SXSW Review: The Lottery Winners, March 12, Seven Grand

“This is our fourth show today. I’m losing weight. I’ve burned so many calories – I was saving those!”

So said Lottery Winners singer/guitarist Thom Rylance at the outset of their 1:00 am show at Seven Grand on Tuesday night and while he was making light of the situation, he was also pointing out the reality of the situation – for a band trying to make a name for themselves during SXSW, this week can be a grind.

It’s definitely a very common thing for up and coming acts to play multiple shows over the course of the week, often cramming a few into a single day just like The Lottery Winners did. It’s also not uncommon for me to sometimes catch an act more than once during the week, especially if they make a good impression.

It is exceedingly rare, however, for me to see a band three times in just one day. But that’s just what I did on Tuesday, catching the Manchester indie pop band first during their early afternoon set at Side Bar (which Rylance repeatedly referred to as “Side Boob,” much to his own amusement), then again at the British Music Embassy. And when I happened to check the schedule to see who would be coming onstage at Seven Grand after King Nun’s set and saw that it was The Lottery Winners again, I figured why not? So no, none of this was on purpose – it just worked out that way. As it turns out though, it ended up being an interesting case study: a day in the life of a band at SouthBy.

And while Rylance may have joked with the sound man when asked about how things were on stage that he was very tired and on the brink of an existential crisis, he and his bandmates weren’t really showing it. In fact, by the time they played their fourth show of the day, The Lottery Winners were a well oiled machine.

As they started out their set, Rylance seemed determined to make this a good one, introducing their opener “Worry” with a confident, “Let’s fuckin’ have it, man!” Egging the audience on by telling them to “pretend it was a hit” and cheer after every song turned out to be a good strategy – this was a crowd that was up for a good time.

And for their part, Lottery Winners did indeed bring the good times despite likely being very drained after a day of shows, playing their brand of catchy, positive pop tunes with plenty of energy.

One interesting aspect of seeing a band multiple times over the course of a day is that you really get to see what works and what doesn’t. For instance, the crowd participation moment on “Letter To Myself” where he got the crowd to sing along with the line “She’s not the one for you, mate, just forget her” worked every time. The dad joke where he referred to his ADHD as AC/DC, however, never quite landed during any of the shows. But hey, sometimes you do things just for you.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest