SxSW Day 2: Lines, delays and Nick Cave is "Badass"

15 March 2013 | 7:49 am | at SxSW

The locals declare Nick Cave 'Badass' but need a little help understanding him.

The long queues and schedule delays that were detected yesterday, spread like a pandemic today. The lines promising long waits can be avoided but the delays cannot. Unavoidable delays have their good and (mainly) bad points. The bad is that one band's delay can have a domino effect on your plans and lead to the missing of another two or three acts. You could have stayed where you were longer and seen another band; you could have chosen to see a different act than the one doing the late-showing and if you risk hanging around for the late starter you will inevitably miss whoever you planned to see after them. So today is all about delays, missing some of the artists on the old must-see list and watching some other bands unintentionally instead. The good is that some times those unintentionally seen acts can turn out to be one that you may intentionally see next time.

It starts bad. On the Radio Days stage in the Convention Centre (the centre is not small and a trip to this stage on the fourth level requires a bit of planning and orienteering skills), UK upstart Jake Bugg is nowhere to be seen. Instead what seems to be European duo BOY are coming on stage an hour after advertised. Sigh. It was a long trek getting here, so sitting it out seems the best option. This female indie folk twosome are nothing like the old Australian boyband BOY, and that's a sad thing. Watching this BOY you can only think that there are people who write songs with the specific aim of landing a sync deal with the CW network. After a short set that seemed insufferably long we were treated to a soundcheck conducted by Bugg's guitar tech, who looks even younger than Bugg's 19 years. Even though he lets rip with some of Bugg's more familiar riffs, it's no spoiler to the real deal. Bugg's love of trad rock'n'roll comes through loud and clear, mixed in with a bit of laddishness and impressive Britrock hair it is not hard to love what is going on here. We have ourselves a proper lil' rock'n'roll poster boy waiting to see if the rest of the world gets what his home country is getting.

It seems odd to so desperately need to see an Australian act who has just finished a tour back home, but wanting to see how a Texan crowd reacts to Nick Cave on the Stubb's outdoor stage is too much to resist. Like everyone else today, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds are not on stage by the scheduled time. But chatter would us believe that Cave wants it darker. Enter Cave: "This first one is a long song and by the end it should be dark." Enough has been said in these parts about Cave's recent tour of Aus, so to keep it brief, this is a stroll through the greatest hits. And the locals to the right of me are reeling in the power of Cave, following From Her To Eternity they declare him "badass" and ask us Aussies to help decipher some lyrics. Cave's job is done and the night seems a tad darker for it.

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At VICELAND, more timetable troubles. Instead of Merchandise we get IO Echo. This was one of those pleasant surprises. And although IOE look like the band Jessa in Girls would front if she formed a band, they actually hail from LA and are far less shallow than you expect them to be. Their look and sound seems inspired by Siouxsie Sioux from her goth geisha period (although IOC's front woman, and part-time eyewear model, looks more like she's romping around in her sleepwear tonight) as they rage through some artwave stylings. It's somehow a whole lotta fun.

At the Hype Hotel (a warehouse space 'transformed' for Hype Machine), timetables are also a thing of the past. Hot ticket The Orwells are running so behind that I duck out for another gig. Upon return things are running even later, and instead of Foxygen, it's Brooklyn's Phospherescent. While not awful, just unexpected, it sounds like a young Bob Geldof interpreting young Bob Dylan as dream pop. Thankfully, inbetween visits to the Hype Hotel there was time to experience LA buzz boys Allah-Lahs. If these guys were Australian, you'd assume their surf garage sound had been sourced from extensive Sunnyboys collections. The melodies are catchy, the guitars are crisp and vocals are sweet-as. Judging by the crowd here at North Door, a better appreciation of Allah-Lahs may come with a toke or two. It is also the first band I've ever witnessed requesting "more fog" on stage.

Ending the night on an even higher note, it's time for a trek south of the Ladybug Lake and away from the Central SxSW District to the Continental Club. Now this is the kinda bar you imagine when you first think of bars in Texas. It's kinda snug, it's kinda rough around the edges and it's kinda lacking in hipsters. JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound are on stage and they are laying on the funk and soul heavy. Brooks preens and croons as his band crank out tight riffs. When they whip out Baltimore Is The New Brooklyn they kick out some heavy rock jams as well. Better than that, they started on time.