Text/Photos by Lizz Kannenberg
Opening Day at the SXSW Music Conference is a little like the first day of summer vacation from high school: It’s warm, you’re free from responsibility and you can’t wait to find some freakin’ beer. Luckily there’s plenty flowing at the day parties, which greases the skids nicely for a showcase-hopping night on the town.
From the top:
The Terrorbird Media/Force Field PR day party at Red 7 was the Wednesday winner for longest line, with good reason–both hosts have buzzy rosters and a good deal of tastemaking cache. I caught Shout Out Out Out Out firing up an early-afternoon dance party on the indoor stage and then stumbled back into the daylight to take in the packed Pains of Being Pure At Heart set out on the outdoor stage. The Pains may just be this year’s must-see, so it’s a good thing they’re giving us no less than 10 opportunities to check out their fizzy, twee-tastic shoegaze pop. This was the group’s first set of SXSW ’09, and the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd was feeling it. And the cheap Lone Stars.
The popular refueling station known as the Levi’s/Fader Fort migrated this year from its most recent outpost at 4th and Brazos to a huge, sprawling complex just east of I-35. I happened to wander in for a complimentary SoCo and lime during Graham Coxon‘s surprise-ish set on Wednesday afternoon, and the crowd was thin but enthusiastic. I’m pretty sure the bookish-looking Coxon was unintentionally incognito, as I overheard a couple wondering if they were seeing Abe Vigoda‘s set.
Night showcases are always prime for checking out groups you’ve never heard of before, since any band with any buzz will likely be a hard set to get into. I was in luck, catching a howling bit of drone folk from San Francisco’s Sleepy Sun during the Leafy Green showcase at Emo’s and the art rock edge of Toronto’s DD/MM/YYYY.