Live Shots: K-Pop's Night Out, Ashley Monroe, and more at SXSW, Day 1


Photos and words by Bowerbird Photography

Fans made scrawling lines all through Austin, Texas, waiting to gain access to countless shows, as the SXSW 2013 music festival kicked off on Tuesday night.

Some eager devotees sat cross-legged, tolerating the intense Texas sun since 9am according to a chatty security guard, for the K-Pop Night Out showcase. In the SXSW hierarchy, badges trump wristbands, leaving hardcore fans without tags to load up on patience, scour listings for shows with free access, and pray capacity doesn't max.

The Geeks, a punk band from Seoul, kicked off the K-Pop lineup — and their music was loud and fast. The lyrics, although mostly screamed in English, were unintelligible. It was all you could want from a punk act. The lead singer's face-ripping seizures and crotch-grabbing agonies made the perfect counterpoint to his nice boy, real life personality. (He wore cute red Keds and white socks, after all.)

Over at the Empire Control Room, rising star, Ashley Monroe, brought a polished sound and mainstream appeal to SXSW, after appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Monday night.  We expect to hear her a lot more at weddings, as couples make goo-goo eyes during their first dance.

For those who want to steer clear of the madness, it's getting real in the Whole Foods parking lot with free preview concerts, clean bathrooms, and healthy samples. Buggaboo, a laid-back, broad strumming, stomp-along Austin band stopped shopping carts in their tracks.

Another act, Mike Love (not to be confused with the Beach Boys singer) came from Hawaii, bringing hippy goodness with reggae flair that paired well with the imported bananas we shared. He whipped out the beatbox, singing along to the loops he laid with lyrics that favored staccato pronunciation of multisyllabic words like "positivity" and "beautiful," to embrace their full, upbeat, rhythmic potential.

In addition to the music, people watching at SXSW provided its own entertainment. Sitting on the curb on Tuesday's balmy night, and chatting with eager travelers from Mexico to Australia, felt good enough when standing in another line proved too much.