For as long as French Kiss Records has put on a showcase at SXSW, French Kiss Records has not dissapointed. The bands in their stable are a who's who of up and comers along with a number of indie mainstays that have remained in the public consciousness for years. Newbies like Passion Pit and Thunderbirds are Now! mix drinks with the likes of oldies but goodies The Dodos and The Hold Steady.
At their 2010 showcase, French Kiss gave fans a mixture of both, lining up Freelance Whales, Local Natives, An Horse, Suckers, The Antlers and Les Savy Fav.
Aftermath, rooting more for the new dudes as we do, much preferred Freelance Whales to a group like The Antlers, the former being bouncy-jouncy put a feather in your cap hey hey; the latter being angsty-wangsty we hate stripe patterns glug glug. The Whales are releasing their first record in April, and it sounds as if it's going to take off and make the indie half-floor go nuts with its mix of intellectual beaminess and dance step proclivities.
They were a terrific opener to, as Aftermath mentioned yesterday, the SXSW gods Local Natives. We don't need to say much more about them other than the fact that yep, they still fucking rule. Well wait, one more thing. We haven't seen a band take off and do this much for a new thread in indie music since the first Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! record, only Local Natives have a shitload more musical talent than CYHSY!, which means nothing really other than they're going to be relevant much longer.
What they have done in the past month is more than extraordinary, especially for a band with members so young. We can't stress enough how powerful a stage presence Local Natives have. They're grizzled pros while performing, and the audiences they pull slurp up every second of every performance. For good reason.
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An Horse is one of those typical kind of guy/girl uber-adorable groups, one playing drums (usually the girl, this time the dude), the other singing. They're cute. Have precious little horse props and super clean clothes. Make a busted amp seem as fun as an easter egg hunt, and make average, music for people who think Australia is way mysterious. But the middle mediocrity made the night a little confusing; because Suckers, the band following An Horse, fit in seamlessly with the musical muscle that surrounded them.
They reminded us a lot of Girls, mostly because the way they look in no way matches the way they sing. Grunge against Beach Boy high. They don't have all that many songs under their recording belts (one EP), so their live set was a little hit and miss, and the audience seemed to kind of feel the unease. But the music was so captivating that the amateurishness and lack of confidence shown by the band got lost in the fold. Watch out for these guys - they're a comin'.
The Antlers and Les Savy Fav have both been around for years (particularly Les Savy Fav), and their shows always feel a bit like senior year in high school -- jaded and hopeful for the end. Don't get us wrong; both acts have tons of fans, and for understandable reasons. They have both done very interesting things on stage in the past, and some of those interesting things peek through every now and then; but for the most part both bands go through the motions and hope their fans play along, which they do - and that's okay.
But, being the final two acts at one of the more star-studded showcases on the busiest night at SXSW implies a responsibility to the restless fans; and both acts didn't live up to that responsibility. Local Natives should have closed this night, and we all know it.