Words by: Sarah Hagerman
| Those Darlins :: 03.18.10 :: SXSW|
I'd heard vaguely of Yacht going in, and honestly probably would have skipped them if it weren't for the urging of a buddy. Based on the name alone, I had assumed they were going to be more along the lines of some kind of ironic hipster "yacht rock," with boat shoes and Kenny Loggins-style falsettos. Oh how wrong I was. Although they certainly were dressed to the nines, this wasn't no champagne-sipping in the sunshine sail. They laid down a dirty, post-punk, disco ass-shake-a-thon at the Spaceland Day Party at Palm Door. Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans held court at the front of the stage as their band offered up lead-heavy beats and screaming punk aggression. They were the picture of cool as they strutted back and forth, working the crowd into a jumping mess with steely stares and sneers that said, "If you don't dance, someone's gonna get hurt." Evans would twist her mic cord around her body and fiercely pose by the pole in the center of the stage, with a vibe that couldn't help but remind me of Debbie Harry. I could see these cats going over well at Camp Bisco. If you dig !!! or Gossip, climb on board.
Heaving and buckling with the weight of sardine-packed jumping bodies, the narrow side porch of the Palm Door (which was serving as a makeshift second stage) threatened to give way during Fool's Gold's early evening set. This band puts on a tribal, tropical dance party that grabs your sweaty hand and drags you into a conga line. They really stretched out, too, moving between blasting sax funk and tight drumming with snappy ease, keeping those floorboards quaking under their brilliant shine.
The Entrance Band
The setting for the stacked lineup at Kayceman's Treehouse Party felt like an awesome little secret, set high above the rumble of 6th Street below. As the hot midday sun beat down on our heads at the upstairs patio at Cheers shot bar, Entrance Band melted our brains. Playing psychedelic scattershot guitar like Hendrix (he even busted out the behind-the-head move), frontman Guy Blakeslee had the rock star thing down to a science. Pure organic chemistry, as badass bassist Paz Lenchantin crushed the low end and drummer Derek James seemed hypnotized behind his wall of hair. Drawing out washes of feedback while bent over their instruments, Blakeslee and Lenchantin looked about ready to fold up and meld with the stage. They rose up, to end the set with a tremendous roar. Note to self: earplugs exist for a reason.
"If you don't want a wild one/ Don't hang around with me" might as well be tattooed on these girls' forearms. Look out, fellas, you might well find yourself handcuffed to a bed with your wallet missing and your car long gone. Riot girl rockabilly queens-to-be, these gals are like the delinquent granddaughters of Wanda Jackson (guitarist Jessi Darlin's voice even had a similar high-pitched gritty wail). With songs about getting drunk and eating a whole chicken and having phone sex with prank callers, they aren't afraid to get raunchy and bloody and then wake up with questionable bruises. Nikki Darlin dropped her baritone ukulele towards the end of the set and stomped around the front of the stage at the Billboard.com Bungalow, spitting gulps from her pint of whiskey sky high. At one point, she balanced herself on some folks in the front row, and it looked like an older, bald gentleman got pretty well acquainted with her crotch for a minute. It was chaos by the end of their set, with Nikki and bassist Kelley Darlin wrestling, and Jessi strangling and tossing her guitar around, before all three dissolved into a pile, rolling and kicking in the center of the stage. This shit was totally badass, oozing confident in-your-face sexuality and dirty south pride. I want to rage with these gals, but I think things would get pretty damn messy.
| Man Man :: 03.18.10 :: SXSW|
With Man Man, I don't know if I want to have whatever they are having, but I sure do love the contact high. This band brings out something positively primal in you, puts you in touch with some feral base elements growling in your blood, makes you want to howl at the moon. Let me put it this way – it was the first honest to god slam pit and stage push I'd seen at SXSW. If you were in the front for this show, you were part of the chaos. No standing back and taking notes or texting on your Blackberry here. Like a marching band on the elevator to hell, or a birthday party from your Jungian shadow, their stage set-up is always impressive, as they leap from brass to xylophone to noise makers. Frontman Honus Honus stalked around with a wild, possessed look in his eyes, contorting his face as he sang, wrapping himself in a hooded cloak and red Christmas lights one minute, donning a glittery dress the next. "You make me feel like a zombie!" he shrieked during "Big Trouble." There's a monster inside all of us, and you can always count on Man Man to drag it out from under the bed. It's pretty damn exciting, and a little bit scary.
Equal parts grungy and hypnotic, Dead Confederate gave us one final shot of adrenaline in our veins as we gathered the last pieces of the night. The enormous sound was all encompassing, gluing you to the pavement, so that all you could do was violently shake your head in its wake. Hardy Morris has a wail that reminded me a little bit of Perry Farrell, cutting through the dark fuzz of the band to soar over those of us still upright. It shot shivers straight through my bones. As 2:00 a.m. crept up, Morris said the band had two more songs. They slew one, and then halfway through their last song, the plug was pulled. It was an abrupt and jarring end, and it's unfortunate the Billboard.com Bungalow wouldn't have let them see it through an extra few minutes instead of unceremoniously sending us out into the night to dodge the wasted and the lost winding their way back towards beds or searching for that last, secret party pumping somewhere in the Austin night.
Continue reading for more pics of SXSW Day 2...