Airborne Toxic Event @ The NME Showcase
After trying not to overload on bands on Thursday, Friday was a little different. We got a late start and then hustled downtown to try to catch the end of the Jayhawks in the first round of the NCAA tournament. We missed it, but at least they won. Unfortunately we'd already paid our $10 to park and still needed to get our passes for the Guitar Hero show later that night at Stubb's. Sylvia dutifully agreed to go get them (thanks!).
Starving, I ran over to the Hot Freaks party at the Mohawk for the promise of some free tacos. A touch hungover, the tacos (and a bloody mary) started to do the trick. I was admittedly a bit distracted, but caught most of the Henry Clay People's set. Another strong one. I couldn't seem to shake those guys all week. Hung out for a bit waiting for Port O'Brien to set up (a recurring them throughout the week), gave up and walked over to the Little Radio party.
Once there, I waited a little more until Horse Feathers finally took the stage. I like their Kill Rock Stars release, House With No Name. While it sounded pretty, it was just a little too mellow to hold my interest for long. The Henry Clay People were setting up inside (and there was a TV tuned into March Madness) so I followed. This was the loosest set I saw them play, so about 2/3 of the way through, I headed back outside to get a good spot for Phosphorescent.
As I've mentioned, Phosphorescent's To Willie is one of my favorite releases of the year. I've seen Phosphorescent before, so I knew he had an engaging voice. I was pleasantly surprised to see a full band, including Ricky Ray Jackson, who played pedal steel on the record. It was a pretty rousing set. The back patio at Red Eyed Fly was packed. They totally exceeded my expectations. I stumbled inside to see a song from Restaurant (the crowd was digging it) before heading back down to the Mohawk.
I stumbled by Club De Ville and watched one Hold Steady song from the street, before catching the tail end of the Delta Spirit's set. We walked over to Stubb's hoping to grab a quick bite before the Guitar Hero party, but the wait was an hour. We opted instead for the Stubbs counter (mediocre) and listened to Echo & the Bunnymen finish their set at the Spin party ("The Killing Moon" and "Lips Like Sugar").
We waited in line for about 45 minutes for Silversun Pickups & Metallica at the Guitar Hero party. Well worth it, both bands exceeded my expectations. Read about that HERE and HERE. I stayed at Metallica for the very end, but Sylvia left a little early to see Airborne Toxic Event at the NME showcase. See the photo above.
I totally could have called it a day and felt like a winner. Instead we decided it was our best chance to finally see Black Joe Lewis. We rushed over to the Parish and experienced a whole lot of attitude, but finally got in. I thought he was great. Based on his record, I think people are expecting some sort of over the top James Brown type of performance. He's not that guy. He's a got a strong band, but mostly just stands and plays guitar (there was a little dancing at the end). Take him for what he is, and I think you'll really enjoy his show as much as I did.
Up next was Okkervil River. I really like Okkervil River, but we were exhausted. We sat down in the back corner of the club to try to regain our energy until security came over to tell us that it was against fire code. Whatever. Waited and waited as they soundchecked and re-soundchecked. Okkervil started off with a downer and Will Sheff was acting a little precious so we split during the second song. Tons of people had left after Black Joe, so there was plenty of room inside. We were surprised to see 50 or 75 people still being held at the door. I felt bad for them, so I told the security guard he should take a look up stairs because it wasn't very full. He responded with an aggressive "Yeah right." Good sound in the room but awful lighting and lots of rude people. I wasn't loving the Parish.
All in all a pretty great day at SXSW.
Photo Credit: Sylvia