South by Southwest Journal: Volume 3

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Yesterday began with a pilgrimage to Torchy’s across the river for perhaps the finest truck dining I’ve ever had. Two breakfast tacos later, we were back in the car heading to our hotel with Archers of Loaf’s Icky Mettle grinding on the stereo, and I got to thinking about cycles, trends and the merits of distortion. At some point after the fest, I want to write a piece about how SXSW has taught me that punk’s not dead, or maybe that punk is undead, but it’s been a long week, and I’m tired.

Inspired by our Archers of Loaf Mazda 3 jam, we caught Crooked Fingers, Eric Bachmann’s other, slightly more tame act at The Stage on Sitxth. Jumping between his acoustic, an electric 12-string and a Fender Jazzmaster, Bachmann and crew expertly touched on both the tenderness and madness of rock and roll. Their best was the closer “Typhoon”, which is the closest you can get to a Springsteen post-rock song.

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Crooked Fingers

From there, we headed back out east for Mess With Texas, sporting a fantastic lineup. First, we caught Lower Dens, who managed to transcend poor sound and the lack of reverb and deliver a set that is on the same entrancing level as their recorded output. Unsurprisingly, their newest single “Brains” (featured on this FP Mixtape) was the highlight of their set, with moving swells of digital delay and synths over a righteously alive drumbeat.

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Lower Dens

Soon thereafter, FP set up camp, waiting for perhaps our two most anticipated acts: Cloud Nothings and Titus Andronicus. After a super quick setup considering, Dylan Baldi and crew roared right into their set, comprised only of cuts off Attack on Memory, thankfully. Blasting through the pop angst and experimental anger that is their newest release, the young Baldi and bandmates embodied what’s special about dudes making music. A member of our group said it perfectly: “They sound and look like what my high school friend’s band would be like, had they played together for a few more years.” She didn’t say it as a diss, and you shouldn’t take it that way. Obvious highlight: the extended jam over the blistering “Wasted Days”.

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Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings

After a quick detour for a free beer and a quick set from Chicago-natives The Life and Times, we returned to the barn/hangar/warehouse where we caught Girls and Chairlift yesterday for Titus Andronicus. Sporting a brand new babyface and The Men t-shirt, Patrick Stickles appeared alive and ready to fucking rock. And fucking rock they did. Playing a set of 60% new and unreleased music, Stickles and his new band (goodbye Amy Andronicus, welcome back Liam Lynch) got the crowd moshing and chanting to tracks they’ve never heard. Inserting some old favorites like “No Future pt. 3″, “A More Perfect Union” and “Titus Andronicus”, this was by far the most rowdy show of the weekend. After witnessing TA maybe ten times in the last four years, I can say that this band only continues to get better. A fire builds in Stickles that shoots through his crazy man stare and his guitar, providing anthems for a generation that’s sick of the bullshit. See. This. Band.

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Hungry for more punk, we made our way to Beer Land, the spot that we caught Puffy Areolas on Wednesday for OBN IIIs. An Austin punk band that does not give a fuck, OBN IIIs rocked a crowded house with excellent cuts off their newest The One and Only. The award of most punk rock thing said at a show this weekend goes to OBN IIIs singer: “Please don’t knock my teeth out, sometimes it just happens.”

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Thoroughly drained after that balls to the wall afternoon, I retreated to chill. Nothing caught my eye on the lists too much, and I wasn’t able to get into THEESatisfaction, my cousin and I caught Tycho opening for Grimes way down at Clive Bar. Not knowing their music, it turned out Tycho was the best possible option, with their chilling instrumentals, soothing electronics and downright soulful drumming. Perfect jams to end a perfect day.

Peter Lillis is Assistant Editor of Frontier Psychiatrist. He feels quite rested today.

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