SXSW 2012: Dive’s head-first rock, fun with Fanfarlo and Niki & the Dove’s high-flying electro


@Seraphina_L on Saturday at SXSW:

Oversized T-shirt and baggy pants made Zachary Cole Smith and his bandmates in Dive an odd watch, but what they offered was surprisingly and fervidly beyond their years. No-nonsense guitar-driven rock with head-banging, hair-whipping ferocity made us wonder how these kids (who look no older than 12) came from as their raucous sound swallowed the venue whole. If Dive, Beach Fossils (of which Smith is also a member) and Heavenly Beat (another Beach Fossils spin-off helmed by John Pena) were actually to throw down a fistfight, Dive would pummel the other two. No beach or cocktail room-catered music for hipsters here. Short but fully-charged, Dive’s set at the Parish was just the show to catch and be revitalized for the rest of the evening.

Also notable . . .

Although all the hipster kids were waiting in line early for Best Coast’s set at Hype Hotel, they would have done better to arrive even earlier for London’s Fanfarlo. Playing their last set of SXSW, the orchestral indie pop quartet played mostly new songs from their long-awaited sophomore release, “Rooms Filled With Light.” Continuing their sweeping arrangements with horns, strings and unorthodox percussion from their debut “Reservoir,” Fanfarlo kicked off the night’s lineup with a celebratory tone. Switching up between keys, guitar, and saxophone Fanfarlo’s frontman Simon Balthazar seemed to run around stage in a delirious state of mind, happy with success.


Earlier at Hype Hotel … For some reason, any eccentric frontwoman with slightly red hair points people to a Florence Welch comparison, but Niki & the Dove‘s Malin Dahlström is far from the British singer. First off, Niki & the Dove (which Dahlström started with band member Gustaf Karlöf) is a Swedish electro-pop band dealing in what they call “flamboyant pop.” Secondly, whereas Welch bellows, Dahlström’s vocals almost coo among the hooks and beats. Niki & the Dove’s debut record “Instinct” is slated for a May 14 release via Sub Pop/Mercury, and anyone into dance music should not miss out on their upcoming U.S. shows. (They’ll be at the Bootleg on Wednesday.) It’s no secret Swedes are experts on pop music (from ABBA to Robyn), but this gypsy-influenced and tribal-infused electronica may even turn ravers on. It’s refreshing enough for me to forgive Dahlström for wearing finger lights.

Memo to . . .

Hype Hotel. Thanks for feeding me all day (all week, actually) with your free tacos, burritos and chips, but that is the first and last time I try the Doritos Locos Taco … It was weird.

Awesome, Austin . . .

One of the coolest rooms I found was the Converse Lounge over at the Fader Fort which included the following: Free screen-printed T-shirts, free Converse shoes (professionally customized for you on the spot), a chance to impose a photo of you and your friends in this Gorillaz photo, and walls and floors to draw and write on. Actually, they also had a specially-built wall of shoes, too. Above: A Buzz Bands branded (by way of permanent marker) Converse shoe. Below: The wall of shoes which it is now a part of.

Quote of the Day . . .

“Everyone’s just on page 20 when I’m on page 60.”
– Music snob talking to an artist about how ahead of the curve he is, at the Austin Convention Center