SXSW Fri Night – Mar 15

As usual, I never got around to documenting the final days at SXSW. After thursday, I was a little jaded. I had attended many shows where the venues were “showcases” for some label. Annoying, aloof, drunk, all kinds of self-important people.

Then friday came and things get real crowded. The goal for me tends to be avoid the lines, not see anyone in particular. The evening was totally redeemed by two bands.

Grupo Fantasma & Gogol Bordello

Just before the midnight show, we waited outside The Vibe for the Austin band Grupo Fantasma. With 10 or a few more, they have a large stage presence. A lot of horns and a lot of energy. Finally, a venue where everyone was having a good time. We bounced about in the crowded venue for the whole show.

Afterward we tried several places on Red River, saw Red Eyed Fly didn’t have a line like the rest. It has always done us well, so we popped in. Saw the last 3-4 songs of a crazy mahem set. Gogol Bordello It was gypsy punk with high energy. Two girls in costume were the percussion section. One bass drum. One symbols. A gypsy fiddle, a mad eastern European, all from… NYC. Think Mojo Nixon playing East European Folk Music. Yes, it is too much to wrap your head around. The show ended with the singer balancing on the bass drum as it was passed into the audience.

I can’t emphasize enough that I would readjust my schedule drastically to see either of these bands. Since the former is based in Austin and just released their first CD, I’ll likely have a chance. I can only hope that Gogol will get back down to Texas.

-b