SXSW Day Party: Waterloo Records

Garage punk and pop, ATX speed rock, and African blues

A parking lot under the hot sun and mid-afternoon Lamar traffic doesn’t always add up to a meaningful set, but hats off to the Waterloo staff for sticking with it. I actually enjoyed my time on the asphalt this afternoon, which is much more than I can say for the rest of my humidity-stained memories in Austin. I like rock music better when I’m not damp.


Protomartyr
by Sandy Carson

Detroit quartet Protomartyr brought fine-tuned garage punk, while Fresh & Onlys arrived looking like they just rolled out of bed. Their Bay Area garage pop, best served warm and fuzz, proved the perfect contrast to their predecessors.

Frontman Tim Cohen stood proud and tall in his tie-dye shirt like he was prepping “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The brightness sapped their fizziness, but as far as free shows go, you could do a hell of a lot worse than four dudes and a whole lot of breezy vibes.

Austin’s American Sharks rolled up in jean shorts and turquoise guitars. This was flame tattoo music, the sort of thing that works best with fist pumps and free drinks. Amidst the dads, kids, and random curiosity? Not so much. The set flared out of the gates and met nothing but uninspired organic matter. A bitter end for enthusiasm.

The best moment came with Tinariwen. The African collective’s become something of an Austin mainstay lately, with memorable sets at Fun Fun Fun, and their easiness hung delectably in the air. We swayed for a few minutes, and all went home. All Friday afternoons should be like this.

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