Photos and Words by John McNicholas
XSW 2019 Day 5
Saturday, the last day of the festival has arrived. We are tired. We are sore. Our ears are ringing a little.
We’ve seen 99% of the bands that we were dying to see so today is a day to check out the off-the-grid bands and shows and dig a little more into what Austin is all about. We slept in for a change and headed over to the Flatstock exhibition again to check out all the fantastic poster art and see a few bands on the Flatstock stage.
First up, Big Phony from Korea. Originally form New York, Bobby Choy, known as Big Phony has been putting out gentle, emotional folk pop for a few years now and has really come into his own as an artist with a magnificent set of songs that reveal intimate and loving details about his family, his parents and himself in the most personal and private of ways that feels like eavesdropping on a stranger writing their journal while performing in front of the audience. His self-deprecating demeanor on stage opens up the listener even more.
“My Mom tells me I should work on my singing voice and talk more between songs. She said it’s not so good.”
Raw, poetic and beautiful, highly recommended.
Next up we headed to an area of town called South Congress or as I heard a local call it, “SoCo.” It’s a area south of downtown, over the river, full or shops, restaurants, bars and on SXSW weekend a ton of pop-up shows and mini-festivals. We swung into SXSJ (South by San Jose) at the San Jose Hotel parking lot to catch a few bands like Genital Panic (dancing lady parts!) and Dylan Leblanc who put on great sets while we grabbed a local beer and shopped the local clothing and vintage markets under the sun.
Yard Dog, an art gallery a few blocks south of San Jose Hotel is known for their great day parties during SXSW weekend and today was no exception. William Harries Graham had a great set of alt-country-blues and hometown favorites, Cotton Mather wowed the crowd with a killer set of tried a true songs from a handful of their albums over the years.
With the day parties winding down and the night shows getting cranked up we grabbed a bike and headed back into town to check out the New Granada Records Showcase for the evening and caught a ton of great bands.
John Vanderslice was performing just as we arrived to a great crowd of hard-core fans that have probably already seen him play 3 times this week. His eternal style of indie-pop is always a treat live and his band was on point and full of smiles.
Next up was a band called Doe, a 3-piece, indie-rock band from London, UK that played a killer set featuring songs like “Heated” from their latest record, *Grow into It*
Balms played a huge set of moody, cinematic indie-rock full or highs and lows that was pure ear candy.
SXSW is always full of special little moments that keep pulling us back. As the Balms set wound down the temperature dropped a bit and the wood-fire heaters that were placed around the venue were fired up. People congregated around them to catch up and keep warm so the next band brought the music to the people. Bob Nanna & Mark Rose took turns playing a set of solo folk tunes by the fire that had everyone at rapt attention and singing along.
As the final night of the festival wound down there were still a few more killer acts.
Eureka California and duo (ala White Strips) from Athens, GA, played a fun set as did The Pauses.
With the festival winding down I can think of no better band to go out on than Five Eight from Athens, GA. To see them live is to love them live and they never disappoint. Five Eight ran through a killer set of 90s/2000s indie rock with a head full of fire and passion as if it was back in the day. They closed out their set with a Zeppelin jam with members of Pinky Doodle Poodle from Japan, a band that had played earlier in the day. A complete blast.
OK, the night is through. The festival is through. It’s a long bike ride back to the hotel but there was still time for one last walk on Sixth Street before heading home.
We saw about 60 bands. We have some new favorites. Our ears are ringing. Thank you, SXSW, it’s been a blast.