Continuing from Part 4

SXSW Saturday 19th March is it, The last day of our adventure here in Austin? We have had a good rest, and a lovely breakfast and we have decided to try to get into the Rachel Ray party at Stubbs. An American cook show host has a large party every year that usually consists of some very solid artists and this year it is no different with Jenny Lewis, George Clinton, and Andersan Paak.

This party is a popular one. Open to the public, it’s always quite busy, but we figure we will give it a go and that was a mistake. Even an hour early, at 9am, there are over 1000 people in line. Security tells us that the line was well over 500 people at 7:30 am. An open party, with a solid lineup that has free food and booze is always going to be popular, but this is ridiculous. As the doors open, our hope is that we make the cut as we have already waited for well over an hour. Stubbs holds a lot of people and we have already committed to this showcase so we just shuffle along. Luckily, there is no other showcase this early in the day so we are not missing anything.

As it happens, we get within 60 or so people to get in, and they shut the doors down. The venue has hit capacity. Sadly, it takes a quick look at the schedule of shows inside to see that with the free food and booze and the fact that most people are here to see the bands that come on in about 3 hours...we don't stand a chance.

What we can do is check our back up plans and make a decision.

We decide to wander around and then head to a party that starts at 1pm and we go and hang out in the wifi lounge at the Hilton. There we run into a friend from Toronto who has decided to head to the show we are going to as well so everything works out for a reason!

We are off to a party at the Barracuda. It’s another venue with an inside and outside stage, perfect to keep moving and maximizing the amount of bands we can see. Not sure what to expect here as the bands I am familiar with are coming up later we go.

First up is the Danish band Yung. These guys are relentless, a mess of feedback and rhythms, a quality rock band who's opening set is spirited enough to wake everyone up. It’s noisy but it is rock n roll and that's fine with me. Have seen a lot of guitar rock bands this week and these guys definitely know what they are doing as well.

Inside it is the Sun Club. These guys are a wacky 5 piece band from Baltimore. Big percussion, crazy upbeat and frantic singing, solid guitar work, it's an odd mix that plays itself out on stage. They don't do mellow..there is nothing that slows these guys down. You can’t watch these guys, it’s a rather amusing band to watch and the songs are pretty good, but perhaps pushed to a different level because of their frantic live show.

Back outside and it’s the NYC band called the Drowners. Its kinda "friendly post punk" that is sung by Welsh singer who moved to NYC years ago. The songs come on like a softer Strokes, and the singing is quite good. The songs switch from short 3 minute punk pop tunes to longer more complicated Smiths like songs. It is a great overall set of some pretty accessible songs and the set finishes a bit too soon.

Inside is a band I have tried to see a few times over the years. They tour a lot but it just has not worked out. Inside is Public Access TV.

Public Access TV is another band from NYC. This 4 piece band have been buzzed about for the last year or so. It's a splendid pop punk band that will end up reminding me of the Clash fairly often. They play very well and I can see why NME considered them one of the best bands to have recently come out of NYC. It’s sort of a retro punk sound that pleasurable to listen to and for such a young band.

We could stick around here for the rest of the showcase, but I really want to see the band that s coming up at the Brit Embassy bar Latitude and that is Nai Harvest.

We walk over to the venue and walk straight into their set. I have been a fan of theirs for some time. Nai Harvest is a 2 piece band that draws influences from 90's emo and alt pop bands and morph the sounds into their own. As a two piece, they to do a lot within their songs, a lot of stop start moments, some distorted voice and guitar and some frantic drumming and screaming that create all sorts of different levels of music. It is hook laden and riff driven and often reminds me of a smaller version of a messy Teenage Fanclub so I am pleased.

We can stay for one more band here before a quick trip to a nearby bar so up on stage, its Autobahn. This band is loud, and dark. A mix of Sisters of Mercy & Joy Division but with some growling guttural singing and a mess of noise. They are spirited but it’s a quick set and we have to move to get to the next venue.

Up next at the Vulcan Gas Company bar is Fantastic Negrito. This band won the NPR "Tiny Desk Contest" in 2015 and have been an often mentioned band in many friends lists of bands we have to see. Described as Black Roots music for everyone, and Blues with a punk attitude, it’s a band that strives to bridge a gap from Leadbelly to modern sounds by using loops and samples and some wicked musicians. Lead singer Xavier Dphrepaulezz is dynamic and assured. He speaks to the crowd as if he is leading a sermon, and the crowd eats it up. It's funk with a message and its sounds fantastic in this new bar.

It is difficult not to notice the meaning of his words and the themes are all statements on social issues and the band tries to push a message using instruments. It’s a quality set of songs and I am glad we made the time to get over here.

Now late afternoon and decisions need to be made. Our last night in Austin and we want to make sure we make the most of it. We have to make time for dinner, but also want to catch a few bands in multiple different venues and locations. Once we map out our approach, we have dinner, a fine craft ale and then we are back at it.

We hit the Blackheart on Rainey Street to catch the band Pins. Pins have been mentioned on numerous occasions as a band I need to revisit this trip. Two friends have seen them already this week and they all found ways to see them again because they were so good. I have seen Pins in years past but it works out that we can see them over here.

Pins are an all girl band from Manchester. They have been around for awhile but they seem to have stepped it up a bit. Guitar work is catchy, the Rhythm section is as good as I have heard on this trip and the voices are spectacular. It’s a beautiful wave of guitars and pop vocals, it’s as catchy as it gets and its delightful to see and hear. They have improved tremendously since the last show I saw and they are fun to watch. They are a very good group mixing up the girl group pop with some punk elements and it works well.

We are off now to check out the Aussie band Harts again. Sometimes you have to fit bands like these back into your schedule because the first show we saw of theirs was simply not enough. We enjoyed it so much, we have to see them again. In the back of my mind is the fact that we run the risk of getting shut out of the last showcase we plan to hit but it’s worth it for Harts.

It’s a walk to Esther’s Follies and we get there in time for the band before Harts. Breanna Barbara is up on stage and her band is really quite good. Always love these surprises and she has fantastic voice and a great band. Her first album is coming out shortly and I am quite intrigued by it. She is a lo fi punk blues artist with an incredible voice and I can’t wait to hear more. Sadly we catch only a few songs.

Harts is up next and they do not disappoint. This kid is ridiculously talented, with a Hendrix guitar style, throw in some funk, a greater drummer. It takes no time for pedestrian traffic outside the front window of the venue, to stop and start accumulating to take photo's and to witness this guy.

6th street is a madhouse tonight, but we watch from our seats at this venue as people wander by and can’t help but to stop. It’s a fantastic set of songs and despite the risk, whatever happens for the rest of the night, it was clearly the right decision.

We now rush over to the British Embassy at the Latitude bar, again, to catch Barns Courtney. This would be the only chance I had all week to see him and we are able to get in so the worry is over and I am happy.

Barns hits the stage and I certainly understand what the talk is about. This kid is awfully confident for being such a new artist, he sings like an old pro and he stands along plucking his guitar singing his country style pop hits and every song sounds strong.

There is no dud among them and his country style often morphs into a blues rocker and it’s easy to see a Carl Barat influence who is someone that has taken a keen interest in this kids future. There is an edge to this kids music which will appeal to many and I certainly can see why he has earned himself the opening slot for Ed Sheeran and the Libertines. Kid has talent and its fun to watch.

Now it’s time for a complete change of pace. Seems the British Music Embassy is going to finish off their showcases in Austin by having a bit of a dance party. Formation hits the stage and again, everything kicks off. The bar is full of many of the bands that have played here over the week and they are dance. Everywhere I look..they have moved forward and as soon as the band hits the stage and the lead vocalist, Will Ritson starts singing, its full on.

Quite the change from Barns Courtney, Formation are energetic and overwhelmingly boisterous and fun..full of funk and a dance beat frenzy that is quite welcome at this point. Will eventually comes into the crowd and dances along with the rest of us and its been rather entertaining. Not a bad way to make sure we end this festival in a way that we won’t was a blast.

Perhaps it was all the dancing, but all of a sudden I am feeling the effects of a full week of this. Though the next band has been promised to be the ultimate party band..aptly named PartyBaby, a guitar based funk dance band from Los Angeles, they can’t get this guy to move anymore. I was done in by Formation and PartyBaby, despite throwing out a lot of grooves and entirely danceable songs, I am done in. It’s here that I wave goodbye to my favourite venue of the city and walk to 2 blocks to our hotel because I do have to fly home sadly.

Overall, it was yet another successful SXSW and a quality visit to Austin. Was able to go from showcase to showcase without any hiccups, was able to get into the night showcases without a problem and despite the few technical issues at some shows and the ill fated attempt at heading to the Rachel Ray party, all has gone well. I hope to see a few more friends in Austin next year in March for SXSW2017

Jim & Sandra