While Austin locals perfected their bank shots on the ground floor of Buffalo Billiards pool hall last night (Mar. 17), six buzzed-about rock bands packed the venue's upper level and kicked off Billboard's series of SXSW 2011 showcases.
California rock quintet Young the Giant proved themselves a worthy headliner and kept the capacity crowd enthralled with the sharp hooks and power-pop melodies from their eponymous debut album. Fans jammed along to recent singles like "My Body" and "Apartment" and fed off the boundless energy of frontman Sameer Gadhia, whose on-stage ADD found him wailing on drum cymbals with a tambourine when he wasn't teetering between multiple microphones.
There was no Auto-Tuning of the news for Brooklyn band the Gregory Brothers, who brought their YouTube-born smashes to a live stage sans vocal effects. Part comedy troupe, part music ensemble, the six-piece band closed out the night by tackling their biggest viral hits -- "Double Rainbow Song" and "Bed Intruder Song," most famously -- and taking satirical aim at plenty of pop culture targets, from Tiger Blood-boasting Charlie Sheen and Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell to Jimmy "The Rent Is Too Damn High" McMillan.
Video: The Boxer Rebellion performs "Memo" at the Billbaord Bungalow
Earlier in the night, the enthusiastic crowd was treated to the sounds of London-based quartet the Boxer Rebellion, who warmed the room with the soaring songs from their third full-length album "The Cold Still," and Tennessee trio Royal Bangs, who cranked up the volume and banged out hi-decibel hits from their latest album "Flux Outside."
Rounding out the bill were Chicago's Gold Motel, the summery indie-pop project from Hush Sound singer Greta Morgan, and raucous Mississippi rock duo Bass Drum of Death, who graciously jumped on the lineup for a last-minute performance.
Billboard's series of SXSW nighttime showcases at Buffalo Billiards continues tonight (Mar. 17) with performances from MNDR, Oh Land, The KNUX and more.
(Additional reporting by Monica Herrera and Lisa Binkert)