What It Was Like: School of Seven Bells, Skibunny

I was delayed in getting my night started, thanks to some setbacks I'd rather not go into. Let me just recommend that if you're at SXSW, don't carry a pocketknife. But I still caught a few interesting acts. Hopefully today will go more smoothly.

Act: School of Seven Bells (another take).
Where: Buffalo Billiards
What it was like: I don't think I was quite as impressed as Pete Freedman was in his review, but enjoyed the set enough to stick around till the end. Ally and Claudia Deheza's vocal harmonies were gorgeous. They sang, played and looked pretty while standing stock-still; by contrast, Ben Curtis, laying on the distortion and reverb, channeled My Bloody Valentine through the guitar and bounced around the stage, looking as if he was having a blast.
Verdict: Good, if not life-changing. I'd like to check out the album.
Good Ol' Days Syndrome: I still wish Curtis, who started his music career as the awesome drummer for the late, great UFOFU, would get behind the kit on occasion. It's kind of odd to see him playing in front of a drum machine.

Act: Skibunny (Belfast, N. Ireland)
Where: Barcelona
What it was like: Songs varied from straightforward power pop to keytar-rock with dance beats. The trio features a sweetly charming brunette singer and guitarist/keyboardist, bespectacled dude bassist and a perky blond who never stopped smiling as she kept up the beat. It was easy to get a long look at them, as the very narrow downstairs area has about 20 feet from the stage to the soundman. That would feel cramped with a heavier rock band, but the forced intimacy turned out to be a good thing: everyone was moving. The catchiest song of the night had a chorus that went, "Don't forget, don't forget, don't forget the alcohol" they sang. Singer Tanya gamely exchanged high-fives with audience members after nearly every song.
The Verdict: Fun but fluffy pop-rock.
Uncomfortable moment: A guy kept yelling, "Your drummer is hot! Yeah, drummer!" Surely that's a foolproof way to pick up musicians.
Overheard: "Oh please, don't let those bitches fall down my stairs." --Barcelona doorman as two drunken sorority girls in short shorts wobbled downstairs

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