Sunday, March 18, 2012
And as soon as it's begun, it's over for another year. We sit here on Sunday morning, exhausted, ear ringing, picking up the pieces of Canada's largest ever contingent to SXSW. We left off last Friday morning, after the BBQ and speed networking had concluded and well into the festivities of Canada House. Friday started off with the ACTRA-RACS/MROC showcase featuring Tops, Great Lake Swimmers, Imaginary Cities and Library Voices. The crowd started off quiet for Montreal's Tops but quickly filled up as noise from the balcony streamed onto the street. By the time Great Lake Swimmers were on stage our house was three-quarters full enjoying the relaxed Americana led by Tony Dekker and his band. Library Voices and Imaginary Cities both impressed once more, featuring songs off their respective new albums, 'Summer of Lust' and 'Temporary Resident.'
After a quick changeover, some food and sun, the OMDC took over for its showcase of homegrown Ontario talent. This began with Toronto's Hooded Fang, fresh off signing with Full Time Hobby in the UK/EU and the release of their critically acclaimed album, 'Tosta Mista'. Like the showcase before, the crowd started off sparse but began to fill up as Hooded Fang got going, wielding off 50s influence beach-pop with ease. Molly Rankin and The Balconies followed. Molly began her debut SXSW showcase with punchy, folk-influenced pop, while The Balconies produced one of the loudest sets of the afternoon, taking a page from the book of power-trio rock and roll. Cuff The Duke concluded the night, promoting their new album 'Time Will Tell.' By the time they took the stage the venue was consistently busy with the crowd singing along to the band's old hit, 'Take the Money and Run.'
Two showcases down, dinner had and break enjoyed, Canadian Blast once again hit the streets of Austin to see as many of the forty-plus Canadians showcasing across town. We started at Planet Quebec for a few songs from the ever-amazing Wintersleep and newcomer Fanny Bloom for the Dare to Care showcase, followed by The Arts & Crafts showcase at 512, featuring Gold & Youth and The Darcy's with Trust and Dan Mangan. Canadian Music Week took the responsibility of Canada House, with Arkells delivering a standout set of old and new alongside the Young Empires, with Un concluding the night at the Pop Montreal showcase at Hotel Vegas. Tired, feet hurting and 2AM rolling around, we collapse into bed and await Saturday.
Another warm and sunny day in Austin and our last for music at SXSW. The day starts out with a standout forty-minute set from The Wilderness of Manitoba at Canada House, followed by Slakah The Beatchild and a mashup produced by Droppin' Science, featuring Ghettosocks, Muneshine and Timbuktu. Canada has some of the best hip-hop in the world and this showcase made that clear right from the onset. After a quick trip to Flatstock (the poster sale) to outfit CIMA's Toronto headquarters, FACTOR took hold at Canada House for arguably the busiest showcase of the festival, featuring Chains of Love, Bahamas, Great Lake Swimmers and Elephant Stone. Bahamas, newly signed to Brushfire and supporting Noah and the Whale in the UK produced one of the loveliest sets of the day after Chains of Love wielded through one of the loudest and more powerful, followed once again by the genius of Tony Dekker and the sitar-fuelled 90s rock of Elephant Stone. 6PM came too quickly today as before we know it banners are being rolled up, pictures are being taken and Canada House is finished for another year.
To celebrate we flooded Austin once more, searching for as many Canadian showcases as possible. We started at Spill for Planet Quebec's celebration of M for Montreal and Iceland Airwaves, catching Elephant Stone once more before catching The Stanfields at the Halifax Pop Explosion showcase. This was followed by a few songs from Hands & Teeth and finally Lights who closed out the night at Elysium. We missed the NXNE party featuring Parlovr and Uncle Bad Touch as well as sets from Jacques Greene, Monolithium and Humans.
So SXSW is over for another year. Time to write reports, catch some sleep and begin planning for 2013. We will see you soon indeed, Austin. Thanks again.
Photos by Duncan McKie