SXSW 3/14/13 Guards

After Local Natives, we had wandered in the direction of where we thought French singer Fredda would be doing a set, but then realized she was playing far away at a hotel. We swung by the food truck caravan and got a call from our friends that they were in line at the Belmont and that we should get over there. We finished our grilled cheese (yummy) and walked over to see the large line at the Belmont.

Actually two lines, one for badges and one for wristbands, those without either weren’t getting in. The lines were mostly there because Flaming Lips was playing, but we had also been enticed by several other bands on our respective to-see lists. We had a nice chat with some folks from Sweden in line and then got in within minutes of the doors opening thanks to our badges.

We snagged a prime spot in a corner about 10 feet from the stage. It was an outdoor venue with a small stage, a small area in front of the stage where we were and then a bigger patio a few steps above the front area.

It was crowded but not packed when the first band, Guards, took the stage. This was not one if the bands we came to see and I mistook them for Surfer Blood when they first started playing due to the languid guitar pop sound coming from the stage. Oops, I obviously am not a connoisseur of either band.

For the opening band of a 7 band bill, they were surprisingly good which is a testament to the depth of talent that SXSW brings to the table. Silver Linings is a good representation of the band’s style and one of the songs from the set I recognized when listening to them after SXSW. It has a catchy chorus, a neat guitar riff, and elements that would evoke shoegaze as well as power pop in the same song.

Their live show had a bit more zing than their recorded material and guitarist Richie Follin ventured out into the crowd with his guitar near the end of the set. Apparently there was a memo encouraging this behavior sent to bands, this was not the first, or last time, we’d witness this.

I only learned afterwards that Follin is the brother of Cults singer Madeline Follin and played guitar on that group’s album. I’m a huge fan of that record and looking back I can see some similarities. Cults is probably a bit more poppy and has a more polished sound, the Guards a little fuzzier around the edges. Fuzzy was my last impression of the band as they left one by one in a buzz of feedback.

A good start to the night!

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