Austin Or Bust: The Laneway SXSW Day Party
24 March 2011
Smack bang in the middle of SXSW's musical festivities, we held our first ever SXSW party, Austin or Bust!, at much-loved Austin venue Mohawk. Taking place over two stages, one inside and one outside, the party was co-hosted with our good friends at The Windish Agency, Austinist and Eat Your Own Ears.
British crooner Jamie Woon kicked things off on the inside stage with a set full of big songs, our pick being single Night Air (watch the video below), backed by his ridiculously tight band.
Up next outside was Twin Shadow, one of our SXSW favourites, who had no trouble translating a very personal album into an entirely compelling live show, George Lewis Jnr and his band cracking out some more upbeat versions of tracks 'Castles in the Snow' and 'Slow' from last year's critically lauded Forget.
Having a bunch of Australia's finest at the party made us as proud as punch. Sadly, Blue Mountaineers Cloud Control had to pull out of the party at the last minute, but countrywoman Washington was there to replace them, the Melbourne songstress running through a strong set that would see a number of people, including the LA Times pop blog, taking notice.
Back outside, Dirty-Projectors-endorsed five-piece Givers took to the stage. The much talked about eclectic pop outfit showed why many rate them as one of the best live acts going around, with an effortless, ecstatic, loose set that quickly filled Mohawk with a euphoric communal vibe and made us want to go back to Louisiana and live with them forever.
Following such a set was not an easy task, but Cleveland natives Cloud Nothings did a bang up job, their spiky, hook-laden power-pop keeping everyone on their toes (see clip below).
Inside, meanwhile, Sydney tropical pop quartet The Holidays were delivering a typically energetic performance, managing to get even some of the seedier members of the audience – this was five days into the festival, after all – moving their feet.
Singer, songwriter and producer Hanni El Khatib was up next. Joined by a drummer, the San Francisco native's muscular set married early r'n'b and blues with a studied punk primitivism, the duo conjuring up such a fearsome racket it was difficult to believe that there was just two of them on stage.
Back outside, Knoxville's Royal Bangs took to the stage. The synth-rock trio, who'll soon be making their Letterman debut, offered up a thrilling set of pure energy, made all the more remarkable by the fact that this was of nine sets the tireless Tennesseans played in six days. Respect.
The Jezabels have been causing quite a stir stateside in recent times, with a number of successful tours and a well-received spot at CMJ last year. Their set, which closed out proceedings on the indoor stage, showed a band very much ready for bigger things, black-clad frontwoman Hayley Mary and band cracking through a brisk, lively batch of highlights from their three eps.
Foster The People finished things off on the outside stage with a set of gloriously danceable, affable pop, everyone heading out into the gathering Austin dusk humming 'Pumped Up Kicks', sated and happy.
We'd like to thank everyone involved with our debut SXSW for helping make it a total blast. We can't wait to do it all again next year!
Check out our other highlights from SXSW here.