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She And Him, Local Natives perform at day two of SXSW

Superchunk perform as 'surprise guests'

Tom Martin
Pic: Tom Martin
She And Him, Local Natives and a surprise performance by 'special guests' Superchunk were some of the highlights at day two of the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas today (March 18).

Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, also known as She And Him, performed several tracks from their sophomore album 'Volume 2' at a packed showcase at Cedar Street Courtyard that saw people queuing around the block to get in. Dressed demurely in a button-down red dress and hat, Deschanel gave the audience a lesson in photography etiquette after being blinded by several flashes. "Set [your camera] on a longer exposure and don't use a flash," she said. "It'll look cooler and it won't blind us."

Earlier in the evening, indie rock pioneers Superchunk made a surprise appearance at the Merge Records showcase as the night's 'special guest'. The quartet were in top form and previewed some new material for the crowd. Merge label-mates Let's Wrestle followed, delivering potent doses of Buzzcocks-influenced punk-rock.

Los Angeles five-piece Local Natives proved to be one of the highlights of the day, delivering a rousing late-night set to a packed house at Emo's. The band's tribal rhythms – they were augmented by two drummers – and four-part harmonies enhanced songs including 'Camera Talk' and 'Shape Shifter', as well as their cover of Talking Heads' 'Warning Sign'.

"This is our third of nine shows at SXSW," frontman Taylor Rice told the crowd, adding: "Come see us again."

After their set, Kelcey Ayer told NME.COM that the band has been running on fumes to make it through these Austin shows because they are just coming off of a grueling European tour. "This is our first stop after getting back from Europe and we're just trying to rally for a few days," he said.

Several international showcases also took place throughout the day, such as Sounds From Spain, France Rocks Austin, Wunderbar and the Canadian Blast BBQ. Each party featured performances by bands from their respective countries, including Spanish arena rockers Amaral, French indie-poppers Cocoon, experimental German artist Niobe and Canadian indie band Hey Rosetta!.

Fellow Canadians You Say Party! We Say Die! also delivered a crowd-pleasing mid-afternoon set, performing several tracks from their recent album 'XXXX', including 'Glory' and 'Laura Palmer's Prom'. At the end of the set, frontwoman Becky Ninkovic jumped off the stage to join the dancing crowd and gave high fives to several audience members.

The Kissaway Trail wowed the crowd at Cedar Street Courtyard earlier in the day, offering up their melodious indie pop with reckless abandon. The Danish quintet's three-part harmonies and unique instrumentation recalled the Arcade Fire at moments, and the crowd's positive reaction bodes well for their first full tour of the US, which is due to kick off right after SXSW. The band previewed tracks from their forthcoming album, 'Sleep Mountain', which is due out in the US next month.

"We recorded the album twice because we weren't happy with the results the first time around," drummer Hasse Mydtskov revealed to NME.COM. He added that the band are now more than satisfied with the second version, and that audiences have been reacting very positively to the new material. "People seem to be very excited," he said. "The scene for alternative rock is much bigger out here--it just feels right."

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