SXSW is weird. Early on Thursday night, I went to go see Sunflower Bean again (my second time in two days, their 4th show of the day) at Stubb’s. Opening the lineup was Loretta Lynn and her stately 7-piece band. Loretta Lynn wants you to know two things: she is the Coalminer’s Daughter, and she does not like playing festival sets. The audience turnover between sets was near total, but Stubb’s is that rarest of venues that can both hold a huge crowd, and funnel a smaller crowd in front of the stage so cozily that no one feels cheated. And next time I turned around, sometime after Julia Cumming sang “Easier Said Than Done,” the place had filled up.
On the Bloc Party reboot (at the Spin Party): For someone who fell HARD for Silent Alarm a decade ago, the prospect of catching up with Kele and the gang was a little fraught, but I needn’t have worried. Okerere understands how important those early records are, playing “Positive Tension,” “Helicopter” and “Banquet,” and two from Weekend. The new songs made way more sense in a sweaty crowd than they did on headphones, though they still sound rather a lot like Kele’s solo work. Louise Bartle plays it pretty straight on the new songs, but does a passable Tong impression on the golden oldies. And good lord, Kele: once a skinny, yelping insurrectionist, Okerere is now a bearishly jacked stud with the rock star attitude to match. Even for a nostalgist, it’s HAWT.
Car Seat Headrest: if you’ve heard of them, believe the hype. His affect is a little Pop Song Science Competition, but then the results of the experiments are so much fun. If you haven’t heard of them, you know what to do.
I fell hard for the bare bones garage rock of Windang, Australia’s own Hockey Dad – Zach Stephenson’s laconic guitar and vocals offset by the toweringly muscular drumming of Billy Fleming, who throws his albino-white hair around so hard his head looks like the afterimage of a camera flash. I initially misread the schedule and worried that I was going to have to go the mat for a band called White Reaper. Bullet: dodged.
I saw Low Cut Connie twice, at Empire Control Room and the Parish, both as a makeup call for failing to catch them at TT the Bears the month before TT’s closed (sic transit gloria mundi) and, more importantly, because they RAWK.
Adam Weiner, having scaled his piano as if he might do a cannonball into the crowd, introduced the instrument to the gleeful crowd.
“Her name is Shondra,” he said. (And indeed, there is a nameplate to that effect, along with an impressive array of reinforcements and customized dolly handles.)
“Touch her!” he invited.
“OK, stop touching her,” he warned.