SXSW Diary Part 1: March 17

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The music portion of SXSW does not officially start until Wednesday, so on Tuesday I spent a relaxing afternoon wandering around downtown Austin.

4:01 p.m.: First grackle spotting of this visit to Austin. First of many, I’m sure. (Downtown Austin sometimes seems to be overrun with these birds.)

4:42 p.m.: Looking at an exhibit by sound artist Trimpin. Insert quarter & a song plays on wooden shoes.

4:57 p.m.: Some pretty good street music: The Ferocious Few. A bit like Steve Earle.

5:16 p.m.: Just visited Austin’s Museum of the Weird. Saw 2-headed chickens, calves. Jackalope. Texas Bigfoot. (This place, at the rear of the Lucky Lizard gift shop, is a pretty cool tribute to the dime museums that were popular more than a century ago.)

5:29 p.m.: New sxsw venue Zone Perfect: Yellowest room ever? 5:43 p.m.: … It’s a venue and a gallery. And it has its own brand of nutrition bar. Seems like a bit much. Angie Mattson was singing smooth singer-songwriter music when I stopped inside this odd Zone Perfect venue, which felt like an annoying corporate contrivance or some sort of thought-control experiment. As Mattson paused between songs, the venue’s young female staffers shouted “Zone Perfect!” like cheerleaders. That was my signal to vamoose.

After dinner at Serrano’s with some of the fine folks I’ve met through the Postcard From Hell mailing list, I headed off in search of a few of the bands on my “to see” list.

9:45 p.m.: NZ punkers Bang! Bang! Eche! very energetic. I almost got clobbered by singer jumping off stage. That was no exaggeration. These very young-looking lads from New Zealand played loud, energetic dance-punk and jumped all over the place at Friends. Neither I nor my camera were injured in the collision. I enjoyed this set and I’ll be checking out more music by Bang! Bang! Eche!. The songs seemed fairly smart beneath all the racket. Here’s their track “4 to the Floor.”

12:11 a.m.: Finished my night in Austin at Music Gym co-op. Loxsly played a good set of slightly psychedelic art rock, a bit like Midlake. Now, this was a strange venue — a building and tent near the Interstate that local bands apparently use as a rehearsal space. I got the feeling that I’d crashed a small party where everyone in the small audience was a friend of someone on stage. The first band I saw, Eddy Highway, was a little generic but I sensed some good songwriting. The next band was Loxsly, which I’d wanted to see after hearing the song “As the Constellation’s Arms Uncurled.” This Austin group played some nice music with artsy keyboard and guitar textures. They seem to have great potential.

More photos from March 17 in Austin.