Greetings from SXSW!
Day 3 say myself and The Brooklyn Dodger jumping from venue to venue for two bands – fun and Good Old War. While we had already seen fun one, almost two times, we were yet to see them play a legitimate set. Wednesday at Waterloo Records was a brief, acoustic set, while the Wednesday night showcase riddled with technical difficulties prevented them from even finishing a set, since the venue shut the sound off.
But Friday, we saw both these bands and all we can say is WOW. Let’s start with fun., since Good Old War played twice yesterday, each performance deserving some attention individually.
Red-hot sensation fun. took the stage at Stubb’s in the heart of SXSW territory in Austin as one of several groups in an evening showcase. While we had to wait almost an hour (the schedule had them set to perform at 11 p.m. – we waited until about 11:45ish) we were thrilled when they took the stage and A). we could hear them and B). it wasn’t an acoustic set!
While the acoustics of the outdoor venue left something to be desired, the high-energy performance was spot on, and all in attendance got what they had wanted to hear – the group’s two smash-hit singles “We Are Young” and “Some Nights.” It’s something to see when everyone in a crowd of thousands sings the chorus of “We Are Young” louder than the band themselves. Overall, the short, half hour set was well worth the wait and the enormous crowd because this band performs for the fans – truly for the fans, and that is refreshing to see.
Rewind to the afternoon, when we headed down to Rusty’s for their Player Pit Stop Party. Twenty bands, three stages, seven hours of music. We were particularly interested in Campus Buzz and indie-folk favorite Good Old War, who took the stage around 4:00 to a packed house. The Brooklyn Dodger and myself were front and center for the performance, which completely surpassed expectations.
The set, which lasted about a half hour, featured new and old favorites including “Calling Me Names,” “Looking for Shelter” and “Amazing Eyes.” The trio, ever the charismatic bunch, interacted with fans throughout the show, many of whom were screaming out their favorite songs in the hope that they would be played. However, time was a factor and the band couldn’t play everything that fans had wanted, so the trio closed with fan favorite “Coney Island.” The chorus of fans singing along with the harmony was amazing to see, and the band reluctantly left the stage, despite fans cheering for more.
Good Old War would play again Friday, as they showcased at the Central Presbyterian Church in the heart of SXSW country. The setting, somewhat unorthodox as the band stood on a church altar and the fans lined pews under a dimly lit crucifix – certainly not your average SXSW setting. The band stuck to their setlist from earlier in the day, with a few additional touches in between. The highlight of this show though came at the end, when the band did something fans have probably rarely seen or experienced.
Given the intimate setting – only the band and several dozen SXSW badge holders – the trio opted to abandon all instruments except for an acoustic guitar and tambourine, and stepped down off the stage into the crowd of fans that removed themselves from the pews and stood nearly shoulder to shoulder with the band. They performed four songs in this acoustic set – “Coney Island,” “My Own Sinking Ship,” “Loud Love” and “Not Quite Happiness.” The Brooklyn Dodger and myself sat in awe of the raw musical talent beaming from this trio – clapping took the place of percussion and the songs relied solely on a single guitar and vocal harmonies. And you would have expected that you were listening to the album live – they sounded flawless and raw, and it was completely stellar.
It is safe to say that, with that perfect acoustic performance, Good Old War took our best in show prize at SXSW. It was a true performance for their fans, who lined the pews, aisles and balconies of the intimate church setting. They stood shoulder to shoulder, singing and dancing with those in attendance, and in the dimly lit church, the ambiance was unmatchable. As our last show of the night, and one of the final shows we as a group could see in Austin, it was the perfect way to round out day 3, and the true highlight of SXSW. It will go down in WSOU history as the greatest show that myself and The Brooklyn Dodger have ever seen.
Sty tuned into tomorrow, as we will have ongoing coverage of our final day in Texas, and a recap of the metal scene by The Colonel himself.