SXSW 2015 Report For March 20: Russ Borris
FUV's music director and host of The Alternate Side, Russ Borris, is running on very little sleep at SXSW this week with Team FUV. He's been filing reports in the wee hours of the morning, with impressions of the many bands and artists he's seen Austin's many venues and bars, but on Thursday, he even made his way to Willie Nelson's ranch.
At Hotel San José, Natalie Prass has a subtle sweetness to her music and it's easy to see why she's been tabbed as an artist to watch at SXSW. Even though BØRNS and Seinabo Sey (one of Rita Houston's SXSW picks) performed for WFUV, I didn't have the chance to see them there, since I went to a music meeting (more in a sec). But I did catch Gengahr; the London band was down two members as their drummer was ill and their bass player was shut out of the trip to SXSW with visa issues. But, Felix and John stripped down "She's a Witch" beautifully for their FUV performance. Loved the mini keyboard!
I went over to the Austin Convention Center for radio's Triple A Music Meeting. Got to hear new stuff from Heartless Bastards, Blur, Jamie xx among others. Good stuff on the way. Plus, Son Little showed up and performed a new songs with no mics. Super cool.
Next was the trek to Willie Nelson's ranch. The Heartbreaker Banquet is something that has taken place for the last couple of years. Obviously, it's a truly unique setting and experience. There are two stages, food trucks and other vendors. It is, more or less, the most relaxed festival atmosphere you can imagine. I caught a bit of Delta Spirit and Israel Nash, then checked out some great new songs from Austin's own Heartless Bastards. Then, I ran into newcomer Leon Bridges backstage just before his set. Once he took the stage, though, one thing was abundantly clear. Age, gender, race, creed, species, etc. did not matter. Everyone loved this guy. He is a star in the making.
Once we headed back to Austin, we made our way through a number of different shows. I saw Go Wolf (one of Kara Manning's SXSW picks). They're a young Northern Irish band who I saw in one of my favorite spots in Austin, Maggie Mae's Gibson Room. The band is still in its early stages as performers so there may be some nerves, but overall, a very impressive set. The bass player in particular was just ridiculous, strumming and playing the instrument like a regular guitar.
I caught up to Speedy Ortiz too. With a new album on the way, this Northampton band is starting to come into its own. New songs are well crafted, with a Sonic Youth feel in spots.
Bully is a Nashville band with more punk than twang. But the award from the oddball set of the night goes to Total Unicorn who describe themselves as a "hallucinogenic multimedia ensemble." Words do not do this justice. Two members handle the music on keys and other programming while a third dances. Oh, and they each wear unicorn masks with florescent glowing eyes on them. Insane.
Read Russ's SXSW report for Wednesday, March 18.
You can follow all of FUV's SXSW coverage on WFUV.org.