SXSW 2019 Day 4
Words and Photos by John McNicholas
“‘Cause you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop
Oh ‘Cause you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop”
One of the highlights this trip was the “Music Keynote: Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond of Beastie Boys with Amazon Music’s Nathan Brackett.” The talk centered around their new book aptly titled, “Beastie Boys Book.” Insightful, funny and at times off the rails, they discussed things that were only “funny to them,” growing up as kids in NYC a told a ton of stories about Adam Yaunch, the third Beastie who passed away from cancer a few years ago. They announced some upcoming shows they have to promote the book in Philadelphia and New York but didn’t speak to any new music projects on the horizon.
Link to audio of the talk can be found here:
Typically, St. Patrick’s Day happens during the festival (this year it was Sunday) so every year the Music from Ireland team put together a fantastic showcase of bands in the evening and host the Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub on 6th street. There is a fantastic traditional Irish breakfast, some amazing music and a ton of great conversation to be had. This year we got there early to catch 2 acts that we were excited about seeing, Joshua Burnside and Roe. Joshua and his band played a fantastic set of emotional songs including the stand out track, “Nothing For Ye.”
Roe, is 19-year-old multi-instrumentalist from Ireland, Roisin Donald. Donald performed all the beats, music and singing live on stage and it was mesmerizing to watch. She played a wonderful set of electronic yet warm songs to a rapt audience.
Alright, time for a 180 degree turn. We headed over to Mohawk to catch Mike Krol put on a freaking rock and roll show. His band, bloodied and bruised hit the stage running and never quit. Krol brought the rock, ran the light show and controlled the sound from stage while getting the crowd moving. I have never seen a little room so tightly packed out in my life. They played a blazing set of older tunes and a good chunk of his new record, Power Chords out on Merge Records. If he comes to your town you know what to do.
Next up on the big stage at Mohawk was The Beths from New Zealand and in light of the tragedy that occured at the mosque there last night there was a palpable air of sadness on stage that took their joyous tunes and added another dimension to the lovely, lite and poetic tunes. “We’re still processing it.” Singer Elizabeth Stokes said. One of the hardest working bands out at SXSW it seemed like that band was everywhere. We missed their set yesterday but today we were front and center for a glorious set of 90s inspired indie-rock pop. They were a huge fan favorite today and for good reason.
After a few more bands at Mohawk it was time to take a break and get ready for the night shows. We didn’t have an “A” plan much less a “B” or “C” plan so we’re up for a night of band roulette.
Since his early days in the 2000s and beyond, Will Johnson has been one the the most prolific and talented singer/songwriters to come out of Texas, Denton to be exact, and his bands, South San Gabriel, The Monsters of Folk and Centro-matic have release a ton of excellent records over the years dripping with americana. So, it was a no brainer when we saw that he was playing an intimate set at The Townsend. Will joked on stage about the change that SXSW was seeing this year in the downsizing of corporate sponsorships and commercialization and said, “I got a parking space out front tonight! We’re taking SXSW back! I’ll take it!”
After Johnson’s set we ran across downtown Austin to catch one of our “must see” bands of the festival, Nashville’s *repeat repeat. The band just finished up a new record with Patrick Carney of The Black Keys producing and now they’re headed out on tour with them opening up a ton of dates. Exciting times for the band. We got there a few songs into their set but they had already blow the lid off of the Barracuda Backyard and there was a little mosh pit happening. I’m not sure this is a mosh pit crowd, or a most pit band, but there it was. They play the catchiest of catchy guitar pop with guy/girl harmonies and they’re a blast on stage. Anxious to hear the new record.
The hour is late but there’s still a few more bands to check out. Since we were in the American mood from the Will Johnson set earlier we noticed that Steve Earle & the Dukes were playing at The Mohawk. We waited in line for a while and got in just in time to see Earle and his big band rip through a ton of great songs including the opening number “Dublin Blues” off of his new album *Dublin Blues*.
“I wish I was in Austin
In the Chili Parlor Bar
Drinkin’ Mad Dog Margaritas
And not carin’ where you are
But here I sit in Dublin
Just rollin’ cigarettes
Holdin’ back and chokin’ back
The shakes with every breath
To end the night we headed down to Esther’s Follies to see the band Hala. Lead by 21 year old singer songwriter Ian Ruhala from Detroit, the band was fun and loose with a ton of energy that had the crowd dancing to their indie-pop tunes.
Alright. 1 more day to go. Let’s pass out and great ready for Saturday.