SXSW Review: Lambert


In the lead up to last year’s edition of SXSW (prior to its cancellation), we here at Panic Manual wrote up several posts worth of preview coverage taking a look at some of the acts that were scheduled to appear that year. Among those acts was German pianist/composer Lambert and in his profile of Lambert, our illustrious writer Gary took the reader on an unexpected yet intriguing journey.

What began as a music review soon descended into some sort of cosmic horror tale involving beer drinking head worms and sentient, music making facemasks (Or are the masks made out of the music itself? it’s all a bit unclear). It definitely piqued my interest and upon further examination I found Lambert’s music to also be quite intriguing. So it was an easy choice to take in Lambert’s performance at SXSW Online and see how it would all translate to a (somewhat) live setting. And while Gary promised that none of what he imagined would come to pass, some small part of me half expected the show to erupt into a spectacle of semi-Lovecraftian proportions.

As it turns out, no, none of that happened, but what did happen was Lambert’s performance took us on a journey to (to borrow a phrase from Rod Serling) a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.

The setup for the performance itself was rather simple – just one man, his piano, and his giant horned Sardinian mask. When he addressed the audience at home a couple of songs in, he also did so in a fairly simple and straightforward manner, albeit with a suitably odd and humorous tone.

“Dear Texas, and the rest of the world,” he began, adding in a deadpan “Yippee-ki-yay, SXSW” for good measure. In describing his compositions, he noted, “You may call them masterpieces. We wouldn’t mind.” OK, Lambert, if you insist, I’ll call them masterpieces. That seems fair.

Said masterpieces, beautiful piano pieces all, may have been instrumental, but the music certainly told a tale all on its own … though Lambert’s fanciful introductions to pieces like “Jean-Luc” (which I’m pretty sure is about Captain Picard?) certainly helped to tell the tale.

As his showcase came to a close, Lambert addressed the crowd once more, reminding us all to “Stay safe and healthy and do it like Lambert – wear a mask.”

Amen, Lambert. Amen.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest

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