(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 12--My Tuesday at SXSW was mostly for loud guitar bands, but there were outliers. The day's most interesting act was Scotty the Kid, a Los Angeles party-rapper who worked the crowd like a particularly fearless comedian. His set, from his profanely rebellious t-shirt to his frequent entreaties to "Turn up!," was hilarious without quite meaning to be. It's the kind of music that works best at the club or on a boozy Austin afternoon: listen on headphones or via Neil Young's Pono at your peril.
At the Empire Garage, Brass Bed didn't unleash the volume of Mean Creek or Disco Doom, playing energetic, tuneful indie-rock with a dollop of Southern hospitality. With the Walkmen's breakup, the National's ascendence to "Saturday Night Live" stardom and Kings of Leon's radio crossover, there's a void in hearty, not-too-loud indie rock: the Louisiana act could be next in line to fill it.
Nashville-via-Alabama's Banditos dove more thoroughly into the South's bluesy history (and more than a few Levi's stores). At Cheer Up Charlie's, the group traded vocals and treated banjo as a key ingredient, not the tacked-on peppering the instrument gets from certain Grammy-winning Americana practitioners. They were at their best when Mary Beth Richardson took the lead vocals: she has the kind of heart and power that propelled the Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard to fame. The band should have her sing more.
A few more notes from Tuesday:
--Vans is holding some of the week's best parties at the Mohawk on Red River St., but a few blocks away, a perpetual line rounded the brand's corner pop-up shop for reasons I could not discern.
--Alex Karpovsky, who we know as Ray from "Girls," is here, somewhere. The show's Lena Dunham gave a keynote speech earlier in the festival, and she's probably still in town, too: her boyfriend, Jack Antonoff, is road-testing his new solo project, Bleachers. Also everywhere: new "Late Night" host Seth Meyers, whose face is emblazoned on the rental bikes racked up across Austin.
--Getting service at the Ginger Man, one of Austin's best-known beer bars, remains excruciatingly slow, but the bottle list -- spanning locals to Belgians -- is worth it. And our waitress was very nice once she made it to us.
--The talk of the afternoon was Young's Pono discussion in the Austin Convention Center, a rambling affair that didn't exactly explain the game-changing high-fidelity music he's promising. Still, the project's already hit its Kickstarter goal, so expect to hear more about it soon.
--Portland's Ages & Ages were scheduled to open their SXSW with an 8 p.m. show on the ever-crowded 6th Street, but the festival made an error: the band was still in New Mexico as of Tuesday night. Get here safe, fellas.
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-- David Greenwald
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