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SXSW 2010: The Middle East, SoKo, She & Him, Fucked Up, Marina & more

SXSW 2010: The Middle East, SoKo, She & Him, Fucked Up, Marina & more


With the Patrick’s Day madness over, Thursday saw lines outside venues a little bit more relaxed, seeing as the thousands of Austinites who celebrated the festival the night before were nursing their hangovers.

Beside the venue adorned with a sign that reads “Once we are at capacity, it will be a one-in/one-out situation. I don’t care how many hits your shitty blog gets a month,” we find French singer and her very unique brand of unhinged pastoral folk. Shouting, screeching, yelping, barking: the ramshackle performance had it all. Backed by violin, guitar and mandolin with occasional basic drumming by Soko herself, it teethered on the edge of sanity and patience but the bratty bacchanalian performance of the song ‘People Are Mean’ with the lyrics “People are mean / People are bad / People are trying to ruin my life” prompted the audience to join in.

The Bewitched Hands On Top Of Their Heads
Staying with the Gallic theme, I’ve been playing this band’s beguiling MGMT-esque song ‘Work’ regularly over the last few weeks but with the exception of this, clearly their standout song so far, nothing else really stuck out during their set at Klub Krucial on 6th Street. They have the potential for some killer poppin’ sunshine indie tunes but it was a disappointing and lacklustre set.

The Middle East
A truly great performance from a truly great band. As much as I actually like their The Recordings Of The Middle East EP, live, this band are a different class altogether. I was utterly captivated by them. They’ve already been booked to play Oxegen. Yes, they are just that good.

Fucked Up
One of those random moments that can only really happen at SXSW. Walking down Red River back towards the hub of activity on Sixth street and you hear something familiar. It sounds like Damian Abraham from Toronto punks Fucked Up but is it really? As soon as a rotund belly gut appears over the heads of the street spectators, there can be no doubt. The band delivered an impromptu performance in a porch and my, was it fun.

She & Him
With a second album Volume 2 released this month, M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel are proving this is more than a once-off collaboration. A long line preceeds the show at the Cedar Street Courtyard – an outdoor venue sandwiched between two bars. By the time the duo’s show rolls around, the venue has been at capacity for an hour so visibility of the show is poor. We can tell you apart from M. Ward and Zooey, there was a full band and some backing singers. The live show is much like their recorded material: pleasant ’50s country AM-inspired ditties with loads of indie boys staring at the cute Zooey Deschanel.

Marina and the Diamonds
SXSW was where the already popular Welsh-Greek pop singer hit the American music consciousness with a bang. Perez Hilton was up the front of her show in Lamberts, two days before she joined the likes of Hole, Snoop Dogg, Estelle and more at his massive Perez Hilton SXSW Party. A New York Times reporter was heard exalting “A star is born,” upon leaving the gig and as always, Marina impressed everyone in the room with her likeable pop show.

Yes Giantess
Fellow Neon-Gold alumni failed to capitalise on Marina’s success. While they threw themselves full force into their live show in an effort to impress, the live vocals were grating and paled in comparison to many other electro-tinged pop at the festival. The jury is still out.

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