SXSW Review: COSBY, Roller Derby, March 15, Half Step


We need to talk about COSBY. No, I’m not referring to W. Kamau Bell’s thoughtful docuseries on the rather complicated legacy of Bill Cosby. Nor am I referring to the man himself, though I suppose we do, as a society, still need to talk about that creep. No, I’m referring to the unfortunately named German indie-pop band and specifically why they thought it would be prudent to name themselves after a disgraced comedian who is now known as much for his transgressions as he is for his comedy.

How exactly did this happen? Do … do they not know who Cosby is in Germany? Does it mean something else in German? Sure, the band probably chose their name a while back, but bands have been known to change names that have problematic associations – The Chicks and Sea Power are just two that spring to mind off the top of my head. And sure, there’s a good chance that The Cosby Show (Das Cosby Shöw?) probably wasn’t very big in Germany, and the band could be young enough that they might not have remembered it even if it was. But even if we assume that was the case, you’d think they might do a quick Google search on that name to see what comes up before deciding that this would be their chosen moniker. Unless you’re a death metal band naming yourself after a notorious serial killer or something like that, this is probably not the kind of association any band wants with their name. Then again, maybe it is what they want? I mean, I am writing about them after all, so maybe this is all part of the plan and I’m playing right into their hands. Either way, it’s a very bad band name.

Still, all of that aside, I decided to check out the band anyways and judge them on the merits of their actual music. Would their music be able to rise above such a poorly chosen name? I was curious to see.


But before I would make my verdict on the Munich indie pop band’s music, another German act would take to the Half Step stage on Tuesday night. With a similarly synth based sound but a much better and much less problematic name than the band that would follow them later that evening, Hamburg’s Roller Derby put on an enjoyable set of dreamy indie pop that definitely made a good impression. The band must have also made a good impression on whoever was in charge of Sunday night’s SXSW Music closing party as they were on that bill alongside Balming Tiger and Los Bitchos. I had a chance to see all three of those acts at other points throughout the week and I’m sure that Sunday show must have been a lot of fun.

But what about COSBY? I’ll admit that the show was kind of fun – they had a good energy and got the crowd moving a bit, and I did appreciate singer Marie Kobylka’s stagewear, which had a Lady Gaga meets Edith Prickley vibe. Giving their music a bit of a listen again after the fact, I did find their recorded output to be a bit too glossy for my taste, but the live show was enjoyable enough. Shame about the name though. They should definitely change the name.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest

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