Day 3 of South by Southwest featured more fantastic music but was marred by more than a couple technical difficulties cutting various band’s sets short. Either way, there’s still more fresh and exciting music happening here than any festival I can recall attending.Big Red Sun In The Nest â€šÃ„Ã¬ The Cops
At a small outdoor venue a few blocks away from the insanity of 6th street (Big Red Sun looks like a flower shop converted for shows) Seattle’s The Cops smashed through tracks from their debut Get Good or Stay Bad and a few new songs to close the set including “Hot Floor” and “Terribly Empty Pockets.” The Cops’ Michael Jaworsky led the band with vibrant stage presence and bombastic energy. Rocking hard with a late 70s punk feel The Cops showed much promise for the future.
Emo’s Main Stage – My Chemical Romance
A late addition to the Shirts for a Cure party at Emo’s, My Chemical Romance packed the venue with an elated crowd of younger fans. Singer Gerard Way incited the crowd to sing along whenever possible, allowing the fans’ voices to take precedence over his own during “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” “Thank You For The Venom” and “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison.” The band’s pop punk sensibilities and spirit had the crowd excited through the duration. Near the end Way claimed that many of the teen magazine interviews that are seen of him are “stolen” without the band being involved, so he implored the crowd to “go out and steal” as many as they could after the show and burn them. The band did play a new song as their encore entitled “Daddy” but the highlight was most certainly the set ender “Helena” which saw numerous fans jump on stage and sing along in the mic before being cast off the stage.
Beauty Bar â€šÃ„Ã¬ Nada Surf
At the Jane Magazine day party at beauty bar Nada Surf brought a capacity crowd to the open-air stage in the back. With darkness approaching the band played an upbeat mid-90s alternative rock to the delight of a surprising amount of fans. Indicative of much alt-rock Nada Surf used elements of feedback, driving basslines and hook-y choruses during songs like “Blonde On Blonde” and “High Speed Soul” without overloading any one of them. The band was also joined for a few songs by Harvey Danger’s Sean Nelson on backup vocals.
Jackalope â€šÃ„Ã¬ Jello Biafra/Freak Accident
Over at the Alternative Tentacles party at Jackalope, Jello Biafra almost missed his MC spot introing showcase opener Freak Accident. Before Biafra’s entrance Freak Accident’s lead singer joked of doing his best Jello impression, to which Jello offered to have a contest to who could do the best impression. Jello spoke at length about members of Freak Accident came from a band that played with The Dead Kennedys in the 80s called Accident Victim. After the intro the band launched into a dropped-D power chord brand of rock, complete with rolling drums, a gravelly voiced singer and a cowbell!
Bourbon Rocks – Cavalier King
After waiting too long for Jello Biafra’s intro at the Alternative Tentacles party, there was just enough time to catch the end of Cavalier King’s set at Bourbon Rocks. Lead singer/guitar player Chris Taylor emotively sang, “I’m sorry it came to this” over hard rock during the band’s “The War Is On” from the The Sun Revolutions.
Dirty Dog Bar – Isobel Campbell
Former Belle & Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell began a set that featured songs from her upcoming duet album with Mark Lanegan Ballad of the Broken Seas. It has to be mentioned that instead of playing the show without the Mark Lanegan collaborations (or going on tour with him) Campbell brought a substitute singer Eugene Kelly to fill Lanegan’s shoes. Kelly’s voice does not hold a candle to Lanegan’s. Nowhere was this more apparent then their set-ending rendition of Hank Williams’ classic “Ramblin’ Man.” Isobel’s voice is breathy and sweet, but Kelly added little to the performance. Isobel played guitar, cello and sometimes added an egg shaker sound to the mix while cooing for “Willow’s Song,” “Honey Child What Can I Do?” and “Love Hurts.”
Emo’s Main Room – Soul Position
Rjd2 and Blueprint’s Soul Position took stage at Emo’s for an entertaining set of quality underground hip-hop. With RJ mostly busy tracking beats and samples quietly in the back Blueprint worked the crowd and spit rapid-fire rhymes. Sould Position played track from their upcoming new album Things Go Better With RJ and Al such as “Blame It On The Jaeger'” and “I Need My Minutes” the latter of which featuring Rjd2 strapping a makeshift sampler to his chest and playing it behind blueprint on stage. While Blueprint rapped with minimal hooks and melodies, RJ kept the beat fresh adding in samples from the Talking Heads’ “Same As It Ever Was” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” The band also played a solid rendition of their collaboration from Rjd2’s Deadringer “The Final Frontier.”
Spiro’s â€šÃ„Ã¬ Gliss
David, Martin and Victoria from Gliss took turns switching duties as drummer, guitarist and bassist, playing a potent mix of goth rock with snippets of psychedelic noise. A small number of people gathered close by the stage and enjoyed the band’s articulate performance. The one problem was that the main vocals were difficult to hear. Not inaudible but somewhat muddied, making it hard to distinguish the lyrics or get a true sense of the vocal’s delivery.
Red Eyed Fly – The Elected
Sub Pop’s The Elected effectively got screwed out of most of their set. Singer/guitar player Blake Sennett spent a long time trying to correct audio issues with Red Eyed Fly’s sound man with little luck. At least twenty minutes was wasted trying to get the front monitors working and to have the keyboard actually pipe through the speakers. Once the errors were corrected the band (and the crowd) happily proceeded. However after a mere two songs the stage manager came over to inform the band they only had three songs left. Sennett was audibly frustrated loudly chastising the stage manager “That’s not fair!” because the error was the venue’s mistake. Nevertheless, what they did play sounded great. Opening with a sparse acoustic rendition of “Sun, Sun, Sun” and then shifting into the alt country of “Fireflies in a Steel Mill” and the impressive “Not Going Home.” The anger from the technical difficulties here almost seemed to help bring an edge to The Elected’s performance.
Dirty Dog Bar â€šÃ„Ã¬ Witch
Witch did a jaw-dropping set that was way too short. Singer/guitar player Kyle Thomas and guitar player Asa Irons (from avant folk group Feathers) shredded interweaving melodic thrash along the lines of classic Black Sabbath. Kyle’s voice loaded with reverb was evocative of hearing some proclamation booming from a mountain top cave. Dinosaurs Jr.’s J. Mascis pummeled the drums during opener “Seer,” “Soul of Fire” and “Changing.” In particular “Changing” (dedicated by Kyle to those from New Enlgand) featured a downright flabbergasting crescendo build of dueling guitars, pounding bass from Dave Sweetapple and smashing drum patterns. It has to be said, if this band can stay functioning as more than a side project that fans of Dinosaur Jr. just poke around listening to, and start amassing a fan base that appreciate this type of hard rock/stoner metal, there’s no telling what they can do.