SXSW 2010 Saturday- Brrrrrrr!

Amazing what 24 hours, 40 degrees and 30 mph north winds will do.  On Friday night there were easily 50,000 music fans strolling the streets of Austin’s music district.  After a surprise cold front (it was hard enough keeping up with an overload of music greatness and my NCAA bracket, much less the weather) the crowds on Saturday night dropped to 1500.  The clubs were still busy but the streets were quiet.

Swimming With Dolphins

That did not stop us from continuing our quest to experience great music performed at SXSW 2010 by Christians.  After spending the afternoon shivering in the streets, just missing the artists I wanted to see, we got the evening off to a dance party start with Swimming With Dolphins.  This electro-pop band is tall, nice looking Austin Tofte joined on tour by a live drummer.  Austin worked multiple keyboards, an iBook  and sang and danced his way into the psyche of a nice sized crowd at world famous Emo’s.  Swimming With Dolphins‘ bright, poppy electronic sound turned heavy halfway through the set when Tofte reached deep into his synths for some bone rattling bass.  The college aged crowd could no longer resist at that point and carved out a space to dance.  Swimming With Dolphins turned up the geek quotient when they closed with the song “Jasques Cousteau’, dedicated to the world’s most famous marine biologist.

Next, I ran the block and a half to see hard rock band I AM EMPIRE. This five piece band dressed in full rock costume (black boots, black jeans and black tshirts) and delivered on the look. From the first drumbeat to the final feedback I AM EMPIRE rock the joint hard.  The lead singer screamed and wailed, the guitarists raged  and the drummer pounded his drums as if they had stolen something from him.  Through it all they rocked lyrics like “My God won’t forsake me, My sweet Jesus saves me every time I fail”.  I AM EMPIRE is like if AC/DC and Bon Jovi had a baby who gave his life to Christ.

The next day we drug our tired bodies out of bed, headed to Stubbs for the Gospel brunch.  We were treated to some awesome Texas barbecue and TexMex and were blessed to be in the the presence of the legendary gospel group Bells of Joy.  This 64 year-old group (that’s right, the group is 64 years old) is in just about every hall of fame you can be in.  The Bells of Joy delivered on their name as they performed a raucous set of joyful Gospel music punctuated by slick dancing, tasty solos and the Word.  As I set there, I realized that from a musical perspective groups like the Bells of Joy made SXSW possible.  Without these groups that brought gospel out of the Church and into the streets there would have been no Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis or Little Richard.  Without those guys there would have been no Beatles or Stones.  Without groups like Bells of Joy, SXSW would be Clay Aiken singing show tunes.  Thank you Bells of Joy.

Bells of Joy

As we wrap up SXSW 2010, we were excited by the be-bop electronica of Son Lux (a must-see if he comes to your town), awed by the artistry of Danielson and Jennifer Knapp and happy to have discovered some new favs, Ben+Vesper and Ortolan.

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