Capital Cities at iTunes Festival

News Editor

You go to a lot of bars at SXSW. A lot of bars.

But what you don't go into a lot of is large concert venues where your bags have to be checked and you're scanned with metal detectors.

The iTunes music festival is kind of bucking the definition of South By, so I had to do just that to get in to see Capital Cities March 13.

Earlier in the day I had packed half a loaf of poppyseed bread for a snack because SXSW is a game of stamina, and you need those sorts of things. Because I am not a barbarian, I had also packed a butter knife to cut that loaf of bread with. I had totally forgot about the aforementioned bread knife until the gruff looking woman checking my bag at the Moody Theater told me to make sure she could see through to the bottom and I saw the glint cheap silverware.

She made eye contact with me, looked in the bag and made more eye contact. I was so sure they were going to kick me out for having a butter knife, but they didn't, and I got in to see the band.

I saw Capital Cities on a much less effects-ridden stage last year at SXSW when they were on the cusp of their radio success.

What hasn't changed in that time is the energy of their live show. Maybe it's because of the infectious nature of their music, but Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities really know how to move a crowd. You would think two grown men dancing around in what resembles black Pink Lady jackets wouldn't be as entertaining as it is. The duo use their brand of throwback electric pop in an efficient way, so efficient that I couldn't stop myself from bouncing along to the beat.

The band's trumpet player Spencer Ludwig, just like last year, stole the show with his high energy antics and masterful solos. When the duo introduced the band he got by far the most applause and the cheers seemed to never end for his solos (which also seemed to never end).

For a band with a radio darling single such as the group's "Safe and Sound," it seemed weird that I was the only person within a 20-foot radius under the age of 40 (to be fair, Capital Cities was a bit out of place in a line-up touting nineties grunge lords Soundgarden as a headliner). Although the mean age of concert goers from what I could see was creeping up near the half-century mark, that didn't stop everyone from dancing along to the "Capital Cities Shuffle." That is, everyone except for the me and the sixty year old Pirates of the Carribean villain look alike sitting to my right.

Although synth-pop isn't necessarily my thing, Capital Cities had me coming back for a second year and I guess that's saying something.