SXSW Day 1.5: Magic Magic, Bear In Heaven, These Are Powers

6th St Wednesday Night

I woke up this morning enveloped in a sunken air mattress with the sun in my eyes and my head pounding. I’ve seen a lot of stuff. I also got my first sun burn today. Here are some things:

Magic Magic

We caught the last three songs of Magic Magic’s set at the Spill. They get better every time I see them, even when they insist that they were too drunk to perform well. As was the case last night. What I thought to be a revised, more thoughtfully arpegiated version of their song “Over Your Head” turned out to be a series of drunken blunders which escalated appropriately along the lines of a crescendo. I prefer to recognize the ingenuity of drunken inspiration. They weren’t so keen.

These Are Powers

We left the Spill a few beers later and wove through the South by St. Patrick’s day crowds. A short bike ride up 6th street brought us to Cheer Up Charlies, an outdoor venue (read: stage in the middle of a vacant lot) packed with kids in hoodies cradling Lone Star tall-boys. No one knew who was playing. Everyone knew Javelin was supposed to play (band after band: “Is this Javelin? No? Want another beer?”). Not until These Are Powers announced themselves as such, four songs into their blippy, tweaked-out dance set, did I have any grasp on the evening. Their drummer worked a stand-up electric kit with short, blue lightsabers that never quite made contact (we’re still undecided as to whether it was a trick of electro-magic, or just straight magik). And their singer rocked a neon-speckled New York chic parka which, in fits of inspired passion, she tore off to clarify hooks in otherwise confusing messes of industrial breakdown. I’m not sure what to make of These Are Powers, but I know I liked them.

I also know Javelin eventually played, but they left no impression on my addled brain. Maybe I need to see them in a different context.

End day one. Cut to day two, afternoon.

Day Two

Bear In Heaven

Around the periphery of my hangover this morning swam the chorus from Bear In Heaven’s “Lovesick Teenagers.” That song wove its way into my brain months ago and has yet to leave, so their performance at the Mohawk today was something of  an exorcism. The weight of their sound bore resemblance to the lore surrounding My Bloody Valentine’s early live shows. It was unrelenting. The bass dove through my chest and unhinged my ribs. I was unable to photograph their crescendos as the sets low-end scrambled my focus to a point of uselessness. Bear In Heaven’s live show was confirmation of the grandeur of their recent release “Beast Rest Forth Mouth.” Addison will post video from the show later this morning.

Explode Into Colors

I left immediately after Bear In Heaven to catch Explode Into Colors at the Kill Rock Star’s showcase. They thoroughly captured my imagination so they deserve a post of their own. Check that here.


I’m in love with Japandroids. They make me feel the way I wish I felt all through adolescence. I saw them today at Red Fez and yesterday at Emos (where I took a bunch of photos.) I’ll probably see them several more times before SXSW is over. They’re the best live band I’ve seen in some time. Instantly engaging, overwhelmingly infectious. I want a SXSW where Japandroids play every show all the time. Dudes kill.

We’ve been inside since eight putting our stuff together. Time to go out. Reports lead to a 3 am show at a pedestriam bridge somewhere in Austin with Thee Oh Sees. More tomorrow.

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