Thursday, March 15th, 2012
SXSW 2012 Night Zero
Ume and Guards at SXSW 2012
Frank YangYes, that’s right – night zero. The Tuesday night of SXSW used to be a chance to settle in, to catch up with friends, to have a proper meal. And maybe get ripped and pass out. Whatever. The last few years have seen the number of Interactive closing party events grow significantly, and as of last year there were official Music showcases scheduled for the Tuesday; not a lot, but enough to see that the festival was growing yet again – remember when there wasn’t much going on on Wednesdays?
Anyways, I’ve been staging a bit of a protest of this by refusing to take part in any Tuesday shows – four nights of madness is quite enough, thanks – but this year, my options for the evening amounted to staying in and watching Escape From L.A. or just giving in and seeing some bands. After a little prodding from You Ain’t No Picasso, I gave in and saw some bands.
Inaugurating this year’s fest – for me, at least – were Guards from New York, whom I’d never heard, at Parkside, a bar I’d never been. I did know they were from New York and that band principal Richie James Follin was brother of Cults singer Madeline Follin – which explains why she and Brian Oblivion were standing side stage. And within a few songs of their set, which was given a bit of a Krautrock vibe thanks to a fire alarm beeping throughout their set, it was clear they specialized in a retro-friendly kind of garage pop that could and would take expeditions into psych jams when they felt like it. It wasn’t especially fresh but very much in vogue, and I suspect that a random sample of bands at the fest this year would sound similar. Still, they had good energy, a decent amount of showmanship and as warm-ups go, did the job.
Seeing Austin’s own Ume has become something of a SXSW tradition for me as dinner at Guero’s, and this time I was able to check them off early – so maybe there was an upside to this Tuesday night showcase thing. Their set was slightly delayed by soundchecking, but it gave time for a goodly-sized crowd to assemble on 6th St outside the open window of Bat Bar. You can probably refer back to any of the past writeups for a sense of how things went – high-energy rock showcasing crazy guitar heroics from Lauren Larsen. Nothing to complain about there. What made this show different was that it incorporated songs from their long-awaited full-length Phantoms, released last year. The new material didn’t necessarily grow the songwriting beyond what they demonstrated on the Sunshower EP, but did expand on it sufficiently to sate one’s appetite. And it gives Ume an excuse to keep touring and melting faces.
And some (mostly) non-SXSW content…
Saw Clock Opera yesterday but won’t get around to writing that up for a bit so in the meantime, check out the new video from their debut Ways To Forget, out April 23.
Video: Clock Opera – “Man Made”