SXSW Review: Thao, March 14, Central Presbyterian Church


Thao & The Get Down Stay Down were an alternative rock band that had been around since the early 2000s. While they put out an album, Temple, during the early months of the pandemic, even making quite a splash with a Zoom-based official music video for the single “Phenom”, they decided to dissolve and go their separate ways in 2021.

Fast forward to 2023, this night at the Central Presbyterian, Thao played a selection from that album for a select but discerning crowd. In hindsight, this was the better venue at which to see them, as opposed to the Thursday night show at the Austin Convention Center. Which in turn was still a bit better than that show’s original location – a Lady Bird Lake Community Concert that was beset by lightning and torrential rain.

Thao was everything that a veteran performer should be – energetic yet gracious, sharing the stage very generously with not only her bandmates but also some guests. But that belies the fact that the performance itself was ferocious and thoroughly enjoyable even if one discounts the unavoidable moments of catharsis from the very act of playing a three year old album after being so suppressed by the pandemic.

To be honest, I am reaching for the digital album for a re-listen as I write – not so I can reminisce to compose a proper review, but to delight in discovering something that I wouldn’t have thought was my cup-of-tea. Frankly, you should too.

Posted on by Gary in South By Southwest