Jim Carroll

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SXSW snapshots: Future Islands, breakfast at The Driskill, Austin’s backstreets

The band who won SXSW, the poshest breakfast in town and a trip on the wild side of 6th Street

Future Islands: the band who won SXSW

Tue, Mar 18, 2014, 09:45


The band who won SXSW

If any band can be said to have “won” SXSW, it’s Baltimore veterans Future Islands. Playing their first ever SXSW – some feat considering they’re eight years and three albums into their run – Future Islands pulled huge crowds wherever they played. Perhaps it’s down in a large part to that Letterman appearance performing “Seasons (Waiting On You)” (see below), but we also like to think that the time has come for their superb synth-pop tunes and especially awesome frontman Samuel T Herring’s unmatchable dancing. Proof that every dog has his day.

Breakfast at The Driskill

For reasons best known to himself, Tom Waits once sardonically refered to Austin’s grand dame of a hotel at the top of Sixth Street as the Dressed-to-Kill. It’s that kind of joint, channeling old-world elegance and oozing southern hospitality. When we’re rich, we’ll lodge here but for now, we’ll make do with popping in once or twice during SXSW for their breakfasts. The poshest huevas rancheros in town come with top-drawer chorizo and a tangy special sauce, while the omelettes are worth every forkful. Great people-watching potential too.

Austin’s back lanes

There are some cities you know by means other than Google maps. Once I could walk around Soho in London simply guided by record shops, following the trail from Mr Bongo to Sister Ray to Selectadisc. I realised the other night that I now know the downtown Austin grid by those scuzzy, greasy, dank, smelly lanes behind and around Sixth Street that make handy shortcuts when you can’t cycle down the main drag becauae the main drag is too full. You see all sorts and kinds in those lanes as you whizz on by: kitchen staff from the nearby restaurants on cigarette breaks, cops looking to bust some heads, tired and emotional party people and bands waiting around for their gig or a lift for their gear. You also see all sorts and other kinds that you just don’t want to see. The other side – literally – of SXSW. Another future SXSW film waiting to happen.