SXSW Music Festival 2011 - Day 2 - Evening
Capsula [Jump], Lo-Pan [Jump], My Jerusalem [Jump], Monahans [Jump], Oh Susanna [Jump], Kendel Carson & Chip Taylor [Jump], Maggie Walters [Jump], Ron Sexsmith [Jump], Leatherbag [Jump], Thrift Store Cowboys [Jump]
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Austin, Texas
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17-March 2011
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Capsula @ Nuvola

“Buenos Aires, Argentina's Capsula make the kind of psychedelic garage-rock that seems perfectly suited to the madcap atmosphere that pervades the annual South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. Their songs have enough grit and urgency to match the frantic, sleepless atmosphere of the festival, but they also have enough well-crafted hooks to stand out above the din created by the dozens of other bands playing within earshot.” - NPR
I had stumbled upon Capsula two years ago, when they played to a handful of people at 1pm in the afternoon. This time around they played to a full house
– good to see them getting some well deserved recognition. Despite losing stage power three times, they delivered an energetic set that had people lining up to buy their CD post-show.
Watch a video from a show during SXSW 2010 here.

A stop at the Small Stone Records showcase is SXSW tradition for me to get away from the Americana crowd for some heavier sounds. The band I came to see at Barbarella was House Of Broken Promises, a Unida spin-off (see a official video of "The Hurt" here). However, due to a last minute line-up change Lo-Pan took over their slot. Not bad either, most likely the first band I've seen where the lead-singer positions himself at the back of the stage. Listen to "Dragline" here.

My Jerusalem @ Esther's Follies

"Crafted by a talented collective armed with a menagerie of guitars, trumpets, strings, drums and keys it's hard to believe that [Gone For Good] is not only the debut album of a recently formed band but it's also not the members main project. Fronted by singer/songwriter Jeff Klein and consisting of members of Twilight Singers, Great Northern and The Polyphonic Spree to name a few, My Jerusalem manage to come together in euphonious union and outshine any of the bands' previous efforts by a long way. Labelling this as a 'side project' seems like an insult to an album that any band would be proud of." - Soundblab
Another SXSW tradition for me is to see a show by Jeff Klein or one of his projects. This was the second time I saw him with My Jerusalem, and Esther's Follies was decently filled with a young, enthusiastic crowd. Watch a video from a live performance of "Sweet Chariot" earlier this year here.

Monahans @ Stephen F's Bar

"Austin-based band Monahans (not "The Monahans"), named for the desolate West Texas sand hills, balances thundering rhythms and atmospheric "landscape rock" with urgent pop anthems and spiritual campfire balladry (think Explosions In the Sky + R.E.M + Neil Young)." - Band bio
Spending a lot of time traveling for business there is a place that I try to avoid on the road: the hotel bar. I made an exception this evening for the Monahans. I had seen (predecessor) Milton Mapes a few times, so I was looking forward to this show. They seemed a bit out of place in this swanky setting, but delivered a solid set.
Watch them play on ACL here.

At Paradise, which hosted Canadian showcases for most of the week, I caught the last two songs (“You’ll Always Be”, “Drunk As A Sailor”) of Oh Susanna’s set, backed by husband Cam Giroux on drums, Bazil Donovan (Blue Rodeo) on bass and special guest Kendel Carson on violin.

The next act was billed as Kendel Carson & Chip Taylor, but this was Kendel's showcase with Chip and his band backing her. She has contributed her substantial fiddle skills to many other artists’ projects, but has also released a couple of superb solo albums. Watch an older video of her an Chip here.

Meanwhile, things were busy on 6th Street. Lots of green - it was St. Patrick's day after all.

I arrived early for Ron Sexsmith's set at Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn and saw a bit of Maggie Walters' set. For "No Sex", she was joined by what must surely been the first artist from the Faroe Islands to play SXSW, Guğriğ Hansdóttir and Chris Searles on drums. Watch a video from this show here.

Was happy to finally get a chance to see Ron Sexsmith, but somewhat disappointed that unlike other sets he did at SXSW this year this was "just" a solo set. Watch a video from this show here.

Leatherbag had sounded really good on the MP3 I had heard, yet their set at Velveeta Room wasn't that convincing.

Thrift Store Cowboys @ 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn

"This Lubbock sextet matches perfectly with producer Craig Shumacher, known for his work with Calexico and Neko Case. A mix of indie rock and spaghetti Western sure to be dubbed in simpler times, Light Fighter comes alive with tunes of the Spanish Civil War and West Texas ghosts, demonstrating a boldness that's electrifying. Anyone who remembers Whiskeytown is sure to find Light Fighter a delight." - Jim Caligiuri, Austin Chronicle
Thrift Store Cowboys had long been on my list of bands to see at SXSW, yet somehow it it never worked out. After seeing their violin player Amanda Shires with Jason Isbell the day before I wanted to make sure that I would not miss them again. Usually I try to avoid 1 AM showcases that are far away from the hotel, but I made an exception for this showcase, which was well worth the long walk back.
Listen to an older song ("Dirtied Your Knees") here.

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All pictures (c) Steffen Paulus 2011