Shaky Knees Festival!

We're also thrilled to announce that we're playing the first ever Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, GA May 4th along with The Lumineers, Band of Horses, Gary Clarke Jr., Delta Spirit, Dr. Dog, and the man himself, Jim James! In my humble opinion, the line-up kicks Coachella's butt. You can check the whole thing out here. 


SXSW Recap: Jeremy

The fact that Saint Patrick’s Day felt like a quiet Tuesday afternoon only attests to how much of a riot SXSW was. Anyone that went to the festival was not looking to spend a Sunday afternoon getting day-drunk on overpriced Guinness. This was a day to relax, recover and realize that sadly, the rest of my life was not going to solely consist of zig-zagging across Austin chasing an endless supply of free music and booze between playing shows in bars and hotel lobbies. SXSW is like ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ on steroids, crack, acid and anything else you can think of. For one week only, every nook and cranny turns into a secret show Mecca where all the rumors are true. Prince is doing a club gigFlaming Lips are playing at a bar, and Erykah Badu is George Clinton’s special guest at a garage concert. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get in, but what can you do? What’s even more insane is that despite all the big name acts, us and our friends could play a bar at 2PM on a Thursday or a hotel lobby on a Saturday afternoon and it would be packed and awesome. I’ve done enough hotel lobby and off-night bar gigs to know that this does not happen in real life.

It’s kind of strange writing about Sunday at SXSW because the festival was over and Austin was well on it’s way to becoming a (somewhat) normal city again. I strolled down a desolate 6th St. to the Flamingo Cantina to catch the set of an Austin native that sang Brazillian folk music accompanied by a ukelele and harmonica only to find the venue closed and no indication that there was ever going to be a show there. As it turns out, she was playing at a Farmer’s Market and had been at the Flamingo Cantina the night before. I took this as an opportunity to explore Austin and hang out with a friend from Vermont who I’d run into Tuesday at what was slated to be a Middle Brother reunion show until Matt Vasquez got chased out the club by a giant bouncer for climbing up a forty foot lighting rig and crowd surfing after the sound guy turned off his microphone when Delta Spirit played over the house music that cut their set short, but that’s another story.

I had a few hours to kill in the afternoon so I went to a movie theater called the Velvet to cool off. It was then I noticed that my arms were pink as rare meat, turning white every time I poked them before quickly returning to their unnatural hue. In the ginger kingdom, the first burn is to be celebrated because it signals the beginning of spring. So I rejoiced by watching ‘West of Memphis,’ hardly a movie-hopping kind of film. Balking at the $13 ticket price, which would have emptied my wallet of its last dollar, I snuck in all too easily. I knew nothing of the West Memphis 3, and the documentary did an incredible job of thoroughly and empathetically telling the tragic story of the brutal murder of three 8-year-old boys and the subsequent wrongful imprisonment of three teenagers, what it took to get them released and how f—ed up the Arkansas criminal justice system is to prefer saving face over a wrongful conviction and unfair trial at the expense of three innocent teenagers and their families than to bring the actual killer to justice. Spending a Sunday afternoon alone and crying in the back of a movie theater definitely was not what I’d envisioned when I woke up that morning.

I walked across town to Stubb’s only to find that the band before us hadn’t shown up, so we had to go onstage right away. Setlist-less we quickly set our gear up and ran through one of our rowdier sets. Our friends got kicked out for bringing cheap beer into the back patio so we left with them, capping the night off by celebrating the end of a seven-week tour with our brother (and sister) band Swear and Shake my favorite way: eating a giant breakfast with good friends at a 24/7 diner at two in the morning.

SXSW Recap: Daniel

Beer is not a suitable substitute for water. No mater how many people tell you this is true, no mater how many bars say it’s true, it isn’t. We want to believe it, and some people try to prove it daily by forcing it into their gullet till shirt buttons pop, but these individuals’ efforts are wasted. Beer is not a suitable substitute for water.

The crowds and venues at SXSW don’t give a s–t about this truth though. It gets tossed aside with a careless laugh and wave that says, “Hush child, let the adults talk.” The beer here flows like the chocolate river with churning waterfalls in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ and no matter what time of day, area of the city or crowd in attendance, concertgoers will shimmy up to its shores and lap it up. At SXSW, beer just might be a suitable substitute for water after all.

It’s day three in Austin, and the vibes are getting better. Before my arrival, I, and many like me, went through the countless number of blogs, apps and friend recommendations trying to find the best bands to go see in a need to precisely plan my day and not waste a single minute.

There are so many stages (100 official, many “unofficial” at the local bars, some number of official private parties and an unknown number of house parties outside of downtown), so many bands (last year there were more than 500 official bands; who knows how many just showed up), so many people (more than 30,000 badges and wrist bands sold, and I swear every college student in Texas and then some) that making sure you have a schedule with exact routes mapped out between venues to minimize loss of time (due to random groups of blond girls stopping and deciding which dive bar to awkwardly get hit on by guys) is very important.

I also just didn’t know 95 percent of the groups coming out. So I made my list, headed into town and forgot about sleep and health in my pursuit of great live music.

Most of my efforts were in vain, though. There are many things to b—h about in life, and SXSW is no exception. But I’m here to talk about the great things I saw. But before I move on, I have to give out one warning: Foxygen are like a combination of Jim Morrison and Justin Bieber, with less sex appeal and a lack of bielebers to support them.

After realizing my mistake of keeping a schedule and trying to see everyone all the blog thought was cool, I decided to see the bands I knew were going to be great, stay in one location and drink lots of water — delicious amber-colored hoppy water.

Band one to talk about, Red Baraat: Mix a New Orleans brass band with New York hip-hop served in a highball glass of Indian music ranging from all parts of the country and from all styles (Bollywood being a good feature). They call it “some kind of ethnomusicologist’s academic dream.” I say it was a damn good whiskey that made me drunk enough to dance (dance being defined as “making an ass out of myself by oddly moving my limbs with no rhyme or reason”). I may also have been drunk off the “water” I had been consuming for the past 12 hours. Everyone was jumping around feeling every drum hit and brass smack (note: It’s always cool when a sousaphone plays all the bass lines). The power of music is its ability to move people physically and emotionally. Red Baraat succeeds in blending new genres of music (cue buzzword “globalization”) and forcing us in the audience to enjoy it.

Band two to be in love with: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. She owns everything she does onstage: guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, dancing, singing, rocking the f–k out, making you want to become her soul mate. No joke, after mentioning her name to many concertgoers, all are in agreement that she must be our future wives. I can’t go into overly effervescent descriptions of her band because words do a disservice to the music and performance. Go see them, go dance to them and feel emptiness when you realize the set is done and you have to wait until  the next show to see them live again.

It’s amazing that through the water-induced haze of my 15-hour day I can remember the swagness of the events. SXSW is a Jelly Belly store with every flavor sorted for your convenience. Don’t worry about trying every single one. Sample a few, stock up on the flavors you enjoy most and remember that you can always come back for more. Oh, and if you’re thirsty, drink the water. It’s delicious.

SXSW Recap: Zak

After two months driving all over the country, through every place where the weather reminded us that we are certainly not in California anymore, yesterday’s beating sun and warm breeze were a mighty and welcome beacon at the end of my coldest winter. Or perhaps this is just Texas. I spent my first waking hours basking in the midday sun, getting in some important relaxation time before heading into the mad rush of SXSW.

Looking back at our first day of SXSW on Tuesday, our initial notion of the craziness on the streets seems amateur. The combination of the weekend and the last day of the festival brought a whole new level of crowds. The unofficial party goers, both locals and visitors, here to join in on the revelry far outnumbered the 30,000 official attendees, causing 6th Street to be really crowded and keeping every sidewalk within a mile in any direction extremely busy.

We started out at the Empire Garage to see our new friends from Athens, Ga., the District Attorneys. After walking in, you need to take a closer look to realize that the venue is usually an auto-repair shop. The stage, sound system, lights, bars and food cover up this fact incredibly well, turning it, at least for a week, into a better-equipped venue than many that we’ve played music in this past year.

After the District Attorneys, Florida’s Roadkill Ghost Choir came on. I’m a sucker for anything like My Morning Jacket, and Roadkill Ghost Choir falls clearly into that line. May the seed of Jim James be spread over the Earth for the world to hear.

Hungry for a snack, we went on a mission to find some for free, and, lo and behold, a block later, the glowing tower of the Doritos Stage beckoned us like a slightly smaller (but not by much) version of Times Square. Free chips for everyone! SXSW is all about free stuff or really overpriced stuff, but nothing in between. It’s an awkward relationship between an independent arts festival and every corporate sponsor America has to offer.

A couple hours later, we made the long, hot walk to our acoustic performance in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel, just across the river from downtown. There were two mics and a speaker, but no employees who knew what the deal was with our live-music gig. We set ourselves up and played at 6 p.m. as planned to an attentive crowd.

In the evening, I found what might be my favorite venue of the festival, the Blackheart Bar, to see some friends of ours from the Bay Area, the Soft White Sixties. The band was great — like a more fleshed out version of the Black Keys. The sound was great, and the outdoor patio was strung with lights in the evening warmth, making the place relaxing and magical.

SXSW Recap: Patrick

Waking up feeling hot and drained. Sleeping doesn’t seem to work like it used to. At least not since I’ve been at South By.  The neighborhood is loud in the morning, not so much from the sound of cars driving by, but from birds tweeting rude hashtags, chickens just minding their own thing and the sound of seven touring musicians’ clothes spinning around the washer and dryer. There’s nothing like fresh laundry, especially on tour. Doing laundry becomes a sacred community activity that doesn’t happen too frequently. When the cost of clean clothes equals a third of your daily payout, you become wise in the ways of preserving clothes. But who cares about laundry.

Most days start with a coffee for me, just because I love the taste and the warm feeling I get inside. I enjoy caffeine like most Americans, and this morning it was so necessary, otherwise my thoughts would not happen, this blog post would not happen, the piano and organ at our show would not happen, nothing would have happened if it weren’t coffee. That’s why I wanna give a shout out to all the hard working employees at Thunderbird coffee shop on Manor road. They have good coffee when it cools down and the pumpkin bread was off the chain! It gave me the spicy cinnamon strength to start my day. Today is special, though. It’s our first show at South By.

We might be the only band that is early to gigs. For South By, it’s kind of a curse, because I have yet to go to a show that was running on time, or running good sound. It is such a massive event that there seems to be a shortage of sound guys with any knowledge of running sound. We show up to the Jackalope at noon, half an hour before our load-in. Fortunately, we only had to carry our gear one block to the venue. This place is pretty weird. The TV’s are showing some cult film that features a lot of naked women with parts of flesh missing. It’s quite lovely. I asked the bartender the name of it so I could watch it with my girlfriend for our anniversary. Unfortunately, I lost the paper with the name — this was due to the bartender, though. How can you offer free beer to musicians at 1PM? It’s a surefire way of turning a soul to alcoholism. Anyways, our set time was 1:55, but we went on closer to 2:30. All the South By set are quick and dirty: load-in, play, load-out and good luck finding parking. Porter Robinson taught me festival sets just have to be “bangers”; that’s what everyone likes. This seemed to be the longest 40-minute set I’ve played in a long time. It felt good playing in a dingy bar, amps set loud and no monitors. It’s very much like being a beagle. It’s easier if you just let it all go. It is very thrilling. It felt like playing our very first shows again. It’s really hard to hear everything, and you just hope beyond hope your musical ideas come across well. Gotta love the dive-bar gigs.

South By has taught me I need better shoes. They need better sound people. The amount of free stuff is ridiculously awesome. If you’re late to a show, chances are it probably hasn’t started yet. Also, feed yourself. I have a hard time doing that last one. This massive festival is a total mind-f—. It’s great — I love it — but I’d rather come to Austin while the festival isn’t here and experience the city on its own.

SXSW Here We Come!

We're thrilled to announce that we'll be spending a week in Austin in March for SXSW, including an OFFICIAL showcase!  We couldn't be more honored to be a part of this event!  Keep an eye on our dates page for more specifics, can't wait to see you in Austin!