Between Substantial’s roster of music clients and the fact that we’re a company full of musicians, DJs, and music obsessives, staying another week in Austin for music was a must. There are plenty of highlights from the week but surviving the chaos of Odd Future at the Fader Fort, being deafened by Junius, and having a near-religious experience during James Blake were definite standouts. Here’s a recap of some of the best moments.
James Blake. The serene environment of the Central Presbyterian Church was the perfect setting for James Blake's soulful, bassy compositions. With live drums and guitar, Blake's songs took on new life and gained new warmth from their already magnificent recorded forms. Absolutely stunning. NPR archived the show at Stubb's a few days before so you can get a sense of the experience. It was like that, but with more pews.
Junius. Boston's Junius know how to "bring the heavy." They don't bludgeon the audience with it, choosing to temper the heavier moments with quieter ones, and while their recorded material is good (especially their earlier EPs), live is where the band is at their best, which they proved once again.
Odd Future. This group easily garnered the most hype at SXSW, nearly inciting riots as they channeled punk's anarchic streak during their Fader Fort performance. After stories spread of their antics they only grew in infamy, earning themselves increasingly large audiences as the week went on.
Beach Fossils. Featuring a supremely spazzy guitarist, Beach Fossils were one of few acts that warranted repeat viewings over the week. Their self-titled album has plenty of hooks and those translated well to a live setting.
Learning Secrets. Yes, we might be a bit biased because they played our party, but Learning Secrets also tipped us to a few other great parties throughout SXSW. In a festival dominated by bands, it was nice to be able to hear good DJs do their thing (disco always wins, as do afterhours in loft spaces).
Shit Robot. Featuring a neon-green lighted mask and a wall of visuals, Shit Robot was not only a welcome electronic act but as entertaining to watch as to hear. After a week of mostly standing around it was great to close out Music with an active dancefloor.
Nite Jewel. Nite Jewel's analog disco synth-funk sounds both dated and futuristic, resting in a sweet spot between a few different genres. Live, frontwoman Ramona Gonzalez commands the stage, imbuing her songs with an entertaining passion. Saturday's appearance by Dam Funk was also a pleasant surprise, renewing enthusiasm for their upcoming collaboration.
The new Austin city Limits venue. We mentioned this in our Interactive post, but this space is so incredible we're listing it as a highlight twice. If we lived in Austin we'd be delighted to see shows there.
Unexpected Finds: Colin Stetson/tUnE-yArDs. The best part of an event so large is that you're bound to experience something you'd never heard of before. For Jeremy it was solo saxophonist Colin Stetson and drummer/vocalist tUnE-yArDs. NPR has a Colin Stetson recording from the week, and here's video of tUnE-yArDs in action: