SXSW Review: Raphael Saadiq, March 17, Cedar Courtyard

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, South By Southwest | 1 Comment

Raphael Saadiq

Austin – Some people are just cooler than others. Raphael Saadiq is one of those people. Even at the age of 44, the former Tony! Toni! Toné! member makes a room more interesting with his mere presence. Such was the case at the Cedar Courtyard on Thursday when Raphael and his band delivered a healthy dose of old school r & b/funk as part of Filter’s Culture Collide showcase.

Armed with as many as seven other band members, Raphael spent the majority of his set laying down a soul and funk assault on the masses at the courtyard. Utilizing synths, guitars, drums, horns and multiple backup singers (including one female singer who definitely knew how to shake it). Heart Attack, a 9 minute romper featuring sick beats, relentless guitars and all that delicious stuff, kicked off the show and put the crowd in a good place. I’m not too familiar with Raphael’s Saadiq’s discography, but I believe a few of the tracks from the set were off his upcoming album Stone Rollin. I’m pretty sure a good portion of the crowd was quite unsure who Raphael was (I think most of them were there for the Vaccines/Foster the People) but a good beat is a good beat and you can’t help but get caught up in Raphael and all his band members enthusiasm. They sang, they clapped, they danced, everyone was having a good time, even the massive dude on the keyboard who must of been hot as hell wearing a full black suit on a 30 degree day. It didn’t matter, they were showsman. By the end of the set, most of the crowd at the front was doing a bit more then head bobbing.

Raphael Saadiq was one of the acts I had on my “must attend” list for this years SXSW and I am glad I was able to partake in his show. His new album, Stone Rollin is out later this year and here’s hoping he tours Toronto as well.

Here’s a video of the opening track.

SXSW Review: Spinto Band, March 16, Red Eye Fly

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Austin – What happens when you mix a kazoo, quirky humor, 60s inspired melody and a six piece band? You get The Spinto Band, a band that originally caught my interest in 2005 with their amazing sounding single Oh Mandy off their album Nice and Nicely Done. Following that album, the band kind of fell off my radar a little bit. With an impending release in 2011 (and first in three years), the Delaware band played a short but stellar 25 minute set at Red Eye Fly that figures to reintroduce music fans to the group.

I’ve always enjoyed the Spinto Band and the short set reminded me how much I like their blend of indie pop. It’s catchy, humorous and I like the bands usage of different vocalists and instruments (including the kazoo and the banjo). While their stage presence remains almost non existent (they just stand and play), once in awhile one of them will jerk around and make some awkward movement that makes you smile for some reason.

Like all good SXSW showcases, the set felt rather short but it ended with Oh Mandy, one of the best pop songs you will hear.

“Oh Mandy” by The Spinto Band by spardow

SXSW Review: Ringo Deathstarr, March 18, Easy Tiger

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

ringo deathstarr

Austin – This show was an illustration of what a band will do when many things go wrong at their SXSW showcase set.  Austin shoegazers Ringo Deathstarr had a promising start to their set and then came the sound problems.  First a few crackles, then some of their gear apparently stopped working, then the frustration, anger, then finally an act of deperation as Elliott Frazier resorted to singing Snow’s Informer a capella.  Or was that an act of genius?  I’m not sure.  Probably genius.

You could see the frustration grow as the band struggled to fix things.  It was stop and go throughout, but when it did work, it was gloriously noisy, solid shoegaze.  They’ve got a really good sound and I’d love to see them play a proper set when everything isn’t going wrong.  They soldiered on for awhile, but the breaking point may have been when the can of beer Frazier set on his amp fell off due to the vibrations.  As he stood in spilled beer, he chugged the remaining beer and tossed the can into the audience, pegging one unfortunate guy in the head with it.  I get why he felt like doing that, but it was still a bit of a dick move.  But hey, at least he didn’t punch a woman.

SXSW Review: The Vaccines, March 17,18, Cedar Courtyard/Stubbs

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The Vaccines

Austin – I have now seen The Vaccines three times now in their extremely short time of existence. Something about their retro sounding garage punk rock keeps me coming back. I don’t even know how to categorize them properly, they have some punk elements, but their melodies also take a lot of influence from 60s era pop bands. Take the guitar lick from Wreckin Bar, for instance, while the rest of the track sounds like some good Ramones cover, that guitar lick almost belongs in a greaser 50s diner jukebox. It’s the nice meld of multiple genres of music that has everyone excited about this band and as a result, the trio played a host of shows at SXSW, including Filter’s party at the Cedar Courtyard and Spin’s party at Stubbs. Coincidentally, I was there for both.

When I first saw the Vaccines in Toronto, the experience left me unimpressed. The band either seemed uninterested or unmotivated. Seeing them twice in two days, I can chalk that Toronto experience to a bad day. The Vaccines I saw in Austin was a tight, confident rock band and with standout tracks like Post Breakup Sex and Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra), they have reason to be confident. With set times of 15 and 18 minutes, I almost think the Vaccines should go home and write more songs so the next time they are in town not because their current selection of tracks isn’t good, but because I don’t want them to finish their set by the time I took three sips of my beer.

The Vaccine’s debut record What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? is out on May 31st

The Vaccines – Post Break-Up Sex by UniversalMusicPublishing