SXSW: Scene & Heard, Day One

Touched down in Austin at around 1:30 p.m.; not too much exciting to report after going through the surprisingly quick registration line (unless seeing the only midget drummer at the festival, Christophe Zajac-Denek from Detroit's the Hard Lessons, counts). The NX35 party is starting at Club DeVille on Red River in a few minutes, where Denton delights such as the Baptist Generals, Record Hop and the Drams will perform; in addition, Fort Worth's Theater Fire takes the stage across the street at Beerland.

Well I'll be damned--Dallas' Steve Austin just walked up and gave me a hard time for missing a day party he just played. "We were the only rap group there," he said, and he was impressed with the crowd, which reacted pretty excitedly to his onstage video rig. Who says hip-hop can't be high-tech? I'm gonna try to catch Austin's 8:30 p.m. showcase tonight, but he (along with a lot of Dallas and Houston rap acts) has been dumped in a venue a good few miles away from the majority of the showcase venues. More bitching about that unfortunate circumstance to come...

Before splitting town, I stopped at the Granada Theater last night to catch the New Pornographers and Belle & Sebastian's pre-SXSW Dallas stop. Good show all around. B&S were incredibly energetic; their non-stop, herky-jerky dance party was a far cry from the "sad Scottish bastards" tag they've often received. However, while the NPs had a solid set, even without Neko Case or Dan Bejar (truly, the band was Zumpano 2.0, not the NPs), the sound was an utter mess--vocals were buried, the bass was too low and the keyboards...well, if you were in the crowd, you might've heard me shout at the sound guy from the balcony, "TURN THE KEYBOARDS UP!!" He finally obliged, though half the set was already wasted--what's a power-pop band without squealing keyboards? --Sam Machkovech

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