Monday, March 18, 2013

FPT x SXSW 2013: Day Three - Foxygen Chaos, Phosphorescent, Beach Fossils and More

Ok, so the whole "live blogging" thing wasn't going to work. It was a massive drain on my battery, and I didn't want to be "that guy," "staring at his phone all day" (even though I normally am). So instead I will create a recap from here on out of who I saw, and who I missed, and what the hell actually happened day-to-day.

Thursday was filled with a little bit of drama as the day went along, starting with the disappearance of a voice recorder (I had two interviews that day) and the complete non-charging of my camera's battery. So photos from Thursday's events are kind of few and far between, and were all taken from my iPhone.

We started the day by hitting a few food trucks, which are plentiful in Austin, and are always serving unique and amazingly delicious food. Eventually, I had to part ways with some friends and head to The Belmont for an interview with Wild Feathers (which will be posted soon!).

Even though I was not there, members of my group claimed that the Poolside show they attended while I was absent was amazing, and a few of them even claimed the California-based "Daytime Disco" artists as the most pleasant surprise of the weekend, making me incredibly bitter that I've missed them once again (I saw a DJ set last summer at a Lolla after party, but that just doesn't compare).

After the interview I met up with some friends for the Cayucas set at the Austin Convention Center. I only caught the end of their final song, but was perfectly fine with that as I was slotted for an interview with the group later at Red7 after their set.

Travi$ Scott & T.I.
We headed over to the MTVU Woodie Award party, and caught the end of Atlas Genius' set and stuck around for a free beer, and a cameo by the Rubberband Man himself, T.I. (right; photo credit - John Shearer/Invision for MTV) during Travi$ Scott's set. Alt-J was due up next, but we opted to head across the street to a local BBQ joint for some food and a quick phone recharge (you'll notice that food whilst recharging are a very common motif of a weekend at SXSW).

Next was one of the best full sets I saw all weekend, delivered by Beach Fossils.

Starting with the first song off their new album of the same name, "Clash the Truth" had me jazzed to finally be seeing the group that released my favorite album of 2013, thus far. I took full advantage of the venue's relaxed security and jumped up on the side of the stage to enjoy the set.

Beach Fossils @ The Old Emo's (The Jr.)
The band meshed incredibly well together, especially for a group that is apparently melded together with rotating musicians surrounding front man Dylan Payseur. Guitarist Cole Smith's side project/current focus DIIV were actually playing right up the street at the Flamingo Cantina at the same time as Beach Fossil's set at the old Emo's. I'm extremely happy with my decision to catch BF.

The crowd was one of the best I'd see all weekend too. A controlled mosh pit/dance circle started naturally in the center of the crowd, complete with a stage diver launching himself off the front of the stage.

The band graced the crowd with a mixture of tracks off both of their albums including personal favorites "Careless" and "Holiday". As their set neared a close, the band promised two more songs, then were abruptly told they had enough time for one by venue management. This meant nothing to the group, as they proceeded to go directly into a second song after the first. Before Dylan could even sing, a woman jumped on stage and started to flip the switch on the amps, much to the chagrin of the crowd.

After the crowd cleared I made my way back out in to the sun and eventually made my way to Red7 and got set to watch the Dead Ocean/Secretly Canadian/Jagujaguwar set which featured one of the best lineups of the weekend. Cayucas was up first, a new-to-the-scene group based around frontman Zach Yudin. The crowd (which was based at the outdoor stage of Red7's venue space) ate up the warm melodies being performed for them by the band, which sounded like a light-hearted cross between The Beach Boys, The Animals, and Vampire Weekend. Make sure to keep your eye out for Bigfoot, Cayucas' debut album which comes out in April.

Another notable band on the bill was Bleached, the girl-power punk group that's been praised by fellow surf-punk band Wavves. All eyes gravitated towards the captivating Jessica and Jennifer Clavin (sisters) as they put forth late-70's style punk, hit after hit. The group has an album coming out on April 2, called Ride Your Heart, and this was a great introduction to the band, whose live show feels straight from the garage and really highlights the band's talent outside of a studio space.

The previous night's Sky Ferreira failure was a perfect preface for what was to come on Thursday night with Foxygen's set. The group came out next after a lengthy soundcheck, which seemed to be based around a problem getting sound from the keyboards (soundchecks seemed to be a very problematic thing all weekend, being a major gripe from DIIV on Friday via a Twitter explosion). By the time the set started, the crowd had been getting anxious for quite some time.

I bring this up for what was to come after the band's first couple of songs, frontman Sam France had announced that the festival was already wearing him out. France's stage presence makes you see why, as he is constantly screaming lyrics or pacing on stage appearing to be in a controlled yet panicked state. After confessing, and what seemed to me to be an apology or sign of self-criticism, France stated that his voice felt shot and that he was running on fumes. When a member of the crowd began to yell some fairly unnecessary comments towards France, who seemed to initially think they were coming from me. France seems to look at me and yell, "come on the fucking stage and talk to me about it you fucking coward" I quickly glanced behind me as if to yell "I SWEAR TO GOD IT WASN'T ME PLEASE STOP YELLING AT ME I JUST WANNA LOVE YOU!" You can see the video of the outburst below, courtesy of StairwellBaby.

Eventually France pushes this little tussle aside and is able to play "In the Darkness" before France bids a farewell to the crowd and storms offstage. Leaving the crowd in a "wait... really??" haze, which spread to the faces of France's 5 bandmates. His song-writing partner and other primary member of Foxygen, Jonathon Rado, would leave the stage to track down his bandmate and then come back and confess that the show was over, apologizing, and stating that Phosphorescent would follow. Before he could even take his guitar off his shoulder, France ran back to the stage.

"I'm sorry for what I said earlier to that guy," France stated, "I wasn't even talking to him, I was talking to myself."

Foxygen would play two more songs, including an amazing rendition of "On Blue Mountain" off of their latest album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic. By the end of the weekend, Foxygen would cancel a couple of their final showcase appearances at SXSW, stating France was feeling ill and had no voice. I heard many people complain about this, but as I mentioned with the note on Sky Ferreira, it's important to remember that SXSW isn't about you as an audience member, but instead can be an incredibly grueling experience for artists, as many are subjected to multiple performances in a day, all day, multiple days in a row. Considering the circumstances, Foxygen sounded amazing.

Up next was Phosphorescent, a band I've been dying to see since hearing their latest album Muchacho. Matthew Houck, as the frontman of Phosphorescent, has been releasing music for about 10 years now, much to my surprise. I had heard only a song from them three years ago, Los Angeles, which closed the set out wonderfully. The leading single from Muchacho is "Song for Zula" - probably the most aesthetically pleasing and beautiful song I've heard all year, and glimmered as Phospho performed it live. The album is filled with such grace and poise that is incredibly exciting, and the group really brings a great energy to the stage. The keyboardist was a spectacle within himself, pounding viciously on his keys and making phases that made him appear to be possessed by some sort of piano demon spirit. Check back soon for more Phospho coverage and keep an eye on them, 2013 is set to be a great year for Phosphorescent.

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