SXSW Thursday night: Le Loup rocked my world, the Playboy party rocked my privates.

Okay, so I actually cried tonight. Not sobbed, not wept, not got all blustery and snotty. But about five songs into Le Loup's remarkable, thrilling set at Emo's IV Lounge, they hit upon a combination of chords and chorus that, coupled with my joyful mood and the feeling of how lucky all of us assholes in Austin are to be here and not, say, Baghdad, or Kabul, or the Gaza Strip, or still living in the parents' basement, rushed from my ears to my heart and head and flooded my eyes with tears beautiful tears. What a life this this!

Le Loup at Emo's IV Lounge

In an earlier post, I described my excitement at the thought seeing the relatively unknown DC group, and described their sound, based on their only CD, The Throne of the Third Heaven of Nations, as "electro-acoustic." That's how their CD sounds. But live? A whole other animal: seven players, including three guitarists, a bassist, a drummer, a keyboardist who doubled on French horn, lead singer Sam Simkoff on banjo and banging. They were a fucking blur of inspiration, starting songs slow and intimate, singing in glorious group harmony, gradually building up to massive crescendos that filled Emo's Lounge with so many complimentary and complicated wave forms that swirled around the room like John Hancock's fancy signature. On the brilliant "Sea Took Me," they offered structure and melody that collapsed mid-song into a mess of noise and French horn blurts and moaning, only to reconvene into this monster chorus that prompted my unexpected rush of tears. I live for these moments.

I also saw Islands last night for the first time, who played at the Cedar Street Courtyard. Lead singer/head egomaniac Nick Diamonds appeared in mime-like white-face which made his eyes glow and seem really intense. They were great, really visionary and surprising. Not so much the other few acts I saw. Dan Le Sac is a Brit rapper who sounds like the Streets but only because he's a white Brit rapper who stresses his accent. He gigged at the the Wave rooftop.

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The Heavy at the Playboy Party at 310

And then there was the Playboy party, an exclusive all you can drink/eat bacchanal featuring Playboy bunnies swaying onstage and posing for photos with drunken dudes. I was just there for an hour or so, and stumbled across The Heavy, who are buzzing quite loud for no particular reason. I thought they were kinda lame: big Zep riffs behind a soul singer who delivered feeling but not soul. He did, however, manage to capture the essence of my mind-frame in the wake of the Le Loup show: with two Bunnies onstage giving him a little dance sandwich, he smiled into the crowd and said with heartfelt joy: "I love my job." Ditto.


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