One of my favorite parts of SXSW is watching an artist grow over the years. Two years ago, a friend dragged me to an afternoon show in an almost empty bar to watch Shakey Graves, a one-man band with a suitcase drum kit and hand-drawn CD covers.
Now he packed out the inside stage at the Spotify House with a much fuller sound thanks to a female singer to harmonize with and a few more bandmates. He was one of the artists I heard the most about throughout the festival. Rave reviews from everyone.
When I walked up to see the stomping alt-country folk sounds of Streets of Laredo, I never would have guessed they were from New Zealand (It reminds me of the band I’m From Barcelona, who were actually from Sweden!) It’s a big group having a great time and their joy was infectious. “Hey Rose” was an easy standout.
Toronto jazz trio BadBadNotGood will be releasing their next album on LA label Innovative Leisure. They took to the stage at the Showdown at Cedar Street showcase a little late, but won the audience over in an instant. It’s a full throttle experience — with hip hop influences and so much more.
Their labelmates De Lux followed, with a sound that owes a lot to the Talking Heads. Pure danceable fun.
Later in the evening I tracked down Temples, a psychedelic rock band from the UK that had a sound I loved and the looks — the hair and outfits in particular — to match.