South by Southwest is a gloriously surreal carnival of noise and booze. And lines. It brings out the best in bands, who are willing to eschew sleep and food in order to play as many sets as possible. It also brings out the best (worst?) in fans, who are willing to employ all manner of crafty tactics to finagle their way into packed showcases (tactics which almost never work, by the way).
But once you’re inside the venue, most of the nonsense — the hegemonic corporate presence, the badge/wristband/VIP caste system — fades away and all that matters is the band on stage right now and the corporate-sponsored swill you’re throwing back to amplify (or numb) the experience. The Warner Sound showcase Wednesday night (March 13) was an example of what’s great about SXSW. The line wasn’t ungodly, the venue wasn’t butts-to-nuts and it was capped off by a vibrant set by Tegan And Sara and Paramore‘s ferocious comeback.
Read on for our recap and to hear Paramore’s brand new single “Still Into You,” which they debuted last night before posting the lyric video online.
Tegan And Sara opened with a bizarre little introduction from Gorburger, and I’m guessing no more than 13 people in the audience had any idea what the hell was going on. They started their set with a handful of bouncy Heartthrob tracks, before bringing it back to the more organic bounciness of The Con‘s “Back In Your Head.” It was at this time a beach ball made its way on stage and Tegan voiced her fears of getting hit in the face and someone making a GIF of her with a ball in her face — a statement which of course was buttressed by the requisite “That’s what she said.”
The duo then dug way back to 2002 for “Living Room,” and during some more banter the twins pointed out that the venue smelled “like a skunk” (code word for weed, kids), and at this point came to the realization that they “are a one-liner factory.” Which, they pretty much are — how do you think they landed today’s Woodies gig?
The sibs brought it back to pristine electro pop with a Tiesto-less (but just as pulsating) “Feel It In My Bones” and “Now I’m All Messed Up,” which boasted a particularly thick bass line. Then, fittingly, their closer was “Closer.”
After a thirty minute change which just about everyone spent phone-gazing, Paramore burst onto stage, Hayley Williams‘ hair as orange as that girl’s from the Wendy’s commercials, and the main three blotted with colored paint a la their “Now” video.
Full disclosure: I am a Paramore novice. I know “Misery Business,” of course, and I really dig “Now,” but that’s about all I know. So I went in with a clean slate, and I was left very impressed by their ability to flat-out rawk. What other pop-relevant act is pounding the double bass thump like these guys? Muse, maybe?
In the middle of their set, the band played a pair of acoustic tracks, with an homage to “Landslide” worked in, but the jagged stuff was what really hooked me. The flurry of snares in “Now” was even more impressive live, and “Decode” was as about as heavy as “pop” gets.
Then they unveiled “Still Into You,” the second single from their forthcoming album, and Hayley called it “as emo as emo gets.” Which may not be entirely accurate, but it’s definitely a departure from the angular lead single. Lucky for all you fans, Paramore simultaneously posted the lyric video on YouTube.
Paramore — “Still Into You”
The trio has clearly grown during their drama-laced hiatus (Williams introduced “Ignorance” as “the theme song to the soap opera that was Paramore”), but thankfully they haven’t tossed aside their earlier stuff — for one thing, they would never ostracize their fans like that. I don’t know much about Paramore, but I know this because when they finished with “Misery Business,” they plucked a female from the crowd to come up on stage and sing the closing chorus.
SO. DEAD. TIRED. That was an amazing time Austin, TX. Thank you for showing us a fun night!! We lovedit!!! #SXSW
— Hayley from Paramore (@yelyahwilliams) March 14, 2013
And that’s the great thing about SXSW: no matter how many VIP lists and roped-off areas and covert marketing ploys you throw into the mix, a good performance will always cut through the bloat, and true fans will always outlast the scenesters.