SXSW Day 4 Recap: Vince Staples, Acid Dad, Field Trip and more

Zach Martin, Hannah Shulman, Alex Bazeley
Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals

The beauty of South by Southwest is that there’s so much music happening all day and night, and while it’s overwhelming at times, it creates the most exciting atmosphere in downtown Austin. There’s a band in every bar and a musician on every street corner. You walk out of one showcase and realize a band you love is playing right across the street. Wednesday was the day we fully embraced the philosophy of seeing as many shows as possible. Let’s get to it:

Acid Dad

Former NYU students Acid Dad (about whom we’ve written a few times) stopped at Swan Dive on Wednesday afternoon before they embark on their nationwide tour. They just released a new EP “Let’s Plan a Robbery” which features their signature sound that the music blogs have dubbed with the snazzy title “psych punk.” Standout tracks like “Fool’s Gold” and “Don’t Get Taken” deliver that mix of punk aggression and psych melody, making for an exhilarating live show. The band sounds more in sync than ever and it looks like they’re poised to break out of the Brooklyn music scene in a big way. —Zach

Alex G

Next up was Bandcamp superstar Alex G at Hype Hotel, playing mostly songs from his critically acclaimed 2015 album “Beach Music,” his first release on major record label Domino. Alex G does moody indie rock with some occasionally strange effects like vocal pitch shifts, whisper-singing and ambient electronics. His sound evokes sounds of Elliott Smith but with more experimental tendencies. During his set he seldom engaged with the crowd except for a humorous moment at the end of “Kicker” where he responded to the applause by booing into the microphone. But for what he lacks in stage presence, he makes up for in impeccable songwriting skill. —Zach

BANNERS

It was clear that almost everyone at the venue of Latitude 30 was here to see BANNERS. Michael Joseph Nelson is a really good singer, making up for the not entirely unique sound. BANNERS already has a few songs that you may recognize, and it’s well-deserved. The songs are catchy and pleasant, and he’s a really sweet dude based on the amount of times he thanked the crowd for seeing him. BANNERS is on his way up. – Hannah

Blaenavon

After BANNERS, the three musicians of Blaenavon took the stage, where lead singer Ben Gregory showcased his unique voice — but not in the “Welcome to My Kitchen” vine type of way (note: he was fighting a sore throat, not that I’d notice if he hadn’t said anything). It’s mature, and the lyrics are a lot to unpack. The drum and bass lines are complicated yet complimentary, and there is always something to hone in on without it being overwhelming. The thing about Blaenavon is that they sound like a twenty-something year old band that’s already been on three world tours. They dance and move like any good SXSW band does, and their sound is surprisingly full for a three-piece. —Hannah

Field Trip

Current NYU students Field Trip arrived in Austin — fresh off WSN’s inaugural TKTK Sessions (watch that set here). They performed both songs from that session — “Never” and “Still” — as well as some tracks from their previously released EP “The Sounds Inside Your Mind.” They drove a long way from New York but the improvement in sound quality from the dingy basement in Bushwick they took over last week was noticeable and welcome. Their versatility was on full display, ranging from their classic spacey psychedelia to a punk cover of The Clash’s “Clampdown.” —Zach

Margo Price

Introduced as a “rising star of country,” Margo Price was the intriguing alternative to the hip hop dominated, eclectic lineup at the NPR Music Showcase at Stubb’s BBQ. Working through her repertoire with titles like “Hurtin’” and “This Town Gets Around,” Price was a refreshing rebuke to the traditionally male-dominated genre of outlaw country. —Zach

Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak demonstrated an absurd amount of charisma during his set at Stubb’s. He exuded pure positive energy as he danced around on stage, singing the soulful songs from his 2016 album “Malibu,” one of the strongest releases of the year so far. His style beautifully combines smooth R&B and funky hip hop to create something wholly unique and fully fresh. His live band, The Free Nationals, gave the set an even more authentic vibe while Paak sang, rapped and even played drums on half of the songs. Above all, Paak showed he is a sure talent with definitive star power. —Zach

Vince Staples

After Paak’s party, Vince Staples ran on stage to the bass-heavy beat of “Lift Me Up” and delivered the best set of SXSW so far. Staples has figured out how to have a banging set while still sticking to the dark, gloomy tracks off his 2015 debut album “Summertime ‘06.” It’s unexpected see all these people jumping to tracks about serious subjects like police brutality and gang violence but Staples pulls it off. Staples made headlines for insulting Spotify at its own showcase the previous day, and, while he only had praise for NPR, he also stirred the pot here by leading the whole crowd in a chant of “F*** the Police.” The last few songs Staples played were his best, and he — and the crowd — went appropriately insane, capping off an unforgettable show.—-Zach

Hockey Dad

After getting out of the Vince Staples show, on a whim we stopped into another nearby venue to see Australian surf rockers Hockey Dad bang out a few jams. The space was small and there wasn’t a large crowd, but the Australian duo were goofy and fun during the intimate set. They managed to pack a punch with just a guitar and drums, and it was hard to fight the urge to just dance around the whole time (their manager, who was a few beers in, did just this). Their songs really just make you want to dye your hair bleached blonde and move to Southern California (and really, there aren’t many other things in the world that could make you want to do this). —Alex

Porches

Right across the street, Porches was finishing the night with some of their groovy, lush tracks from their recent album “Pool.” The new songs are more electronic-oriented than previous Porches releases, with samples and loops that echo Purity Ring but with guitars of your typical indie rock band. Aaron Maine, the frontman was an odd personality and had obvious tension with the venue. After the band went overtime, he just started listing hashtags (“#porches, #life, #facebook”) until they cut off his mic. —Zach

Check back tomorrow for coverage of Earl Sweatshirt, Julien Baker, The Avett Brothers and more.

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