SXSW Music kicks off a bit earlier each year, and there are only so many acts you can see as soon as you step off the plane. Mo checks in with Gals with Guitars kind of night. Also – kind of like the 90’s.
Waxahatchee, releasing a new album on Merge in April, did a solo acoustic performance (well, she was joined by her sister on a few numbers) to a rapt audience. Waxahatchee, aka Katie Crutchfield of Birmingham, Alabama, strummed along while reminiscing amusedly about how her first concert was Mr. Alan Jackson. The songs may have been a bit heartbreaking, but the banter was pretty lovely.
Speedy Ortiz came on next to rock anyone out of any semblance of mellow that may have remained after the previous set. Lead vocalist Sadie Dupuis threw out the occasional zingers (asking for any member of N*Sync to join her on stage, please) and the drummer soundchecked with Beastie Boys lyrics. But once they kicked off, it was a 90s nostalgia trip without the nostaligia, because they were tougher than the Spinanes/Pavement combo they almost sounded like.
The last lady of the evening was Angel Olsen, who announced she had tried not to get drunk, but Jesus told her to go ahead and do so anyway. She played about 40 minutes of beautifully smart and sad folk, with her appropriately angelic voice well in tune. A simple and lovely set, she apologized towards the end for trying to put people to sleep. Honestly, the crowd seemed a bit more mesmerized than that…