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  South by SouthWest 2005  
  The Co-op Bar and The Velvet Spade Patio  
  Austin, TX  
Reviewed by:
  PostLibyan and Tracers  
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:

After our first night of drinking and music, we headed out for a wonderful Indonesian lunch at Java Noodles. Yum! Highly recommended, and spicy to boot. We then rested up and prepared for the SxSW music festival proper.

The first band we encountered were Hitchhike, again. This night they played to a decent sized crowd in the very tiny (outdoor) patio of the Co-op Bar. Sound-wise, I think they sounded better than the previous evening, as I could hear more of the guitar interplay and the drums sounded a bit more prominent. And, much like the night before, they rocked hard before ending again with I'm Not Tired, the highlight of their recent EP. It was enough to make me encourage the band to tour, so that at least I can see and hear them again.


I think Hitchhike played a few songs off of their EP, but I think that most of this material was new. They sounded great, and the keyboards added to the band make a really nice effect. One interesting side note that really struck me is that alternate vocalist John Alderson sounds a lot like Tom Verlaine in person. That plus the interesting guitar dynamics make me want to compare them to Television. Slightly. Still, it was a wonderful performance.


From there, we quickly made out way across downtown to yet another outdoor venue, The Velvet Spade Patio. I only point out the outside part because, well, on this evening the lows were in the 30s, and I had forgotten my jacket. Brrr….

The first band up at The Velvet Spade were Palaxy Tracks, a Chicago by way of Austin band on Peekaboo Records, and whose first album impressed me tremendously back in 2003. I had never seen them live, and I knew that they are working on a new album, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Furthermore, in the SxSW directory they were listed as an "" band. Now, back on Cedarland, I would have described them more as a mellow, slightly shoegaze band with a little twang. However, it was entirely possible that they had ventured in a different direction in the intervening time.

But once Palaxy Tracks took the stage, I was not disappointed. They sounded a little louder than on record, and played with their music dynamics a bit more. Furthermore, the lead singer's voice wasn't particularly prominent in the mix, although that may have been a function of the somewhat odd acoustics. Nevertheless, they put on a great set, and I really look forward to their new album, which is apparently due out in Spring.

PostLibyan: my fat white ass – these boys play classic Chicago post-rock. They are more like Tortoise than Wilco. I jut don't see it – there was only the barest hint of twang on the guitar. Which is fine by me since tends to give me a big case of the yawns. Palaxy Tracks were really good in concert, and now I am very curious to hear their albums.  

Next up were another Peekaboo Records band, The Octopus Project. We saw them a couple of years back at The Echo Lounge, where they put on a loudly discordant show which was very entertaining, even if the locals were a bit afraid. Since they, they've released a new album, One Ten Hundred Thousand Million, which on first listen appears more subdued and, consequently, more accessible than their previous work. So, like Palaxy Tracks, I wasn't sure what to expect from their live set.

This time out, The Octopus Project were something of a revelation. Playing that bouncy, but noisy Indie dance rock that seems to be popular (albeit their take on the genre is entirely instrumental), the band got my feet tapping and my head nodding (note: yes, I'm an Indie Rocker: I nod instead of dancing). They were loud, funny, and completely mesmerizing on stage as the female keyboardist banged on her instrument whilst everyone seemed to thrash around in the background. Very nicely done, although a bit odd coming after Palaxy Tracks.

  The Octopus Project rocked tonight! I remember them being fun in concert, but this show exceeded my expectations. The music was loud and fast and had a great beat, and the band were goofy, starting off the show by wearing giant cardboard cutout masks that look like Girl from Cat and Girl. Very very fun.  

Then, the final band we wished to see at the venue, Asobi Seksu, went on. I've seen them twice before, and each time I've thought they put on a good set. This evening, they were still rather solid, although their energy levels were a little low, which could have been due to the increasing chill in the air. Or it could be that by that point I personally was so chilled that nothing could have gotten me to move. Either way, Asobi Seksu were good enough, but not nearly as good as either Palaxy Tracks or The Octopus Project. But, then again, I had seen them in a small venue in Atlanta barely a month earlier, so that may have colored things a bit for me.

  I would agree that this wasn't the best set we have seen by them. The sound was slightly off, favoring the bass way more than the guitar. Still, it was fun. One of my favorite bands currently out there.  
  After Asobi Seksu finished, we wandered off in search of another show. This all came to naught, as most of what we wanted to see was either horribly crowded or had a large line to get in. So, instead, PostLibyan and I went back to the hotel, and got some sleep.  

Go on and read about the other days of SxSW05:
Day 0: Tuesday.15.March.2005
Day 2: Thursday.17.March.2005
Day 3: Friday.18.March.2005
Day 4: Saturday.19.March.2005

Related Links:

Many of the bands mentioned here have been reviwed on EvilSponge before. Links have been placed where those bands are mentioned.


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