Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  South By Southwest 2007 - Day 2  



Austin, TX


Headlights, Kaki King, The Stars of Track and Field, Chairs of Perception, Hummersqueal, Trances Arc, The Apostles of Hustle, The Dears, The Oohlas, The Horrors

Reviewed by:
  Tracers and PostLibyan  
Photographs by:



Thursday turned out to be our off day. Neither one of us really had anyone we were dying to see, so we decided to check out a bunch of artists we had heard about, but were not that familiar with.

Things started auspiciously when we wandered into The Flamingo Cantina around 2 in the afternoon to see Headlights. They put on a short, but brilliant set in the sweltering heat of this alley that had been converted into a club by the addition of a simple roof and some astroturf covered bleacher seating.

Today Headlights played as a four-piece. They played the song with the accordion, as well as a wonderful version of Enemies, from their first EP. Additionally they played two new songs. Both sounded ... well, pretty much like the rest of the Headlights catalog: catchy, energetic keyboard-based pop.

It's the Headlights polka!

Personally, i thoroughly enjoyed it. They always put on a good show, and i was glad that i was able to catch them at the festival, even if it was for just half an hour.


Headlights are consistently one of my favorite live bands. Mostly this is simply because their music is so good; however, their music also translates well to a live (and sometimes imperfect) environment. As an example, during this set, the sound was a little scratchy, and the mix was remarkably muddy. Yet, when they broke into Enemies, despite the heat and the crowd, I felt chills run up my spine from the sheer beauty of that song and the strength of their performance. In fact, when they finished, I glanced down at my watch, and thought, "They can't be done yet…."

Headlights in a covered alleyway.


We then headed off in search of coffee. By the time we got back to Flamingo Cantina, The Pipettes were scheduled to go on, and the club was at capacity. It must have been sweltering in there, so we decided to skip The Pipettes for now. Tracers went back to take a nap and read, while i headed over to the convention center day stage to see folk-blues artist Kaki King.

She played solo, just strumming along, singing, and tapping on her guitar for percussion. It was not the most well-rehearsed performance i saw during the festival though. Early on she was getting down during an instrumental bit and smacked the microphone with her eye. Ouch.

Kaki King knows the importance of stretching before a performance.

Later she was tuning and broke a string. "Don't panic," she told the crowd, "I can improvise." So she de-tuned the entire instrument so that some strings sounded like a banjo and some like a bass, and she then noodled around for a few minutes. I know that sounds kind of pretentious, but it actually worked rather well.

Kaki King as guitarist/percussionist.

I enjoyed the set, even if it was more silly than serious. And at 20 minutes, it was fine. Longer and i might have been annoyed, but her voice and guitarwork are excellent, so it worked.

I then went back to fetch Tracers, and we went to see Stars of Track and Field, for the second time in 2 successive SxSWs. And for the second time it took them insanely long to set up and get their gear configured. This time they actually succeeded in a reasonable amount of time (unlike during the 2006 festival, when we left after half an hour, annoyed that they had made us miss some other band).


To give Stars of Track and Field some credit, it seemed like some of the equipment issues weren't entirely due to the band. As we waited, I saw the staff roll in at least one new monitor, which seemed to imply that some of the problems were venue-related.

Just part of the complicated setup for Stars of Track and Field.


Stars of Track and Field are a three-piece. They have a drummer who also mans a laptop, and two guys in ascots who sing, play guitar, and keyboards. The music is energetic pop that takes itself some what seriously. The two guitarists move around like they are Keith Richards, which comes across as affected. Also, they have a tendency to sing in falsetto, which caused Tracers to compare them to The Bee Gees.

Stayin' alive with Stars of Track and Field.

They only played 5 songs, 4 of which came off of their debut album. These songs really worked in a live setting. Sure, they come across as slightly arrogant on stage (the whole "taking so long to set up" thing is really annoying), but they make good pop. I guess they are the Oasis of the booming Portland scene. Either way, i was glad i finally got to see them perform.


Stars of Track and Field weren't particularly exciting, although I suspect they would sound better in a darkened club when I'd had several beers. Then again, I'm not a huge fan of light-ish pop, as I prefer to bop around in a live music setting. Also, I suspect that they too weren't happy about the delays, which likely threw their performance off, especially if you consider they were staring out at a group of people sitting around, who all looked a little irritated at times. That's enough to throw anyone off their game.


That finished, it was time for a dinner break. Tonight was a special treat as we headed to Mekong River on 6th street for Asian Noodles. I had a spicy thai noodle dish that was excellent. It made me sweat in that way that only Thai food can. Thus fortified, we headed out to the regular showcases.


What Postlibyan fails to mention is that after dinner, we wandered down to get a cup of coffee. As we sat outside the Starbucks, I heard a "POP" like a gun shot. That was odd. I heard another. Now, I was starting to get a bit concerned. Then I saw a security guard come past the building. As she got near me, I saw she had a gun and ear muffs on? She looked around, aimed the gun up at the Blackbird laden trees, then yelled out, "Bird Patrol!!! They're blanks!" And she fired. I laughed.


Starting things off at 8 PM was Chairs of Perception, which is the current act of the guys who used to be in the old LA punk band, The Urinals. These guys invented the non-serious, goofy style of pop-punk, and they might have changed names, but they still pretty much do the same thing. They even played some Urinals songs (introducing one as being "Old. As in from 1978."). They had some diehard fans their who knew all the songs and sang and danced (or staggered) along.

Chair guitar.

I found their 30 minute set to be very fun. I would definitely see them again, although they hinted during their set that they never leave LA, so i guess my chances are pretty slim. Oh well.

Chair drummer.


I'm all about the old school rockabilly-esque punk. And that's exactly what Chairs of Perception played. It's fun, happy, catchy, and bouncy. Listening to the band, I felt a little giddy, and was totally charmed by the way they threw themselves through their set. More importantly, it was clear that these guys weren't just a three chord abrasive punk band; instead, they sang (with a little twang) and played so well that even if they hadn't said it, you'd know they've been around a good long while.

Vocal chair. (Who is even more gray than PostLibyan!)


There was nothing we really wanted to see during the 9 o'clock hour, so we headed all the way down 6th street and up Red River to Club DeVille. We were going to either try to get into the club next door to see I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, or go to DeVille to see Trances Arc. ILYBICD had a line a block long, so we went for the lesser known band.

We walked in to a 4-piece metal act playing.

You can tell they play metal because of the t-shirts they wear!

We saw them play maybe 20 minutes of post-Hum metal/hard rock. Turns out the band is called Hummersqueal and they are from Mexico City. Not bad. Not my thing, but they did it well.

Hummersqueal with a flying V guitar. That's so metal!

The mysterious Trances Arc were up next. I call them mysterious because they were listed as an Atlanta band, and yet neither Tracers or i could ever recall seeing or even hearing about them. That's just odd, so we had to see who they were.

They are a 5-piece band with an asian guy who sings and plays organ. The music is melodic, catchy, hard rock of the sort you hear on 99X these days. They really got into it too -- the asian guy was bouncing around and really belting out the tunes. The fun that they were obviously having translated well to the crowd, who seemed to receive them favorably.

I have never seen this member of Trances Arc around town!

I was grateful to be seeing 1.5 non-crappy bands in a venue that had draft beer. What is it about Austin that everyone seems to be content to drink Shiner Bock out of a can? Well, Club De Ville had Austin microbrewery Live Oak on tap, so we spent these bands fortifying ourselves with a nice ale. They make an excellent brew, so check them out if you have the chance.


Who knew Trances Arc was from Atlanta ? I'm not sure exactly where they play out normally, but I'm fairly certain I've never encountered them. Still, they were fun and energetic, and as Postlibyan mentions, the crowd really seemed to enjoy them. About the only complaint I had about their set is that the acoustics of Club de Ville made their set insanely loud. Still, with good beer on tap and cleanish, non-scary restrooms (and a mostly level patio space), I couldn't complain about our first random stop of the evening.


After Trances Arc, we wanted to see what mayhem was ensuing at Stubbs. You see, an article in the Austin Chronicle that morning had discussed how Rodrigo Sanchez, of Mexican pop act Rodrigo y Gabriela, had been denied a Visa to the US because of his name being on a "watch list". Please. "Rodrigo Sanchez" is like "Steve Roberts" in Mexican -- there are probably thousands of people with that name... But he was denied access, and no one on the security or door detail at Stubb's was aware of that. So who would perform? We honestly had no idea.

We walk into Stubbs, or, rather, we went inside the fence, since the Stubbs venue is a gravel-covered hillside facing an amphitheatre, with 4 places to buy beer and 2 places to pick up a BBQ sandwich! And on the stage was ... a band making light Brit pop. They honestly were not bad -- i found their music catchy and light, but fun. However, i had to talk to about 5 different people before someone knew who they were: The Apostles of Hustle. Huh. Never heard of them, but they played well.

The Apostles of Hustle were fine, for a total unknown, unbilled act!


Another show, another uneven dark space. Maybe my age is showing, but I kind of like being able to see where I'm walking or standing when I'm at a venue. Of course, I'm a total klutz whose balance is bad at the best of time, so maybe I'm just a little paranoid. Either way, I did enjoy The Apostles of Hustle, as their music seemed well suited to the large open outdoor venue. It was kind of like going to a "big show" back home, which I don't too often, so I could appreciate it.


After The Apostles of Hustle were done, The Dears took the stage.

The Dears seen from halfway back at Stubbs.

They played off of the new record, and it sounded better live that it does recorded. I think that's because The Dears need a big, epic sound and the engineer at Stubbs was able to give them that, while whoever produced the CD gave them a much more stripped down and raw sound. I like epic Dears, but raw Dears? Not so much.

Dears bassist.

Dears keyboardist.

They did a great version of Gang of Losers that segued directly into There Goes My Outfit, with Murray Lightaway really belting it out like some old soul singer! Wonderful. On the downside, The Dears chose to end their set with a long, slow, droning number. Honestly, it really dragged the whole performance down. My advice to them: don't close with that number! On the whole though, i enjoyed their performance.

Murray Lightaway sings the blues.


I'm not as big of a fan of The Dears as Postlibyan is. However, I really did enjoy their set. Like the previous band, the expansive nature of the venue seemed to suit their sound.

The Dears in action.

Admittedly, I couldn't really see a durn thing (and I was afraid to move due to the gravel and the hill), but the music seemed rather fine. Yes, they ended on a droney note, but even that was O.K., as the sound swirled up the hill and around the people, lulling them into a sense of security before Bloc Party.


After The Dears were done, we stood around waiting for Bloc Party to take the stage. And we waited. And waited. And Bloc Party kept us waiting. And waiting.

I understand that a lot of bands do that in order to build anticipation in the crowd. But they weren't headlining the venue, instead, they were playing in the middle of a festival. The show must go on, because there are lots of other bands involved. Honestly, in my 3 years at SxSW, i had never experienced that. So let's just say, Bloc Party pissed me off.

  Note to self: Bloc Party are now on my crap list. On to the next band.  

So we left, and headed just down the street to The Red-Eyed Fly, where we wanted to see the 1 AM band. We got there at about 12:30, and there was a 4-piece pop-punk act on stage. The lead singer was an energetic girl in a strangely colored dress, and they really got the crowd bouncing around.

Oohlas at the 'Fly.

It turns out that this band is called The Oohlas, and i really enjoyed the 10 minutes of them i saw. Think: The Breeders, Belly, or Luigi. Yeah -- happy girl punk. Fun stuff.

And then, The Horrors played. Or, rather: And then, The Horrors descended upon The Red-Eyed Fly! The Horrors are a 5-piece goth rock act from the UK. They are all skinny, dressed in black, with hugely teased up hair.

The Horrors in black and white.

They dance in a manner that i think is supposed to be menacing. The music is organ-driven, and yet vaguely sounds like The Jesus and Mary Chain, wiht Fall-esque vocals. Honestly -- back when i was 16 i would have LOVED this band. As it is, i thought they put on a great, fun set. The lead singer dove into the crowd and crawled on the tables near the walls -- including belting out the last tune with his back turned about 3 feet in front of this reviewer! Yikes -- the hairspray!!!

Beware the hairspray of The Horrors!


I don't remember who recommended them to me, but I was the one who thought, "The Horrors? That could be interesting." In retrospect, "interesting" is a fairly good term for The Horrors. I'm not sure their music would translate as well to the recorded medium, as much of my enjoyment of their set came from the sheer spectacle of watching trash cans and band members fly around. Luckily, I was standing well back from the main crowd (and partially behind a tree for cover), so I had a good vantage point for the mayhem. Truly, it was a memorable set, and what more can you ask for from some random British band?

The Horrors dance it up.


A very fun end to the evening.

The Horrors have an actual zombie on keys.


I concur.

Related Links:

Read the entire South by Southwest 2007 review:
    Day 1 featuring Saturday Looks Good To Me, Minmae, Rahim, Tammany Hall Machine, Through the Sparks, Al G., Faceless Werewolves, Oxford Collapse, Kinski
    Day 2 featuring Headlights, Kaki King, The Stars of Track and Field, Chairs of Perception, Hummersqueal, Trances Arc, The Apostles of Hustle, The Dears, The Oohlas, The Horrors
    Day 3 featuring: You Am I, Airbourne, The Oohlas, Picastro, Saturday Looks Good To Me, Mistress Stephanie and Her Melodic Cat, Tijuana Hercules, The Faint
    Day 4 featuring Lee Scratch Perry, My Latest Novel, Field Music, Tilly and the Wall, The Pipettes, +/-, The High Strung
In addition, some of these acts have been reviewed before. Links within the review point you to the appropriate places.


Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Concert Review menu.