South By Southwest

SXSW Review: Otoboke Beaver, March 13, Valhalla

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What can you even say? This was an insane show that will be in my memory bank for years.

Otoboke Beaver is a Kyoto-based all girl quartet that plays aggressive punk rock music. I had expected a crazy show as I headed into Valhalla on Wednesday night but their show just blew my expectations out of the water. Dressed in bright colored dresses and taking the stage with polite smiles, I thought, okay, maybe this will be a good, polite rock show. I was totally wrong.

From the get go, the group displayed a manic energy that sent a surge through the crowd. The aggressive stop-start nature of their music, which blended punk rock/hardcore sounds with some rapid firing Japanese lyrics, whipped the crowd into a mosh pit frenzy. The band were willing ringleaders with the batshit crazy guitarist crowd surfing whilst playing guitar multiple times. Near the end, as the lead singer and the guitarist were climbing the speakers, I think the bar decided enough was enough and shut off the lights and the vocals. That didn’t stop either the band or the crowd from rocking out. What a great show.

SXSW Review: Combo Chimbita, Amyl & The Sniffers, March 14, Hotel Vegas

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The Thursday afternoon of SXSW saw two very different yet equally passionate performances at Hotel Vegas from psych rock/cumbia quartet Combo Chimbita and Aussie rockers Amyl & The Sniffers as part of the Levitation day party presented by Creem Magazine, which, while not really a going concern anymore, was the subject of a documentary that aired during SXSW. And both bands, in their own way, put on shows that likely lived up to the spirit of the publication which boldly referred to itself as “America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine.”

First up was Combo Chimbita. The Brooklyn-based band refers to their sound as “tropical futurism” and if this is the future then I say bring it on. The band put on an incredible show on the Hotel Vegas Annex stage with a sound that ran the gamut from groovy and trippy to downright heavy at times – I suspect there may be a metalhead or two somewhere in this band. Frontwoman Carolina Oliveros is a powerhouse singer who commanded the audience’s attention while the band held it down with some impressive sounds. They definitely got the crowd moving.


Over on the Patio stage, Amyl & The Sniffers brought a different kind of energy to their set – a kind of scuzzy, snotty, punk energy. This entire band had mullets and somehow sound exactly how you’d imagine them to sound based solely on their looks – which is to say they sounded great. It’s like if somebody packed a bunch of rockers from the mid-1980s into a time machine, rocketed them into the future, and then just pushed them right onto the stage. Oh, and their bassist also kind of looks like the guy who played Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story, but with a mullet. Good times.

SXSW Review: Noire, Oh Pep!, Electric Billy Club, March 14

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“It’s hard to sing sad songs when you’re having a good time.”

So said Oh Pep! singer Olivia Hally at the beginning of their early morning show as part of the Aussie BBQ party (10:30 am during SXSW is practically 6:30am) and it’s hard to disagree with her. With the sun shining on one of the first really nice days of the week and plenty of food, coffee and alcoholic beverages already going around, it’s nigh impossible to stay bummed out. Besides, sometimes you just want to hear a sad song.

Luckily, Oh Pep! didn’t end their set right then and there, running through a short set of melancholy yet sweet tunes that got the day off to a good start.

Following Oh Pep!, Sydney based duo Jessica Mincher and Billy James, otherwise known as Noire (pictured above) kept things going on the front yard stage at Lucille with a similarly mellow vibe that worked just as well on an outdoor stage in broad daylight as it would in a moody, dimly lit night club.

I moved then from the sounds of Australia to the sounds of Tulsa, Oklahoma, heading over to the Tulsa party at Augustine to check out the interestingly named rock trio Electric Billy Club. And I’ve got to say at first, they didn’t really grab me. It started out as standard meat and potatoes riff rock – nothing special right off the bat, but it seemed good enough to occupy my time while I polished off a light beer. But then they broke out the synths and all of a sudden, it was veering hard on a detour into Tangerine Dream territory and I’m very OK with that. All in all, a solid set of heavy psych.

SXSW Review: Vandoliers, March 13, The Continental Club

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest | Leave a comment


In all our years of doing SXSW, the Panic Manual crew has rarely made it out for shows on South Congress. No good reason for that really – we know it’s a cool area and have made the effort from time to time, but it is so much further away from that main drag on Sixth Street where a lot of the venues are. Yes, laziness wins out sometimes. Sad but true.

But this year I made the effort to head out to the Continental Club for Bloodshot Records’ annual showcase at the venue. A good choice, as this year’s lineup featured a solid collection of acts that included the Waco Brothers, Laura Jane Grace, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, and Dallas alt-country group (and recent Bloodshot signees) Vandoliers, playing songs off of their just released third album Forever.

At the outset of their show, Vandoliers frontman Joshua Fleming was all ‘aw shucks’ about being the new guys on the label, telling the crowd how last year they were guests on the Bloodshot day show and how he had to sneak into the Continental Club show later that night back then. But now they’re on the label and they’re fully legit. Fleming further proved his and the band’s cred by pointing out how he’s been doing this for 16 years before he got a record deal and then went on to play a song about being broke. Not that he really needed to say anything to prove that Vandoliers fit right in on the Bloodshot roster – the band’s rowdy, punk-infused songs did that all on their own.