SXSW Day One Recap – The Day HearYa Found Its Soul

by Woody on March 15, 2012

I’m hungover, sleep deprived and have a burrito doing somersaults in my stomach. I’ve done zero fact-checking and Jefe just soiled our bathroom. With that, here is the day one recap.

Day One started off with Oz and I catching a couple of sets at Antone’s. First up was Bahamas whom Oz and SafariMan always enjoyed and I have been lukewarm at best. Frontman Afie Jurvanen was backed by a drummer and two female backup singers, and he tore through a tight set that highlighted some great songwriting and exemplarly guitar work. As I told Afie afterwards, I’m all in now. Loved the set.

Afterwards, The Heartless Bastards were supposed to blow our hair back. One minor hitch, the power went out at Antone’s. That didn’t stop them one bit as they moved the mics out of the way and went acoustic. Simply put – that is just a band operating the top of its game. They worked in Parted Ways and Skin and Bones amongst others. Stunning display of talent.

We picked up SafariMan and Shirk and we cruised over and caught a great set of earthy folk by Brown Bird. For fans of bands like 16 Horsepower and O’Death, the two piece tore through a 30 minute set. I would expect to hear plenty of more from them after the fest. From there we went over to East Austin to catch a fantastic set by Asheville’s The River Whyless. Easy to see why they are starting to get some attention these days.

At that point we lost SafariMan and hit the ShangriLa for Lee Fields and The Expressions. After sitting through 30 minutes of unmemorable music, The Expressions hit the stage with a couple of horns and one of the better bassists I have heard in quite some time. He really propelled the band as Lee Fields put on a show that was comparable to Charles Bradley. After that, Nick Waterhouse hit the stage for the biggest surprise of the day.

We were there because Nick was playing the Aquarium Drunkard party; and as Oz said, “those guys have great taste so it must be good.” Good? it was great. I think Oz described him as part Buddy Holly, part Otis Redding. I don’t know what I would call him but he a great vocalist and guitarist. And that is where HearYa found their soul.

At night we splintered up but here some of the highlights:

WATERS at Red 7 – It was 100 degrees inside Red 7 and I felt a little bit bad for the band. But they didn’t let it slow them down. They tore through a set highlighting their debut, Out In The Light. While I probably dropped a pant size in there due to the heat, but WATERS was one of those bands that really felt right seeing perform in a steamy sauna.

From there Jefe and I met up with Oz and his pal, Rocky at the New West party. Got there to catch a great set by The Mastersons out of Brooklyn. I remember seeing these guys last year at The San Jose and making a point of checking them out when I get home. I didn’t, so the friendly reminder was welcomed. They play a great brand of alt-country fronted by alternating male/female vocals. Definitely worth checking out.

After that came Jefe’s favorite set of the day in Buxton. While I have enjoyed their debut on New West, Nothing Here Seems Strange, I was in no way prepared for how hard they rocked it live. Beers were flowing, high fives were flying and there might have been a bro-hug or two. Oz said they reminded him of some early MMJ. I said they reminded me of awesome. Don’t really know what that meant. I think that was the Lone Star speaking. Either way, the album is great. Live they are phenomenal. Go see them.

At that point, I dragged Jefe up to St. David’s to cap the evening seeing Joe Pug in the Sanctuary. And while Jefe took a little snooze, Pug delighted the crowd with a bunch of numbers off the forthcoming, The Great Despiser. I’ve now had the pleasure of hearing the album and seeing them live. I didn’t think it was possible, but I think his songwriting had gotten even better. He charmed the crowd over a 45 set that ended the night on a high, well until we ate that burrito.

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