Before we begin, I feel it is appropriate to dedicate this review to the injured and deceased of the horrific event of March 12th, 2014.  The idea of something this senseless and horrific happening not far from where many of the accompanying photos took place or long after either is mind-bobbling.  From all of us on this publication our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected.

With that said…

Few occasions in life are as good as they seem from a far; South By Southwest on the other hand are one of those occasions where they actually turn out better than your wildest imagination.  Truly the music-lovers perfect gathering where some of the hottest performers and rising acts are flooding every block, often times playing small-intimate shows.  Every genre was represented, every style was on display, an audiophile could not ask for a better place to experience live music.  Also to the loyal readers of this magazine who may find themselves in Austin at some point, please be sure to look up the Dirty Dog Bar at 505 6th st, and stop in at Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza only two doors away.  They do not pay me to plug them, just keep Austin METAL!

The music portions of SXSW are split up into Showcases, where different bands and artists are available in around the various clubs and bars based of the downtown area.  Impossible to cover everything, but here are some of the highlights of my time in Austin.

Dickies Roadhouse Showcase at Bangers Bar And Grill

This was hands down the craziest showcase I attended all week.  About 3 blocks from the convention center and the heart of downtown you come to a secluded neighborhood.  However, this small unassuming burb is actually host to several top-notch clubs, bars, and grills.  In the middle of the block is a Barbecue Joint where Dickies Clothing Company set up a Roadhouse Backyard Stage, bringing several tremendous acts to Austin music-lovers.

Opening up the event was The Preatures from Sydney Australia, an amazing high-impact Alt-rock band with an incredible retro feel about them.  With an incredibly eclectic repertoire, this band put on an engaging set with whimsical songs like “This Is How You Feel” and rhythmic grooves like “Manic Baby.”  The Preatures strength is the blending of Rock Time-periods as well as styles.  Songs that seem to blend an 80’s Slow Rock Feel with a hint of 70’s Disco make this a truly mesmerizing experience.  Of course at the center of this operation is front-woman Isabella Manfredi, proving herself to be a gifted vocalist, and able to maintain a tangible chemistry with the rest of her band.  Fingers crossed, beyond their Coachella outing I am hoping to witness this band again and watch lightning strike twice.

At the end of the night, it all came down to Ludacris.  The main thought I had throughout his entire performance was “Man, I forgot how many hits this guy had.” Songs like “Yeah!” and “All I do is Win” made their way into his setlist alongside old favorites such as “Move Bitch” and “What’s Your Fantasy?”  Aside from some technical difficulties at the beginning of his set the key to Ludacris’ show was the atmosphere he fostered.  The showcase at Bangers was that of a Backyard BBQ with a moderate stage set up.  Playing to a crowd of between 300-400 people, Ludacris used the open-air feeling and the intimate setting to throw a party of non-stop hits.  Between song banter and throw-outs to the crowd (singing back perfectly) made this the Highlight of the event.

House of Vans
I arrived at the Mohawk club in time to catch Les Claypool’s newest venture, Duo De Twang.  For the uninitiated, Les Claypool is arguably one of the most proficient and boundary-breaking modern bassists of Rock N Roll.  The man is also probably out of his mind… which explains an acoustic project that adapts Rock Anthems into Twangy-Country sing-alongs.  The moment I entered the venue he was already singing Alice In Chains’ Man In The Box, and it brought a smile to my face.  An eclectic combination of original material and cover adaptations, Les dressed up in a Western shirt and set the mood with a plastic campfire set between him and his accompanying guitarist.  Wrapping up his set, Mr Claypool covered Staying Alive by the Bee Gees met by rousing howls by the no-doubt very confused audience.

After that Crosses took the stage, and Chino’s new band electrified the crowd.  Crosses is an interesting mutation of an act, somewhat more in line with the Deftones’ sound but with an unmistakable electronic feel to it.  Chino’s voice and stage-presence are truly what sell this mix.  He is unquestionable and intense presence in any metal band, but is able to accomplish this without being the normal aggressive frontman that so many other metal singers are.  In fact, his stage performance is actually quite passive or vaguely building.  Crosses allows Chino to stretch his vocal range and experiment with some lighter songs such as “Epilogue.”  Ultimately don’t let the chance to see Crosses pass you by, this is a fascinating project unlike anything else on the road right now.

Unfortunately my friends this will have to suffice as Part 1 of my SXSW recap.  Stay tuned for further reflections on this amazing festival and please be sure to check out our galleries for more from Austin.


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