The second night of the Warner Sound showcase, sponsored by Nikon, at SXSW was celebration of punk. The genre has few better flag-bearers this year than Paramore, a group making its first trip to SXSW since debuting at the Austin, Texas festival in 2008. The band’s become an international success since then, while surviving some growing pains – the loss of founding members Zac and Josh Farro.
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SXSW 2013: Photo Highlights From Austin
“The soap opera’s been cancelled,” singer Hayley Williams advised the crowd that filled the Belmont Hotel courtyard. Then they launched into “Brand New Eyes” track “Ignorance,” a song Williams called the “theme song of the soap opera.”
But Wednesday night’s performance was also about new beginnings: in April, the trio will release its fourth album, the self-titled “Paramore,” and Wednesday’s 11-song set included a handful of upcoming tracks — lead single “Now” and the debut of “Still Into You,” the group’s next single. They’ll be filming the video in Austin, Williams announced; the lyric video was released to YouTube immediately following the performance (Listen here).
By the time the band took the stage around 1 a.m., the Austin temperatures had dropped to a sunless chill, but neither cold nor sore feet would keep the audience from seeing Paramore in action. When Williams asked them to sing, they knew every word — one audience member in particular, who the band brought up to the stage to join them in “Misery Business.” The enthusiastic set produced enough adrenaline to last well into Thursday morning, but Paramore showed its softer side as well, performing an acoustic version of “In the Mourning,” a song the band released as part of its vinyl singles club. The track dipped into a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” before returning to its own chorus.
Before Paramore’s crackling performance, Tegan and Sara took the stage for a set drawn largely from new album “Heartbreaker,” an effort that finds the indie sister act embracing dance-pop influences. The band’s signature stage banter was in full effect, leading to a monologue about dangerous beach balls and viral .gifs. After touching on older hits, they wrapped up with “Closer,” their latest album’s lead track.
The evening was emceed by Gorburger, the monster-costumed host of the popular YouTube series. The sense of surreal was expanded by the night’s other bands, Kitten, Skaters, the Rubens and twenty | one | pilots, whose set underwent mask changes, wild genre swerves and a dangerous walk along the hotel balcony by frontman Tyler Joseph — his mic still in hand.
He wasn’t the night’s only climber: Kitten’s Chloe Chaidez treated the stage like a mountain, singing from the tops of gear cases and pulling herself up a stage column like a glam King Kong in the midst of the band’s head-banging set.
The Rubens offered a less frantic performance, showcasing a jean-jacketed brand of blues-rock that recalled the Black Keys’ recent work.
Skaters sounded like just that, ripping through a set of speedy, snotty punk–though Michael Ian Cummings also opted for denim, wearing a vest with Bart Simpson’s image attached to the back. The fabric received another curtain call thanks to Williams’ vest, which offered a different suggestion on its back: “Grow up.”