Started off my Thursday night by catching up with Micachu & the Shapes, the Brit kitchen-sink art-pop trio fronted by 21 year old Londoner Mica Levi. That's her with the mini-guitar on the right - keyboardist/guitarist Raisa Khan is to her left, and drummer Marc Pell is hiding behind them. Levi's a bit of a wunderkind - besides being a blog star, she's already composed for the London Philharmonic.
Don't let that scare you away, though: The peppy music on Jewellry, which comes out on April 7, and the music she played under the tent at Emo's Annex on Thursday is definitely pop, even if it's pop that bobs and weaves and zigs and zags with all sorts of delightfully indirect percussive effects. And "Golden Phone," the tune whose "ah-ah-ahs" Levi and Khan are executing above, is a great single. This would have been an ideal way to start off the evening even if I hadn't had the pleasure of running into intreprid Pitchfork reporter and proud Philadelphia native Amy Phillips, whose Wednesday night recap you can read here.
Form there, it was a couple of slices of Sixth Street pepperoni pizza - I swear, sometimes at SXSW I feel like Bob Dylan. No, I don't mean like a Malibu mansion owner with a smelly porta-potty, I mean, to paraphrase "Idiot Wind," it's a wonder I can even feed myself. Then, onto the two Mohawk venues down Red River street, where I cuaght a quick glimpse of likable enough Brooklyn indie band Bishop Allen on the Patio before moving inside for Canadian singer-songwriter Julie Doiron. Her set was marred by a leaky roof dripping on her head and some tuning problems. But she's a find, with songs that lurch and burst at odd intervals, with a sweetness and smartness that remind me a bit of Bala Cynwyd's own Mirah, who plays the Billions showcase at Antone's tonight.
Doiron was folowed out on the Patio by Phosphorescent, who you can read about in the blog item a couple of postings ago. About this time, a rumor that Leonard Cohen was going to join his back up singers, The Webb Sisters a tthe hotel bar at the Hilton Garden Inn later in the evening started circulating via text message, but that turned out not to be true, just like - so far - the rumors of U2 and Neil Young turning up somewhere at SXSW to play haven't panned out either.
Sussing that out was a good way to pass the time while staying put and waiting for BLK JCKS, the vowellless all upper case South African rock band. The foursome brought to life the expansive guitar shredding rock with a dash of African rhythm found on their 4 song EP Mystery, and only added to the mystery by playing only that material in a brief, but often stunningly good, half hour set.
From there, it was catch as catch can, after figuring out Cohen wasn't playing, Big Boi from OutKast was too far away at the Austin Music Hall, and yes, Ida Maria was not going to do any of her gigs because she did not get a visa. Walking down Red River, had my first notable Philadelphian encounter of the evening when I ran into Tom Moon, former Inquirer music critic and author of 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die, who was on his way to Andrew Bird at Stubb's, and is signing books at the Convention Center today. Then, caught a minute of a glitzy horn happy Danish band called The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, who sounded like a lot of fun and worthy of further investigation.
From there, over to the Siltbreeze night at the Soho Lounge for U.S. Girls, the one woman noise project of Philadelphia's Meghan Remy, who gets down on her knees and plays with knobs to cover what sounded like '60s girl-group sample with layers of shape shifting deafening noise. Not for the faint of heart, though it was, however, for Jackie Zahn, the former KDU deejay and '90s Philadelphia scenester who's a graduate student at the University of Texas, and who just got back from an extended stay in Rio de Janeiro and had just seen Diplo's Favela On Blast movie with interest. Her review, in a nutshell: Good, but problematic.