There's nothing quite like a hit right out of the box at South by Southwest. "This is our first-ever gig on U.S. soil," Welsh band Kidsmoke announced as they began a 5 p.m. set at Whip In on Monday afternoon, and their magnificent melodic indie rock was a perfect way to start the week.
Official showcases at a dozen or so downtown venues Monday evening allow SXSW Music to begin taking the baton from SXSW Interactive, which had featured a small handful of official music events through the weekend. This Whip In gig, an unofficial event sponsored by the arts nonprofit Focus Wales, got an early jump on the cavalcade of day-parties that will overtake Austin as the week progresses.
Kidsmoke's gig had just the right kind of classic SXSW balance between far-flung musical discovery and welcome-to-ATX whimsy. Playing on the back patio of a convenience store converted into an Indian restaurant? Check. Overseas bandmates marveling at local oddities? Check: "I googled 'Austin noisy birds' and it came up 'grackles,'" mused guitarist/backing vocalist Sophie Ballamy. A band good enough that one might one day say, "You won't believe this, but I saw them play to two dozen people at Whip In"? Check. Jaunty gentlemen who lives next door to the venue doing a sprightly jig in his red bandana, cutoff jeans and a cane? Check.
Will Kidsmoke leave SXSW with a record deal or a booking agent or a manager, as their official SXSW band pages suggests they're seeking in this trip? Who knows. In the meantime, though, just go see them. Here's six more chances: 7 p.m. Tuesday, SXSW Second Stage at JW Marriott; 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dirty Fest ad Dirty Dog Bar; 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, Focus Wales official SXSW showcase at Swan Dive; 7 p.m. Thursday, Champions Sports Bar (acoustic); 5 p.m. Saturday, ABGB; 7 p.m. Saturday, Hilton Taco Project (acoustic).
Kidsmoke was one of our Austin360 picks among indie rock acts at the festival. Check out the rest: Discover your new fave, from here or elsewhere