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It is Saturday, Last Day Of SXSW 2015.

The portents were not good, Eve off to Aberdeen via the Quadruple A Airports - Austin/Atlanta/Amsterdam/Aberdeen - wonder if that route has happened before, Al off one day early too, dark clouds and heavy rain forecast for the day and a particularly lightweight schedule on paper.

Kickstarting the day at the empty Holy Mountain, along with, I counted, six other people watching Ramesh, who used to front the great wee indie act Foxtrot. Pleasant pop jangles.

Then across the road to see an old favourite, Delicate Stev. His wonky guitar mis mashes were wonkier than ever as a result of a terrible sound system, a bit of a recurring feature this week.

Then decisions, it looked like rain but a twenty minute walk away is Waterloo Records where there is vinyl waiting to be purchased and a big stage with a few good bands playing. Or I could stay where I was and see Boohers, the new Austin supergroup who have Will Sheff of Okkervil River guesting on one of their songs, and who might be making a guest appearance. The walk and the rain put me off, so I opt for Boohers. Thirty minutes later when they are still setting up their gear and with a crowd smaller than Ramesh making it obvious that Will would not be guest appearing, I set out for Waterloo Records. It is wet. I get wet.

I arrive in time to see an old favorite of mine The Church from way back in the day. They announce it will be an acoustic set. This photo gives you an idea of the weather. The performance matched it, they were dreich (Scottish word for Bleak, miserable, dismal, cheerless, dreary).

Next up were the tip my son Jake gave me. Always go see his top tip. Alvvays were pretty good live, a rockier Beach House, who overcame the rain well.

The said rain was pelting down so I decided to explore one of the oddities of SXSW for the first time, the Wholefoods Supermarket Afternoon party on the rooftop esplanade of one of their big stores. The crowd was different, families, kids, even a few OAPs on deckchairs sharing a bottle of wine. The stage setup, sound and viewing were brilliant. I watched a decent Seattle band called Novel Nature play some standard indie pop rock fare.

But being soaked to the skin again, I called the afternoon finished and went back to recharge, eat. I had a list for the evening but apart from a couple of my must sees most were plan Bs as the bulk of those that I had not yet seen from my list I had missed. So would the evening be a gentle fadeout or would there be surprises and excitement in store? A bit of both as it transpired.

I headed to the Central Presbyterian Church to see a Danish performer called Dinners who had some great avant garde videos to go with his eighties disco pop sound. He was a one man show. All prerecorded music with him singing along and basically getting the crowd to do an aerobic workout. Uh oh. Bad start.

Heading to see Spells I was almost knocked down by a band in a truck. SXSW Baby!! I wished that I had been able to body swerve Spells as quickly, less punk more comedy punk. It was also obvious that I was the only one who was not a relative nor sleeping with the band, like walking into someone’s living room uninvited. I moved on.

Kaleo at the Gatsby followed, pleasant enough but my feeling of anti climax had peaked. On the verge of giving up I headed to one of my must sees, the Montreal band Heat with an amazing Lou Reed drawl of a lead singer. They ignited the night, brilliant. On a ladder after sliding down some snakes and the game is back on, finally.

Saturday is drifting away and I race to the 18th Floor of the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, where I caught Steve Smyth, a great Aussie with a hobo voice like Tom Waites on something and a fine geetar sound to match.

There is no stopping me now. I see Lowell, at the Arts & Crafts showcase at Swan Dive backyard. She is a Canadian cross between MIA and new romantic era dance. Believe she could be big time.

Not enough raw myoosic so far, so I went to the Trophy Club, apparently entering a time warp as for the first time I was not the oldest person in a venue, in fact I was on of the younger ones and one of the only male ones too. Turns out Southern Boogie Country and Western Hillbilly Rock has quite a following with fifty + year old women. The band were Waylon Speed, brilliant and wild, needed a good bath though. Them I mean.

Simon and Dave insisted I go see a band called Whitehorse, so I did, hooking up with them down front and it was quite special. A husband and Wife team using loops, analogue phones, wild rockabilly guitars, Americana tunes and the rest. A highlight.

It is Midnight. It is Saturday @ SXSW. I have one maybe two shows to see and it is over. Scheduling meant that the wild guitarist I mentioned way back in Part One review, from the Jack Ladder band, was playing a solo show at Red Eye Fly. I had to go. It was mental.

This is his guitar pedal effect ring around him.

He talked . He sang. He danced. He did wild solos. The most charismatic yet unhinged performer of SXSW. I had seen him do an acapella ditty called The Toddler at the show I caught with him earlier in the week. I told all the folk around me that this was what they had to hear. So when he announced that this would be his last song and he would either play a new song or The Toddler, the whole crowd started chanting for The Toddler. He played it. He also gave an nice insight into the reality of SXSW. He asked the audience if anyone knew him and had seen him before. A large number shouted yes. He pulled a face and said “ I didn’t come all the way to SXSW to play to people who know me” and started a song.

Here is my iPhone recording of Kirin J. Callinnan doing The Toddler. Hilarious.


Suitably happy I walked back to my hotel. I was aware that there was much hyped Dublin band called Girl Band playing a 1am show. I walked by the venue and heard strange sounds which was the act warming up. Why not I thought. They were excellent, perhaps the edgiest band I viewed during the week. Reminiscent of the stoccato sounds of early Gang Of Four but much much heavier. Go try them if you want something different.

So that is that. 76 acts across 43 different venues.

Some failed to live up to the hype, some exceeded and some just made me smile.

In no order, here were the outstanding bands:

  • Holyesque
  • Jukebox The Ghost
  • Robert Delong
  • Family Crest
  • Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders
  • From The Airport
  • Will Butler
  • Lite
  • Borns
  • July Talk
  • Girl Band
  • Waylon Speed
  • Whitehorse
  • Lo Cut Connie
  • Fatherson
  • Great Caeser
  • Waylon Speed
  • Hello Wheels
  • King Tuff

And lastly here is a link to hear twenty or so of the best bands/songs that I heard at SXSW 2015. On most of the tracks there is a link to a video of the song on youtube ( but not for a couple as it freakily links to something else)