We began day two of South By Southwest with rested feet, purses full of snacks and renewed pride in the power of our wristbands after realizing getting into shows wouldn’t be as difficult as we anticipated. The crowds at the venues we chose to attend on day two were much smaller and we managed to avoid any sort of moshing activity.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Unknown Mortal Orchestra drew a small crowd to Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop, the host venue of this year’s KEXP broadcasts. Mellow Johnny’s was essentially deserted until about 30 minutes before the band’s set, which made getting a good spot really easy. The group mainly played songs from their new album, the aptly titled II, and although they didn’t play the one song of theirs I was most familiar with, the 30 minute set was still one of my favorites of the day.
Song to listen to: So Good at Being in Trouble
Family of the Year
We anticipated a large crowd to be gathered outside the Moody Theatre for the ACL Live Showcase, but the line was almost nonexistent. Family of the Year opened the showcase with a very energetic set, complete with a long-haired, head-banging bassist and a tiny purple-haired female keyboard player. Expect to see Family of the Year albums on every high school girl’s shelf by the end of the year.
Song to listen to: Chugjug
Maybe it was just the headache I had developed during the day, but Lord Huron’s set was a blur of the same beachy-indie-folk-pop conglomeration that I’ve heard so many times before and can be very easily tuned out. The only thing that really kept my attention was the attractive lead-singer, and the mysterious bells that were dangling from his drum set.
Song to listen to: Hero
Natalie Maines and Ben Harper
It took us up until right before her set to realize that Natalie Maines was the former lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, and our excitement definitely shot up at that point. Maines and Harper delivered a powerful set that was similar to the rock-country hybrid sound Maines created with the Dixie Chicks. Her father, Lloyd Maines, joined the group for the final song that was laced with lap-steel and slide-guitar solos.
Song to listen to: Maines will release her debut solo album in May of this year
Iron & Wine
Iron & Wine (and Sam Beam’s beard) was our main reason for attending the showcase at Moody Theatre, and we had high hopes for singing along and shedding a few tears to his beautiful voice. However, some of us were incredibly disappointed with the set of mostly new songs, and revamped oldies, Beam performed. The crowd occasionally yelled out requests for songs like Cinder and Smoke or Naked as We Came, and Beam just chuckled and continued to play songs we’ve never heard before. We love you and your beard, Sam Beam, but you’re really breaking our hearts with this new full-band, borderline soul music.
Song to listen to: Passing Afternoon