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South by Southwest turns all of downtown Austin into one big live-music venue, with bands blaring away from every available nook, cranny and street corner. That’s right up the Ferocious Few’s alley. The guitar-and-drums duo first gained notice busking on the street in their hometown of San Francisco, and they set up shop in Austin one evening in front of a hot dog stand several blocks north of the Sixth Street main drag. For a two-man band playing outside, the Ferocious Few manufactured a surprising depth of sound. The left-handed singer-guitarist Francisco Fernandez deployed a cheap amplifier to get a distorted ambience, while Daniel Aguilar bashed away on his drum kit with brushes, his hands and even a tambourine. But the group’s best asset was Fernandez’s voice, a shellshocked croon that conveyed the sort of wide-eyed fear of the almighty that the Band used to conjure 40 years ago. Not that you’d mistake the Ferocious Few for anything but modern, however. “We’re the Ferocious Few,” Fernandez said. “Google our name on your smart phone for all our shows this weekend. This next one’s called ‘Me and the Devil.’
South By Southwest has become a popular spring-break destination, Mardi Gras for collegiate hipsters. And a great deal of them were gathered at a showcase sponsored by the überhip Brooklyn Vegan blog to see a deeply appreciative Here We Go Magic. “Thank you very much,” the frontman Luke Temple told the crowd. “We’re Here We Go Magic, and you are all very beautiful.” So was the music, a series of crescendos that rose and fell like waves crashing onto a reef. But the music had more of a rhythmic pulse than most psychedelia, underpinning hypnotic keyboard drones with tribal drums in a swirling maze of sound you could get lost in. The group’s next album, due out this summer, should be a show-stopper.