Posts Tagged ‘Belmont’

SXSW Atlas Genius 3/14/2013

August 14, 2013
Keith Jeffrey from Atlas Genius

Keith Jeffrey from Atlas Genius

After a tight and quick set by Surfer Blood, next up at the Belmont was Australia’s Atlas Genius.  I hadn’t heard of them until I started going through bands for SXSW.  I had put them down as a “would see” and my only other note was “mellow”.  Laid back might be a better descriptor as they rock while making it look and sound easy.  If you’ve heard one song from them, it’s probably the song “Trojans”.  It’s an earworm for sure even if it’s a pretty straight-forward guitar pop on the surface.  Jeffrey’s voice doesn’t really have any hint of his native land, it’s smooth and polished and glides well over his guitar and the rhythms drummer  Michael Jeffrey lays down.  One of their influences is the Police and you can definitely hear hints of that band in a few of their songs as well as a few 80s synth-pop influences.

Just like Surfer Blood, their set wasn’t that long (remember, at this point we still had 3 more bands before headliner Flaming Lips) but they were confident and fun to listen to.  In addition to “Trojans”, “If So” was the other stand-out from their set.  Guitarist Keith did come do some solo work off to the edge of the stage, and also made his way into the crowd.  If a band doesn’t send someone into the crowd, I’m going to be worried.

Here’s a quick vid from their set, sorry audio is not the best but only one I could find:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85ZcZzuzwUE

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SXSW 3/14/13 Surfer Blood

August 5, 2013

P1050784Picking up from when I last wrote about SXSW, after Guards finished their set at the Belmont, next up on the bill was Florida’s Surfer Blood.  Lead singer John Paul Pitts came out with kitten whiskers and nose painted in black on his face; I had actually seen him before the show walk past us but figured he was just another Flaming Lips fan.  The band ripped through a combination of material from their well-regarded Astro Coast as well as songs from its new album Pythons, which wasn’t out at the time of this show.  Surfer Blood plays catchy guitar pop and the crowd enjoyed both songs that people knew (Swim) and didn’t (the excellent Demon Days).  Pitts has a slightly nasally delivery that has got the required attitude to accompany the hook-y music.

Taking a cue from what seemed like every other band we’d seen, Pitts came out into the crowd during the middle of the set and sang while his bandmates slayed on stage.  I was impressed with the tightness of their set, and seeing how young they looked, they seemed very put together.  I didn’t know of Pitts’ domestic violence charge (later dropped by his girlfriend) at the time of the show, but one would hope he’s learned from that situation.

P1050787Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if Surfer Blood continues along the same track they are on or diversify their sound.  For now, I’m happy for them to keep rocking.  Would definitely go see these guys again.  Two acts into the night at Belmont, we were 2 for 2.

You can see the entire set here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZcUCu2x0u8

SXSW 3/14/13 Guards

March 28, 2013

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!