Levi's took over the east side of Austin for all of SXSW, creating a semi-private world of tight pants and tall beers, a denim labyrinth where the 45-minute line to grab a wristband was made slightly more entertaining by a DJ who loved Michael Jackson. Loved him so much he told the crowd repeatedly, "I really miss MJ," throwing his hands up to the King of Pop in heaven with each announcement.
Levi's and Fader have paired up for a couple years now to throw prestigious day parties. So it's a pretty big deal that San Francisco's own Morning Benders
were on the bill. Then again, I'm a big geek for their new record, BIg Echo,
so they seem like a pretty obvious choice to me.
Live, the sound people inside the fort must've had it in for indie pop, because the folks behind the boards hammered that music so hard into our ears I think I have internal bleeding. But the Benders fought back against that all-bass, high volume setup, extending their new short gems into slightly longer tunes, and crooning for the crowd in front of a fog machine. (With such high turnover between bands and so little time for soundcheck, you've gotta take all the shit sound issues in Austin with a grain of salt).
It's hard to tell how well the Morning Benders are really known outside of San Francisco, but if the screams of females are any indication, people know and love their song "Excuses." The video for that tune went viral the day it was released, and it was the highlight of a set that showed, despite the sound issues, this young act is poised on something big.
Later on Thursday, I stumbled into a show by a peppy London act called Laurel Collective
who enthused everyone in the bar--as well as people leaning into
the bar from the street through the window behind the stage. They were fresh and really upbeat, getting creative about their percussion (hitting a small metal cream pourer) and dancing around the stage (and, towards the end, out the door and into the street) to make sure everyone stayed moving. I liked their Vampire Weekend sorta thing--and their smart manager was sure to hand out plenty of copies of the group's CD as soon as the Collective finished.