For Team Vanya, the entire theme of SXSW 2015 was to just roll with it, Oasis style. Any plans we may or may not had at the start of the day were guided by scribbling band names, times, and venues on a small piece of scrap paper we kept by our sides, allowing any bit of spontaneity to whisk pus away at any moment. While we may not have seen everything — who can? — the plan did pay off, as the four bands and one solo artist listed below were experienced without actually knowing, an hour beforehand, that we’d stumble into their shows. We caught some by running into one band’s manager on 6th (Joywave), others by sticking around the venue after seeing our intended target (Raury, Bleachers), one by randomly walking into the bar they were playing to escape rain (Ava Luna) and some by merely waiting in line (Misterwives).
Good planning all around. Here are the four bands and one artist that helped soundtrack out SXSW 2015. [Check out our electro-pop recap here.]
It feels like Joywave have been on the tip of our “Tongues” for the past year or so, but it was last week in Austin where we were finally able to see the New York State band (north of White Plains, yo) in their natural habitat. Last year it was the electronic pop quintet’s collabo with Big Data on “Dangerous” that brought them to wider audiences, and this year it’ll be their upcoming tour with Bleachers, which should vault them into pop royalty and hits the House of Blues on April 7. Catching their energetic set at Vulcan Gas Company was one of the highlights of our Austin experience.
As the rain started building up over Austin Friday afternoon, clearing out Fader Fort and packing the Hype Hotel with shelter-seeking cool kids, we ventured further up East 6th on the other side of Interstate-35 and stumbled into Ava Luna’s set at Wonderland. Accidentally seeing bands you only previously heard about is at the heart of what makes SXSW great, and our brief fling with Brooklyn’s Ava Luna and their soulful, hypnotic modern-pop was enough for us to drunkenly backtrack later that night at the hotel and dig through their back catalog. Palehound and Bent Shapes are on their upcoming Allston gig at O’Brien’s, so it’s clear you now have plans that Saturday night.
Raury // Atlanta, Georgia // No Boston date scheduled
Much like Ava Luna up above, seeing Raury was an accident. We hit up Hype Hotel early on Friday to see Christine & the Queens and planned to (maybe) stick around for Gorgon City two hours later, all part of Turntable Kitchen’s genre-hopping curation. Sandwiched in between our expected goodness was Raury, an Atlanta singer with a stronger gravitational pull than the industrial magnets on your fridge. Like a Bruno Mars with more street creed, Raury is a teenaged performer oozing with dirty south chill and a laid back, almost countrified take on r&b. We saw nothing else like it at SXSW 2015. Dude is legit.
Sometimes you wait on lines so long you have no choice but to lean in and listen to the band playing the outdoor party you’re trying to get into. As we waited to crash Republic Records soiree somewhere on the other side of the river that took way to long to walk over to, we remained positive by the help of Misterwives’ night-piercing melodies and indie-pop grooves. “Reflections” may have dropped last August, but it has the potential to be the song of this summer. Their show on April 1 at the ‘Dise is very sold out, so clearly we’re behind on these NYC cats.
This isn’t so much a discovery as it is an apology. We wrote off Bleachers for pretty much forever as a fun. side project, and let our feelings on Jack Antonoff’s day gig influence our thinking. We’re just not big fans of fun. — hey, it happens. But seeing Bleachers live at Vulcan Gas Company playing to a packed, intimate crowd proved Bleachers are one of the tightest and most charismatic bands out there. Yeah we knew tracks like “Rollercoaster” and “I Wanna Get Better” were some catchy ass jams, but we were reluctant to fully give in. Sorry, Jack. We now believe.