SXSW Entry #5 – Ceci Bastida, Pilar Diaz showcases

My apologies for the length between posts, everybody. People-watching this much hipster trash congregating in one place always leaves me thoroughly exhausted. I didn’t even know that they MADE size-26 jeans for guys. I always thought it was funny that they had “girls pants” in the guys section of American Apparel…

Anyway, Friday night’s show-hopping was a bit chaotic, but if not confusing. The night started conveniently at the beautiful Central Presbyterian Church to see the charming Ceci Bastida. I would say that she opened with a cover of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown,” but that would be doing a disservice to the term “cover.” Ceci’s version was calmer and less calculated than the original; it made me think of what PJ Harvey would sound like if she were remixed by Caribou. As for her own songs, I don’t know if it was because of her or because the church was the first decent sounding venue I’d seen all week, but Ceci and her band sounded fantastic. Ceci kept encouraging the crowd to dance, and although no one took her up on the offer, that should be chalked up the venue more than any fault of hers (Writer’s Note: Check out the size of that cross!). Songs like “No Te Digan,” and “Levantar” were fervent and certainly danceable, filled with plenty of horns, reggae-like riffs, and backbeats; my best comparison would be the upbeat tracks off Lily Allen’s It’s Not Me, It’s You, although less polemic. The standout of the set, however, would have to have been the delicate immigration ballad “Canta El Rio.” Performed solo by Ceci with only a piano for accompaniment, the song was touching and fragile, without being preachy. Overall, a wonderful show.

After catching another set by Los Fancy Free, I went outside to look for a friend only to notice that Juan Son, who was supposed to perform at the venue later, had canceled his set, presumably due to a problem getting his band’s visas cleared. So basically, the next time you encounter trouble with la Migra, make sure that you make your loogie that much bigger for Juan Son (but don’t blame me when they beat the crap out of you afterwards).

Shaking off the disappointment with a disgustingly good street-cart bratwurst, I rolled over to Pilar Diaz’s show at Fuze. Pilar’s show didn’t start on the strongest note, mainly because her first song was an unenthusiastic song that featured just her and some programming, but also because the crowd seemed to have a fear to be within 5 feet of the stage. Her second song, “Tu y Yo,” featuring a trumpet and ukulele was much more inspired, and reminded me of Matt & Kim, except not completely annoying. She followed that up with the still-adorable “Piñata,” and although it was played with just a keyboard and violin (NOT A FIDDLE!), the crowd seemed to react highly favorable to this bit of obtuse pop. Pilar also enlisted the great Austin band Maneja Beto to back her up on a few tracks, which was an effective way of adding some needed feel to her simplistic programming. Pilar, however, was unable to recapture the heights of this 1-2 punch, and the show sort of fell flat by the end.