It’s hard not to acknowledge the terrible tragedy that happened Wednesday night at SXSW, when a car plowed through a group of people, killing two and inuring many.
But in the spirit of celebrating music, which is why we are all here in the first place, I’d like to share some highlights from our day of showcases, as we presented nine bands we really believe in and expect to see much more from in the years to come.
Prior to our showcases, we went to church with Hozier, The Irish singer songwriter performed at the Spotify House for a crowd deeply moved by his passionate performance. So much so, there was a crowd of people following him out the door when he got off stage, like he was the pied piper.
We headed over to the Convention Center for our day showcases, starting with Colorado favorites Tennis. Their sweet pop was exactly what we all needed in the midst of the Austin madness.
Jarvis Cocker himself came to see what the buzz was about for Moses Sumney. The LA singer has a lot of people talking and for good reason. He had a remarkable voice and uses it in very interesting ways — aside from playing KCRW favorite “Alchemy”, which pretty much made time stand still — he made up a song on the spot thanking KCRW and commenting on love and life. It was simply brilliant. The Preatures closed the lineup with an impressive high energy performance. The Aussie band seems well on their way to pop stardom and the crowd was thrilled when they played their hit “Is This How You Feel?”.
Our night showcase featured a wide array of sounds, Glass Animals were not only making their SXSW debut but it was the first time they were playing in the United States. The Paul Epworth-produced band plays pulsing electronica with dashes of R&B and their new track “Gooey” is a mesmerizingly sexy track that got a great response. Another UK-based band, Kins, followed. Alt-J, who made the rounds at SXSW a couple years ago, is a fitting comparison as they both experiment smartly with pop.
LA-via-Austin band Jamestown Revival made both cities proud with a phenomenal set of tunes from their recently released full length. Their harmonies are spot on and they’re so much fun to watch. Sam Smith sang a short set of songs but he didn’t need much time to be impactful. When he started in on “Latch”, a song he sang on Disclosure’s critically-acclaimed debut, the excitement from the audience was palpable.
Future Islands are such an incredible live band and seem ready to take over the world with their forthcoming album “Singles”. Singer Samuel T. Herring is simply one of the best frontmen around. Pounding his hand on his heart and reaching out into the audience, he never took a second on stage for granted.
Bear Hands blasted onto the stage to close the night with some really impressive rock that flirts with punk and pop influences. It really comes alive in a live setting.
A huge thank you to all the bands that played KCRW’s showcases and all the fans that came through to see it!