glide Magazine for more coverage of SXSW 2016!