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07:18 AM on 03/15/13
Ryan Gardner
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Ryan GardnerFeel free to follow me on Twitter @RyanGardnerC for updates throughout the day

Day two of South By was pretty light for me. I knew early on that I wanted to spend most of my day at the Topshelf / Count Your Lucky Stars Records showcase, which worked out super well since it was all of three blocks from campus. Unfortunately, Weatherbox played earlier than I had read, so I missed them. I am also bummed I wasn’t able to catch Caravel’s set, as Lacuna is one of my favorite records of the year so far. However, I got to check out some new bands (Vales and No Somos Marineros), was able to finally check out Candy Hearts’ tunes, and got to see one of my favorite newer bands Pentimento.

Here’s the set up for the showcase: the outside corner of a student co-op living area with a makeshift stage on the patio and a huge pool next to it. Pretty much the ideal punk rock show location, equipped with hot dogs and fans/band members jumping into the pool and all.

The line-up was slightly off from the times I had seen earlier, which allowed me to check out some new bands. Vales took me by surprise. The band came all the way from the UK, and when I saw the female-fronted group set up, I just expected a Paramore-like band. Yeah, yeah, I know. Well, I was completely taken by surprise and floored by them. Picture Converge or Touche Amore style hardcore but with a female front woman that can absolutely scream her lungs out. I’d love to see this band tour with Touche or Pianos Become The Teeth here in the states. The set and songs carried the same type of energy and gut-wrenching honesty those bands live by. The band just finished their new record on 6131 Records, and let’s just say I’m keeping an eye out for it come summer.

Another band I was completely unfamiliar with, the Spanish-speaking No Somos Marineros were quite interesting. It was like The Fall of Troy guitar work meets the punk influence of Alkaline Trio…but in Spanish. I’d never heard or seen anything like this. While I don’t know much Spanish – the three years of it in high school didn’t go very far for me – I have to commend the group on their musicianship. The guitar work was out of this world, with all three of the guitar players bringing something new to the table.

I’ve heard nothing but great things about Candy Hearts from everyone. However, I’d never gotten around to listening to their music for whatever reason. With that said, after seeing their live show and realizing how damn catchy all their songs are, that will be changing very soon. Needless to say, the set sounded great. Mariel Loveland is quite the front lady, and man can she make a track an instant sing along. “Bad Idea,” “Miles & Interstates,” and “Tongue Tied” all had me singing along before the end of each song. Catchy and refreshing, the band just knows how to write a melody. Add them to the list of reasons why Chad Gilbert’s production kills and Bridge 9 is one of the best indie record labels out there. If you haven’t listened to this band yet, don’t sleep on them like I had.

There’s a reason why Pentimento’s debut self-titled record ended up in my top ten records of 2012. The lyrics, the vocal renditions ranging from melody to near-scream, and the raw production just do it for me. Seeing the band live brought back all these feelings I had of hearing the record for the first time. Except it was even better, because here’s a band that is the prime example of a band that sounds even better live than recorded. The energy is just unmatched. Being inches away from the band as they yelled, “I see so much that comes and goes” on the closing “Unless.” Or finishing “Circles” by belting out, “We’re growing up to grow apart.” These are feelings that headphones aren’t strong enough to convey sometimes…these are feeling that you need to have screamed at you in full emotion while you scream them back. That’s what Pentimento do live – they let out all of their emotion and anger right there; they leave nothing behind.

And that’s the end of day two for me. Today I plan to hit up the Equal Vision Records Showcase.

Paul TaoFollow me on twitter (@paultao) for more up-to-the-minute updates throughout the day if you'd like.

I can't believe that it took me 8 years of SXSW before I made the greatest discovery I've ever made in Austin - renting a bike completely changes your SXSW experience. I rented one on a whim this week to help get around venues and it has made jumping from venue to venue and meeting up with people so easy that I am kicking myself for not doing it the previous years. That being said, NO ONE ELSE should do it, because then all the bikes in Austin will be rented and I won't be able to get one next year.

Staying 20 minutes south of the city (if walking, anyway, and only 5 minutes or so if biking), I was running late to my own party, quite literally. I helped book a party at the Mohawk, which Vans had taken over for the week, so it was actually the House of Vans at the Mohawk, and so that also meant that I conveniently liked every act playing since I booked it! With two stages, we had quite a few acts playing, and it was kicked off by a pair of up-and-coming hip-hop acts. One was Ratking, the newest signees to hit indie label XL Records, and the other was also newly signed (to a major, although not sure if I'm allowed to say which) Oddience. With the former from NYC and the latter from LA, the different in style was almost comical in terms of representing their home cities. Ratking was hard-hitting, beat-driven and insanely engaging, while Oddience was whimsical, dreamy and had a laid-back charm that was hard to deny. Both were fantastic, although Ratking's beats and flow were more up my alley.

Io Echo were on after, and the goth-rock crew were able to get the crowd moving during the daytime just as well as night, which was not an easy task for a band with so many lights and more nighttime-oriented leanings than most. NYC's Hunters were another up-and-coming rock act with a surprisingly large fanbase, newly signed and ready to test out their sounds past their hometown's city limits. DIIV were surprisingly amazing, and I can't think of a band that is more quintessentially indie rock (in both sound and look) at SXSW than them. They also all looked like they were 15 years old, but that's a whole other story. Hands, from Los Angeles and recently signed to Kill Rock Stars, are one of my favorite poppy synth-based indie bands to come out lately, and their live show proved that their debut album, which is out next month, is definitely one to look out for. Lord Huron were on after and charmed the crowd just as much as when I had seen them the day before.

Peace were on next, a rock act from the UK are one of my absolute favorites. Do yourself a massive favor and watch this video; not to stereotype but if you're into Foals, Two Door Cinema Club and things like that, I don't see how you could not like Peace. After Peace was Charli XCX, fresh off of a performance an hour and a half ago, so she was still impressive despite I'm sure being massively tired. Pop music from someone who's not high-energy doesn't always end up well, but this did still. LA indie rockers PAPA were tighter than ever after, featuring singer/drummer Darren Weiss (formerly of Girls). Disclosure closed out the outside stage and were one of the few acts that were able to get almost the entire crowd dancing, surprisingly a few people by even playing their most popular remixes live. Newly minted kings of UK rock Palma Violets closed out the inside stage, packing the tiny space into a sweaty, ridiculous mass as everyone wanted a glimpse of the NME cover band that were taking their home country by storm.

Fueled by a quick meal of Jimmy John's (possibly the best thing about Austin?), I headed to the Red Bull Sound Select party for their hip-hop night. I walked in in the middle of a reunion set from Chicago's Cool Kids, who were always on the verge of becoming mainstream and breaking out during their career but never able to do it. Still, despite their inability to be tipped over that edge, they had a loyal fanbase that knew every song they played. After them, there was a ridiculous hour and a half wait for Master P whose tour bus apparently had gotten stuck in traffic coming from Houston. Considering that he was quite a few years removed from his last major hit, the enthusiasm for the appearance from P and his gang of No Limit Soldiers was surprisingly massive. He oddly played his biggest hit "Make 'Em Say Uhh!" as his first song, although I think he felt the almost-violent tension from the impatient crowd after he was more than an hour late, so I suppose he wanted to start off with a bang to make sure people knew he meant business. His set was filled with all of the things that make up a mainstream hip hop set (jumping between songs so quickly you could never hear a full song, lots of strutting around showing off t-shirts and throwing them into the crowd, a lot of guest verses by members of his entourage that you've never heard of and never will, etc), but with P, the crowd was so crazy that it made his set the most high-energy thing I'd seen all week.

With that behind me, I had to head back home to get ready for a long day of meetings the next day (which would be today), so I grabbed some more food from Hype Hotel, aka FREE TACO BELL, and biked back to my seedy motel.

Lueda AliaComing soon
08:48 AM on 03/17/13
Ryan Gardner
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Went and checked out Vales based off of the aforementioned recommendation. Was very pleasantly surprised
Glad to hear it!

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