Balanced Breakfast had us thankfully praising the music gods and goddesses (Image by Nicole Sergent)
Wandering aimlessly through the pages of online listings for free shows in Austin the week of SXSW, I searched for no admission shows with the earliest start times. I stumbled upon a showcase that had Breakfast in the title, so clearly that was my best bet. After spending a few hours navigating the perils of missing not one, but two busses into downtown Austin on March 13th, I finally arrived at The Balanced Breakfast showcase at The Jackalope, which was hosted by Music City SF March 12-15. Immediately upon entry, I saw my photographer brethren standing on a wooden fixture to snag a shot and I knew I fell into the right place. The Jackalope, a dive bar one might catch drinks at when roaming the stretch of sixth in college, served as an ideal venue for hosting a musical showcase. With an intimate stage set up, friendly bar staff, and plenty of platforms for photographers to perch upon, The Jackalope had everything I was looking for in my SXSW experience.
Although I showed up late to the party, I broke into the scene at an ideal time, watching Hot Flash Heat Wave put on a show worth writing home about. Youthful faces lined the stage pumping out dreamy sounds that had the audience swaying. The band’s style of space rock was abstract while still being accessible to the average ear. If the Beach Boys and Washed Out had a musical love child, it would resemble the chill sounds from Hot Flash Heat Wave. Their music is available on all platforms for your consumption.
Up next was No Vacation-a band driven by female power. Their style was strong while simultaneously being soft. No Vacation’s audience engagement pulled show attendees in, with their enigmatic lead asking if guests were local or even from planet earth. Her vocals were hauntingly saccharine and lyricism creative. No Vaction’s surf rock sounds balanced lo-fi alternative with a high level of musical knowledge, demonstrated by a pianist that traded her tool of trade for a violin for several songs. Since attending this show, I’ve already personally recommended three people check out their work-so here I am suggesting the same to you readers-I suggest visiting the band’s Spotify account before buying their merch (yes, they have vinyl to my fellow record geeks) at http://www.novacationband.com/store
After a very encouraging day one of Balanced Breakfast, I decided that I would try to catch a few bands from the showcase’s day two on March 14th. And future me would soon see that this was one of the better life choices I made lately. No, I won’t apologize for buying the yellow pressing of Beyonce’s Lemonade.
Agouti graced the stage with their presence that fateful Wednesday. Lo-fi pop rock seemed to be the treat of choice this particular showcase. The band’s sound was stronger and more aggressive in person than what I had anticipated. Agouti’s recorded tracks sound like you just stepped right out of a hazy dream where you are picking flowers in a meadow. Upon researching the band at a later date, I discovered that the group based their sounds off a visit to Costa Rica’s Cloud Forests. However, in person, the band exudes a bit of a heavier sound (which directly contrasted to their very flower child attire), with strong bass and less intentional haze, unmasking how technically proficient and “tight,” the band really is. The group’s wholesome and palatable set was simply lovely, and I recommend checking out their official site to learn more about their sounds http://agoutiband.com/
The cherry on top of the performances I caught on March 14th at this showcase was Swamp Child’s set. Prior to hitting the stage, Swamp Child was described as “sensual rock,” which captured my attention. This deviation from the rest of the artists in this lineup was a variant of the best type. With strong blues driven guitar, the group dazzled with glowing drumsticks and flashy attire. Between songs lead singer Brandi Mod described her inspiration for many of her pieces and let her vibrant personality show through to listeners in the crowd. Brandi explained her song inspiration with a variety of topics from divorce to watching nature documentaries on Ambien. Having lived in Louisiana for six years myself, I was thrilled to find out she was from New Orleans. Her smoky vocals and heavy beats are distinctly Southern sounding, but can be appreciated by all. A fusion of almost garage rock with pop creates a truly unique sound that will push this group forward in the future. After the set, Brandi happily chatted with listeners that cooed over her outfit, which included an open kimono. She explained to me how Courtney Love inspires her style noting that, “if Robert Plant can wear an open shirt on stage, why can’t I? It’s our time.” Amen Brandi, amen. Do me a personal favor and check out her music on Spotify and the band’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pg/swampchildmusic/about/?ref=page_internal
Has the Balanced Breakfast Showcase convinced me that I need to visit San Francisco to check out Music City? Yes, unquestionably. Should you check it out too next time you’re in town? Yes, without a doubt. But first, do us both a favor and check out the talent listed throughout this article. Soak up the goodness of discovering wonderful music for the first time like I did at the showcase. And enjoy some of your new favorite bands.