Day 1 of SXSW 2013 was Wednesday, 3/13 for this scribe. After a delightful drive out in the Cadillac w/Jeb Schoonover and Chris Black (who is playing shows this week), and several great meals, we arrived around noonish on Wednesday to perfect weather. I really only had a chance to see a handful of shows on Wednesday, but they were all great. The legendary ska band The Skatellites was the perfect SXSW ice breaker, with skanking feet and huge smiles all around the back patio of the Gingerman Pub, courtesy of Blurt magazine, hosting shows there all week.
Typically of SXSW, I immediately stated running into folks from Tucson: Naim Amor, Duncan Hudson from KXCI, eventually folks from the Weekly, Rialto and Club Congress.
After some chicanery better left to the imagination, I managed to get through the gate into Stubbs, home of the evening's biggest showcase, a mega bill of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Café Tacuba, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Alt-J.
Cave's set was spectacular and mesmerizing; it may be cliché, but he literally prowled the stage in one of the most convincing outlays of rock star persona I've seen in years. The band - featuring two guitars (one doubled on violin), bass, drums and keyboard players, one of who doubled on a second drum kit - created on of the most ferocious rackets, backed up with periods of calm I've seen in years. Their spectacularly profane version of "Stagger Lee" pinned the crowd's ears back; the whole thing was suffused with class and menace. This was the good stuff: worth the drive out alone. Café Tacuba played a typically incredibly high energy set, complete with choreographed dance moves from the whole band, before ceding he stage to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Like Nick Cave, singer Karen O is impossible to take your eyes off; she's just got it all, the look, the moves, the voice, the band, the songs. Under dark skies, and with a wind whipping up, they basically ruled for close to an hour; the audience gave a lot of love back to the stage.
I only caught a few minutes of Alt-J before heading out, but hope to catch them later this week.
Onward and upward!