Atlas Sound at the Under the Radar SXSW Party

SXSW 2011, SXSW 2011 - Thursday, March 17, 2011, SXSW 2011 Party, Atlas Sound, The Dears, Lord Huron, Sondre Lerche, Yuck, The Dodos, Violens

JanSport Presents the Under the Radar SXSW 2011 Party Recap – Atlas Sound and more, March 17th, 2011

Mar 25, 2011 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Web Exclusive
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After months of build up and planning (negotiating which bands would be playing, juggling set times, making sure the bands had all the equipment they need, promoting the events) Under the Radar's first of two SXSW 2011 day parties was upon us. We were hoping for a decent crowd at the Flamingo Cantina, thanks to the buzz surrounding us snagging the only SXSW 2011 set by Atlas Sound (Deerhunter's Bradford Cox), plus the free Jeremiah Weed drinks we were giving away for the first two hours of the party, but were overjoyed when we had a to-capacity venue with a line down the block pretty much all day. JanSport was our main sponsor for the day and took over the outside patio area for giveaways and their free photo booth (with photos that would be projected in the main room for the rest of the audience to see).

Things kicked off with NYC-based trio Violens, who were a five-piece live and gracefully braved playing at noon, and were rewarded by a packed and appreciative crowd. The band played a new song ("Falling Into Dreams") and also overcame a mild technical snafu. "We lost a guitar piece, I think you've got to forego that string," main vocalist Jorge Elbrecht explained to his band and the audience. "I've never seen that happen before.... We're going to try a string-less song."

The Dodos, who were the best band I saw at 2008's SXSW, didn't disappoint, showcasing their ability to expertly erupt from quiet to loud. "We only have six minutes left, does anyone have a song they want to hear?" frontman Meric Long asked, taking requests at the end of their set.

Yuck already went into SXSW as one of more talked about new bands playing the festival and the multinational band who are based in London more than lived up to that hype. Lead vocalist Daniel Blumberg joked that Mariko Doi was on the toilet as the reason why they hadn't started playing yet. Turned out that she was just eating fruit. The band channeled the best of '90s alternative rock, with "The Wall" being one of the highlights. "This is a really nice place to play," complimented Blumberg of the Flamingo Cantina. "We have one more song, so we're going to take five minutes to decide what our last song is," Blumberg joked towards the end of their set. "We always end with the same last song, but now we're not going to," he added before the band changed things up.

Norwegian born, NYC-based, singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche started his set by saying "I promise you all that these are all brand new songs," and proceeded to mainly play songs from his forthcoming self-titled new album. "So I face you at my most vulnerable," he added. "You can handle it right, if not I can play 'Sweet Home Alabama.'" Lerche, who always has charisma to spare and thankfully agreed to fill in for Anna Calvi only a week and a half before when she cancelled her SXSW appearances due to injury, played solo and acoustic but still lit up the room with his deft handling of his guitar. He even premiered one song. "This one I've never played in front of human beings before and that could turn out to be an honor for you guys or a disaster," he joked. Of course, it was the former. Lerche did also leave room to end his set with fan favorite "Two Way Monologue."

Los Angeles-based Lord Huron (the project of Ben Schneider) were the next to take the stage. "Thanks a lot to Under the Radar for having us and for being such a great publication," said Schneider. Ah, thanks Ben, and thanks for being such a great new band and for impressing at our party.

Speaking of parties, that day it was the 40th birthday of Murray Lightburn, frontman for Montréal's The Dears, and so we had a birthday party within a party for him. Party hats were given out to the audience and we also gave out 300 mini cupcakes to everyone. We all proceeded to sing "Happy Birthday" and Murray, who didn't know we were going to do any of this, was given a full chocolate cake backstage after the show. "40 years ago my poor mother gave birth to this sweaty n**ger here," Lightburn remarked, and then the band appropriately played "Yester Year." The rousing set (really, how are these guys not playing stadiums and main stages at big festivals by now?) focused mainly on tracks from the recently released Degeneration Street. The set ended with Dears classic "22" which Lightburn dedicated to my co-Publisher/wife Wendy and myself, pointing The Dears is spearheaded by a married couple (Lightburn and wife/keyboardist Natalia Yanchack, as is Under the Radar. The song culminated in a mini jam session that showcased what guitar gods both Lightburn and guitarist Patrick Krief are.

Headliner Atlas Sound took the stage to deliver what many later told me was one of the best sets of all of SXSW 2011 (and, we're happy to point out again, it was the only Atlas Sound set of this year's SXSW). Bradford Cox was making art on stage and it was unclear how much was pre-planned and to what extent he was improvising. Cox performed solo, but layered himself to the point of sounding like a full band. Playing acoustic guitar and harmonica, and singing, all while sitting, he would sample himself and then loop it, repeating the process and also performing overtop to create an enveloping and hypnotic soundscape. At one point, Cox went to the drum set at the back of the stage, which we weren't expecting him to use, and, while the guitar loops were still playing, he banged on the drums with his bare hands. He then brought one of the drums up to the front, next to his chair, and after looking around the stage, grabbed two microphones to use as makeshift drumsticks. Cox was a sound explorer, experimenting with what he had at hand. The whole set played like one continuous song, but individual songs were formed within, such as "Sheila," which he stood up to sing, before then going over to the bass drum and hitting the pedal with his hands. Clad in a red t-shirt that red "Queen of Peace," Cox was in complete command of the audience (which included actor/comedian Aziz Ansari), seemingly lost in his own world, but also eager to impress. "I hope you've had a fun time," said Cox, in good spirits, later adding "Happy birthday to Mr. singer of The Dears." Cox's set ran 10 minutes over, which annoyed the sound guys and stage manager no end, but from the audience's perspective, he could've played for hours longer and we would've been equally enthralled. "This is going to be really bad, because I just decided to do this at my hotel," Cox warned before launching into his last song, a unique and compelling cover of David Bowie's "Sound and Vision" that was very, very far from bad.

Many thanks to all the artists who played our party; to the booking agents, managers, and publicists who helped arrange for them to play; to the staff and sound guys at the Flamingo Cantina; to the stage manager and backline tech guys; to the Under the Radar crew who helped Wendy and I that day (Robert Gleim, Laura Studarus, Mike Hilleary, Iman Mannie Saqr, Brigitte Zabak, Jaclynn Pardue, Eli Scripps); and most of all to JanSport and our other sponsors (Motormouthmedia, Jeremiah Weed, Dorado Music Packaging, Cravedog, First Second Books), without whom none of it would have been possible.

Click here for a full gallery of photos from the party.




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