A week ago today (SXSW Day 2)

This time last week marked our first full day in Austin at SXSW.  My wife and I were going to make every second count, and that had to start with an early lunch at Chipotle!

Afterward we went to an outdoor show where we could catch Cloud Nothings and Diamond Rings back to back.  Cloud Nothings seemed surprisingly young and it’s probably safe to say they played the fastest tempo-ed songs we would hear our entire trip.  It’s always really cool to be pleasantly surprised by a band and Could Nothings were the kind of surprising in all sorts of good ways.

Diamond Rings is the solo project of Canadian John O’Regan.  He played an incredibly thought-out set of music by running tracks off his computer and jumping from keys to guitar then just straight-up dancing.  It was quite focused and entertaining all at the same time.

After a quick stop at Hey Cupcake!, we stood in line for the Okkervil River day show only to give up on that line after about 45 minutes of not really moving.  We thought we’d just catch them later, so we made the 1 1/2 mile walk over the bridge on S. Congress and headed toward Home Slice Pizza (an incredible place for live shows/food we discovered last year) for some music and pizza pie.

When we arrived Lord Huron was playing this absolutely magnificent music with a string quartet.  That was my first experience of their sound, but I’m definitely excited about checking them out much more in the coming months.

Next up was The Kopecky Family Band who I had heard of through our mutual press company, The Musebox.  At first I wasn’t terribly impressed, but by the end of their set they won me over.  The vocals carry this band from Nashville as they possess this quaint folksy quality in their sound.

The Kopecky Family was followed by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, a band I have loved ever since I heard “Oregon Girl” way back in the day.  They played a full-band acoustic set that I really enjoyed although I was also ready for them to finish playing because our table was ready and I was pretty famished!

I won’t discuss everyone we saw that night at Antones, because there were a couple acts that were t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e.  Soooooo bad.  We didn’t stand in line for nearly 2 hours to see them, but we did want to see Yellow Ostrich and Okkervil River.  We got in just in time to hear the last song of The Head and the Heart, but I wish we could’ve heard more.  They seemed like they were in total control of the crowd with their sing-along-type melodies and broad-range dynamics.

Yellow Ostrich played later.  We had seen them about a week prior in Asheville and had been listening to them nonstop ever since.  They run live vocal loops that just make your scratch your head in amazement.  Also the drummer doesn’t even use a kick drum or hi-hats.  All that to say, you wouldn’t notice anything missing at all.  However, they are dependent on the computer, so when it went out mid-set, there was a slight awkwardness as the drum beat for their song “Whale” (which you’ll hear on the Littlest Sounds April comp.) just kept going while they figured things out.  All in all, their set was still amazing, lovely, and wonderful.  They are easily one of the top 3 bands I’ve heard this year.

The Submarines were up right before Okkervil River and they also pulled out their computer to play along with some tracks.  They pulled this off quite nicely.  I loved watching their drummer.  He seemed like the most joyous person we saw all of SXSW.  Really everyone in their band seemed like they were having such a good time, which made all of us in the crowd sorta have a good time!

Okkervil River headlined and they absolutely killed it.  I had never seen them live, but they did not disappoint.  Will Sheff, lead singer and guitarist, was so captivating.  Other than the drunk guy standing beside me trying to pick up this girl standing next to him, this show was perfect.  The highlights were when they played “Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe”, “For Real”, the acoustic “A Stone”, and their new single “Wake and Be Fine”.  After the show was all said and done, Okkervil River retained their place in my heart as one of my favorite bands.

We were so insanely tired of standing by the time the show was over that it didn’t help when we couldn’t find our parking garage for a bit!  Eventually we made it back to the hotel, knowing that tomorrow would be the longest day yet and one of the longest of our lives.

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