Even though there was technically one last night of South by Southwest, it still seemed as if Saturday was the festival’s one true finale, as downtown’s sidewalks were congested with pedestrians and loiterers while roads were congested with bicycles, pedicabs, and automobiles from noon onward. Traffic might’ve been started beforehand, but I wasn’t awake that early.
I somehow managed to get up in time to see indie rock band In the Valley Below perform at the Radio Day Stage inside the Convention Center. It was a good show with amazing chemistry between dual lead vocalists Jeffrey Jacob Mendel and Angela Gail Mattson. The band got its hit single “Peaches” out of the way early and concentrated on getting its groove with “Neverminders” and the funky “Pink Chateau.”
Israeli indie pop band Lola Marsh treated attendees at the International Day Stage to a special impromptu acoustic set that I generally think works well in the intimate Convention Center room. Moving from the infectious “Wishing Girl” to “Sirens” to a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” Lola Marsh wowed the audience with its subtlety and grace. There was even time for “In Good Times” as a throwback to the band’s early days as a duo of Gil Landau and Yael Shoshana Cohen.
I caught a few songs from lovelytheband (“Broken” and “Make You Feel Pretty”) at the Radio Day Stage before making the trek south to TOMS for its Girl School Showcase. Singer-songwriter and producer Anna Wise got the late afternoon showcase started with some casual beats before increasing the tempo in order to get people to dance (“Go” and “Some Mistakes”).
Baltimore-based rapper TT the Artist followed with a lively performance that was somewhat successful in getting more people in the audience to dance with a purpose. “Shake it like an earthquake,” repeated TT (a.k.a. Tedra Wilson). The younger members of the crowd took up the challenge, but the older members not so much. Fortunately, those who refrained from even getting up had an excuse with the subsequent Portland lo-fi indie rock trio Candace and its brooding dream pop sound. It was almost the exact opposite of dance music, but credit to those few were noticeably not stationary.
I didn’t stay to catch the closing special guest person (I still don’t know it was) as I returned downtown. I attempted to catch the festival’s final Superorganism show, but the British Music Embassy was beyond full. I instead made my way to the Waller Ballroom for the final Wyldest performance. The dimly-lit stage well-suited the indie rock trio’s downtempo ethereal sound that has been compared to a combination of Los Angeles-based rock quartet Warpaint and English singer-songwriter Kate Bush – very much the latter on “Island Gardens.”
Indie folk duo Field Division (Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton) performed an intimate set at the Parish. Taylor and Frampton performed many songs from their upcoming full-length debut album, including “Lately” and “Things Change.” It would’ve been interesting to hear the duo with its regular backing band, but those musicians were back home being parents.
I still can’t believe the Scottish rock quintet Lylo fit on the tiny Velveeta Room stage, but being cramped didn’t seem to ruin the band’s mojo. In fact, the band seemed energized, injecting songs from its recently released sophomore album Post Era with a bit of juice. The punk felt more biting, the funk more spiritual, and the ska was more ska-like (if you listen to ska then you’ll know what I’m talking about). The set’s highlight was “Yeah Boy,” which had a bit of all three.
At Friends Bar, the night and festival’s final performance for me belonged to the first Romanian band ever invited to SXSW: Moonlight Breakfast. The band’s self-described “retro-electro” sound was quite refreshing with its nu-jazz and soul flavors, such as on “No More.” The crowd seemed to have a bit of a confused reaction to the music playing, as people weren’t really dancing so much as they were simply bouncing up and down. Maybe they were too drunk, or maybe they were just trying to suck up all the energy before the night ended.
Either way, SXSW 2018 was over for me.
- Anna Wise – “Self on Fire”
- Candace – “It’s Crying Outide”
- Field Division – “Modest Mountains”
- In the Valley Below – “Last Soul”
- Lola Marsh – “You’re Mine”
- lovelytheband – “Emotion”
- Lylo – “Turn My Jacket”
- Moonlight Breakfast – “Time”
- TT the Artist – “Testify”
- Wyldest – “Hitchhiker”