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  South by SouthWest 2005  
  Carribean Lights, Exodus, Friends, Soho Lounge  
  Austin, TX  
Reviewed by:
  PostLibyan and Tracers  
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:

This was our slowest night of the festival, meaning that we really didn’t have a full schedule of “must see bands” mapped out. Since we were staying at The Official Hotel of Japan Night at South by Southwest 2005, we decided to start our evening with the Japanese.

So we trekked down to Caribbean Lights, which was packed out. The Japanese drew a good crowd. At 8 PM ,the first Japanese band went on, a three-piece of very short Japanese girls who called themselves Titan Go-Kings. They played a sort of energetic Ramones-esque punk rock that was catchy and fun. The strangest thing about the band was that the drummer was tiny – she could have sat, upright, inside the kick drum. And yet she really had a handle on her kit and beat the tar out of it. For a little woman, she must have awesome upper arm strength. The guitarist was really talented as well, obviously being a devout disciple of Tommy Ramone. They were fun and energetic, and put on a great show. Pretty good for a totally random band.


I have to say that I surprised at how crowded this venue was. I never realized that these Japanese bands were so popular! Nevertheless, I liked Titan Go-Kings, especially their "stage banter", as it was clear that none of the women spoke English particularly well, so they were speaking phonetically, or so it seemed to me.


Then we trekked up the street to see The Longcut. We went to see this band at the recommendation of Minion Indoor Miner, whose son is friends with the band. Again, the club was rather crowded, but we were able to hear just fine. The Longcut were a three-piece and made interesting music, even if it was somewhat formulaic. By that, I mean that each tune started out with the singer fiddling with electronic gear at the front of the stage and somewhat shouting his lyrics. Meanwhile the guitarist played a wall of feedback laden fuzz while the bassist carried the main melody. Then, at some point in the song, the singer would leave his gear, go to the back of the stage and take up the drum kit, and then the band would rock out for a few minutes in the style of Explosions in the Sky. As I said, it wasn't a bad sound at all, but I think every one of their songs followed that formula. I guess that it could get old after a while, but for the 40 minutes of their set tonight, it was fine. I think the band have some talent and potential, they just need to play with their song format a bit more.

  Of all the bands we saw during SxSW, The Longcut are the band that stands out least to me. While we were listening to them, I thought they were enjoyable. But, honestly, 15 minutes after leaving their show, I couldn't have told you what they sounded like. In my terms, this means they were a good opening band who played competent rock, but I wouldn't necessarily go see them again.  

After The Longcut, the next band we wanted to see was scheduled for 2 hours later, so we decided to go and get ensconced at a bar called Friends for Polyvinyl Night. The first act we saw here was Zzzz, who are from Chicago . I couldn't really see the band, but I think they were a 4 piece. They had horns, accordion, keys, bass, and drums at the very least, and the music they played was almost ska-like. That is, it was ska played in 4/4 time, which made me think of Madness. They played a very fun, energetic set, and the crowd really seemed to be getting into it. I enjoyed it very much, and hope that these people tour so that I can see them again, under less crowded circumstances.

Up next were Decibully, an Oregonian 6-piece band who played a sort of stoner emo rock. They weren't bad, but I found myself bored after 3 songs – there are dozens of bands who do this type of music and Decibully didn't really distinguish themselves to me. Eventually they added an accordion and a banjo, and they did a few songs of darkish a la 16 Horsepower. Again, not bad, but not really distinctive either. Call them my least favorite act this night, and let's move on.


The first two Polyvinyl bands we encountered were good enough. Like Postlibyan, I strongly preferred Zzzz to Decibully. Since I couldn't see the stage, I can't tell you anything about the bands' relative stage presences. But Zzzz seemed to get the crowd moving, such as it is, whereas Decibully (who several people recommended) just induced me to want another beer. Either way, by the time Decibully left the stage, I was ready for something new and/or different.

  Then came the Polyvinyl band we were there for, Saturday Looks Good to Me. Tracers has reviewed this band many times, and since they have a very fluid lineup we were prepared to bolt if this was one of their less interesting incarnations. However, the band came out and poured their heart into 40 minutes of Motowny goodness. The songs were catchy and featured the strong bass and drumming of the old Motown greats, with catchy melodic hooks strewn about overtop. The current female vocalist took a song or two to hit her stride, but when she did it was well worth the wait. I really enjoyed their set, and everyone else at the crowded bar seemed to as well. I have never seen so many bedheaded emo kids dancing. A great set.  
  I have great anxiety whenever I go to see Saturday Looks Good to Me. Sometimes, they're great; other times, they leave a lot to be desired. Yet, I knew it would be a good set when they began with Girl of Mine, off the 2004 EP. From there, the band played what I would call a "Greatest Hits" type set, including the absolutely sublime Dialtone, from their 2004 album, Every Night. It was an excellent set, and easily one of the high points of the entire SxSW experience.  

The next act at Friends was supposed to be Of Montreal, so we stood around and waited for them. And waited, and waited. After half an hour we were bored with just standing there, so we went across the street to catch the last half of the set by The Capitol Years. This Philadelphian band plays really good garage rock with a hint of post-punkishness thrown in. Call it the US interpretation of post-punk, with a note that perhaps they do sound slightly like Cheap Trick. There also is a bit of similarity to The Futureheads, in that all three frontmen sing harmony. Another enjoyable set, and a fine end to a long evening.

Coincidentally enough, The Capitol Years played a few miles from the State Capitol Building of Texas.

  I had really wanted to see Of Montreal, mainly because although they're from Athens they don't play out in Atlanta very often. Yet, the long long wait got to me as well, so I was happy to leave the absolutely packed venue and wander over to see The Capitol Years. Since the last time I saw them live, they've added an extra guitarist, which rounds out their sound, giving it an dose of rock. And, although they weren't as good as Saturday Looks Good to Me, they did a very credible job, and, as PostLibyan states, ended the evening in a good way.  

Go on and read about the other days of SxSW05:
Day 0: Tuesday.15.March.2005
Day 1: Wednesday.16.March.2005
Day 2: Thursday.17.March.2005
Day 4: Saturday.19.March.2005

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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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