SXSW Review: Earth Tongue, Vera Ellen, March 13, The 13th Floor

One great way to take in new music during SXSW is to check out one of the day parties, where one can often find a wide variety of acts across all genres in one convenient location. Oh, and there’s often also free food and/or booze – gotta get people in the door somehow.

On Wednesday afternoon, we took in the New Zealand day party, where two acts in particular stood out – Earth Tongue and Vera Ellen, both of whom dropped out of their official SXSW sets in protest of the event’s ties to the U.S. Army and military contractors. So technically speaking, this is not a SXSW review, just a review of a random concert, the month and day of which coincides numerically with a big festival which was also happening at that time in Austin.

Recognizing the importance of name brand recognition, indie/alternative singer-songwriter Vera Ellen took a moment to introduce herself and her band. “We’re Vera Ellen,” she said, pausing before adding, “I’m Vera Ellen. Vera Ellen, Vera Ellen, Vera Ellen.”

“Say her name three times and she appears,” added her bandmate.

Extra points for the Beetlejuice reference. I will also note that Ellen was wearing striped pants during this show so extra extra points for the bonus visual reference to Beetlejuice that was almost certainly unintentional. Extra extra extra points on the off chance that it was intentional. 

Playing mostly songs off her upcoming release, Ellen and her band put on an impressive show, making the most of their brief time onstage while also taking the time to voice their opposition to the festival’s military connections, a trend which has been common amongst many of this year’s performers.

Ellen noted at the beginning of the band’s set that they had dropped put of all of their official SXSW shows in protest of the presence of war profiteers at the festival, but that they were playing this set because they did support the New Zealand Music Commission, the presenters of this showcase.

A little later that afternoon, Earth Tongue would take to the stage and play an absolutely brilliant set. The duo plays a brand of heavy psych that I can only imagine would make the optimal soundtrack for when you want to drop acid and chill out with your local witches coven. So good.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest