Foster the People

Casiokids, Foster the People, Gayngs, Duran Duran, Smith Westerns, SXSW 2011

SXSW Day One Recap: Casiokids, Foster the People, Gayngs, Duran Duran, March 16th, 2011

Mar 17, 2011 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Web Exclusive
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Day one of my first go-around at the bacchic excesses that is SXSW, I had a very important realization: there are a lot of people here. Bars, restaurants, clubs—basically anywhere with a door—opens to let artists perform. The streets are, to put it mildly, peopled. Intellectually, I knew this.  Physically I’ve not only survived, but also enjoyed, in a variety of packed festival situations. But to borrow a parlance from my hometown of Los Angeles: dude.  Here’s the kicker, even with the sea of humanity, it is still quite possible to see quality bands up close and personal. SXSW, you have my heart.

After a warm up the night before seeing the terribly amazing Esben and the Witch in a terribly bad echo chamber posing as a bar, the first official day of SXSW kicked off with a bang. And a clatter. And a few cheery handclaps—all thanks to Casiokids. The bouncy Norwegian crew danced, pranced, and generally amused themselves in the painfully half-empty convention center. From the back, happy seated in an oversized bean bag chair, I was amused as well—particularly during their final (all-instrumental) song when they performed a perfect, indie rock Chinese fire drill, each member swapping instruments the guy next to him. Realization 2: Rock needs more dancing.

Foster the People may be the ones to lead the all-dancing charge. The Los Angeles trio (and current “Pleased to Meet You” artists) filled out Mohawk, urging the small venue to dance whist performing with a polished professionalism. While leader Marc Foster’s voice faltered during the absurd giggle-chorus of “Don’t Stop,” there was nary an audience member who didn’t walk out singing “Pumped Up Kicks”—smiling all the way. 

Next door, Smith Westerns did their best to kick out Foster the People’s charming after-glow, grinding through their blend of Dinosaur Jr. retro rock. While adequate performers, their lead singer’s random, vitriolic-laced closing rant left me cold, proving that, while musically advanced, the band still has a lot of growing up to do.

Fully realized and ready to go was semi-ironic, slow-groove band, Gayngs. Cramming twelve people onto the stage at Secretly Canadian’s Red Seven showcase was no small trick, but then, any band that employees both vocoder and soprano sax is up for the task. Even with Small Black’s drummer filling in, the band managed to get the entire venue swaying, if not outright dancing. Realization 3: Rock needs more…Kenny G? Yes.

To close out the night and indulge in a few childhood memories, I stopped by Stubbs to see Duran Druan. Despite their announcing their status as a dance band, their half-baked new material didn’t hold a candle to classics such as “Hungry Like the Wolf,” which were—charitably—starting to show their age. Content to let Duranies have their moment, and with the promise of sleep outstripping my desire to see “Girls on Film,” I packed it in for the evening. Realization 4: You can’t go home again. (Sigh.)

(www.sxsw.com)




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