SXSW review: Audra Mae, March 19, Victoria room at Driskill

Audra Mae, SXSW, March 19

Austin, TX – Victoria room is a quaint sitting room in the historic Driskill hotel on 6th and Brazos, where LBJ loved to stay. Compare to the rest of the hotel, its furnishings are sparse and, contrary to the insane streams of hot bodies (I don’t mean it in the beauty sense), the population of the room was sporadic when I strode in. Having misunderstood that Vandaveer plays at an amphitheater across the river and not 5 min from our hotel, I did what every Asian person would – stayed back and ate spicy beef donair kebab. 3 hours later when I arrived at Victoria room, everyone was sitting on the floor as if they too had consumed way too much for their feeble legs. There was a serenading cowboy, homosexual couples, (I was also thinking brokeback mountain), and old freaky photographers. I did a double take – last I checked I wasn’t in Toronto and it wasn’t the gay pride parade outside. But then a girl from Oklahoma took the stage and my fears were allayed. I didn’t immediately feel better, however. Audra‘s brand motto should be bible-belt blues. The River, her opener, was the song that first caught my ear. When listening I recommend just pretending you heard it on Finnish radio station or something. And then see if you can match that melody to these:

I’m going down to the river alone; don’t tell mama and daddy I’m gone. And if they cry when I don’t come home, just lie and tell’em I’m funnin’. Whoa to get out of my eyes, into the river wide I’m runnin’. And I can’t swim, but it’s alright. ‘Cause all my sin will drag me down even if I could.

So if it’s not clear already, the songs about a young girl who will commit suicide because she is now ostracized for sleeping with someone. Tough stuff. Or maybe I just have a thing for pessimism? Her next songs dealt with the mystery of life and lost of innocence (I made lightning in a bottle but i forgot the recipe). The gig could totally benefit from a missing mic – she does not lack volume or range, and the amps made her sound scratchy, unnecessarily coarse at times, which I’m sure she’s anything but. The songs are also more to my taste when they’re sung without drum beats or other distractions. There was also a wooting guy who seems to want to harmonize each high note. But besides that she was quite brilliant. It was a short set and she wrapped up with a Beegees cover and Happiest Lamb, another satirical piece about infidelity. Gotta wonder where she got the inspiration from. Listen to a few of her numbers when you have time – just make sure your universal translator is set to off.

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Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything, South By Southwest

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