Better than…worrying if your shoes match your purse.
Nylon magazine and Guess Jeans teamed up for a SXSW day party in the chic W hotel in Austin, on a balcony where stylish couches with artistic drink tables draped in black crepe lined the walls. Oh, and all of the drinks were poured into wine glasses instead of plastic cups, and there were black and white photos of blonde bombshells pouting suggestively.
The stage was a tiny little makeshift thing that was dwarfed by enormous eardrum-shattering speakers. Perhaps the volume was cranked so loud for the sake of the people demo-ing noise canceling earbuds.
Of the bands scheduled to play, only half showed up. The set times on the wall were complete and utter fiction. Each band played incredibly short sets. Twenty minutes, three and five songs, that was it. We've taken longer to eat a burrito. And even though it was listed as a pool party, there was no pool. Those things aside, three performances really shone through.
Howler, the exceptionally young garage rock band from Minnesota, played a high octane set. It was the kind of frenzied energy that requires small pauses to catch your breath. Each song was like a pop rock that fizzled in your teeth, but was by no means dangerous. These were young rockers you could introduce to your mother with very little fear of disapproval.
Immediately following was L.A.'s own Papa, who put on a percussion heavy, hooting good time. Drummer/lead singer Darren Weiss was put squarely in the middle of the stage as if he was a general directing his troops. Weiss' rich, tortured voice complemented the sweet, organ heavy rock songs in a way that was both unsettling and intriguing.
And when the band gave it all they had and they all sang together it felt like a movement. One half wanted to grab a flag and start marching somewhere bellowing “Let me be good to you, honey!” as you walked down the street with half the neighborhood in your wake.
However, no one got the crowd's blood pumping like the old fashioned soul of Nick Waterhouse and the Tarots. With his plaid button down shirt tucked neatly into his olive green pants and his feet safely shod in loafers, Waterhouse did not look like a hell raiser, but whenever he let out a Little Richard worthy yell a tiny grin would cross his face that let you know that he was in fact trouble.
The short set had everyone's hips shaking with the beautiful backup singers leading the pack with gold chains draped around their waists that shook when they shimmied. The hero of the band was the ponytailed saxophone player, whose solos made everyone cheer, but he seem entirely unimpressed with the whole thing. One can only hope with time and patience, the Tarots will simmer into something really spectacular.
Random Notebook Dump: I have never seen so many neon jeans in my life. I bet they can see us from space.
Overheard in the crowd: A young British man, “I woke up naked surrounded by pistachio nuts on the hotel floor. No idea how I got there.”
Personal Bias: I think every set should be longer than 20 minutes. When the sound check is longer than the performance you've got a problem.
Set list below.