The corporate sponsorship invasion of SXSW has long been a catalyst in the rise of the festival’s popularity while also being a catalyst for being a pain in the ass of many SXSW goers. There is an overwhelming sense of exclusivity in a lot of the official showcases that can often leave those without passes feeling left out of the party. However, it doesn’t take a lot of wherewithal to locate events during the week that don’t require badges or wristbands during the music portion. Regardless of how busy or crowded the city may feel or how easy it is to overdose on product placement, the sentiment of SXSW has always remained in the smaller unofficial shows. We got a taste of this when we checked out Get Better Records & New Professor Showcase at Dozen Street Bar.
We arrived right in time to see all girl pop-punk band Potty Mouth’s set. Potty Mouthhas been popping up on my radar here and there over the last year or so. I wanted to include them on the International Women’s Day Playlistbut barely missed the cut because I wasn’t as familiar with them as I was the other bands. Seeing them live made me regret this. A short set, the band made sure every minute was packed with raw energy. The band never stood still and was walking up and down the sanctioned area for the stage and even went into the crowd several times at one point eliciting a member of the crowd to be the mic stand while they sang into it.
You know that part in the song “Cannonball” by the Breeders right before the chorus where they transition from the soft to loud dynamic? The band bridges the two parts with harmonic strokes serving as an ignition to the wave of sound the chorus brings. That’s what Potty Mouthsounds like live. Every transition is a shameless wakka wakkaharmonic stroke and it never got old. From the stage dynamic to the raw sound, the band brought a basement show vibe to the small bar and it was as satisfying as any big time day party production.
Just about every year there’s a band at SXSW that I become low-key obsessed with and make it my mission to try and see them live. This year, that band was Illuminati Hotties. After missing the festival last year and discovering their debut LP Kiss Your Frenemies, I was determined to see them this year. The band gave us a lot of opportunities playing seven or so shows throughout the week. Living in San Antonio and taking the week off from work I had my pick but as things came up, seeing them at Dozen Streetwas my last chance. In hindsight, I am so glad that this was the showcase I watched them at. In addition to being sold on Potty Mouth, I loved the DIY-like atmosphere that Dozen Streetprovided and how close we were able to get to the band.
I wrote in some detail about what made me fall in love with the music of Illuminati Hottiesin the International Women’s Day Playlist, but essentially there is this kind of witticism and “all in fun” demeanor that really explodes from the music. Lead singer and band mastermind Sarah Tudzin combines chipper 60s girl group like vocals with straight 8thpop punk sounds. It’s a sound that on paper seems pretty ubiquitous but hearing the music (especially live) really transcends the genre. It’s rock music that isn’t afraid to be pop or maybe pop music that isn’t afraid to be rock, either way, the show was great and overwhelmingly fun. Having to return to San Antonio that night, this was such a great way to cap off my short but sweet 2019 SXSW.