SXSW Review: Songhoy Blues, Dry The River, March 17, Buffalo Billiards

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They Will Have To Kill Us First, a documentary showing at SXSW this year, tells the story of Songhoy Blues, a band who had to flee Northern Mali after a group of armed jihadists took over and basically outlawed music. After seeing them play live and seeing how much joy they exude onstage, it’s easy to understand why they had to leave – I can’t imagine these guys not playing music. Non stop smiling, occasional dance moves busted out, and some impressive guitar playing all came together to make for a performance that you can’t help but get caught up in. Songhoy Blues exude energy and enthusiasm and that enthusiasm is infectious.

Unfortunately, that level of energy couldn’t be maintained by the next band up at Buffalo Billiards – London Folk rockers Dry The River. Of course Dry The River are capable of producing shows that are energetic and impressive in their own way – every previous time I’ve seen them I’ve walked away impressed – but after a half hour delay due to some sound issues that the band just couldn’t get sorted out, they made a last ditch effort to rescue the set by performing completely unplugged on top of some tables at the back of the bar. I’d like to say that they pulled it off, but the gambit didn’t quite work as well as it could have. Sure, they still sounded great (those harmonies!) and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves in spite of it all (bassist Scott Miller in particular made the most of it, laughing and chugging beers throughout the brief set) but the fact that you’d really have to strain to hear anything made it a less than fully satisfying experience. Though certainly a unique one.

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Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest

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