SXSW Review: Oracle Sisters, March 18, International Day Stage

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The final Saturday of SXSW has generally always been a bit more subdued. There’s still things happening of course, but by the end of the week, things tend to slow down a bit. As the conference element of the festival starts winding down and with many of the artists having already played their big showcases, the last day ends up having a more laid back atmosphere. Except for all the folks who only show up on the final weekend just to party on Sixth Street … but that’s a story for another time.

Otherwise, it is a pretty chill affair and this year seemed even more so than usual. With that in mind, I decided to lean into that laid back vibe by starting my day off with a performance by Oracle Sisters at the International Day Stage.

Hailing from Paris, but made up entirely of expats from various locales (Ireland, Finland and the U.S.), Oracle Sisters offered up exactly the kind of laid back, mellow vibes I was looking for. Not too mellow though – they still know how to rock out a bit when the song calls for it.

The band also knows when a song calls for a guest fiddler. The most memorable part of their show came when they brought up Ian Stewart, a local musician who the band had apparently just recently met at Austin honky tonk The Broken Spoke. Stewart joined them for the last few songs of their set and he fit right in as if he’d been playing with them forever.

Serving up ’70s-style folk/pop/rock full of great harmonies and beautiful melodies, Oracle Sisters absolutely charmed the crowd on this laid back Saturday afternoon.

SXSW Review: Jane Weaver, March 17, Central Presbyterian Church

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Jane Weaver

During Jane Weaver’s Friday night set at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church, observant concertgoers might have noticed an individual just laying down on their back in the middle of the aisle – an odd sight for sure, though one that could be explained away as either a photographer trying to get the perfect shot or someone who was just so taken aback by the power of Weaver’s music that they had to have a bit of a lay down. Probably the former, but I’d like to think that it’s at least partially a little of column A and a little of column B.

While Weaver is known for making spacey, experimental psychedelia, the songs off her latest full length, 2020’s Flock, lean a bit more towards poppier sounds – still plenty trippy, mind you, but the kind of trippiness you can dance to as well. Most of the songs performed by Weaver and her band on this occasion came from that album, with a couple selections from 2017’s Modern Kosmology thrown into the mix as well. It was a compelling performance, and one that made me wish it could go on for at least a couple more songs. But such is the nature of SXSW set times.

So yeah, maybe it’s not too likely that that photographer was literally swept off their feet by Jane Weaver’s music, but her show was one that was easy to get swept up in.

SXSW Reviews: Otoboke Beaver, Poison Ruin, Soul Glo, Escuela Grind

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In our preview of Soul Glo in advance of this year’s SXSW, I mentioned how music on the heavier side of things has never quite had the highest profile at SXSW and has definitely shrunk its presence at the festival over the past several years. That said, I still managed to find a decent amount of good stuff under the metal/hardcore/whatever banner that helped to scratch the itch, so to speak. Here are a few of the highlights:

Otoboke Beaver, March 16, Hotel Vegas

OK, they may not be metal per se, but Japan’s Otoboke Beaver can make just as much of a racket and put on a better show than many of the metal bands I’ve seen in my day. The band’s high energy punk rock can approach near-grindcore levels of intensity, but always with a strong sense of melody and most importantly, they’re a lot of fun to watch live.

Poison Ruin, March 17, Chess Club

With their dark, heavy hybrid of old school crust punk, post-punk/goth sounds, and a solid dose of heavy metal, Philadelphia punks Poison Ruin put on a memorable show during their Friday night set at Chess Club. Their new album Härvest is out April 14 via Relapse Records. Check out the video for “Resurrection II” below.

Soul Glo, March 18, Chess Club

I read somewhere that Soul Glo flew into Austin on the morning of the final day of the festival and crammed three sets into their brief time in Austin. I suppose that makes sense in a way – this band goes hard enough that I can’t imagine them sustaining the usual SXSW model of playing multiple shows a day over the course of the whole week for all that long. Their show at Chess Club as part of the Creem Magazine day party will surely go down as one of the best sets I saw at this year’s SouthBy.

Escuela Grind, March 18, Elysium

I may have only caught the last ten or so minutes of Escuela Grind’s Saturday night set as part of the Knotfest showcase at Elysium, but in those few minutes, the band crammed in a lot, putting on one of the most intense performances I saw all week. The band was fresh off the road from a European tour with Napalm Death and Dropdead and that time on the road has clearly left them in fine form. And I’m happy to see that Escuela Grind will also be hitting Toronto next week for a show at the Hard Luck Bar on March 31 as part of their current North American tour.

SXSW Review: Dream Wife, March 16, Hotel Vegas

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Dream Wife
Dream Wife at the British Music Embassy

Having seen Dream Wife a couple of time already, including my introduction to them during SXSW 2017, I didn’t necessarily need to see them at this year’s SouthBy, but once I saw the band’s name added to the lineup for this year’s edition, I knew that I was absolutely going to see Dream Wife at this year’s SouthBy.

It was a no-brainer, really. With their fierce, high energy performances, the band is practically the definition of a “must see” and I would have seen them multiple times if I had the chance. As it turns out, I only ended up seeing them the one time, but the band was playing several times throughout the week and I believe almost all of Team Panic Manual caught Dream Wife in action at one of their many shows during the week.

The Hotel Vegas set, though, was the one for me. Over the years, the East 6th venue has become one of my favourite spots to catch a show at during SXSW – it seems a bit further removed from all the industry stuff and the place just generally has a good rock ‘n’ roll vibe about it. And with a lineup this afternoon that also included the likes of Dumbo Gets Mad, Death Valley Girls and Otoboke Beaver, it seemed like the place to be.

With the crowd packed into the indoor space, Dream Wife took to the stage and immediately had our attention. Singer Rakel Mjöll is all energy and attitude, while her bandmates Alice Go and Bella Podpadec are, well, also full of energy and attitude.

The band put on an incredible show, running through numbers like “Hey Heartbreaker,” “Somebody” and “F.U.U.” The standout track though was “Hot (Don’t Date A Musician),” introduced by Mjöll with a spiel about how hot it was in Austin along with the requisite warning to heed the song’s advice and not date a musician, perhaps an even more relevant message when one is in Austin during SXSW and every other person might be a musician – even the bartender.

If you haven’t seen Dream Wife yet, go see them when you get a chance. And if you have seen them? Go see them again.