Like running a marathon, SXSW requires preparation, endurance, boundless energy, strength, inner peace, lots of carbs, and a day or two of recovery.
I spent my spring break with some of my best friends, eating tacos and seeing shows. I also stood about three feet away from All Song’s Considered’s Bob Boilen at a PWR BTTM show. All around A++ week.
Here are the my favorite five acts that I saw throughout at SXSW 2016.
None of us knew of Gallant before heading to Austin, we just went to the show cause people said he’s great. And yes. Yes he is. With an incredible falsetto and strong backing band, Gallant put on an unforgettable show at the D.C. showcase in the spacious backyard at the Scoot Inn. In about 10 months when Gallant is the Next Big Thing, I’ll be happy to say that I saw him before he was cool because 1) I’m a pretentious music snob 2) his music is ideal for smaller venues, not the stadiums that he’ll soon be filling.
I’ve heard so many times that Porches’ live show is incredible, but after hearing Pool, I had no idea how the synths and spaciousness quality of the songs would translate on stage. On Wednesday night, I planned to see the band until I realized 20 minutes before they went on that I was at the wrong venue. Shannon and the Clams were still pretty good though. Anyway, we power walked a few blocks and made it to the Sidewinder five minutes before their 1:15 a.m. set, chatting with Greta Kline aka Frankie Cosmos aka Aaron Maine aka Porches girlfriend and it was all an indie pop dream. Porches has perfected their live sound, creating a perfect balance between the synths and instrumentation, putting on a rock show for 2016. Between being on the water, the stars, and the subdued, memorized crowd, Porches was easily one of the best shows I saw all week. “Headsgiving” sounded truly flawless with the added synths. It was so good that on Friday I saw the band again at noon at the Spotify (more like brands brands brands brands) House. It was a completely different crowd, and Maine gave the finger to the crowd (or maybe all that the show stood for) for a good 30 seconds in between songs at on point. Still, once again, the music sounded outstanding. 7/7 recommend seeing Porches if you have the opportunity.
I haven’t been able to shut up about Pinegrove since January, and for a good reason. This band is so good. They were playing at the Run For Cover showcase at a biker/metal bar, and let’s just say I did not fit in with the clientele. But the second that Pinegrove began to play, I felt right at home. Their music has this sense of familiarity to it, almost a nostalgic feeling to something that is still happening. Don’t let anyone persuade you that of indie rock is dead.
Great vocals, lots of guitar, sad lyrics, literally there is nothing I can ask more for in a band. I saw All Dogs twice, once at Cheer Up Charlie’s with the rest of the indie rock music industry on Tuesday afternoon, and on Thursday at the Topshelf + Father/Daughter Records showcase. Both solid shows, plus opening up with “The Garden” nearly made me cry both times I saw the band :’)
The weirdest part of listening to Ugly Cherries is not hearing Liv and Ben chat in between songs. Seriously though, next album they should consider doing skits á la Kanye West circa College Dropout in between songs. Half of a PWR BTTM show is the music, the other half is Liv and Ben’s outrageous personalities, making the exhausted audience crack up between songs, singing “one, two, three” alongside Ben during “I Wanna Boi.” There’s stage presence, and then there’s PWR BTTM. The music itself is the amalgam of classic rock riffs and solos with punk rock drumming and pop lyrics; no one else has ever made music quite like this. It’s arguable, and hopefully what 2016 sounds like. Welcome to the gospel of PWR BTTM.