South by Southwest‘s second music day didn’t start off so well as far as Tucker Halpern, one half of electronic pop duo Sofi Tukker, was concerned. “Yeah, you guys are super into it,” Halpern chided sarcastically to the mostly less-than-energetic audience right before the duo’s closing song during an early afternoon set at Empire Control Room on Tuesday. His music partner Sophie Hawley-Weld immediately defended a few of the good ones who were dancing and waving their arms as best they could.
It was a shame since Sofi Tukker typically performs with a lot of energy, though you couldn’t really tell from the quasi-dance routine on “Awoo” that features some basic arm-waving. Halpern was gracious enough to take over duties that friend Betta Lemme normally does on the track. But it was also understandable considering SXSW’s long days and late nights. Daytime wake up calls should be banned this week.
Undeterred, the duo still rewarded the audience by performing new songs at the Mazda Studio Showcase like “Greed” and a couple others that featured unprintable expletives.
One of the great things about SXSW is the push to cram as much live music into the downtown space. For example, folk quartet All Our Exes Live in Texas performed inside a small restaurant in support of SXSW’s Taco Project in the Hilton Hotel. While eating tacos and listening to music isn’t necessarily a novel idea in Austin, watching other people do it astounds an outsider like me.
The downside, however, is the crapshoot that can be the sound systems of these impromptu performances. I actually couldn’t really hear much of the band’s words, so much of what I enjoyed was the melody and atmosphere. It was also fun to see the four women attempt to recreate the T.A.C.O. hand gesture version of the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” during their finale (spoiler alert: it did not go well). The highlight track was “Candle” about going through conscious uncoupling.
If any music act was better scheduled than Lo Moon, then I have yet to see it. The Los Angeles-based electronic trio’s shoegaze-esque bedroom rock fit very well at just past dusk at Levi’s Outpost. While these kind of slow jams can sometimes ease people into a slumber, the timing matched the mood. It didn’t hurt that lead singer Matt Lowell has got serious Chris Isaak vibes with his smooth vocals. Not all songs were slow and heavy like new single “Loveless”, as “Real Love” provided a few more uptempo beats.
Shakespeare-inspired Italian electronic rock trio Ofeliadorme (translated as “Ophelia is sleeping”) helped end my early night with a bit of melancholy. Someone described Ofeliadorme’s sound as “dream beat” which was apt for the band’s somewhat moody, somewhat hypnotic melodies to go along with Francesca Bono’s soft, sensual vocals. “Jupiter” best showcases this sound for those wanting a bit of soul soothing.