Look, there are simply far too many bands at SXSW for one man to cover but damned if I didn’t try. It’s been said that Austin is uniquely situated to host a festival like SX and it shows – it’s a sprawling sonic smorgasbord of musical delights where every nook and cranny of the town becomes a stage. I’ve seen a lot of bands throughout this week but here are a handful of the standout artists that truly rocked my soul.
Self-described as “transcendental Texas folk and stargaze surf-western,” Austin 5 piece The Deer are just about as Austin as you can get in the sense that boundaries of genre and texture are irrelevant to the joy of exploration. In a similar vein to other alternative avant-folk acts such as Elephant Revival or River Whyless, The Deer are wildly eclectic and joyously boisterous. Switching from angular polyrhythms to classical rustic melodies on a dime, they are an absolute treat to watch live. Perhaps it was merely a matter of happenstance but under that big Texas sky, The Deer felt like the sort of band I needed to invoke the coming spring and be refreshed for a long week of music.
I am so very happy that I stumbled upon an Athens, GA band in Austin, TX. Having graduated from UGA, I have often felt that Austin was basically Athens on a massive scale with its plethora of venues and embarrassment of musical riches. A band deeply entrenched in the 80’s revivalist craze of modern indie music, this three piece swim the crest of the synth-wave sea on infectious stage presence. Built on hook upon hook, this band caught my ear on my way somewhere else and did not let go. If you’re looking for more day-glo landscapes to fill your late night cruising, do yourself a favor and check these guys out.
The simplest way that I can describe this band is this: AN IMPOSSIBLE WALL OF INTRICATE SOUND. Austin, TX instrumental post-rock outfit My Education blew my mind to pieces and, honestly, I was left wanting more. Seeing them in such a small venue, it genuinely felt like the walls might crumble – there was no way to escape the sound as it exerted its pure driving force against every surface in a maddening, euphoric rush. Yeah, it was good. But look, on record, you’ll hear the intricacies of the melodies and the incredible talent of each member shine through – live, you’ll be over taken by the beautiful cacophony.