South by Southwest Music Festival has more than 1300 bands playing in more than 50 venues in Austin, TX. And those are just the official shows. Many of the bands also play parties and unofficial showcases several other times during the week. Wednesday March 15, 2006 opened SXSW for its 20th year of great music.
My day started with one of the unofficial parties to see Paris Motel. In a type of music that leaves the possibility of pretension wide open, Amy May and her crew were anything but smug. The band of seven was extremely kind and down to earth. While they were playing, you could tell every single one of them was having a good time. And what better way to start a music festival than to see a band of people really enjoying themselves?
My first official show was Amos Lee. I have to admit I was unfamiliar with his music, but a friend assured me I would enjoy it. The venue was packed and general admission was closed so only badges and wristbands were allowed in. The club was three levels and it was extremely difficult to even find standing room. But my friend was correct; I definitely enjoyed Amos Lee’s music and will go out to buy his CD as soon as I can. A little bit folk and a little bit soul; Amos Lee kind of has a Damien Rice mixed with Ray LaMontagne thing going for him.
While watching Amos Lee, I heard buzz about the band after him so I decided to stay and see what World Party had to offer. And man oh man did this rock band from London give the crowd what they wanted. I was on the balcony on the third floor and could see a majority of the room was singing along. Everyone in the club was doing their own little concert watching dance and smiling. I’ve been to SXSW for the past several years and have never once seen a venue so crowded. I am definitely adding World Party to my list of bands to learn more about though.
The Plimsouls were up next, in their first show in ten years. If you are familiar with the movie Valley Girl with Nicholas Cage, you’ll recognize The Plimsouls as the band they go see. It is always entertaining to watch an older band play, especially one that doesn’t play together anymore. A rock band with some punk aesthetics, The Plimsouls were good for a smile.
Since Paris Motel offered such a great way to open the first day of SXSW, I figured why not end the day with them as well. Once again everyone around was saying how much they enjoyed the band. People seemed to appreciate the addition of the violin, flute, and bassoon to the guitar, base, keyboard, and drums. Amy May’s voice sneaks into your heart and makes you listen and since she is about as adorable as they come, you certainly don’t mind.
Other bands of note for the first night should certainly include The Flaming Lips, who was a rumored special guest at a show causing quite a stir. From streamers and balloons to people rushing the stage, The Flaming Lips can remind anyone and everyone why they love music. The Scottish group, Belle & Sebastian also played the first day of the festival. They did a fantastic job of mixing new tunes with classic favorites. Plus, lead singer Stuart Murdoch gave everyone permission to pinch the butt of the person next to you should they be cute.
So that’s one night down, four more to go. And that will be four days full of great music, food, and most importantly beer.Powered by Sidelines