CIUT’s Mar On Music’s top 10 picks of SXSW !!
Vulkano formed out of the ashes of Sweden’s indie pop girl group Those Dancing Days. A duo consisting of Lisa Pyk-Wirström (keyboards, percussion), Cissi Efraimsson (drums, lead vocals), they create the same amount of stage presence and energy as a 5-piece. With songs about spiders and wolves and the supernatural, they fit what you would expect from a Nordic band. I’d been waiting years to see these guys, loved Those Dancing Days and been a fan of Vulkano ever since their first EP came out in 2013. Their set at the Nordic house was all that I expected (except they didn’t play Choir of Wolves!!). Cissi had such great style, I saw her as soon as I arrived and just knew she was in the band, she looked like a Japanese crime fighting manga character that is an undercover schoolgirl.
Recommended track “I’m in Danger”, they also do a spot on cover of Private Idaho!
Last year I discovered PartyGirl by staying on the drummer, Jason Pittman’s couch during my Austin adventure. I have been playing their brand of GoGos meets the B-52s pop on CIUT ever since. I love it. I saw them twice on this trip and self-proclaimed myself as their biggest (possibly only?) Canadian fan. Live they dress in character with wigs, tube-dresses, dayglo sunglasses and earrings, you wouldn’t be faulted if you felt like you were at the prom of a John Hughes film. The live show is fun, they get the crowd dancing and singing along, this is what live music should be about, entertainment and fun!
Ever since I first heard Tacocat’s single “I Hate the Weekend” in January, I can’t get it out of my head! It’s stuck in there at least once a day. It’s one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in ages. Hailing from Seattle, Tacocat remind me a lot of the Bangs, another Pacific Northwest group. They’ve got the attitude of riot grrl but with more melodies and shout along choruses. They’re all best friends and you can tell they really like each other. Brownie points they just played a free show last week at Bernie Sanders’ rally in Seattle. Their latest record, Lost Time, is out April 08 on Hardly Art.
You can’t really compete when Iggy Pop is playing can you? Legendary showman (he doesn’t roll around in glass anymore thank god!), the energy of a teenager and full of appreciation for the audience. The show started with Iggy bouncing on stage to Lust for Life, he played all the hits (The Passenger, Nightclubbing, China Girl etc), some new stuff, crowd surfed, took his shirt off, ran around the stage and thanked the audience over and over again. I really loved watching such a legend enjoy performing and being thankful for where he is. His 90-minute slot stretched to a 2-hour performance (including a 45 minute encore). I left with a massive smile on my face.
Have these guys toured the UK yet? Because lead singer, Joe Casey, is a dead ringer for current British PM David Cameron. He even dresses the part (a casual suit with no tie) and has the same hair cut. If you’ve ever wondered what David Cameron would be doing had he not gone into politics, this is it, he would be fronting a post punk band from Detroit. Protomartyr are a dark moody band, I would recommend them to fans of Wire.
A friend had posted this video on my Facebook the week before SXSW and I immediately fell in love with these Dutch men. PAUW were only playing 2 shows during the festival. I caught up with them at Javelina, a tiny bar (coffee shop with that name?). They’ve got a Tame Impala vibe and great haircuts to match (the drummer looked like he walked out of the 70s version of Slade). The stage banter between songs was a bit stilted, I’m guessing due to the language difficulties or possibly because the singer said he had broken his nose the night before crowd surfing to NOFX, either way they seemed to be loving SXSW and their music ruled.
Thee Oh Sees
It wouldn’t be SXSW without Thee Oh Sees playing every night. This band is a machine and unofficially the house band of SXSW. I saw them twice on this trip, 3 times the year before and every year before that. 2016 saw Thee Oh Sees playing a 5-day residency at Hotel Vegas (the most fun venue in Austin). Hotel Vegas has so much going for it, 2 indoor stages, 1 outdoor stage, multiple bars, 2 food stalls and lots of places to just hang out. It’s got it all and you can plunk yourself down for an afternoon / all night and know you will see some of the best bands of SXSW. Burger Records, Panache and Levitation Festival all had their showcases here. Thee Oh Sees played all of them, because Thee Oh Sees are the ultimate live rock n roll band. One of the most energetic bands, live they have 2 drummers and main man John Dwyer wields his axe and screams on top of the sonic noise they produce. It’s hard to see Thee Oh Sees and not get taken in and become a true believer.
I fell in love with La Luz the first time I heard their 2013 album “It’s Alive”, directly translated La Luz is the Light and I have seen the light! They mix surf, girl band harmonies of layered vocals and 60s dance garage rock to a perfection. Their latest record (Weirdo Shrine) was produced by Ty Segall and sounds live a live recording (though it’s not). It’s all part of the La Luz vibe. This was my second time seeing them at SXSW (first 2015) and I would highly recommend going to their gig at May 17 gig at the Horseshoe Tavern.
Hailing all the way from Niger. Bombino is one of the most impressive guitar players I’ve seen. He’s wowed crowds in Toronto recently at the Horseshoe as well. His SXSW official show was at 1am in a massive cavernous room. I had a couple friends in the audience who left due to the “west coast folk festival vibes” of the gig, e.g. white middle class people dancing to world music. But it got pretty rocking towards the end and the most surprising thing about Bombino was his bass player. Have you ever seen a bass player wear gloves? On both hands to play bass? Well I hadn’t and I play bass! Must be so weird to feel for the frets. I was impressed, and so was the rest of the crowd, they played past 2am (closing time in Austin) and the crowd would not let them stop!
Punk rock isn’t dead. It is Sheer Mag. This Philadelphia band formed in 2014 and to date has only released three 7-inches. Recently touring with political dance punks Downtown Boys and still on the road, the machine that is Sheer Mag keeps going. Their shows are a sweaty mess of classic rock licks mixed with punk rock ethos. They shared a stage with Thee Oh Sees at SXSW, which was entirely fitting!