SXSW Music Festival 2011 - Day 1 - Afternoon
Anne McCue [Jump], Or, The Whale [Jump], The Apache Relay [Jump], Hayes Carll [Jump], Caitlin Rose [Jump], Jason Isbell [Jump], The Silos [Jump]
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16-March 2011
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The reason I had missed SXSW 2010 was celebrating her first birthday 2000 kilometers away as I started my 16th SXSW. I felt a bit guilty for not being back home, but it also felt great to return in Austin for a few days of Texas sun & food, and an overdose of music.

Anne McCue @ Aussie's

“When Lucinda Williams calls someone “my new favorite artist and an amazing guitarist”, it’s a good idea to pay attention. Anne McCue’s [Broken Promise Land] is a showcase of singing, songwriting, and guitar playing excellence.” – David Maine,
The Southern Hemispheres party had an interesting line-up all afternoon, and I went there early to check out an artist whose albums I own but had never seen live before: Anne McCue. When I arrived at 12:30, techs were still fiddling with the PA, but luckily the band scheduled to play first was a no-show, so Anne started on time. As it turned out the PA wasn’t really ready yet, her second song, an ode to Johnny Cash titled “I Want You Back” was interrupted not once, but twice by major distortion, but she managed to work her way through an impressive set in front of a handful of people.
See a video from another performance during SXSW here.

Or, The Whale @ Cheers Shot Bar

“With a strong DIY ethic and a Carter family chemistry, Or, the Whale weaves driving indie-rock with sweet folk lullabyes, bootstompin' roots, drifting porch anthems, honesty and energy.” –
Back to the hotel to park the car, then on to 6th Street. Technical difficulties were front and center on the Cheers Patio. I can’t even remember how often the fuse blew, but the band handled it well and switched back and forth between completely acoustic songs and partly electric tracks...
See a video of "Call And Response" from a 2008 show

The Apache Relay @ Swan Dive

“While most of the songs fall into the folk-rock category, [American Nomad] still displays an impressive range, including the Motown-inspired “Watering Hole.” A cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper” features a tense buildup and sharp breakdown, with frontman Ford’s earnest delivery holding everything together. Bands’ lifespans may vary, but Ford sings like he’s in it for the long haul.” – Katie Chow, American Songwriter
One thing that is constant around Austin’s Sixth Street and Red River is change. As soon as I got to “Swan Dive” I recognized it as the old “Spiro’s”, one of the places I detested most during SXSW 2009. Let’s just say the change in name did not make it any better. Three lightbulbs were used to illuminate the stage, superloud music between sets made conversation difficult, but the line-up at the American Songwriter party was interesting enough to make me stick around for most of the afternoon. The first band I saw there was The Apache Relay, who delivered a highly energetic set.
Watch a video of "Home Is Not Places" here.

Hayes Carll @ Swan Dive

“Carll is locked in a not-so-fierce battle with Ryan Bingham for the title of new king of alt-country. Here he splits the difference between Bingham's tender musings and a more raucous brand of humor. It's no surprise a guy best known for ''She Left Me for Jesus'' would turn in a one-night-stand saga as funny as the Democratbeds- Republican duet ''Another Like You,'' but he can play it beautifully straight — and sad — too.” – Chris Willman, Entertainment Weekly
Had never seen Hayes before, but heard many good things. This was a great opportunity and he certainly got the crowd dancing. Or in his own words on his guest blog for the Austin Chronicle: “4:30pm: We take the stage. I have five fans, and they're all exceptionally bad dancers. Their enthusiasm inspires me though, and I drink more whiskey.”
Watch a video from another SXSW performance here.

Caitlin Rose @ Swan Dive

“[Caitlin Rose's] songwriting gifts are on ample display throughout Own Side Now, with lyrics that show a knack for poetic turns and artful understatement in equal measure -- a combination too seldom found in young songwriters' work -- and humble but hummable melodies that make the most of her grounding in both alt-country and pop.” – James Allen,
Another artist that came highly recommended. This set was okay, but I didn’t feel the urge to run out and buy the album.
See a video from this show here.

Jason Isbell @ Swan Dive

“Few songwriters today write with Isbell's combination of lyrical economy, deep-seated empathy, and masterstroke axe melodies.” – Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
I always enjoyed the songs Isbell wrote during his time with the Drive-By Truckers. I thought that his solo-debut was good, and that his second album showed a lot of growth as a songwriter and that his band had really become a unit after the many shows they had played together.
Initially I was a bit disappointed that he would play without the 400 Unit at this party, but his set turned out to be the highlight of the day and the entire festival. He was joined by Amanda Shires (Thrift Store Cowboys) on violin and harmony vocals and the obvious on-stage chemistry between them and the strength of the new material even won over the “fans” constantly yelling out for “Outfit”. They mesmerized the previously chatty party-crowd, and as the next band was running late, they got to play a few extra songs. Pure magic.
Setlist: "Alabama Pines", "The Magician", "Codeine", "Go It Alone", "We’ve Met", "Outfit", "Goddamn Lonely Love", "Tour Of Duty", "In A Razor Town", "Holland 1945"
Listen to the stand-out track of the new album here: “Codeine

Heading back along 6th Street it certainly did not feel like a Wednesday afternoon. Crowds were out in force and music was everywhere.

The Silos @ Dogwood

“You’d be hard pressed to find a lesser known band with as many great songs as The Silos.” – My Old Kentucky Blog
The Guitartown party was one of the first Wednesday afternoon parties at SXSW and used to be a “must-attend” in the earlier part of the decade. However, some questionable venue choices, increasingly shorter sets and so many alternatives have certainly eroded the popularity of the event. This year it was held at a venue with an unfamiliar name at the location of the old Mother Egan’s. But while Mother Egan’s was a great place to see live music, the Dogwood clearly isn’t. Nevertheless the Silos delivered the usual high-quality set, despite the fact that drummer Konrad Meissner only joined after the first couple of songs, arriving straight from playing a show with another band across town. The setlist (“Teenage Prayer”, “Election Day”, “Coming From The Grave”, “White Vinyl”, “The Only Love”, “The Ring Of Trees”) showcased quite a few songs from the outstanding new Florizona album.
Watch a video from this show here.
Listen to a song from the new album here: "
White Vinyl"

Continue to evening...

All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2011