Five Cool Things Witnessed At SXSW 2013: Wednesday, March 13

Lyndsey Parker

The Austin music festival South By Southwest continued apace this Wednesday...and while persistent, maddening, downright cruel rumors of a Daft Punk secret show on the steps of the Capitol Building proved untrue, I still managed to see enough awesome music to compensate for that daft disappointment. While SXSW can sometimes be an aggravating exercise in FOMO, or "Fear Of Missing Out"--there is so much music to take in, it's inevitable that many opportunities and gigs will be missed--I attempted to adopt an anti-FOMO, more pro-YOLO attitude on my second day at SXSW. I stopped to smell the BBQ, so to speak, and just tried to enjoy the moment. Here are the Wednesday moments I enjoyed the most:

1) Nick Cave Proved He's The Coolest Man In Austin On The Planet
"Hopefully it'll get dark," rail-thin master of gloom Nick Cave intoned at the start of his Bad Seeds' concert at outdoor venue Stubb's, as traces of the Texas sunset still streaked the sky. Oh, it got dark, all right. The Push The Sky Away crooner proceeded to hold festivalgoers under his voodoo spell, by turns serving as fallen preacherman, jaded lover, beer hall crooner, and keeper to the gates of purgatory. For 90 minutes, he howled his way through new epics like "Jubilee Street," "Wide Lovely Eyes," and the Miley Cyrus-namechecking "Higgs Boson Blues," as well as such aged-like-fine-wine classics as "Mercy Seat," the filthy murder ballad "Stagger Lee," and the song that quite possibly showcased Cave at his Caviest, "From Her To Eternity." This was one of the hottest tickets in Austin, and Nick did not disappoint. If you didn't get in, you're probably the one suffering from FOMO right about now.

2) Karen O From The Yeah Yeah Yeahs Wore THE BEST OUTFIT EVER
Nick Cave was a tough act to follow, but when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hit the stage at Wednesday's NPR showcase at Stubb's (following a very incongruous set by the way-too-happy Latin party-pop combo Café Tacvba), they made quite an entrance. Frontgoddess Karen O was all decked out in some sort of funky-chicken acid-yellow Nudie suit, excessively accessorized with a poncho seemingly fashioned from Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader pom-poms, bug-eyed sunglasses probably purchased at an Elton John estate sale, and a newly bleached 'do. And she once again reminded us all that before Ke$ha, before Katy Perry, even before Lady Gaga, she was the pop princess when it came to dressing to impress and for excess. Miss O proved she's still an "Art Star" after the YYYs' four-year recording hiatus, and it was absolutely fabulous to see her back.

3) Savages Ravaged My Ears--And I Loved It
Remember those grrrrrl-powered good old days when fierce femmes like PJ Harvey and Sleater-Kinney ruled the rock roost? London four-piece Savages certainly joltingly jogged my memory, when they played Brooklyn Vegan's afternoon party at the Main on 6th Street. The raw and raucous post-punk girl group absolutely blew me away, and practically blew out my poor eardrums, with their thunderous, ferocious sound. And androgynous lead singer Jehnny Beth, with her ability to simultaneously channel Siouxsie Sioux and Ian Curtis (not to mention pull off a severe sheared hairdo with more flair than Anne Hathaway could ever hope for), quickly became my new obsession. What do I have to do to make a Nick Cave/Jehnny Beth duet happen someday?

4) Charlotte Church Got Her Goth On
Remember little Charlotte Church? The Welch soprano was basically Britain's answer to Jackie Evancho back in the '90s, a classical-crossover child prodigy who sold millions of records as a precocious preteen. After a foray into pop music and U.K. television presenting (and a brutal beating by Britain's notorious tabloid media), Charlotte is releasing her first U.S. album in a decade, One & Two, and clearly she is all grown up now. At her SXSW showcase at the British Embassy, the now-27-year-old singer gave off a real Amy Lee/Tori Amos vibe, bedecked in feathers and facepaint as she warbled goth-opera rock epics. Charlotte's look and vibe were definitely different, but thankfully, her pristine voice was still intact. Her secret? Frequent onstage swigs from a bottle…of honey.

5) I Played A Friggin' Theremin
The pop-up Sonos Studio on Red River Street is a haven for music-geek techheads at this year's SXSW: Visitors can build their own speakers, check out art and sound installations…or, like me, fulfill a lifelong dream of pretending to be Jon Spencer/Cornelius while going nuts with a fully functioning Theremin. I left the studio inspired. Maybe I'll start an all-Theremin band and play SXSW next year.

So Thursday at SXSW is sure to be just as music-packed, with gigs by everyone from '90s legends the Flaming Lips and Dave Grohl to new-schoolers like Vintage Trouble, Frightened Rabbit, and Surfer Blood. What will be my five coolest moments of SXSW Music day three? Watch this space.

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