3/17/2012 8:51 AM
As exciting as SXSW is, constantly running from show to show starts to get exhausting after awhile, even with all of the energy drinks. On Friday, we decided to take it easy and explore some of the other, less chaotic areas of Austin away from downtown. We rode our bikes along the North Loop to Airport Road, where we got some delicious (and cheap!) Mexican food at Jalapeno Joe's, and then we explored some of the vintage shops in the area. This city seems to be filled with endless pockets of character and charm. Walking into a shop called Hog Wild Texas was like strolling right into the 1970s, and we also loved visiting MonkeyWrench, an all-volunteer book shop.
After a day of relaxing and sightseeing, we were ready to face the Friday night madness of Southby.
We were too late to get in to see The Shins, so instead we went to see The Magnetic Fields
play the Moody Theater. This was a very different experience than most of the loud bars we'd visited, largely because of the size of the venue and the fact that this well-established group plays a quieter brand of indie pop. They actually told the crowd to be quiet at one point. The audience mostly obliged the request, but the close proximity of the bar in the large music hall did not help to keep things peaceful, and with the band elevated on a large stage in a half-empty auditorium, I kept feeling like there was a barrier between the audience and the band. All in all, they played an impressive array of musical instruments with creative song lyrics, but the performance felt more like a concert symphony than a show.
After stopping by a food truck for a quick dinner, we walked down 6th street for a few drinks on our way to see Grimes
at Clive Bar. After hearing a lot about this electronic group on various music blogs, we were expecting a truly innovative, polished performance. Apparently we weren't alone, because the place was completely packed.
The show started late after about a twenty minute long mic check. Their dreamy electronic music was not as catchy as I had hoped, and all in all the show seemed very haphazard and disorganized. Halfway through, the music stopped working completely. We left with the feeling that Grimes has been over-hyped, and they are not quite ready to be playing for crowded live shows.
By the time we got to The Loft to see Gringo Star
, we were exhausted, but they still turned out to be our best band of the day. This Atlanta-based band plays the rowdy psychedelic rock that the city is known for. The members alternated singing, playing a Rickenbacker 330 and a Fender Jazzmaster. They put on a fantastic live show with smoke machines and an organization that suggested strong band chemistry and organization. It's hard to say why some bands are able to play well in live shows and others falter, but it seems like it's never a bad thing to keep it simple and focus only on the music.
by Melissa McDaniel and Joseph Perry