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Imagine Otis Redding stuffed into a Jonah Hill (yeah, I know) and backed by a red hot Alabama rhythm section and you’ve got the flavor of St. Paul & the Broken Bones

JEFF LEVEN'S SXSW DISPATCH:
DAY THREE

In This Report, Bands That Are Buzzing in Austin, Including The 1975, Twin Falls, Desert Noises, The Lovely Bad Things, Peace, St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Trinidad James
Those who regularly follow my updates (both of you—hi Mom!) know that compositionally they generally follow the arc of one’s energy at the conference. The first schedule email is like a hand-stitched illuminated manuscript built in a Belgian monastery over an entire weekend, and by the end it’s basically napkin jottings in broken pencil written between meetings. So now that we’re approaching the impressionistic part of the program, a few observations:

Consensus standouts are starting to emerge. To a person, everyone who has seen The 1975 seems to love it (and now I have to catch it myself!). There’s acclaim also for Twin Falls, the new venture of Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba, and there’s also good energy for Capital Cities, who take a Spandau Ballet sensibility and amp it up a few notches. On a bill with Wallpaper (featuring the kinetic stage presence of Novena Carmel and a solid backing unit that includes songwriter Tom Peyton) and the always shredding Dead Sara, they were featured at the Roxy’s strong Austin jaunt. Also buzzing are Desert Noises, The Lovely Bad Things and Peace.

When I grow up, I want to be Dave Grohl. With a warm, personal, funny and in moments emotional keynote and an absolutely dazzling everyone-of-any-sensibility-will-love-this Sound City Players show at Stubb’s, he keeps proving how you can be sincere, unassuming and still otherworldly special.

My rigid schedule aside, I had two serendipity moments yesterday. The first was courtesy of CAA’s Buster Phillips and the inimitable John Strohm, who both guided me to Alabama’s own St. Paul & the Broken Bones. Imagine Otis Redding stuffed into a Jonah Hill (yeah, I know) and backed by a red hot Alabama rhythm section and you’ve got the flavor. Truly stunning. Another pleasant surprise was a rich, carefully unspooled afternoon set by Liana LeHavas at the Belmont, another truly beautiful voice.

Snoop Lion was seriously fun. Like seriously. And with Ice Cube playing the giant Doritos thing, it wasn’t even the night’s shtickiest thing. 

As both a live animal and as a body of songs, Divine Fits have transcended the challenge of seeming like half-Spoon/half-Wolf Parade. It’s all Divine Fits.

Oddly, “EDM” can work in the daytime too, as Flume demonstrated in a midday set at Hype Hotel, even if the strobe couldn’t run at full tilt. 

A solid day of hip-hop yesterday. Trinidad James upped the Spring Break party quotient, A$AP Ferg threw down heavy rhymes and Joey Bada$$ brought New York grit to a hot day and cold night in Austin. 

At a dinner with Pangea, one of the guy’s phones just kept going off. The culprit? FIDLAR wrote his number on their amp. And a photo of it was in Spin. So the random texts keep on coming. My suggestion: answer each one with “This is Kenny Rogers. Delete this f-ing number. This is Kenny Rogers!”

Of course, the day I wear the shirt with a picture of OasisGallagher brothers labeled as “Blur” is the day I’m standing behind David Massey at a show. 

More people—JJ Corsini, Louie Bandak, Pulse’s Jason Bernard, BeatsBrian Frank, TAO’s Rich Holtzman and Sam Berger, Jeff Wooding, CAA’s Jenna Adler and Ryan Harlacher, UMPG’s Joe Maggini and Monte Olsen, Kevin Bronson, Jenn Littleton, Agency Group’s Steve Kaul and Dave Kaplan, and a fair number of other people I’m forgetting who are now seriously offended…

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I couldn’t shut up about the Afghan Whigs shows in N.Y. Well, they are playing the Fader Fort.

SO, yeah, we’re all in it down here. Thanks for following, thanks for reaching out and let’s crank through the weekend!

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