As it usually goes with traveling on a shoestring, things didn’t go exactly as planned in Austin. Constrained by a college budget, badges and wristbands were out of the question, so the week was filled with a strategically planned itinerary of free showcases and parties not requiring official badges — and sometimes even those didn’t quite work out. All of that being said, the rest of South by Southwest was spectacular. For those looking for the most up-and-coming of the up-and-comers and willing to do some power walking across town between sets, free afternoon showcases and lawn parties offered great lineups all week long.
On Wednesday, Terrorbird Productions hosted a showcase at Red 7, featuring Screaming Females and Cloud Nothings, among others. The Ohio-based Cloud Nothings, fronted by 19-year-old Dylan Baldi, played a strong set for their first show at the festival, with standouts being “Didn’t You” and “Hey Cool Kid.” Scuzzy guitars doing their best to recreate the feel of the record’s lo-fi recording (the sound has become the band’s forte, considering Baldi recorded “Turning On” by himself in his basement in 2010) are sharply punctuated by insanely talented drummer Jayson Gerycz, especially on songs like “Even If It Worked Out.”Later in the week, the band also played the Pitchfork Offline day party at the East Side Drive-In. After a friend of mine asked Baldi to help decipher the lyrics to “Morgan,” he sheepishly replied he would feel awkward reciting them because they would sound dumb. He sent them via e-mail that night, prefacing them with a story about how his friend asked him to write a song about sharks and name it after her, and “Morgan” was the result. “I hope you still like the song after you read the lyrics,” he wrote. (If anything, it made the song more endearing, especially with confirmation that he indeed sings, “There is a shark inside my pool/ It will bite you if you’re careful.”)