Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hungry Forest's top five FREE SXSW shows

Austin's South By Southwest music festival is one of the greatest events of the year with potential of a lot of free art. Imagine hundreds of musicians, film makers, and more flocking into one city for one week. Think about all of the unofficial music going on! Popular indie blogs like Aquarium for Drunkards, Little Radio, Gorrilla Vs. Bear and more hosted lots of free day shows. Even SXSW had free official events at Auditorium shores with acts from M.Ward and Explosions in the Sky. Can you even imagine above all that how many local and smaller free events were going on as well? I have never seen our city lamp posts and walls so dressed up with flyers. Austin was burning with music, art, films, and creative energy for an entire week. With the huge capacity of people, the streets were rowdy and cops brought their horses down to sixth street. I guess that's the price of excitement.

Anyway, we've spent long hours thinking about our best shows this year and we came up with a list.

NUMBER ONE:
Tera Melos: Thursday 3.19.09 at Cedar Street Courtyard

There is not much you can say about Tera Melos that isn't spoken better by view of their live performance. They had, by far, the most powerful set of SXSW. I have to say, I went to the show a bit unprepared. I knew and loved their album Drugs To The Dear Youth, but I imagined that there were 5 or 6 people in the band. I was so surprised to see only 3 guys set up, that I thought it was a different band, but when they started there was no doubt who was playing. Glitchy, happy-hardcore filled the block on 6th street, and in turn, there was a great turnout for the Tera Melos set even though they were competing with some of the official headliners for SXSW. The singer, Nick Reinhart, had 18 pedals on a pedal board. Along with his guitar, he had a Micro Korg, a drum machine and a sequencer. So you can imagine my mistake in thinking 2 or 3 people do his job. He spent most of the time standing on one leg while stomping all his pedals with the other with amazing accuracy. While this was going on he was hammering on with his guitar along with occasional synth and drum machine sections as well as vocals. You would think this would distract from the other two members, but both shared the same intensity. The drums changed time signatures and tempo about every 10 seconds, and the bassists only added to the glitchy feeling with 12 pedals of his own, and skill and showmanship on top of it. Tera Melos played two great sets on Thursday, but the set in a parking lot on 6th street wins the prize as the best set due to crowd turnout and all ages access. -Benjamin

mp3:40 Rods to the Hogs Head

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NUMBER TWO

Efterklang: Friday 3.20.09 @ The Danish Dynamite Day party at East 2nd Street

The Denmark SXSW party on Austin's east side was golden! What more can we ask for then great imported music, little cute dannish flags everywhere, free beer and an amazing performance from Efterklang? Efterklang brought the entire yard of people to their feet. When I first heard Efterklang last year, I thought they were an 'alright,' whimsicle band. I haven't done nearly as much research about them as I should have. However, after the first show I saw of them at sxsw, I am obsessed with a couple of their songs. (I saw them twice!) Watching Efterklang live is a totally new experience. It is like witnessing a puzzle be solved, a magnificent orchestra of simple sounds cascading and colliding. It was the perfect amount of grandiosity while keeping restraint, a similar combination between the Arcade Fire and Architecture in Helsinki. It was a beautiful day full of energy. Plus Lead singer, Casper Clausen, belted solemn lyrics while wearing rather amazing purple shorts. - Kathy


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NUMBER THREE

AristeiA: Sunday 3.22.09 @ Lamar Pedestrian Bridge

The setting for the AristeiA show was perfect. It took place on the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge over Lake Austin at one in the morning. The band's sound resembled that of Red Sparrows or Explosions in the Sky, with some nice additions to the genre. However, the crowd was the worst crowd I had ever stood with. Most of the people enjoyed and cheered on the Portland band. Still, a few people in the crowd decide to yell things like "Don't play another song" and yelled band names like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky, suggesting that AristeiA was just a copy-cat band. After a very brief set the band gave away sample cds. I decided I would listen for myself to see if the harsh criticism was deserved. Might of the Sword is a song that definately diverges from the bands normally post-rock sound. And after a review of their online tracks it's obvious that the members all understand their music well, and it seems they aren't just playing to ride the post-rock trend wave. I really enjoyed AristeiA's set but I will let you decide for yourself. -Benjamin

mp3:
AristeiA Live Song on Pedestrian Bridge
Might of the Sword

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NUMBER FOUR
Theodore: Friday 3.20.09 @ Moon Jaw Records Day Party at Brave New Books

Theodore is one of the favorite local bands in St.louis, Missouri. They played a set for Moon Jaw Records in Brave New Books on the drag. The combination of watching a mellow band with free beer provided while being surrounded by books is a calm feeling. Also, not to mention the band decided to be courteous to office workers near the area. They played an entire set of only downbeat tunes! I nearly fell off my chair, because how relaxing the entire show was in contrast to insane sxsw festival outside. Besides the excellent atmosphere, Theodore's music had a strong similiarity to a very acoustic Ryan Adams, the tenderness of Tom Wait's music and even a portion of Jeff Tweedy. Also, their performance was great if not a bit awkward yet endearing. There is no doubt they that have skills. I mean, come one, the bass player could play a saw with a violin bow. You've got to give props to that, right? I also had to pleasure to meet the four young gentlemen who make up Theodore. They were humble and poignant in behavior. The look on their faces when they explained their newest project was completely genuine. Their newest album called, "Defeated, TN," was born when the band stumbled on upon a small packet of letters and belongings of a family in an abandoned house in Tennessee. Check it out. -Kathy

mp3:Home Tonight I Go LIVE

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NUMBER FIVE
Jana Hunter- Saturday 3.20.09 @ Natrix Natrix House

(Artist rendering of what we believe Natrix Natrix House looks like in the light of day.)

Honestly, Jana Hunter was the best show we never really did see. There isn't much I can say about Jana Hunter except that she is a singer-songwriter from Houston, Texas and that her song about babies is pretty sweet. We arrived at the Natrix Natrix house a little bit after 11. We had some issues about directions to the house and thought we were running late. When we arrived at the house, it was dark and desolate. I figured that not many people would be out here and would be roaming downtown instead. The door was open, so, hey, I walked in. As I was walking in, I told my out of town friends from Kansas City, that house shows were were like this. And by 'like this,' I mean, house shows are awkward because everyone is pretending that it's a music venue, but in reality, it's a place where people live, eat, and do their daily life shit. Much to my embarrassment, I walked into the middle of the living room and everything was more awkward than necessary. I proceeded to have a thirty second conversation of how everyone was doing. A very sorry attempt of 'keeping it cool.' I finally ask, "hey, is Jana Hunter playing now?" A guy with a large hat said that the show was yesterday. I was mortified and completely embarrassed! Matt from Kansas City inquired, "So, you mean we just walked into your living room?" Everyone in the room laughs and the mood shifts from utter confusion to a show and tell party. Apparently, everyone has their own stories about walking into random houses uninvited. All in all, this is in our SXSW best shows, because we met new friends and they invited us to the bridge show where we saw AristeiA!-Kathy

Also since our blog is mainly directed for free art and celebrating DIY culture, Natrix Natrix is an awesome DIY independent record label located in Austin. Please check them out!

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