A week-and-a-half after returning from SxSW 2010 should be enough time to blend back into mainstream society, recover from strep throat, and map out my SxSW favorites. Yet unlike some of the other REDEFINE writers, who rambled down the West Coast and into the heart of Texas via a leisurely road trip, my trip is best summed up as three-day dance party fueled by free Red Bull and the knowledge that my trip was much too short, ultimately leaving me disheveled and confused. So here they are at their most honest: my Top Five SxSW Picks.
5. Polly Mackey & The Pleasure Principle
Meandering through downtown Austin, Polly Mackey & The Pleasure Principle were rocking out loudly and early, easily luring myself and a slew of other hungover weirdos into a random bar. Once inside, I realized that the band happened to be SxSW showcase openers getting in one last show, so I made myself comfortable between two heavily bearded men. Tip for the solo traveler: sitting between two largish, fully bearded men at a bar is, I've come to learn, the equivalent of going out with eight friends. I assure you: things will get cozy and familiar quickly. Meanwhile, the band was cranking out classic rock riffs with some kind of emo punk sliced in. Their high energy, combined with the multiple pitchers of Bloody Mary's making their way around, equated to an early morning crowd ready to party. What sold the show for me though, was their intriguing vocalist Polly Mackey. A tiny woman wearing the most unimpressed expression stood center stage, strumming her guitar with this huge voice that I overwhelmingly got the feeling she was holding back. Maybe the show was a fluke, or maybe it was all the facial hair in my way, but someone needs to tell Mackey to stop holding back and let that voice rip.