Converted into Rolling Stone‘s “Rock Room,” the front corridor of La Zona Rosa was quietly buzzing when Chicago’s JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound took the stage. Dressed in tight dark blue striped pants and a not-quite-matching dark blue blazer, Brooks danced along to his songs, backed by a keyboardist, two guitarists, drums and bongos. His vibe might be a little bit faux neo-James Brown, but his songs are definitely more offbeat – with chorus lyrics like “before you die, girl, give me that number,” and “Baltimore is the new Brooklyn.” The band closed out the set with a soul-ified version of Wilco’s “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” – which apparently has won them props from Jeff Tweedy himself.
If the Shout Out Louds seemed a little tired, it was likely because they’d played a 1AM show the night before, and had a full day ahead of them. Touring behind their newly released Optica, sxsw is a stop off before a month of dates in Europe. While Optica may prove to be a stronger album than their previous, Work, the band chose to end their set with “Walls” – a set that included the new “Blue Ice.”
|Willy Moon at the W Hotel|
On a balcony at the W Hotel at the Nylon Magazine party, singer Willy Moon arrived in a dapper suit (a move that proved dangerous, given how hot it was). Backed by a female drummer in a black and white bra and a tall female guitarist in a low-cut black dress, Moon used his whole body to sing “Yeah Yeah” and “Railroad Track” – the latter which sounds like a layered version of “Hit The Road Jack” backed by Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks.”
In the early evening Auditorium Shores was absolutely packed with people who’d turned out for a free show from Divine Fits, Jim James, and The Flaming Lips.
Walking across Sixth Street, at least one band had made the decision to cover "Call Me Maybe." Over at Empire Automotive, Los Angeles band Sir Sly cranked out a number of energetic songs, including “Gold” and “Ghost,” sometimes employing an organ-sounding keyboard. (If the band is drawing comparisons to both Coldplay and Maroon 5, those seem unwarranted, but perhaps point more to the fact that the band's sound seems hard to categorize.) They were followed by the New York band Haerts, who played a too-short set to a pumped-up crowd. If it would be possible to have an indie band fronted by a young, alternative Bonnie Raitt, that might give some idea of what Haerts sounds like.