Thursday was the day that I had the most on my schedule, and it was most definitely the most intense day. I walked downtown from the house I’m staying at again, which was pretty enjoyable, despite the fact that blisters were developing on my feet at an alarming rate. I decided to take an alternate path than what I usually take when I got downtown, just to see different parts of Austin. Boy, what a nice city. I highly recommend visiting.
I wasn’t able to go to any panels on Thursday, but the festival didn’t make it hard for me to come to that conclusion. After arriving, I found that a lot of the panels were geared towards artists and more business-type affairs, rather than radio, unlike CMJ and IBS. College radio is but a small piece in the giant machine that is the music industry.
I was planning on going to the Pitchfork Day Party and the French Legation museum, but after walking across town I found that the line was too long and I had already missed Mark McGuire and Future Islands, two bands I wanted to see. I was also debating on going to the Sub Pop record rummage sale, but it was even further out than the French Legation. Thursday was definitely the day that I walked the most.
The first show I saw on Thursday was Diarrhea Planet at The Side Bar and boy oh boy were they a blast. I had seen them previously in Connecticut, but halfway through the show their vocal PA blew out, so they resorted to playing instrumentals of cover songs while the audience sang the lyrics. On one hand, that’s a fun and unusual concert going experience. On the other, you don’t hear the music that you came to the concert to see.
This was not the case this time. DP was in full force – four guitarists shredding away like there’s no tomorrow. The crowd was wild and the tent that the band was playing under was flapping around because of people moving it. On the last song, one of the guitarists utilized his mobile pickup and went into the crowd to do some shredding. He even got up on a dude’s shoulders and told him to walk around. It was a great way to start what would turn out to be my longest day yet.
After getting dinner with a few friends I’ve made here, I headed over to the Parish Upstairs to catch the Merge showcase, where Hospitality was just going on. They played a pretty cool set, with lots of moody grooves laced within.
After Hospitality came Ex Hex, the new band fronted by Mary Timony of Helium and Wild Flag. They played a sassy, rocking set with many guitar duel battles and lots of feel-good, girl power.
After Ex Hex’s set, I ran over to Cheer Up Charlie’s for the 4AD showcase. I caught the tail end of SOHN’s set, which was a very cool, electronic set that caused the crowd to go nuts. I arrived at the right time, because apparently no one wanted to see the band up after SOHN, Merchandise, since a ton of people just left, allowing me to slide right in to the front of the stage.
Merchandise is one of my favorite bands, so I was a happy dude. After some technical difficulties, they played a set that I wasn’t really expecting. It was extremely poppy – the hardened edge of Dave Vassalotti’s guitar playing had worn down a bit and the fact that Carson Cox’s acoustic guitar wasn’t able to hook up to his pedals made the set very… I wanna say mainstream? I don’t know. It was still very enjoyable nonetheless. They played the hits off of their 2012 full length, along with two songs off of their album from last year. Their sound has certainly changed in the last two years with the addition of a live drummer and an additional guitarist. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference with the second guitarist, and he kind of stood off to the side during the entire performance, causing me to forget about him from time to time. Sorry dude!
Then the final set of the night was a rollicking, intense set by the band of the moment, Future Islands. I really underestimated their hype – people were going absolutely nuts for them. Being at the front of the stage, people were trying to shoulder me out of the way so they could get to the front, or they were pressing into me, basically lying on top of me, just so they could get closer to the action. I held my reserve and kept my spot up front.
I didn’t think seeing Future Islands would be the most intense show I’ve ever been to, but it ended up being so. I got hit in the head with a beer-soaked shirt, I got pressed into the stage by a horde of drunken fans, but best of all, I got to see a wonderful show and shook the hand of the wild man front man, Samuel Herring.
This man knows how to perform. His delivery in itself is guttural and overly emotional, but his dancing and onstage behavior is what makes the show. He beats his chest and whips the microphone around. He directly sings to people in the audience. He is a performer in every sense of the word and it seemed like he was having an absolute blast on stage, which is usually when groups put on their best performances. The crowd loved it as well. At one point, people were standing on top of the monitors that lined the stage. I had one girl fall on me from there, but it was fine. One guy, which I am still amazed at today, was just sitting right on the stage, cross-legged, just having a smoke. Wasn’t vibing at all to the show or looking at the band, just smoking a cigarette onstage while this throbbing mob of people are trying to get closer to this stunning performer.
When the show ended it was about 2am. My night didn’t end there. I tried hailing a cab to the pedestrian bridge that takes me over the river, but had no luck. I ended up walking home again, but not before I ran into a “secret” show on the bridge featuring Perfect Pussy, NOTHING, and Ex-Cult. I came right as Perfect Pussy was ending, but got to see NOTHING and was serenaded by Ex-Cult as I walked home. I got back at around 4am. To say it was intense doesn’t really give it justice.