SXSW is always a little bittersweet for me. On one hand I always have a blast being down in the heart of Austin in the midst of a million people, hanging out with friends, and experiencing music that I wouldnt get to on a normal basis. On the other, its just exhasting to participate in the festival. There is alot of walking, not alot of places to sit, and since we cover a very specific group of artists, it takes some major preparation to be in the right place at the right time. In addition to this, I am actually working another job all week, a Spring Break day camp at a local YMCA. Despite all that, I have seen some really great stuff over the last few days, and in the middle of a great song it seems I am always able to forget how tired my feet are a thank God Im standing in the room Im in. I am blessed.
DAY 1: THE HM MAGAZINE SHOWCASE
I pretty much stayed put for this one, because it just seemed like a good idea. HM Magazine is a staple in the Christian rock community, and what most people dont know is that it is run right outside of Austin. Doug Van Pelt has been the editor and heart of the magazine for over 25 years now, so you know you are in for a good time when he puts on his own little event in the middle of the chaos that is SXSW.
And The Greatest Of These was the first band we saw for the night, and if I am not mistaken they were the only none Texas band on the bill. They played a mix of metal and hardcore that would be familiar for fans of Sleeping Giant and For Today, and they got the crowd moving pretty quickly into their set. They should some diversity between their more popular chug breakdown songs and their slower building songs that gave the set a not so typical feel. Every body in the band is under 21, so Im sure we will see alot of good things from these guys in years to come.
Next up was Victory Records band Before There Was Rosalyn. We saw them on this same showcase last year, and to be honest I wasnt super impressed then. This year they have a few new members, and a whole bunch of new songs that sound amazing. If what I heard at the show translates well into their new recordings, Before There Was Rosalyn is about to release a monster of an album. They bring a good energy live, and out of all the bands they seemed to have the most dedicated crowd.
Solid State Records’ The Famine took the stage next and blew the whole place away. They were insanely good. Every member was a master of their instrument, and each song had its own distinction from the previous. They played with the crowd alot, made fun of each other, and then just tore the stage apart (then more laughing and joking). It is unfortunate that The Famine doesnt play more often because they have a great show. Be on the look out if these guys are rolling through your town, because The Famine are a show you NEED to see.
The rest of the night was good, Firstborn From The Dead was interesting, The Shiny Darks arnt really my thing, and The Brigade put on a violent show that included audience mic scream-alongs, Zach Galifianakis jokes, and metal lyric cue cards. All in all a fun night.
DAY 2: Favorite Gentlemen Showcase
The next night I settled into Lamberts to watch the Favorite Gentlemen Showcase. I was only able to catch two bands, but both of them were awesome!
First up was O’ Brother. We saw these guys at Cornerstone this past year, and since then the band has been hard at work on a new album. The sprinkled in some of the songs from that release with songs from The Death Of Day EP. Its hard to describe the power this band commands when they play, everybody watching them was completely transfixed, and the band just never let up the whole time they were up there. If I had to describe their sound I would say it is somewhere around what Dignan or Manchester Orchester is doing, but alot heavier and more progressive sounding. I have seen them three times now and every time I am completely blown away by this band, I cant wait until their new record come out!
The guys in O’ Brother were actually nice enough to send me a track for you guys to download for free. The song is called “Division Of Man” and its from The Death Of Day EP, enjoy.
Download “Division Of Man” by O’ Brother
Next up was my friends in The Rocketboys. Featuring most of the original members, The Rocketboys plowed masterfully through songs spanning all three of their releases as a band. The raw emotion that this band emits is hard to capture in words, but The Rocketboys are a truely unique talent that was in rare form at SXSW. The crowd sang along and chanted for more songs at the end. It was a great way to end the night.
Here is The Rocketboys performing “We Are A Lighthouse”
Here is The Rocketboys performing “Islands”