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SXSW: Spoon plays it cool; Best Coast creates buzz

Best CoastBest Coast played mind-sticking set of girl-group pop at Cheer Up Charlie's. (Crappy photo by David Malitz)

By David Malitz

The first day of SXSW is all about getting your senses. You've got to wake up early, get on multiple planes, spend time in multiple airports named after Republican presidents and then you end up in Austin with every single music loving person in the world.

Everywhere you look there's someone who might be in a band, might be somebody you know, probably both. Everyone has cooler sunglasses than you, even though you thought you prepared by bringing four pairs. You've got to fight through the masses at the Convention Center to get a badge then try to remember how to get around town. Red River? 6th? Congress?

(Photos and great shows from The Muffs, Best Coast and Spoon, after the jump.)

So it becomes about finding some sort of comfort zone. Beerland is probably my favorite Austin venue, which is a bit ironic because it is totally unaffiliated with the festival, as they let you know. It's a dark, dank room that almost always has some garage band with plenty of attitude ripping through some grimy songs. The Muffs provided just that, and there was cold beer. Mission accomplished.

From there it was off to Cheer Up Charlie's where King of Brooklyn Indie Todd P was hosting one of his dozen-plus band bashes. It mostly blended into one mass of fuzzy, ramshackle indie rock with a few unfortunate detours into mindlessly meandering electro. The crowd swelled around 10:30 when Best Coast, led by Bethany Cosentino, took the makeshift stage to play some simple, catchy girl-group pop. She wore a flannel shirt, sounded a little like the Breeders, a little like Veruca Salt and the last song she played, "Something in the Way," was the one song stuck in my head when I walked home that night.

And that's after I saw the homecoming headlining gig by Spoon at Stubb's. It was neither a revelatory show nor a disappointing one. Just one of the best bands around doing the effortless cool thing by playing 18 of their immaculately crafted, less-is-more taut tunes. Did frontman Britt Daniel have anything special planned for his big hometown gig? Any special shout-outs or deep cuts? Of course not. You can't be effortlessly cool if you actually put in the effort.

Beerland signA sign outside the Can't Stop the Bleeding show at Beerland. (Photo by Marc Masters)

By Ally Schweitzer  |  March 18, 2010; 3:35 PM ET
Categories:  SXSW  | Tags: Best Coast, SXSW, Spoon, The Muffs  
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