South By Southwest Day Two: New Trend Alert!
Every year at SXSW there seems to be a bevy of new trends unleashed, something in the way of a marketing ploy or cross-platform web integration something or another. This year's new trend: babies. What, you say? That's right, you read it.
Earlier in the day, there was a baby rocking out to Jim Noir. Later, Black Angels. Then on the way to Phosphorescent at Mohawk's, we spotted a stroller in line for Emo's Jr. Babies at SXSW favor big, colorful helicopter-like ear phones to keep their eardrums intact. Maybe next year, Emo's will have one of those outdoor changing stations?
Night two in Austin was a doozy; the aforementioned Phosphorescent played to a packed patio, having to start before most people could get in. The bill was killer with Black Mountain and Bon Iver up later in the evening, but it was Matthew Houck (pictured) and company's moment to shine, as epic versions of "Cocaine Lights" and "Wolves" were most impressive.
On record, Phosphorescent is much more solemn, but their live show is turning into something really special. Houck, with his Grizzly Adams-style beard is eclectic enough to keep your eyes from wandering, and delivers a Will Oldham-like intensity to every word he utters.
The night's best new discovery: Working For A Nuclear Free City. Despite bad sound on the back porch of Beauty Bar, this Manchester U.K. four-piece gave it their all, in a Stone Roses-on-speed kind of way. These guys could be huge.
Martha Wainwright debuted songs off her forthcoming sophomore effort, entitled "I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too." Don't we all. Here was another instance of the upstairs band being too loud for Martha's folk leanings, drowning out most of her set (at least from the back).
The official night's work concluded with orchestral pop group Islands, who somehow managed to score two official showcase slots on the same night. Lead Island guy came out on stage with his entire face painted white, donning white sunglasses as well, leaving us to wonder if a repaint was necessary from the eight o'clock show.
Lots of new tunes from their forthcoming Anti- debut, "Arms Way," were offered, but the only song we're familiar with at this point is "The Arm," a violin-lined, sprawling pop song worthy of the probable Bowie comparisons. Their music is complex and shifts styles subtly, but is friendly enough for the parents of those babies. -- Michael D. Ayers
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