Review: Billy Reid & K-Swiss Shindig With Punch Brothers, Delta Spirit And More
Billy Reid, the South’s preeminent fashion designer, has more than a casual interest in music — his art is in fact inspired by the very artists on the bill. Here’s our review of the second annual Billy Reid & K-Swiss Shindig, which turned out to be one of the best line-ups in town. Get a free download of tracks by each Shindig artist here.
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Shelly Colvin and her band christened the afternoon with her laid-back sampling of groovy country folk — a perfect sound for the appropriately titled Shindig. An Alabama native who lived in L.A. before moving to Nashville, Colvin’s music draws deeply from a range of Southern styles — with a dash of California psychedelic thrown in.
Wild Cub, a Nashville dance rock outfit spearheaded by Keegan DeWitt, delivered one of the more spirited sets of the afternoon. DeWitt played the Shindig last year, under his own name, and even proposed to wife later that afternoon. So it’s safe to say he digs the vibe of the whole event. The Nashville-based musician is something of a jack of all trades when it comes to South-By-Southwest. He had been in Austin for the film portion of SXSW as well — having scored the film Cold Weather, which debuted at SXSW in 2010.
Jonny Corndawg’s red “Dad Country” Sprinter van is parked out front of Swan Dive. Luckily, someone agreed to drive it around the block while Corndawg et al—Josh Hedley on fiddle, Jerry Pentecost on drums, Spencer Cullum, Jr., on pedal steel, Taylor Zachry on bass, and special guest Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes on lead guitar—played rawkin’ country jams on a hot and balmy Austin afternoon. It was almost a Middle Brother reunion when Matt Vazquez of Delta Spirit jumped up to sing on “Shave Like A Razor.” But the highlight of the show was seeing a Corndawg band in tout de force, where the fiddle and steel punch line on “Shut Up” sounded uncannily like a double horn blast; where new songs like “Ain’t It Your Birthday” and older chestnuts like “Fools And Sages” portrayed Corndawg’s idiosyncratic and heartfelt brand of American country music.
Brendan Benson is at South-By-Southwest in support of his new album, What Kind Of World. His indie rock has a slight Nashville twang these days, as he now calls Music City home. The high-energy sound is still reminiscent of Detroit’s rowdy garage scene though, too, and his flare for ’60s power-pop nuggets was in fine form on Wednesday.
Nashville’s favorite four-on-the-floor folk-rockers Apache Relay brought a solid set of up-tempo Americana to the Shindig on Wednesday afternoon. American Songwriter likes to keep the Apache boys close at hand, should we need any gear test-drives or holiday photo shoots. Apache raised the roof, bringing a joyous energy to the Swan Dive digs.
Phosphorescent (Matthew Houck solo)
It’s hard to be humble, when you’re from Alabama. There were plenty of the Yellowhammer State’s native sons in attendance at Billy Reid’s annual Shindig on Wednesday. But perhaps the most unexpected Alabamian surprise came from a last-minute solo appearance from Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck. The one-man band recalled his Pride-era solo work, when he used vocal loops to create a deep cavern of sound. He seemed to realize that a packed room was a lot for one man to take on with a pocketful of bittersweet tunes, but “Wolves” and “A Picture Of Our Torn Up Praise” kept the crowd focused. A version of Here’s To Taking It Easy’s final song, “Los Angeles,” was sparse and bleak: “I ain’t came to Los Angeles just to die,” sang Houck. There were no Texas odes from Phossy to Willie on Wednesday afternoon, though that could change at Thursday’s Heartbreakers Banquet in Luck, Texas.
Delta Spirit delivered their synth-driven brand of Americana to a packed crowd. For lead singer Matt Vazquez, the Shindig was a homecoming of sorts, having grown up in South Austin. Before their set, Vasquez hung out on the back porch of the Swan Dive with his mom — who still lives in Dripping Springs. The band played selections from their eponymously titled new album, including “California,” a Springsteen-esque number that served as one of the afternoon’s best moments.
Chris Thile led his bluegrass crew through the final set of the day at Billy Reid’s Shindig. Thile seemed in high spirits, telling the crowd that the Punches had just driven straight from the airport to the gig. They didn’t need long to tune up their guitars, banjos, and (of course) mandolin. Thile is one of the most ferocious pickers in acoustic music today. But his craft is informed by Radiohead (the band covered “Kid A” on most recent album Who’s Feeling Young Now?) and string quartets as well as good ol American bluegrass. They showed all their stripes and colors on Wednesday, topping off a great day of music in Austin.
(Additional reporting: Caine O’Rear)