SXSW 2016: Thee Oh Sees, Show Me The Body And The Festival’s Final Hurrah
23 Mar 2016
The final moments from this year's Austin event...
After a week of being aurally pummelled on porches, clubbed in, erm, clubs, and assaulted by impossibly gigantic crowds of people gathering on 6th Street, we decide that the last night of the week should be committed to a handful of nasty, loud events slightly off the beaten track; taking SXSW back to its origins, if you will.
The evening tips hazily come in and so we're off to catch SHOW ME THE BODY close a warehouse party. It's great that after years of hipsters abusing the term, on the outskirts of Austin it's been reclaimed. A few dozen people share beers from a cooler inside the gnarled garage with the front rolled up as New York’s Show Me The Body rage into the mosh pit. It's ear-bleedingly loud hardcore music that incorporates a banjo, and that’s just great. When so many other acts enter the final music day of SXSW with strained voices, this feels like a post-apocalyptic rave.
Across town and a bunch of other fine musicians assemble for another messy house party-esque scenario. In a disused shop. We catch EZRA FURMAN first, whose bafflingly diverse and maniacal arrangements never lose sight of themselves due to Furman’s innate ability to sing killer melodies and craft banging songs throughout. The fact that it works in more austere environments and then ones such as these – where a single trough full of melted ice nests the sole drink of the night (baby cans of Lone Star beer) – gives you a clear picture that Ezra and co are ones to party with in any place. THE BLIND SHAKE are next up and suddenly the $10.00 admission fee seems like the biggest deal/steal of the week – their ferocious double-bald-head display of “extraterrestrial backyard surf party” notching the volume up a step, and prompting the same-level audience to give it some proper moves. They’re awesome.
Only one band can follow and suitably smash it: THEE OH SEES. There's no security here, the self-policing BYOB crowd shuffling in from the liquor store armed with what seems like the last crates of booze in Austin. The crowd swarm the band, clutching one another and swelling in and out like a greasy tide. We feel like teenagers again, staring down the barrel of frontman John Dwyer’s eyesight as sweat lashes and flicks from brows around us. There's no divide between audience and band, rather a respect shared for the moment. A deafening frenzy is felt by everyone with maybe a small sense that this is one of the final hurrahs of the festival and that there's nothing left to lose. By the closing glitches of snarling guitar the whole place is soaked, our heads are hurting and we may never hear properly again. Worth it, though.
To end the week, we go for a couple of repeat viewings from choice acts discovered earlier in the week – firstly the immaculate JULIA JACKLIN, who serenades the NME/British Music Embassy showcase in Latitude, just off 6th. Her sublime vocal range, perfectly-pitched rocky backing band and clutch of sensational songs mean that this Australian’s week is capped more than successfully, witnessed by a room full of transfixed, exhausted admirers. LA’s PARTYBABY are officially the last band we see at SXSW 2016 – bookending our trip following our enjoyment of them at a frenzied student co-op party at the start of the week. Singer Jamie is a mess of tequila, frizzy hair and potent riffs – when he starts climbing the bar with his radio mic, God knows where he’s going to land. It’s a level of infectious energy and ferocity that brings our final energy reserves to a satisfying place, ending what has been possibly one of the greatest SX’s on record. Thank you, and good night.