I saw 31 bands this week at SXSW. Sets are brief. 45 minutes, tops. So, I ended up sampling lots of different sounds, mostly from bands I’ve never even heard of before. It’s an act of discovery, and there is joy in that. There is also sorrow, as some acts simply don’t make the grade.
One particular showcase stood out for me. It went down on Thursday night at The Apple Bar on West Fifth Street. Los Angeles’ famed Viper Room transformed the place into “The Viper Room in Austin” for four nights. On Thursday, I saw three bands in a row that I can now count as bands I want to see again and put into my listening rotation. They are Hello Stranger, BIGBANG and The Ringers.
Juliette Commagere, lead singer of Hello Stranger, told me the band took their name from a Truman Capote short story of the same name. She also said Ry Cooder is good friend and mentor to the band. His son Joachim Cooder plays drums.
Norway’s BIGBANG and The Ringers from L.A. play the kind of straight ahead rock that may be out of style with the skinny pants crowd, but it works for me.
Some other shows I thoroughly enjoyed at South By were David Garza on Monday night at The Continental Club’s upstairs “Gallery,” Rev. Peyton and His Damn Big Band at Molotov on Friday night, Papa Mali with Henry Butler at Eternal on Saturday night and Peter Case at the Hilton Garden Inn’s 18th floor bar at 1:00 a.m. Saturday night.