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

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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.

SXSW Review: The Wedding Present, March 15, Seven Grand

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


I’ve seen The Wedding present a handful of times over the years, with the most recent show having taken place not even one year ago, so understandably, they weren’t that high on my list of bands that I absolutely had to see at SXSW this year. My time would likely be better spent exploring for new favourites or seeing if any of the heavily hyped bands are actually worth the hype so I didn’t feel an urgent need to go see The Wedding present yet again. On the other hand, the heart wants what it wants and David Gedge and co. always put on a fun show whenever they play, so I figured, what the hell – I made the call to see them in action once more. No regrets.

Playing a late night set at new-ish Austin whiskey bar Seven Grand (where oddly enough, the band shared stage space with the bar’s jukebox), Gedge announced that it was one of about six shows they’re playing this year for SXSW, noting that they played nine the last time, so clearly they’re scaling back.

Certainly not scaling back an ounce of the energy put into the performance, though. While I only caught the last half of their set, the band had the crowd, which clearly included a few die hard fans, bopping along to classics like “Kennedy” and “Take Me I’m Yours,” the latter of which Gedge announced as their last song of the night, noting that while it’s just one song, it’s the length of three songs actually, adding that they don’t do encores so this would be it. Gedge insisted it was nothing personal of course: “You’ve been great. Now get some sleep. Tomorrow’s a big day.”

SXSW Review: Febueder, March 14, Esther’s Follies

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


A two person band from Ascot, Febueder played an interesting set to a moderately sized crowd at Esther’s Follies on Tuesday. It’s always odd to see a UK band in Austin that doesn’t have the weight of the British Music Embassy promotion behind it, and it makes me wonder who these guys pissed off to not that get effort. Still, a decent group of people saw the duo play their brand of what I can only describe as artsy rock.

With only one person on percussion and another providing vocals, guitars (and sometimes other instruments), it wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate to say that the duo builds songs using a minimal, methodical and progressive sound. Each beat seems to be well planned and purposeful and sets the stage for the next sound whether it be guitars or Kieran Godfrey’s vocals which sounds a bit like the guy from Foals. If I had to make some basic band comparisons, I would say it sounds a bit like Alt J if they went to another art school with some Foals mixed in.

With minimal crowd interaction, at times the show felt almost like being a fly on the wall for a jam session, which was kind of nice but also felt a bit isolating. Still there is good foundation for Febueder to build on as they take the next step forward.

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