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SXSW 2009

diary (part 4)

By • Mar 24th, 2009 • Category: draft

With the lines between night and day and indeed one day and the next becoming more blurred, let’s simply call this ‘part 4’…
onto diary 5

Adam StephensAdam Stephens @ Cheers Bar
Out back on the sunny upper patio at Cheers Bar on 6th Street, one half of the Two Gallants – Adam Stephens – rises to the challenge of being heard above a metal band on the parking lot opposite – an occupational hazard at SXSW day-time shows. Minus his Gallant colleague, this is a new incarnation which allows a gentler, more introspective side to emerge. Joking that this new project is temporarily and creatively titled “Adam Stephens, for now…”, he brings a backing band of cello, drums and bass for an afternoon session of sublime lo-fi folkiness.

Devo @ Austin City Music Hall
Ahead of a headline showcase at the concrete, boxy cavern that is the Austin City Music Hall, Devo beamed in briefly from the mothership to preach the gospel of de-evolution. Eschewing the yellow haz-mat jumpsuits and red cone hats of old for the press call and daytime interview panel, the largely greying and matured gents look every inch the new wave elder statesmen. At a conference panel moderated by KCRW’s Nic Harcourt, Gerald Casale reveals that they are part way through recording their first studio album since 1990’s Smooth Noodle Maps, with a late 2009 release date scheduled for the new material. The full-to-capacity evening show at the Music Hall sees the band take to the stage beneath a huge and stunning video projection backdrop. The set opens with a new song – ‘Don’t Shoot, I’m a Man’ – and offers a preview of more forthcoming material some of which bring guitars slightly more to the fore than the trademark electropop synth-laden sound of old. ‘Mongolid’, ‘Whip It’ and the rousing ‘Jocko Homo’ in the encore still seem astonishingly fresh and relevant. The familiar red hats are briefly donned, before being lunched through the air into a sea of grasping hands – the more financially evolved punters reportedly being able to scoop up their own iconic Devo tifters for a hefty 30 bucks at the merch stand.

Showcasing Scotland @ La Zona Rosa

This year sees a strong Scottish contingent taking to the various stages of SXSW, and substantial crowds throng the 1,200 capacity venue for the Scottish Arts Council sponsored main evening showcase.

The recent FatCat-signees We Were Promised Jetpacks have a bit of a buzz around them at this year’s SXSW, and justifiably claim their place as tonight’s show-openers. Chuntering energetically through their quiet/loud/quiet/loud/loud/loud set, they show a musical maturity beyond their youthful years, although Adam Thompson does seem momentarily awed by the size of crowd and particularly the expansive stage which he notes as being larger than his entire flat. Their debut album will be one to watch out for.

Camera Obscura
Camera Obscura turn in a tighter and stronger performance than the sparsely attended midnight (but very late-running) 4AD showcase at the more austere Central Presbyterian Church a few nights previously.

In the third of five SXSW shows as a duo, The Proclaimers had the biggest crowd of the night for another stripped-down trawl through their extensive back catalogue. The recognition-factor was high amongst the largely US-based audience included, but which also included a smattering of very vocal ex-pats. A surprising number of younger Scottish musicians were intently taking in the set, including various members of Come On Gang and My Latest Novel, some of whom were taking in their first Proclaimers live show.

Glasvegas then change the pace and volume significantly, stalking the strobe-strafed stage as they pounded out a by-now familiar set. In the ubiquitous black jeans, cut down John Lennon t-shirt, rising slick-backed quiff, and Ray-Bans, James Allan increasingly metamorphoses – at least visually – into the young Joe Strummer.

Around 1am, Primal Scream take to the stage to bring the hugely successful evening to a raucous and thundering close, wholly justifying the Scottish Arts Council investment in a full evening event on this scale.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Photos by Elize Rowan – see the set on Flickr

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