by kevin diamond

It was easy to pick a highlight from the first day of the South By South West festival here in Austin; I’d be surprised if it didn’t end up being the highlight of my entire week. It was getting a raspberry blown on my belly by Pink Eyes of Fucked Up. They played a quick but stellar set at Emo’s, capping off a Brooklyn Vegan showcase that, surprise surprise, did NOT include GZA, who canceled at the last minute, but DID include Titus Andronicus playing songs from their fabulous new album The Monitor, as well as short sets by Japandroids and The Morning Benders.

Artist: Titus Andronicus
Song: A More Perfect Union
Artist: Jeff The Brotherhood
Song: Heavy Krishna

After the BV showcase at Enos, I made my way to the Group Tightener/20 Jazz Funk Greats/Market Hotel showcase at Cheer Up Charlies, formerly Miss Beas. Fungi Girls played some short, garage inspired rock songs that felt great in the early evening chill. And Coasting, my new favorite female two-piece, rocked the stage with some reverb drenched girl-group-inspired guitar/drum songs. The band I was most looking forward to was Cloud Nothings, who I had yet to see, despite the fact that they have come through the city a handful of times in the last few months. The young four-piece tore through a set that seemed to be formed almost entirely out of new songs, though they did close with the title track from their Debut CD Turning On.

Artist: Fucked Up
Song: Son the Father
Artist: Darlings
Song: Don’t Wanna Hang Out

I left Charlies in time to get to the Impose/Famous Class party at Longbranch Inn, off the beaten trail of the typical SXSW venues. (The) Tony Castles impressed me with their musicianship and hard-to-pigeonhole sound. Anchored by the lead singer’s slippery bass lines and the drummer’s syncopated pounding, their songs really flourished because of the lead singer’s angelic voice, which could easily soar into a beautiful falsetto.

The Darlings played at least three new songs and sounded as tight as I’d ever want them to sound. Most of their charm stems from their shambolic and unhinged nature; it’s the reason why they’re one of my favorite live bands in Brooklyn. But the cherry on the evening for me was the insane set laid down by Jeff The Brotherhood, two brothers from Nashville who should be the blueprint for how a two-piece guitar-drum band works. Lead guitarist Jake played some of the thickest, tastiest licks I’ve heard since I last listened to a Cheap Trick record. Towards the end of their set, after the greatest Weezer cover I’ve ever heard (No One Else from the Blue Album), Jake was lifted by the crowd mid-solo and carried to the bar, where he continued soloing above the heads of the adoring, mosh-pitting crowd. It was an inspiring show that left an undeniable mark on my psyche as I walked away from downtown Austin and towards my temporary bed.

One Comment

  1. Posted May 14, 2014 at 1:47 am | Permalink

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