SXSW Festival: Music in the Alamo

SXSW Festival
Austin, TX
March 15 - 17, 2006


The Czars @ Fox and Hound, Wed. March 15, 2006

The Czars didn't get a fair shake at their performance at the Worlds Fair
showcase this year at SXSW. The crowd had heard rumors that Flaming Lips
were up next and had not the patience to listen to lead singer John Grant's
deep wistful vocals and keyboard styling. When he and guitarist Andy
Monley hit the stage, I thought 'Where is the rest of this band? Did they
miss their flights?' If you know you are opening for the Flaming Lips you
better rock right? With over a 1000 fans watching and waiting one can
imagine it might be tough to pull off an acoustic type performance.
However with only 1/16th of the crowd paying attention Grant sang a
beautiful soulful set, which instantly made me a fan. A crowd such as
this, ready to rock out to the Lips was not going to stop Grant from
pouring his heart out. The songs were honest and charming. Reminiscent of
Jeff Buckley without all the bluesy outbursts, or maybe Morrissey
would be a closer comparison. Its hard to compare them to anyone really,
The Czars have a sound all there own, melancholy but not boring, delicate
but not frail. They were by far, one of the best bands I saw at SXSW.



Midlake @ Fox and Hound, Wed. March 15, 2006

Midlake had to be one of, if not my favorite band at SXSW this year. I
first heard Midlake during SXSW04 and remember thinking I had found gold.
Their music has definitely evolved over the past two years and I love where
it has gone. Midlake sounds something like Fleetwood Mac meets Radiohead.
Yet they have a style all their own. They sang in 3, maybe 4-part harmonies
at times, which made the vocals sound full and rich. Lead singer Tim
Smith's voice has been compared to Thom Yorke's in the past, which is a
pretty good comparison I guess, however, I think it is somewhat cleaner,
you can actually understand the lyrics. Which are very narrative and
entrancing. He sings in a way that seems so personal. Behind them was a
film strip playing, of what I believe is maybe videos to there songs, it
helped to give the crowd something tangible to look at, very timeless and
strong imagery, but it wasn't needed to keep you entertained, this band is
truly great. Being at their shows I felt like I was part of history. It
felt bigger then just some band at SXSW. Having heard there first CD this
newer material was really a gorgeous progression. This band is truly
special and I am going to follow their evolution wholeheartedly. They are
soon to release there second album titled "Van Ocupanther"; I will eagerly
await its arrival. If Midlake does not become one of the bands that
everyone knows and loves I would be ashamed of the music loving community
for not making this happen. Wake up world this is the real deal, embrace
them.



Shearwater @ Maggie Mae's, Fri. March 17, 2006

The best word to describe Shearwater is dreamlike. But a lucid type of
dream, a dream you wake up from feeling like you've gained something. This
bands instrumentation was nice, a banjo, electric guitar; stand up bass,
keys of several types, drums and more drums. The musicianship in this band
was incredible; all of theses guys (the bass player being female) were
amazing musicians. Most songs had a thin blanket of darkness over grooving
lush beats, which seemed to swell and breathe organically. Lead singer
Jonathan Meiburg's voice was clear and light, which was a nice juxtaposition
against the dark rich rhythms. He sung sweet and gentle at points and then
was belting it out with serious emotion later into the songs. The music
would be melancholy and just as your mind was taking you to some dark
moment in your own past, the pace would change and you would be thrown
high in the air and the song would fill you with angst and excitement. I
don't know exactly what song that particular feeling was from, but it
doesn't matter all their songs were that way, not exactly that way, but
full of secret interesting surprises. Just as this band was to me, a tasty
surprise and I look forward to all that they will put out in the future.



Susan Tedeschi @ Eternal, Fri. March 17, 2006

Susan Tedeschi brought the blues to Austin. Her vocal stylings and guitar
solos floored some blues locals, she had the crammed audiences at The
Eternal in full attention. No one spoke as Susan Tedeschi tore into her
guitar. This woman can whale on the guitar.



Phosphorescent @ Progress Coffee Shop, Fri March 17, 2006

Two trumpets, a beautiful tambourine girl and a lead singer in a cowboy-esque
shirt that had lights all over it, already I was intrigued.
Phosphorescent played outside Progress coffee shop around 4:00pm in the
afternoon, the sun was out and the air felt crisp and new. The more upbeat
songs had a country psychedelic vibe to them, like a hoedown in the summer
of 69'. In the sun is a perfect place for this band to play. Matthew
Houck's voice has a country quality, raw with an untamed allure to it. He
sings with compassion and confidence. He seemed to guide the band through
each song like a beacon of light. The songs were for the most part slow
and melancholy, they had an air quality to them, they seemed to float over
the medium size crowd that had gathered and hang there fresh and wet.
Phosphorescent is somewhere between Wilco and Neutral Milk Hotel with a
folk twist. Their somber music is bittersweet, that tragic love story kind
of beauty. I suggest that we all go out and buy their CD, they definitely
have something to say about the human condition and I believe we will all
be the better if we give it a listen.



Rosanne Cash @ Auditorium Shores, Fri. March 17, 2006

Rosanne Cash took the stage after The Little Willies and blew me away. She
is the reason we love country music. She had an array of excellent
musicians and a voice that made you feel like you were in a warm room
having fun with all your friends. I am sure she is making the greats of
country music proud.

Writer: Melanie Gomez


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