Friday, March 15, 2013

SXSW 2013 – Thursday: Iron & Wine, Delorean, Third Eye Blind

If there’s something that’s appealing about South By Southwest, it may be the ability to reach a lot of people very quickly.  For the faded San Francisco band Third Eye Blind, that may be part of the attraction to sxsw – reminding fans that they’re still around and trying to produce new music.  As they played on the rooftop of Hangar Bar, singer Stephan Jenkins explained they were working out new material.  Their last album, Ursa Major, was released in 2009, after the band had headlined a South By Southwest show at Stubb’s.  3EB played through some new songs, which often found Jenkins venturing into falsetto territory, and promised they’d play some older songs – which included “Crystal Baller,” “Never Let You Go,” and the audience-requested “Motorcycle Drive-By” (a deep-cut from the band’s 1997 self-titled album).  While 3EB’s musical style may not have changed much through the years, it does seem that the band, and Jenkins’s voice in particular, are indelibly linked to a certain time period.  If the current musical landscape finds bands feeling the influence of the 1980s, perhaps all 3EB needs to do is wait a few more years until late ‘90s rock comes back into fashion, and they’ll be golden.

Inside a very packed Mellow Johnny’s, Iron & Wine set up for a KEXP show.  Having performed the previous night at ACL Live, it’s likely that Sam Beam was feeling rather tired, as he admitted he hadn’t actually prepared a set list.  Instead, he let the crowd call out what they’d like to hear, and set about spinning beautiful songs from just his voice and guitar.

While huge crowds gathered around The Belmont for an incredibly stacked show that included Surfer Blood, Atlas Genius, Alt-J, and The Flaming Lips, Rainey Street seemed like the manageable alternative.  At Clive, Brooklyn’s Sinkane played a set of funky grooves – originally from Sudan, Ahmed Gallab formed Sinkane after playing with Yeasayer, Caribou, and Born Ruffians – bands whose influences you can hear in his music.

A while later, Spain’s Delorean appeared, and set the crowd to dancing.  While the sound system nearly obscured singer Ekhi Lopetegi’s voice entirely, the crowd still moved to the music, and the keyboardist certainly didn’t shy away from rocking out.  Outside of the recognizable synth pattern of “Real Love,” it was a bit hard to distinguish the songs.  But maybe this music just needed to be felt.

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