← back to Blog Archive

The Final Day.

Also. Bedlam. It’s the St Patrick Day Saturday Crowd. Spring Break starting across Texas. March Madness kicking in. Final day of the Six Nations Rugby tournament in all the bars. And the last Day of SXSW Music. So, bedlam.

Normally the last day sees most of the “name” bands and even the rising "buzz" bands having already cleared town. So it is this year too. As I looked over my Saturday Afternoon and then Saturday Evening list of who I might want to see, there are only five acts who I really know and two of them I have seen already. So once more the final day will be the epitome of the SXSW experience - catching a pile of bands who barely made it on to my list and a load more that I just see without planning to do so. It will be a day of surprises, the hope being most of them are good ones.

Half past midday, off to a flyer. To the back yard of the Sid Bar to see Charleston’s The Artisanals pounding psychedelic rock in three minute vignettes. A promising start to the proceedings


Into the Convention centre’s international stage to check out Beshken an LA electronic pop one man thing. They fit somewhere between the lightness of Air and the obscureness of Boards of Canada. Liked it. Back to Side Bar to see Faux Ferocious from Nashville. Sounded good but it was as if the earlier psych band The Artisanals were still playing.


I had to do it. I caught a Lyft out to a bar over on Austin East side called Weather Up. Presence of genius and all that, to see Fontaines D.C. play their sixth and final set of SXSW 2019. My friend Dermott captured all six, this was my third and they were at their very best, obviously going all out on their last show. There was just something very extra special about this Dublin band. You could tell they knew they were on to something too.

There is not a lot on the Pitchfork website that impresses me these days but in their review of the band’s just released debut album, Dogrel, they captured it well with “in Grian Chatten, they have a frontman blessed with Ian Curtis’ intense stare and Mark E. Smith’s megaphone mouth, favoring a sternly delivered, free-ranging shout-speak that frequently veers far outside the lines of traditional pop-song structure”.

Here is my video from the stage front. Special.


Here is Grian about to enter the stage

And on stage

Impossible to follow that. Back to Beerland where I saw or rather heard The Exhalents. What is a louder and more expressive way of saying a solid wall of noise? You decide and then that is what this band had/did.

Now earlier in the day, as I was wondering where to go I passed by Valhalla (again - the venue of the week) and saw a messy hand written flyer stuck to their door. This was it:

Among a sea of unofficial acts (that is bands that SXSW did not give an evening official showcase to) was the only band that my son Jake had said I should go see, Dead Meadow. Now I think I saw this band the second ever time I went to SXSW in 2008 and I knew they were excellent. The previous night they played to a packed crowd in one of the bigger SXSW venues so it was quite a thing to see them playing on this line up. Went early again to make sure I got in. Big mistake. First of all the band that played before them, The Love Kills Theory managed to wrestle the mantle of worst show of the week from the previous leaders Kojaque, quite comfortably, and secondly, the place was empty even for Dead Meadow - could not fathom that. The Love Kills Theory were bad on so many levels. But I will highlight just two.1. They did TWO cover versions which I had assumed was just against the law at SXSW, murdering both The Only Ones, Another Girl , Another Planet and also Aretha Franklin’s Respect. 2. Well, the first one was enough. No redeeming features over the twenty minutes endurance test.

But Dead Meadow were wonderful. It might have been empty, maybe thirty people max, but they could care less and put on a beautiful shoe gazing, slacker rock psychedelic geetar show. I do not know how I did this but I lost the original video and the only way I can share it now is via this link to my music instagram feed. The video is the second page. Not looking for followers just check out the video.



Time for the last show of the afternoon and it was the other of the two Most Fun shows of the week. Calliope Musicals are an Austin institution who everyone should get the chance to experience. Last year I saw them in a church. This year it was in Key Bar a tiny bar full of folk whose average age did not appear to be 21. It was a wild show. Think Devo meets Female Diva meets Star Wars Stage Production.

Here is but a snippet



And now the end is near and so I face the final curtain.

It is Saturday night. Lets whizz around twelve different venues and see fifteen more acts, because I counted. The quality was not as good as the rest of the week with a few exceptions but it was a fun way to go out.

So, first up was perhaps the best of the rest. Greenwave Beth at Beerland. He is the lead singer of Sydney band, Flowertruck and this is how a one man New Romantic throwback to the early eighties sounds in 2019. Best song - Make Up.


Then to Elysium to see Bizou more pleasant LA Synth pop.


Then Fripps and Fripps at Club 720 Patio, not bad Americana, and on to another UK buzz band, Boy Azooga, who did not impress at Latitude 30, and then Super Doppler ( great name) at Esther’s Follies (great venue), good show.

A small highlight of the night was the one man show by Del Water Gap, strange name, but quite a compelling solo sound, all the way from Brooklyn.



I then went next door to Las Perlas where I saw Lunar Vacation an Atlanta band who said they formed in the summer of 2016 as a way to escape the monotony of suburban Catholic-school life. They are not going to take over the world but they have already achieved more than I ever will artistically. They also kept up the trend for inventing new genres. They say they are Pool Rock. Loved their keys sound


It is 10.15 pm. SXSW 2019 is slipping away. The next show would turn out be the last great one for this year. It was Briston Marony. Now if you have a name like that you better turn out to be a rock star or a movie star. The name also has certain expectations attached to it. It sounds like something from a seventies prog rock thing. Well Briston is all that and more. Wearing loons (18inch flared jeans) and band members with mullet hair and mismatching colorful outfits obviously put on in the dark, he put on a hell of a show at the often graveyard of sound mixing - the backyard of Swan Dive with an unforgiving sloping concrete yard - basically where normally all their giant garbage dumpsters would sit, but now it has a stage and sixty folk gathered around it. Briston. He is both trying to be Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. Did not do a bad job either. Old school rock. I half expected Richie Blackmore and Jon Anderson to join him,

He and his band were great. So I looked into him. Check this out. Here he is in 2014 auditioning for American Idol.


Here he is in 2019 blazing his way across the U S of A. This is the song that made me want to go see him. He is special. As an aside Bass players were the heroes of SXSW 2019. From the dancing broken handed one from The Dirty Nil to this six foot ten red haired face pullin' virtuoso….impressive.



Next in the appropriately named give bar The Dirty Dog, I managed to get another wall of sound death metal fix, this time from An Author, A Poet. Searing. Soaring. Invigorating.

Normal photo service resumes thanks to portable battery chargers and into Velvet Rooms to see Maudlin who had a quite lovely sound, a bit of a calm zen twenty minutes after Briston and the metal crew.

Maudlin, a husband and wife team, are absolutely loved by their own record label who say of them : “The band is a blitz of post-punk, guitar smashing, wreck the train Rock and Roll that has not been seen since the glory days of CBGB. Behind all the Rock and Roll stance is a band with big brains and big hearts.”

They had a great sound and their single Of Enoch and Hard Knocks is my second favourite song by a completely unknown band from this years SXSW. The lyrics are a killer throwback to non PC stuff from the seventies. Example: “ I left my first mistake for your mother’s arms, For she had a body you would not believe, oh my god”.

Listen to that here: https://schedule.sxsw.com/2019/artists/2008543


Back to the lovely Victorian Room to see Quivers from Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, the best Go Betweens band of the moment. Great sound, actually closed my eyes and yes, they were the Go Betweens.

It is midnight. I cannot let this end. How about squeezing four more bands in before they switch off the lights. Yes.

Kandle at Esther’s Follies

The Shackletons at Velvet Rooms.

Laura Carbone at Elysium

Broncho at the Parish.

All were not bad but after five days and 97 bands and one or two Shiner Bocks, with the odd G&T, there was only one thing left for me to ask.

The absolute best of today were Calliope Musicals, Briston Marony, and Dead Meadow, with obviously Fontaines D.C. too,

It is done. For those of you have read all five notes, thanks for indulging me. I am about to send you a Spotify playlist with some of the best that I saw. 2020? Who knows. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4jLDnk1suof9MoBs9LccCj