Much like a great concerto, Friday at SXSW started quietly but ended with lots of drums. Starting the day with a panel called “The Blog Factor,” I explored the many facets of blogging from reliability to the role of blogs in “making” bands. Including one of my NPR heroes, the panelists included both bloggers and members of mainstream media. I then spent some time at the demo listening panel- which included some great new artists.
Then it was off to see Nada Surf. If you think that the ’90’s novelty hit “Popular,” is all Nada Surf has to offer, I recommend seeing this band live immediately. They played a fun set to a packed patio at Beauty Bar- a wonderful mix of new and old songs that pleased every fan in attendance. The only glitch in the afternoon was the extremely loud rock band playing in the next backyard, but Nada Surf handled the situation with grace and humor. In fact, they win the award for best crowd interaction at the festival so far. “See These Bones” was a new song that met with cheers from longtime fans, as did the older tune “Inside of Love.” While I didn’t envy the sound engineer, Nada Surf delivered one of the most melodic and fresh performances I’ve seen all week. I like to describe Nada Surf as “easy-listening indie rock,” as their sound is so accessible to fans of all genres. It’s easy to see why this band has been plugging away since the mid-’90s and continues to release quality music.
After hanging out at that venue, I was psyched to see part of American Princes, former BTR Artist of the Week. I didn’t catch the whole set, but from what I did see, the crowd was diverse and the place was hopping. Next, it was off to The Forms, also an AOTW alum. Both DJ Latola and I are fans, so it was great to see them perform in front of a SXSW crowd.
From roughly 9:30pm to 11:30pm, I waited on yet another line to see Vampire Weekend. I’ve accepted the fact that, for now at least, I will not see this band live. The line was horribly mismanaged, but I don’t actually blame the staff so much as the rude festival-goers who continuously tried to cut in line. I met wristband holders who waited over four hours, only to be denied access in favor of “press” badge holders who blatantly cut the line. There were also a few celebrities who scooted in ahead of the line (not mentioning names, but if you live in Park Slope and I’ve seen you at Smiling Pizza, run next time you see me.) So, long story short I was a little angry. Perhaps even furious. However…there was one thing that could cheer me up:
It was obvious from the crowd gathered at Club DeVille that something has happened for the White Rabbits over the past year. Their constant touring along with the release last May of their debut album Fort Nightly has propelled this band from relatively unknown to a solid act touring with the likes of The Walkmen and Spoon. Every live set from the Rabbits is one of those unique live experiences that leaves fans wanting more. While the organist adds a haunting element to the music, their two drummers do amazing things that raise the energy and create a vibe that is nothing but fun. The set included a few new songs, but of course was heavy with familiar tracks, notably “While We Go Dancing” and “The Plot.” If the squealing college girls are any indication, White Rabbits have a very bright future.
AND- I saw Canadian guy again! He waved at me, as if I were Beth. Sorry again Canadian guy!