Saturday’s daylong Garden Party at the French Legation Museum was a perfect cap to South by Southwest’s four days of music – an eight-hour mix of indie-rock legends (Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore) and buzzed-about hipsters (Okkervil River, Kimya Dawson). Granted, the first three hours were filled with bands I’d never heard of, all of which inexplicably had violin players and seemed to share members. ...
But by the time Scotland’s Sons and Daughters played a loud, 40-minute set of songs mostly from their second album, This Gift, the growing audience was prepped for some enthusiastic guitar music. It got it with Mascis, who played an unplugged solo set – loaded with Dino Jr. faves like “Get Me” -- that still managed to be one of the day’s noisiest.
Likewise, Moore’s performance with the New Wave Bandits was acoustic but still pretty damn loud. They didn’t play any Sonic Youth songs, but all of them still sounded like Sonic Youth songs anyway. She and Him played a slightly looser set than Friday night’s Merge Records showcase (yes, I was stalking Zooey Deschanel; no, she didn’t talk to me).
By the time Austin’s Okkervil River took the stage a little after 6 p.m., the formerly cozy outdoor Garden Party had turned into a rollicking pile of sweaty bodies, as the band performed songs from last year’s terrific The Stage Names (including highlight “Plus Ones”). By the time Dawson (the quick-mouthed voice of the hit Juno soundtrack) closed the concert, the audience had thinned out quite a bit. But there probably wasn’t a more captivated audience all week. Everyone hang on Dawson’s every word – even the nonsense ones taken from her upcoming kids’ CD. -- Michael Gallucci