SXSW: Heartless Bastards just kicked my ass
Heartless Bastards photo by Ben Clark
It's the first official day of South by Southwest (see, David? I'm referring to it by its full name despite the fact that everyone here is calling it "South By") and the first round of day parties are in full swing. Downtown Austin is crawling with sunglass-clad hipsters and the main drag of downtown Austin, 6th Street, has been blocked off with orange barriers to facilitate the massive influx of pedestrians. I've just returned from a Paste and Brooklyn Vegan-sponsored day party that had a lineup of bands ranging across the indie spectrum, including radio-friendly singer-songwriter Greg Laswell; indie pop septuplet Anathallo; grating, vaudevillian pianist Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls; and alt-country bands Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers and Port O'Brien. But none of the bands on the bill came close to the intensity and talent of Dayton, Ohio natives Heartless Bastards.
Highlights from their set included "Sway," "Out at Sea," and the title track off of their new CD, The Mountain. Of the six bands I've seen so far, this was by far my favorite. Check out a video of them performing "Out at Sea" on Letterman last month: