The first full day of SXSW is done, and Jesse Richman had a hell of a day covering the the grounds, shows, and more for POZ. Check out a great round-up of POZ’s first SXSW day with crowded showcases, Tegan And Sara, Twin Falls, and much more below!
At SXSW, things never quite go as planned.
Waterloo Records is an Austin institution, a long-standing vinyl-lovers paradise that dates back to the days when vinyl was the medium of choice for everyone — by default. And while their store is a good 20-minute walk from the rest of the SXSW action, they’ve made a tradition of free day parties that are always worth the hike. On today’s bill, two favorites of ours: Tegan & Sara and Twenty One Pilots.
Of course, there was one minor miscalculation in my plan. Tegan & Sara were scheduled for 2 p.m. and Twenty One Pilots for 4. In between, at 3? Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The hip-hop hit-makers — at SXSW fresh off an appearance on Saturday Night Live — drew by far the largest crowd I’ve seen for a day party to date. It was impossible to get inside the fenced-off Waterloo Records parking lot and it was equally impossible to cut through the thicket of fans on the sidewalk around three sides of the lot, for that matter. There was a crowd of people five deep, on the opposite side of busy Lamar Drive, listening in. There were folks on a Whole Foods rooftop diagonal across the street and at least a hundred yards away. There were a few brave diehards standing on the tops of cars, just trying to get a peak at whatever wonders might be hiding behind those fences. (Tip to those folks: it’s just some musicians, I promise!)
I managed to hear half of Tegan & Sara’s set while wandering the scene in a daze — fortunately, they sounded great, their harmonies spot-on, their band album-perfect. Their newest LP, Heartthrob, trades their traditional indie rock sound for electronic pop melodies, and the bright blips seem like they were crafted specifically to be heard in the bright afternoon Austin sunshine; it was an enjoyable set, even if I couldn’t see the Quin twins.
Still, there was no way I was going to stick it out through Macklemore’s set, not when Twenty One Pilots are playing a grip of additional sets this week. My backup plan was a day party sponsored by our affable hosts here at PropertyOfZack, the fine folks at Tumblr. Unfortunately, that proved a disaster for the exact opposite reason. I discovered to find a band playing to a ginormous empty, fenced-off lot. Like, literally empty. I took a peak around the side of the lot, looking for a poster or something that might identify the mystery band, and was immediately told by a security guard that I needed to vacate the alleyway. No wonder the place was entirely devoid of festivalgoers.
I never did catch the band’s name, settling instead for a power pop showcase (I might be the old man here at POZ, but I had a good ten or twenty years on anyone else at reclusive Clevelanders Shoes’ set of bouncy, Fountains Of Wayne-esque pop-rock) and a burger with a friend. It wasn’t in the plan, but if you’re doing SXSW right, no plan is the plan, ultimately.