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SXSW: Local Band Makes Good, A Wild Flag, DJ Quik & A Witch

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Marc Brubaker: For Rocks Off, sometimes SXSW isn't about seeing new bands or drinking until Sixth Street becomes a blurry swath of humanity. It's nice to check in with our hometown boys and see how they are received by the ears and arms of the masses in Austin. So we headed over to catch Buxton's showcase on the eighteenth floor of the Hilton Garden Inn.

The band rolled out a charming set to a room full of onlookers, complete with the delightful Haley Barnes rounding out the lineup. The band rolled through eight songs, announcing that their upcoming album Nothing Here Seems Strange, would be out in September.

With the additions of Austin Sepulvado and sometimes member Haley Barnes, Buxton has really come into their own as a band, and it shows. We just missed them at the New West Records showcase, but word is that their set at The Belmont was just as good, too.

One thing is for certain, this band has steadily improved with each new song, and a warm reception awaited them at the top of the Hilton. It was a bit poetic, watching them dole out tunes while floating over Sixth Street, their smart harmonies blending together to construct a much larger sound than before.

New West Records president George Fontaine was all smiles while watching his recent signees and the resulting impact on the captivated crowd, and several Houstonians had popped in to show their support. For any fan of Buxton's brand of Americana/folk music, one thing's for certain: September can't come fast enough.

Whoa. Bands with pedigrees this extensive are usually referred to as supergroups, and Wild Flag's performance at the Village Voice Media Showcase was indeed super. The quartet of ladies includes two-thirds of notable rockers Sleater-Kinney - Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, Mary Timony of Helium and Rebecca Cole of The Minders. After years of playing with each others bands, fate has brought them together to blow out speakers once more.

To say that Wild Flag's performance was dynamic would be a slight understatement. The band tore through the stage with an energetic pace and a stage show full of kicks and jumps. More than a few audience members were surprised with the voracity of the band, whose songs crashed and banged in a delightfully punk rock manner.

Brownstein, who was also often referred to as "that girl from Portlandia and Timony shared vocal duties and guitar licks while Weiss pounded away at the drum kit with ferocity, and Cole added the finishing touch of the keyboards. It swelled from abrasive to poppy and back, with touches of psych and garage rock, and was a whole lot of fun.

Adam P. Newton: You know it's early on at SXSW when excitement is palpable. By this, we mean that people are still smiling and happy on Thursday afternoon, compared to mid-day on Saturday when they'll be sullenly nursing a hangover while vaguely acknowledging the music.

Throughout the day, crowds appeared happy and carefree: people cheered on bands that put on a good show, exchanged pleasantries with strangers, and weren't falling down piss-drunk. We're sure this will change drastically by Friday evening.

Another indicator that we're only halfway through the music portion of SXSW is that, with only one exception, all the bands we heard yesterday were crisp and tight in terms of executing their material. We've been at a few ugly Saturday shows where the groups were tired after having performed six shows in the past three days, as they'd rather be sleeping than playing a 1:00pm show to twenty-five people who were just as drunk as they were.

We really enjoyed hearing Esben & The Witch, Yuck, and Mellowhype. The first two acts impressed us with their ability to translate the studio artistry of their respective debut records into a live setting with intensity. In the latter case, Mellowhype, armed with a few of his Odd Future compatriots, brought his prodigious swagger to bear on the packed out patio of Barbarella for over 35 minutes. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the excellent seven-song set put on by Ume.

Here's hoping that Thursday's enthusiasm continues throughout the weekend.

Marco Torres: West Coast legend DJ Quik stopped into Austin's Nice Kicks shoe boutique yesterday afternoon to play tracks from his upcoming album, The Book of David, dropping April 20. Manning the turntables and giving the back story to each of the songs, Quik shuffled through his new work, including the first single "Luv of My Life."

According to Quik, he put together the new album in about four months as a response to the disappointing efforts hip-hop is currently producing. This album reverts back to the basic West Coast groove we all know and love. Guest stars on this effort include Bizzy Bone, Bun B, Ice Cube, and a new rapper Quik discovered in Detroit named Gift Reynolds.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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