SXSW 2011 Post-Mortem: Migas’ Top Sets
I can remember SXSW this year because, for the first time, I didn’t take full advantage of the free day party booze. I also woke up on a couch every night (instead of an alley, as in years past) so I actually have something to report beyond missing possessions. Personal perspective: This was the best of the five SXSWs I’ve attended. It was EXTREMELY Houston oriented, with tons of friends either performing or partying throughout. I get to see Houston bands all the time but it was a special thing to witness several of them playing major showcases to a completely different audience, but with an equally positive response. Houston drives a Dodge Stratus. Houston is big-time stuff. Read on for my top sets of SXSW 2011:
Middle Brother, consisting of members from Dawes, Deertick, and Delta Spirit played at Barbarella Friday evening around 5pm with a special guest appearance from Johnny Corndawg. Song highlights included “Blood and Guts”, “Thanks for Nothing”, “Portland”, and “Daydreaming”. Witnessing their contrasting vocal styles in person was a live example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes sings in this heartfelt, somber way that’s literally soul crushing. John McCauley of Deer Tick’s vocals present a tougher, more gruff side. Meanwhile, Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit complements the group with a little more rock and roll. Together they make quite a team. Barbarella was definitely graced with a decent sound team, as you never really know what you’re going to get sound-wise at a festival like this. During the show, Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit crowd surfed while Taylor Goldsmith and John McCauley made magic on their guitars. It ruled.
2. Fat Tony @ Cheer Up Charlie’s, Thursday
Every reader should know by now that Breakfast on Tour is a fan of the Fat Tony enterprise. Anthony Obi, aka Fat Tony, pulled out all the stops on Thursday night around 1:30am at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Collectively he and his entourage Lisa E, The Aspiring A.D.D, and DJ Ipod Ammo effortlessly got the crowd hype from song one. Around 2:00am, mid thanks to the crowd and all those who ‘Buy His Shit,’ he was told he needed to wrap it up. Not! He makes the rules. After the first attempt to finish the song, he was unplugged! Didn’t stop him though. A.D.D and Tony worked together to get the crowd as silent as possible. Everyone quieted down and listened to Tony’s words intently, while he finished the last 2 verses of his final song acapella. Yes, he did. And it was incredible.
3. Dawes @ Lustre Pearl, Saturday
Dawes played at Lustre Pearl around midnight on Saturday. The band looked completely exhausted, wore the same clothes from the Middle Brother show from the previous day, but absolutely did not lack in performance or energy. Dawes played several songs from North Hills, like “My Girl to Me”, “Love is All I Am”, “Peace in the Valley” and “Western Skyline” along with a few new ones. The new songs I was most impressed with were “If I Wanted Someone” and “Fire Away.” During “Fire Away,” Taylor encouraged the crowd to sing two major lines from the song: “When you need someone to walk away from, when you need someone to let you in.” The sing-along to a brand new song was an exciting part of the show, with everyone screaming the lyrics over and over again. They ended with “When My Time Comes” where we were treated to Middle Brother part 2. Matt Vasquez, Johnny Corndawg, John McCauley, and members of Deer Tick all came out and finished out the show with the band. Seeing friends together like this was a really special experience.
Robert Ellis played a set at Lustre Pearl around 10pm Saturday night. He stole hearts as usual with “Westbound Train.” The girl standing next to me who reeked of whiskey but maintained her spritely charm asked me the name of the song at least 4 times and later ran into me inside telling me she was dedicating it to her boyfriend overseas. It’s so easy to fall in love with Robert for reasons like this. His words are heartfelt and sincere. Any individual can take him in without preconception and instantly feel compelled to feed off of his energy. Later Ellis was cut in line at a taco truck by Aziz Ansari, famous for his role as Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation. Ellis gave ‘the cutter’ a what for about courtesy in a taco truck line. Don’t ever get in between a Texas man and his tacos.
Best SXSW ever.