SXSW 2010 Day 1 Recap, Part 2 | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, May 27th, 2024  

Sharon Jones

SXSW 2010 Day 1 Recap, Part 2

The Walkmen, Sharon Jones and the Dap-kings, Broken Bells, Rose Elinor Dougall, and The Invisible

Mar 20, 2010 SXSW 2010 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share

After wandering around a bunch of day parties, our evening’s entertainment for the first night of SXSW 2010 mainly took place at Stubb’s, an outdoor venue I’m not overly wild about. Stubb’s is one of the bigger venues at SXSW, so it doesn’t have the same feel of watching some exciting new artist in a tiny club that the rest of South By has. Also, a ton of people at Stubb’s are often either smoking, talking, pushing by you to get a better spot, or a combination of all three. But the allure of seeing some great bigger name artists usually draws me to the venue at least once each SXSW and this year it was for an NPR showcase.

The Walkmen were up first. Despite a spirited rendition of “The Rat” and the use of a horn section on a couple of songs, the band was kind of one note and uninteresting. They also had the thankless task of playing right before Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who have a habit of stealing any bill they’re on. Firstly, The Dap-Kings came on stage to show all these lo-fi indie bands playing SXSW how it’s done and what a real band sounds like. As par the course for a Sharon Jones show, the band hyped up Ms. Jones before she took the stage. Clad in a green dress, Jones said, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I tried with the green.” She later added, “I got some new shoes. They feel good, as well. So I’m going to work these shoes for you.” And work them she did, dancing so much that she accidentally kicked off one of the shoes halfway across the stage while demonstrating a history of dances (dancing The Funky Chicken, The Mashed Potato, and others). Jones later regaled us with a tale of how she had just broke her pinky toe coming through security at the airport. Then she got someone up on stage to dance with her. The tag of ‘the female James Brown’ has been well-earned by Jones and she once again proved to be one of the best performers around.

Broken Bells had the even more thankless and daunting task of following Sharon Jones. Things started well, as James Mercer, Brian Burton (aka: Danger Mouse), and backing band opened with current single “The High Road,” as abstract black and white images resembling their album cover were projected on them. But soon the set hit a mellow lull that they never quite recovered from, even though Burton ventured out from behind the drums to play keyboards. Mercer also acknowledged St. Patrick’s Day, saying, “Drink ‘till you pee green.”

I finally left Stubb’s to head over to the Galaxy Room to check out Rose Elinor Dougall. The former Pipettes singer, now solo, acknowledged her old band, saying, “I came here three years ago with a band I used to be in. It’s really nice to be back… with a different band.” The British singer played recent singles “Another Version of Pop Song” and “Start/Stop/Synchro,” the latter of which she said with a laugh was about “regrets.” “We have to put a mandolin in to the mix right now, which can be a risky business,” warned Dougall before one song, but the mandolin was a nice touch, especially when it was sampled and then looped. Dougall and her backing band weren’t always successful at translating her charming pop songs to a live setting, but all in all she pulled it off.

Our final stop was at Latitude 30 to check out a 1 a.m. set by London, England’s The Invisible. “It’s a bit like doing a gig in London. There’s a lot of people we recognize from London. But we’re here to make new friends,” said singer/guitarist Dave Okumu. “This is our second gig in Austin. We’re quite sleepy, but we’re up for it,” he continued. The Mercury Prize-nominated trio performed a fantastic extended version of single “London Girl,” one that found a nice groove and lived there for awhile. The show wasn’t exactly packed, but a guy and a girl were dancing enthusiastically near the front of the stage. “This guy fainted twice in the course of one gig,” Okumu said of a recent U.K. tour. “So we have this new scenario now where we clear a space at the front of the stage in case anyone wants to faint,” he joked, referring to the less than crowded venue. With that it was time for bed. Counting day parties, we saw 11 bands in the course of day one and there were three more days to go!


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