My attempts at seeing only upbeat music were foiled by the very next band, Thus: Owls. The moment they produced an autoharp during set-up, I knew it was going to be a stately, beautiful set, and indeed it was. (Sidenote: Autoharp seems to be an overlooked rock instrument in our current era.) The band was fronted by a woman with a ethereal, majestic voice; Sharon Van Etten immediately came to mind. The band itself was a ghostly, shapeshifting, mellifluous thing: The National was the first touchstone. I heard several of their tunes, then split for my most anticipated set of the day: Dva.
After showing up early for Dva's set and listening to Austin's own Field Dress (Dan Deacon gone chillwave, with some performance art thrown in), I settled in for the Czech-singing brother/sister duo. They're not a folk duo in the traditional sense of the word, however; they use loop pedals extensively to create wild waves of sound. If Sigur Ros were peppy and wide-eyed, their music might turn out like the involved, exuberant tunes Dva created. The duo used non-standard instruments as easily as familiar ones: acoustic guitar, saxophone, clarinet and voice were employed with as much candor as buzz from rubbing quarter-inch cords against skin, animal noises, and one chord of toy piano.
The conviction with which Dva pulled off everything was impressive: in "Tropical Animal," the woman ran through an incredible array of spot-on animal noises as punctuation to the musical crescendo; in another band's hands it may have felt campy, but Dva meant it. It was a rousing success. Their song "Russian Elector" (I think that's what I heard), was marked by frenetic sounds and lines; with the loop pedal, the band was free to make vocal noises and loop them as percussion. They were remarkably skilled at producing distinctly different percussion sounds. Throw on top of this a truly interpretative dance, with the woman waving her arms and legs in a frantic, wild manner, and the song became truly fascinating and memorable.
Dva's melodic and compositional skill were top-shelf; the tunes they cranked out were brilliant and moving. If you're into post-rock, post-pop, composition, looping, or really unique tunes, you need to check out Dva; their set is in the running for "best of fest" already.