Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Tuesday at SXSW: RTB2, Burning Hotels, and Ishi (March 13)
The night went to Dallas-Fort Worth rock bands.
Throngs of people crawled Austin on Day One of the music portion of SXSW, making the Capitol city feel more like New Orleans during Mardi Gras. For good reason, this year’s staff seems more prepared than previous years: Many facets, from admission lines to security, are tighter.
RTB2 launched one of the many SXSW showcases on Tuesday night at Frank’s, and showed the Austin crowd what this duo is really capable of. Ryan Thomas Becker’s guitar sounded crisp and rigid throughout the set. While he seldom spoke during the 30-minute show, he showed his excitement by jumping around during multiple bridges. The band closed with a blues ballad – possibly a new track – that allowed Becker’s voice to dominate the song rather than his advanced guitar work.
Electro-rockers Ishi played a slightly calmer set than their fans are accustomed to. Yes, Ishi frontman John T. Mudd still came out in a full Indian headdress and his signature cane, but the level of pure adrenaline that is normally through-the-roof at their show was slightly lower. The evolved lineup for the experimental group directed the focus not only to frontwoman Becky Middleton and Mudd, but also to the guitarist Rocky Ottley, who confidently took the lead on guitar solos. The band announced that Ishi will have a new album out in August, which will likely follow the current path of Mudd taking on a majority of the lead vocals, leaving mostly back up to Middleton.
The dynamic between the Burning Hotel’s sets at 35 Denton and SXSW couldn’t have been more different. The Fort Worth duo sold out one of the biggest venues in Denton and hosted one of the best dance parties of 35 Denton. But Tuesday at SXSW proved to be a calmer and smaller show, with only a portion of the crowd choosing to move to the Burning Hotels' cool indie sound. But Chance Morgan and Matt Mooty consistently delivered their rebounding lines and reverberating strums, showing that their new style truly suits them. The intimate Austin crowd demanded an encore once they stepped offstage, and the guys came back up for an instrumental closer.