Day one of SXSW is always loaded with choices, from very high-profile events to the underground indie events. Most of the high-profile stuff (such as R.E.M.) requires official SXSW badges or wristbands (which I don’t have this year), so I decided to head first to one of the smaller events. I drove to the SEASAC day stage to try to catch La Mala Rodriguez, but I didn’t make it in time to catch her set. However, I was able to get the last song of the Noisettes, then listen to a couple of songs by A place to Bury Strangers, before heading out to Antone’s, possibly the hottest spot of the night, and see what I needed in order to get in.
Antone’s had 3 bands I really wanted to check out: Lightspeed Champion, The Kills and Simian Mobile Disco, however, the line to get in was very long; and there was a big sign that said “BADGES & WRISTBANDS” only. I didn’t even try to get in line. My next spot was the Continental Club, I wanted to go check out Elis Paprika, Monte Negro and Ceci Bastida, but the venue was too far to get there and then back to the main event of the night for me: The Warp Magazine Mexico party at Opal Divine’s Freehouse.
For the last few years, the Opal Divine’s events are usually loaded with Latin Alternative quality acts (last year they had Austin TV, La Gusana Ciega and Zoe), and this year they included 7 bands: Satin Dolls, Deskartes a Kant, Le Baron, Kanko, Los Dynamite, Sussie 4 and FOBIA.
I wasn’t able to catch the set by Satin Dolls, but Deskartes a Kant was about to take the stage, only to drive me out after 3 songs. They have a quirky on-stage presence, wearing doctor and nurse costumes with fake blood smeared over them. I wasn’t very impressed with their music, the guitars drowned their vocals, (I could hardly make up what they were singing) and it was too loud overall. They had one cool song that sounded similar to Lost Acapulco, but it was the only highlight of their set. After their set it was time for Le Baron to play, and they were a fresh surprise, I was digging their catchy weird-pop (think Porter) songs and people in the crowd seemed to like them as well. Austin-based Kanko came up next, and they got a portion of the crowd dancing to their tropical-rock songs.
Los Dynamite took the stage around 10:45 PM, and they were ready to rock out and get everyone moving. If you have not heard from this band, then you’re missing out. These guys know how to rock and they have a lot of fun while doing it. They are full of energy and love to interact with people. I had a chance to interview them after their set and they were ecstatic with the crowd’s reaction. Diego (singer) and Miguel (bass) said that their interaction has been growing through the years: “I used to be real shy, even giving my back to the crowd. Since I started as a drummer, but then eventually moved on to the guitar and singing. Little by little I lost the shyness, I might not talk much, but I really try to let people have as much fun as possible.”
Sussie 4 was next, and you could tell a lot of the crowd was there to see them perform; the moment they took the stage and began to play, everyone started to dance around. A cool touch was that the “Miller Lite” girls had given some fluorescent lights to people and the floor became a mini-rave. Sussie 4 is phenomenal live, I was expecting a lot of samples, punchis-punchis, but they came at us with live instruments and tremendous energy!
And then came Fobia, to close out the night with a fast-paced set, which included songs from their last album, as well as some classic jewels, even playing “Regresame a Jupiter”, one of my favorite Fobia songs! They avoided playing “microbito”, their most mainstream hit. I talked to Leonardo (vocals) and Jay de la Cueva (drums) before their set, and they both said that they were not going to play that song anymore. “It’s just not fun to play that song anymore” said Jay. Good for them, it’s time for people to realize that there’s a lot more to Fobia than an overplayed radio song.
So that was day one, very hectic and with some disappointments, but Los Dynamite, Sussie 4 and Fobia made my night worth it and a hell of a start for SXSW 2008.