Friday was another full day of music at South By Southwest, the third day of the festival. Everywhere I went, I met nice fans of the show, so thanks for taking time and saying hello. It means a lot to all of us — even Robin. Here's a bit of the great music I found throughout the course of the day, with some short videos I shot along the way.
I heard the surf beat over and over this year SXSW. It's a distinctive rhythm — two hits on the snare followed by one hit, then two again and then one — plus its steady four beat on the kick drum. This is Best Coast performing their song "When I'm With You"; a great song, not a great performance, but a fine example of that simple, well-worn, but classic beat.
Later, I walked across the highway, off the main drag of clubs, and found myself in a big lot filled with people and Billy Bragg singing "There Is Power In A Union." It gave me goosebumps.
From Billy Bragg I walked to another grassy/dirt lot and saw YACHT. YACHT — usually spelled with a triangle in place of the letter A — is comprised of Jona Bechtolt, Jeffrey Brodsky, Rob Kieswetter and Claire L. Evans, who you'll easily see in the tiny video below. I loved YACHT, and always find them to be funny and entertaining and good players. Their music is an irony-filled, disco-infused version of Talking Heads — sort of. And while the band's theatrics may be an acquired taste, after seeing a number of bands that couldn't give a damn about their audience, it was fun to see a group engaging those that came to see them.
As I left the lot of YACHT, I saw Frightened Rabbit for the first time, but after two songs I left. Nothing really stood out at that moment, and after YACHT I was up for a long walk back to the main drag.
Eventually I made it to see Admiral Radley, a new band from Jason Lytle of Grandaddy. And who do ya think shows up? Robin Hilton. Surprised? Somehow Jason Lytle's name has become a running joke between Robin, Carrie Brownstein and Stephen Thompson, but truth be told, we just plain like his music. I enjoyed his new band, which is still in its rough stages; they told the crowd it was their first show. In fact, they said they're going to tell every crowd that for a while.
Later, I walked quite a ways to hear Norwegian folk singer Unni Lovlid. Unni mixes her beautiful singing these days with an electronic musician/percussionist named Hild Tafjor. Tafjor uses samples of the Northern Lights that he got from Professor Alv Egeland at the University of Oslo. Together, their collective sound is an avant-Norwegian folk. While the performance was marred by a talkative crowd in an adjacent bar, it was still beautiful.
After Unni, I went to hear Son Lux. What were the odds of seeing Hilton there too? I'd never seen Son Lux perform his electronics before, but I've long enjoyed his music. It turned out to be an inspiring set, and he had an awesome drummer that propelled the whole show. Son Lux also uncovers great noises. And yes, Robin was there.
Then it was on to the most bizarre show of all: Camisama. You might recall this Japanese band from the All Songs Considered SXSW preview show for their song "I Am Hitler." They made me smile so much; I hope they meant to do that. Seeing and hearing is everything, so take a peek.
Even though I felt my night was over after Camisama, I waited around for Tiger! S—-! Tiger! Tiger!, both because of their great band name and because I had 20 minutes to kill before meeting up with Robin and Stephen for our late-night podcast. Speaking of which: here it is.