South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Chairlift, Budweiser House, March 16

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Chairlift’s new album Moth is one of my favorites thus far in 2016, with it’s incredibly catchy hooks and delightful synthpop sounds, so it was a no brainer to see them at SXSW. Taking the stage a bit after midnight, I was pleased to find the new album also seemed to bring forth a new change in the band’s live setup. Considering how creative and visually pleasing their videos have been, it was always odd to find the band mainly behind their instruments during the set. The new album seemed to have changed the presentation, the new tracks bring Caroline up from behind the synthesizer and in front of the stage. She’s a dynamic presence when not behind her synthesizer and adds a much needed visual and energetic element to the groups live show.

Playing a short set full of new material and some previous hits, the group seemed more lively then ever, although they still did not do the Amanaemonesia dance. One could only dream. My only complaint was that the track Moth to the Flame, which is definitely going to be a hit this year, was not as ‘anthemy’ as it could have been. That’s a killer track with a sick hook and the live version came out a bit subdued for some reason. I guess there’s some kinks that need to be worked out. Minor complaint aside, this latest rendition of Chairlift seems destined for success. Now if they would only hire some dancers or something for when Amanaemonesia comes on.

SXSW Review: The Moonlandingz, Cheer Up Charlies, March 16

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The Moonlandingz are a weird and delightful psych rock band. Much have been made about the band’s “supergroup” feel – they feature members of Fat White Group, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and Eccentronic Research Council. Led by Lias Saoudi on vocals, the groups live show is a rowdy party that always seems to be teetering on the edge of destruction. Saoudi is a mesmerizing front man, and his squinty Sam Rockwell delivery while carrying a cigarette and drink in one hand is unique. Much like the band, you wonder if he’s really like that or if it’s just an act. Whatever it is, it works well with the music, which incorporates psych rock-punk elements with almost 8bit electronic sounds at times. A fascinating show, catch them during sxsw.

SXSW Review: Steve ‘n’ Seagulls, March 15, Austin Rowing Club

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I have a bit of an affinity for the Nordic people, having done a bit of travelling around Scandanavia, so when I noticed that a Nordic music showcase was being hosted at the Austin Rowing Club (temporarily rebranded for the day as the Nordic Lighthouse), I decided to make that my first stop on the first official day of SXSW music. The day’s program was filled with a number of bands from Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. Dolce impressed with their set of somewhat mournful country-ish ballads, much of it sung in Norwegian and The Great Discord definitely stood out as the most unique performance of the afternoon, sounding somewhat like an alt-metal band fronted by Alanis if she were also a goth mime. I have to give them serious props for not only committing to all black, all long sleeves outfits, but also to the singer for going with full make-up in the heat.

The band whose set I enjoyed the most was Steve ‘n’ Seagulls, a Finnish group that plays bluegrass versions of classic hard rock and heavy metal songs. Their brief set included banjo and accordion filled covers of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” and “Aces High” along with ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” The latter even featured a whistling passage. While the band definitely ham it up a bit with the animal pelts and overalls, they overcame any novelty factor and absolutely impressed with their arrangements and musical skills.

SXSW Review: St. Lucia, Stubbs, March 15

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St. Lucia is the best yacht rock band from the millenial generation. This was my realization as I watched Jean Phillip Grobler dance his face off as a giant fan blows wind into his face. Why don’t bands have fans blow wind into their faces more during shows? It’s way more epic. Have we not learned anything from the 80’s? Clearly St. Lucia has. Their synth-pop stylings brought them much success a few years ago and now they are back.

I haven’t heard their new album, but if the super energetic and pulse pounding show on Tuesday indicates anything, it’s that they pumped up the volume and brought a much more upbeat sound to their new record. It’s kinda odd for me, as my favorite St. Lucia track is the slow burning “All Eyes on You” which to my surprise, still has not been used for a movie montage yet.

St. Lucia will be playing SXSW at the Spotify House this week, check them out.