“We’re Death By Unga Bunga and were from the North Pole! This next song is about underage girls! It’s called Young Girls!” announced Death By Unga Bunga singer Sebastian Ulstad Olsen early on in their set, signalling that they wouldn’t be taking themselves too seriously on this occasion.
Although rock and roll is serious business, it’s also often an inherently silly genre and the band seems to take this to heart with goofy, tongue in cheek stage banter, multiple audience invasions, a band name seemingly inspired by a really terrible old joke and a set delivered with total rock ‘n roll abandon. They reminded me a bit of The Hives at times, but leaned much more heavily on ’60s influences with their organ driven garage rock sound.
Sometimes its fun to just cut loose with some good old fashioned rock n roll and luckily that’s what these Norwegian garage rockers delivered on the last night of SXSW. Death By Unga Bunga are all about the fun times.
Simplicity is the key to Girlpool’s music. When you listen to Girlpool, you feel like you are partaking in a chilled talk between two friends.
Lay out those conversational pieces over stripped down Burger-Record/Los Angeles style guitar and bass combos and you have Girlpool. I loved the pacing of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad’s duelling vocals and their music reminded me of some of the things I listened to in university.
Just like their music, simplicity was the main element to their show. They showed up, set up their equipment quickly and just played. At SXSW when you have a very strict time slot, the crowd appreciates it when you just get up there and do your thing. Girlpool did that and charmed the hell out of everyone. Their songs have great harmony, they seem like the nicest people but also, they seem like they’d kick your ass at a moments notice. A great combination.
Cities have distinct cultures which can oft-times be boiled down into habits and norms. To wit: In DC, sidewalk snacking is the way to be. Skinny hipsters stuffing granola into their face as they ride their bike (ideally not on the sidewalk… but alas this rule is little observed.. which is another norm we can talk about later), Capitol Hill interns sipping expensive lattes as they yell into their smartphones, corporate suits taking putting Devon and Blakely sandwiches to the face as they try to track down their Ubers (there’s little more entertaining than watching a man in an expensive suit being expelled from a stranger’s car he thought was his Uber driver…) – all part and parcel of the District’s look.
What not to do in DC? Make out at concerts. Not a good look.
I’ve always taken these unwritten rules as universal, until my esteemed sister and Panic Manual cowriter moved to Chitown and showed me the ropes of the Windy City. Sidewalk snacking? A complete faux pas worthy of public shaming (seriously, people will ask you to share if you dare air your snacks). Making out at concerts? A must.
So… when I entered the 9:30 Club last night for Milky Chance’s show… my mind was blown. The German trio (usually a duo of Clemens Rehbein and Philip Dausch) was exuding reggae vibes of free love and good feelings – and the crowd was eating it up with cheers, hands-in-the-air-dancing and… shockingly… face mashing. Aka public displays of affections. Aka dance floor make outs. Aka DFMOs. Oh my goodness, what scene. Not a bad scene, but definitely a scene.
Thankfully, the band’s music was the most memorable part of the night despite the amorous couples surrounding them. They played “Stolen Dance” early on to loud acclaim, and then went out to play new tunes such as “Becoming.” The band’s newer tracks remind me a bit of Alt-J meets Dr. Dog. They’re definitely a band I knew little about besides their top tracks (I love Flashed Junk Mind) but seriously fell in love with after listening to more of their repertoire. Between their infectious beats, killer harmonica playing, and amazing Native American/Reggae/German/indie/synth combo of influences they may be my new soundtrack for… a long time.
Go see them if you can. Their sound live is very distinct from their recorded material. They come off grainier, grittier, and… just better. And you may get some free love in the mix. Win-win.
In keeping with their name, Brooklyn based “paranoid electro pop” band Big Data likes to go big – big beats, big riffs, big voices, and two enthusiastic, sunglasses wearing lead singers. Yet despite all of these ingredients, none of it really stood out too much for me, with the exception of the band’s solid cover of Hall & Oates’ smooth pop classic “Private Eyes,” it’s refrain of “they’re watching you” re-purposed to fit in with the band’s thematic focus on user privacy and state surveillance and such. It’s timely stuff and with that focus, they’re probably not going to run out of things to write about anytime soon. It’s almost enough to make you wonder if they really were there for some sort of data mining operation. Either that, or someone booked them for the festival thinking it was a panel proposal for SXSW Interactive.
Following them on the same stage were Twin Shadow. As they took to the stage, George Clark Jr. announced to the crowd that this was their last show of SXSW and that they wanted the crowd to make it as crazy as possible. He and the band ran through songs off their latest, Eclipse, with way more energy than you might expect at roughly 5:30 in the afternoon after having played who knows how many shows by that point. Pro Tip: even if you’re feeling exhausted, try not to let on. By giving out a lot of energy to the crowd, Twin Shadow seemed to be re-energized in return. That’s entertainment.