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  South By Southwest 2006 - Day 3 night showcases  



Austin, TX


Au Revoir Simone, Tilly and the Wall, PuMaJaW, The High Violets, Lab Partners

Reviewed by:
  Tracers and PostLibyan  
Photographs by:



The first night band we saw during the official SXSW schedule was a New York act called Au Revoir Simone. Apparently this band has a huge buzz in the UK, as the show was crowded with people with British accents. Au Revoir Simone are a three-piece synthpop and drum machine band with three women who sing in harmony. They made very catchy music, often with a rave beat.

Au Revoir Simone: 3 voices in harmony.

They were really fun, and rather enjoyable. I really liked their set, and even Tracers seemed to enjoy them. Sadly, the various band members disappeared before i could talk to them after their set. Efficient, but inconvenient.

Au Revoir Simone: where the action is.


In a phrase that characterizes much of that Friday evening, I wasn't sure what I was expecting from Au Revoir Simone when I was went to the show, but this certainly wasn't it. In fact, Au Revoir Simone were one of the better acts we happened upon by random chance, playing bouncy, energetic synthpop that had a nice chime and beat.


Up next was Tilly and the Wall. I reviewed their album, and my enjoyment of it carried over to other Minions, many of whom have since purchased the album. We enjoy it because it is mostly about being a teenager in Atlanta, which we empathize with. What i did not know going into the show is that Tilly and the Wall have a huge buzz about them. Latitude was packed when they played, and the crowd even spilled out to the outside which filled up with fans and curious onlookers.

Notice the crowd gathered outside on the street to watch Tilly and the Wall.


Earlier in the day, we weren't certain whether we wanted to actually see Tilly and the Wall. We didn't really have any must see bands, and as he mentions, we'd both enjoyed their debut album. Personally, I was just curious to see how they came across live.


They are a schtick band, which means that they have a gimmick. Their gimmick is that rather than having a drummer, they have a woman who tap dances the rhythms to the songs. It's cute, but it would get really old if they didn't write happy fun pop tunes. The weirdest thing about the band was that, much like a drummer, the tap-dancer would often count out the beat: "One-two-three-four!" while tapping the rhythm of the song. I did not expect that, since it is a normal drummer act. It made me laugh, in a good way, and added to the general fun atmosphere of their set.

Tilly and the Wall's rhythm section.


As a side effect of this percussion, which is enhanced by the occasional tap by one of the other two women in the band, Tilly and the Wall's front line plays while standing (or tapping) on elevated boards. This meant that the soundguy asked, "Can we check those boards?", which caused to me to laugh. Unfortunately, the person standing next to me thought I was laughing at the band. So he said to me, "Oh, I think they're cute!", and proceeded to engage me in an occasional discussion regarding the merits of the band.

Tilly and the Wall: even the percussionist sings, at times.


Tilly and the Wall are a 5-piece band, including the tap dancer, a singer/acoustic guitarist, a lead female vocalist, another female vocalist who sometimes played bass (and was covered in brightly colored tattoos), and a keyboardist. The acoustic guitarist looked familiar to me -- i think i saw him on the Georgia State University campus here in Atlanta. Tracers seemed to find the very tall brunette female vocalist also familiar, so we think that they are the two Atlantans in the band. Not that this is important, but it is our connection with the band.

Tilly and the Wall: guitarist, possibly from Atlanta.

Tilly and the Wall: possibly another Atlantan.

Tilly and the Wall's only non-singing member, on keys.

Tilly and the Wall's non-Atlanta blonde singer.

Anyway, we had no idea they were so popular. It was rather surreal actually. The crowd was dancing and cheering and singing along. The band was also having a really great time, and the whole atmosphere was really fun. When the band played Nights of the Living Dead and the band sang, "And we wandered out onto the dirty streets of Atlanta", the entire crowd screamed along, cheering like mad after they mentioned my city. I stood there, looking around at the crowd, thinking, "Have any of you been to Atlanta ?" This was the most surreal moment in all of SXW06 for me.

Still, Tilly and the Wall were very very fun. They are supposed to be touring in the late spring, and i will definitely be checking them out when they play Atlanta.


I was simply entranced by the way Tilly and the Wall engaged the crowd. People all around me sang and danced along with the band. In fact, from my vantage point, I could see people standing in the street outside of the open windows of the bar. The band acknowledged them by turning to sing and play. And, as PostLibyan points out, Nights of the Living Dead was a highlight of their set, with the entire crowded bouncing and singing ostensibly about my hometown. Cool.


The next band i wanted to see wasn't performing until 11 PM , over an hour away, but they were performing almost a mile up the street from Latitude, so, energized from the Tilly and the Wall set, we headed out for the long walk to The Molotov Lounge. The band we were going to see was called The High Violets, and in their SXSW directory biography they described themselves as a Cocteau Twins influenced band. I took this pronouncement as a challenge. After all, i am a huge CT fan, and Robin Guthrie (guitarist and producer of Cocteau Twins) has read my writing on the band here on this site. I admit to being kind of offended that anyone would dare mention CT in their bio, but i was curious at the same time. Any act that at least is familiar enough with my favorite band to compare themselves to them must be worth something. And i was able to drag Tracers along because the label that The High Violets record for is Reverb Records, named after her favorite type of guitar distortion.

Anyway, we took the long walk and ended up in time to have a lovely draft beer (why do so many of the venues at SXSW only have bottled beer?) and catch the last half of the set by PuMaJaw. This was a weird two-piece act with a guy who played electronic percussion and heavily effected acoustic guitar and a woman who sang in a vaguely Lisa Gerrard (of Dead Can Dance)-ish Celtic style. They were ... interesting. Very different, i will grant them that. Later, in the men's room, i read on a poster that the male member of the band was formerly in British avante-garde shoegaze act Loop. I kind of enjoyed their set, but i was very glad to have a seat when they performed. It wasn't the most energetic music, but was oddly enjoyable.


Although PuMaJaw seemed a bit odd for a rather large venue in the apparently trendy Warehouse district of Austin, the Molotov Lounge proved to be both entertaining and comfortable. First of all, they had soft comfortable chairs in which to rest my bones. Combined with the draft beer, I was settled in a for a nice long evening. Furthermore, as it was St Patrick's Day, I got the added entertainment of watching legions of drunk individuals head down the somewhat steep stairs from the upstairs bar into our area, where the restrooms was located


As PuMaJaw geared out, The High Violets set up. I admit that i was very interested in this band, for the reasons i enumerated above. They are a Portland, Oregon band (what is it with the Portland bands this year? Is it because my former Atlanta sidekick Sparklehonkey had moved there for graduate school? Portland bands seem to be everywhere this SXSW!), and a four-piece with a gorgeous swarthy (Indian? Maybe Italian,,.) vocalist girl playing a huge hollow-bodied guitar. Anyway, between her, the guitarist (Clint), and the bassist, they officially had a ton of pedals.

The High Violets: check out the guitar on that babe!

Clint, the very nice guitarist in The High Violets.

Their music i would describe as a slowed-down version of what Mean Red Spiders do. It was slowish shoegaze, with nice swirly guitars and rich female vocals. They were definitely very fun, and certainly along the lines of the type of stuff that i listen to. Tracers thought that what they were doing was more jangle-pop with a bit of echo, but she seemed to enjoy them as well. I was definitely happy we made the long walk to see them.


I'm not a huge Cocteau Twins fan, but I have seen them live and let me tell you, The High Violets did not sound like Cocteau Twins, unless you count the fact that they had a female vocalist. Otherwise, they had a nice jangle with enough pedals and effects to push them towards shoegaze territory. Their music was interesting and different enough to keep me mentally occupied and content to sip on a beer, watching the occasional person pinball down the stairs in front of me.


Up next was another band from the same label, Dayton, Ohio 's Lab Partners. This was another 4-piece act, including a drummer, a female keyboardist, and two guitarists who had, between the two of them, about 20 pedals and 5 guitars. Their music was a sort of Verve-damaged psychedelic rock, and i really enjoyed them.

Lab Partners: in action.

Still more Lab Partners.

Still, it had been a long day, and even though more bands were scheduled to play, Tracers and i decided to take the long walk back the hotel and crash out. A good end to our third day at SXSW06.


I enjoyed Lab Partners, although I believe I liked The High Violets about more. Still Lab Partners filled my ears with an enjoyable sound that left me in a good mood to face the walk back to the hotel, as we dodged and ignored the staggering masses.

Related Links:

Read the entire South by Southwest 2006 review:
    Day 1: Dayshow
    Day 1: Night showcases
    Day 2
    Day 3: Dayshow
    Day 3: Night showcases
    Day 4: Dayshow
    Day 4: Night showcases
Added bonus material:
    Photo gallery: Signs around Austin
    Photo gallery: hollow-bodied guitars at SXSW06
    Photo gallery: Pedal fetishism
In addition, some of these acts have been reviewed before. Links within the review point you to the appropriate places.


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