SXSW 2013 Reviews: Passion Pit, Haim, Wavves, Local Natives


    Well yes, Consequence of Sound made it to Austin safely, thanks for asking. As we prepare ourselves for South by Southwest to ritualistically disassemble our bodies and souls, we rolled through a few shows Tuesday night — some official and unofficial pre-gaming to kick off the five-day music portion of the festival. Check out our brief mini-night coverage below, and come back tomorrow for the first full day of photos and words from our staff.

    Monday, March 11th

    Passion Pit – Hype Hotel – 8:00 p.m.

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    Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

    The Hype Hotel changed venues this year but it looks pretty much like the larger version of the old space: a hybrid of a musty basement and a vaulted loft space with free vodka and bean burritos. Passion Pit played a special Cool Ranch pre-party on Monday to a group of mainly SXSWi folks and lucky #hashtag winners, all presented by Taco Bell. Corporate synergy aside, Passion Pit hitched their new songs to the power of a husky-ass rock band behind them, all arena everything, the drums for “I’ll Be Alright” overpowering most of Michael Angelakos falsetto yawps. His storied 2012 never once cropped up during their twee-on-amphetamine set, though the muddled sound was a bit depressing in the venue. To the woman who said,  ”Ugh they haven’t played — what’s that song?” and left in a huff just before they played “Sleepy Head”: Good job. -Jeremy D. Larson

    Tuesday, March 12th


    Photo by Alex Young

    SKATERS – Viceland – 8:30 p.m.

    Early last month, New York’s SKATERS signed to Warner Bros., and last night at Viceland they had the chance to show why the major label scooped them up after one solid EP in front of a jam-packed crowd. For their SXSW debut, the trio expanded into a heavyweight five-piece, a decision which added some heft to the punchy, power-pop sounds of tunes like the sizzling “I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How)”. The showcase also let the band unveil some new songs from their forthcoming debut full-length, which combined the polished garage of early 2000s Strokes with a dash of defiant Clash for a sound that eschewed their early hyperactive saccharine for more sturdy rock craftsmanship. Roll on lads, roll on. -Chris Coplan


    Photo by Michael Roffman


    Team Spirit – Viceland – 9:00 p.m.

    At SXSW, and especially Viceland itself, there’s no shortage of lo-fi garage rock. Still, Brooklyn’s Team Spirit offer up a component that few of their compatriots are wiling to exude: pure grime. With tunes about girls breaking your heart powered by oversized guitar riffs ripped from the canon of late ’80s hair metal, frontman Ayad Al Adham and company swill whiskey in their Hawaiian tees and oversize army coats, purveying an air of reckless abandon and sleazy old man-ness. They’re not weird or kooky, and they might hit on your girlfriend in front of you, but the chances of resisting their manky chops are thinner than Al Adham’s creep-o mustache. -Chris Coplan


    Photo by Alex Young

    Wavves – Viceland – 10:00 p.m.

    The more things change, the more they end up staying the same for Wavves. Nathan Williams and company have found a sense of balance and center since releasing 2010’s King of the Beach, expanding on that further with their forthcoming Mom+Pop debut, Afraid of Heights. Tracks like “Sail to the Sun” and “Beat Me Up” find Williams expounding the same sort of youthful nihilism, but in a decidedly more concise and organized manner. But proving they’re noise-rock streak is fully intact, they busted out extra dissonant versions of standbys like “No Hope Kids” and “Bug”, which sent the crowd into a maddening frenzy and placed security on high-alert. Even as they further develop and mature, the outfit keeps things interesting by ensuring the angst flows like the gnarliest of waves. -Chris Coplan


    Photo by Michael Roffman

    Haim – VEVO TV Control Room – 10:00 p.m.

    “Holy shit you guys,” bassist Este Haim screamed. There was something cathartic about Haim’s late night set at VEVO’s makeshift TV Control Room. The three sisters didn’t just want this, they needed it — at least that’s the energy they gave off. Following a slight delay, the Los Angeles sistren (ahem, and our recent CoSign) locked into a groove and turned things 110% professional. Danielle Haim wrangled the guitar like a long lost Allman Brother, injecting adrenaline into already exhilarating cuts of “Falling”, “Send Me Down”, a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well”, and “Let Me Go”. The latter sneezed from the dust of early ’80s R&B with a percussive finish that rivaled Stomp. Somewhere in the scuffle, Alana summed up their feelings best: “You guys have no idea how crazy this is for us. Two years ago we weren’t even allowed to be here,” alluding to their past rejections from South by Southwest. Yeah, pretty unbelievable, but rest assured, justice has been served. (Full disclosure: I haven’t been this jazzed about a new act in almost half a decade.) -Michael Roffman


    Photo by Michael Roffman


    Cloud Nothings – Mohawk Outdoor – 11:30 p.m.

    Dylan Baldi didn’t have to make another appearance at South by Southwest. Cloud Nothings pretty much reigned over last year’s festivities, in addition to every other venue and festival throughout 2012. But, with a “noiser” follow up to our year-end favorite Attack on Memory slated for 2013, Baldi opted to show off the new material in Austin. He wasted little time at the Mohawk, where he tipped off the night with a slow new burn in the vein of My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, or even ’90s rockers Hum. Later on, they pogoed off a new, crunchy power-pop nugget that suggested Baldi’s also been dousing himself with Hüsker Dü or early Clash. As expected, familiar cuts like “Wasted Days” or “Our Plan” still toast off accordingly. So, what’d we learn? That whatever aural dough Baldi’s been baking with smells pretty fucking great so far. -Michael Roffman


    Photo by Michael Roffman

    Local Natives – Mohawk Outdoor – 12:30 a.m.

    It felt okay to groan about Local Natives’ near-30 minute soundcheck, but then you watched them orchestrate “You & I” and all cynicism sunk to the bottom of anyone’s Lone Star. This is a hard working indie collective, one that’s so emotionally invested in their material that they almost appear catatonic whilst performing. “We’re happy to play songs both new and old,” singer and guitarist Taylor Rice said with a smile. And so they did, rolling out pained Hummingbird material like “Heavy Feet” and “Breakers” alongside old Gorilla Manor classics such as “Wide Eyes” and “World News”. The dichotomy between Rice and partner-in-crime Kelcey Ayer never disappoints and they appeared ecstatic to be back in Austin. Why not, though? Four years ago they made a name for themselves here with close to 10 shows; this time around, they were billed as a surprise special guest and still managed to rope in an at-capacity crowd. Also, “Sun Hands” could cap off any night — tonight, tomorrow, forever. -Michael Roffman


    Photographers: Heather Kaplan, Jeremy D. Larson, and Michael Roffman

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