SXSW Review: Starcrawler, Jukebox The Ghost, March 15, Cedar Street Courtyard

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

Starcrawler, March 15, 2018

“You guys are such a fun crowd …”

If it wasn’t clear from her tone as she crouched on the stage, back half-turned from the audience, Starcrawler vocalist Arrow de Wilde was being facetious and she and her bandmates weren’t totally feeling their afternoon set as part of Floodfest playing before an audience made up of a lot of older folks, probably a fair number of them media and industry types. Not necessarily their ideal crowd, though the band put on a great show regardless.

And for those for whom it still wasn’t entirely clear (but really, it was pretty damn clear), then surely there was no doubt once the show really got going. It was a pure punk rock performance – de Wilde spitting water onto the crowd, grabbing some dude’s SXSW badge and tossing it into the crowd (don’t worry, he got it back), stealing someone else’s drink and tossing it on the ground (not really sure if she got it back), and finally invading the crowd in a state of mock distress, fake blood coming out of her mouth (at least I hope it was fake) as she roamed about, smearing the blood on the Floodfest banners scattered around the venue and trying to pull one down at one point. She also probably frightened a young girl in attendance and ended the set by walking up the stairs into Cedar Street’s backstage VIP area as if in a trance before exiting the venue through the alleyway. All in a days work.

Jukebox the Ghost, March 15, 2018

if Starcrawler are like the cool kids skipping class, getting high behind the school, and generally fucking shit up, then Jukebox The Ghost, who followed them on the Cedar Street stage, are more like the nice guys you’d tell your mom you were hanging out with when you were actually with the cool kids instead. I don’t think that Jukebox The Ghost would entirely disagree with that assessment themselves. After all, they did play a song on this occasion about getting older and growing up called “Boring.”

This is not to say that the group were boring – while Starcrawler’s dramatic, over the top performance is probably more my speed, I will admit that Jukebox The Ghost is not without their charms. Running through a set comprised of older numbers and tracks off of their upcoming album Off To The Races, the band put on an impressive show with some of the highlights being “Fred Astaire” and the Fastball-esque “People Go Home.” They also reminded me a bit of Queen at times. And really, it’s hard to hate too much on any band that occasionally sounds a bit like Queen and also busts out a keytar solo during their set. Yes, these guys definitely have some chops.

SXSW Review: Palm, March 15, Fader Fort

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


One of the best things about checking out a show at Fader Fort (other than the copious amounts of free booze and Vitamin Water, obviously) are the moments when a band that makes music that’s a little left of centre performs there before a crowd that’s probably mostly there to check out some of the pop and hip hop acts on the bill (and also the free booze and Vitamin water). Seeing people’s faces as they suss out exactly what this act is all about is always fun to see. One such act was Philadelphia’s Palm, who opened up the second day of Fader Fort’s programming with their experimental art rock.

Palm’s music offers up an intriguing blend of out there psychedelia with an undercurrent of poppy melodies buried somewhere in there. It sounds a bit like what might happen if The Beta Band, Battles and Jeff Lynne teamed up, got super baked, and tried their hand at writing a prog rock album. Oh, and their guitars sometimes sound like steel pans, which is awesome, obviously.

Palm’s latest, Rock Island, is out now on Carpark Records. Check it out.

SXSW Review: Quiet Slang, March 14, St. David’s Historic Sanctuary

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

Quiet Slang, March 14, SXSW 2018

“We’re usually drunk and reckless when we play. Tonight I’m going to try and be less drunk and reckless.”

So said Beach Slang frontman James Alex at the outset of the debut performance of Quiet Slang, his new side project offering up acoustic versions of his main band’s usually more raucous compositions. Hence the name. It was certainly a change for the guy who wrote the lyric “The night is alive, it’s loud and I’m drunk.”

It was clearly a unique show and a special night for Alex – he was living in the moment and savouring every second of his time on stage. “Wow, that’s the first time we ever played a song together” he marvelled after the first song, clearly quite elated over what they had created together. Alex noted that he almost wished he could be out in the audience just listening to it all and at one point even seemed amazed at how good it felt to hear one of his bandmates count in the beginning of a song, a la The Ramones (but, y’know, if The Ramones included a string quartet and piano instead).

Impressively, Alex revealed that they had only rehearsed for just about half an hour and that he had only met the string section roughly an hour before they would all be playing together for the first time. “I felt like we went from ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ to Sgt. Pepper’s,” he said as he thanked the audience for “accepting the change.” It’s hardly surprising though – it all came together quite nicely, transforming the band’s raucous punk anthems into gruff yet pretty arrangements that only made Alex’s lyrics stand out more.

SXSW Review: Gang of Youths, March 14, Empire Control Room

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


Some bands seem primed for the big time. Gang of Youths appear to be one of them. An Australian band that are popular in their homeland, this gang appears ready to tackle this side of the pond and they made quite an impression on Thursday night. Lead by the super charismatic David Le’aupepe, the group blazed through one stadium-primed anthem after another. The group has mastered that quiet-building up-loud sing along chorus art that is the formula for mass success. Tracks like “My Heart is a Muscle” and “Let Me Down Easy” already had a dedicated fanbase on Thursday and it’s easy to see why. They are just solid, positive rock songs.

It’s also a bit startling to see the group’s mantra, which is to preach positivity. I guess they’ve been through some rough things but the message that was constantly delivered by David Le’aupepe was pretty clear – you are pretty awesome. It’s kinda nice to see, if just a bit preachy at times. It’s almost like Gang of Youths are those bros you see and think you might think you dislike in school, but then they are all about saving the world and helping out and you are like, who are these guys?

Judging by their set on Thursday, the world is about to find out who Gang of Youths are.

Also, they have a pretty sweet band name.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 64 65   Next »