Best of SXSW: Saturday w/ Real Estate, Best Coast, Fool's Gold, Demolished Thoughts, Broken Bells, Dam-Funk, and Billy Murray
Thinking back on SXSW's finale, I saw Real Estate more times than I probably should've (and that includes a Saturday day show). But that was in large part because the band's songs about aimlessly combing beaches, with the the sun beating down, was the antithesis of the hectic Austin atmosphere. No matter the show, the New Jersey group seemed relaxed, allowing their instrumental melodies to unfold at unhurried tempos. When the band played, we were on their time, and I loved every one of their shows. (I'll also admit to listening to Real Estate's record on repeat on the BART ride home. I'm completely hooked.)
Best Coast was followed at that early evening gig by Fool's Gold, who were in no way mellow, but they were excellent. The Los Angeles group packed nine members on the floor, a jumble of guitars and percussion and saxophone and African- and Middle Eastern- and Western pop. The band made it impossible to stand still--in part because we were in such close proximity to their dancing bodies, which snaked through the crowd, and because there was no stage between us. From the start the group had all of us in the room--perhaps 100 or so people--bouncing around, including the members of Best Coast. The industry part of SXSW faded quickly--I didn't see one person using a phone for once--as we were instead being transported to a humid basement bash. There was a genuine enthusiasm for the music being played--from the musicians themselves and those of us hanging around to hear it.
The big industry gigs were fun too, though. Saturday was downright freezing, the temperatures dropping from the 70s to the 40s, but it was worth it to lose a little feeling in the toe and finger region to witness bands that haven't hit the tour circuit. Bay Area streaming music giant Mog hosted a packed day party with acts that had people lined up around the block.