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Jesus and the Union Hall: Retribution Gospel Choir & Ida

Written by Amre Klimchak on . Posted in Music, Posts

Though Ida and Low both formed in the early ‘90s and were quickly branded as “slowcore” bands (so named for there deliberately unhurried tempos, quiet melodies and sparse arrangements), over the intervening years, they’ve traversed markedly different musical paths. Tuesday night’s show at Union Hall, with Ida and Retribution Gospel Choir, the new project from [&hellip
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SXSW Day 4: Folk Interpreters and Spectacular Noise

Written by Amre Klimchak on . Posted in Music, Posts



My final SXSW day took me to extremes, with multifarious folk interpreters dominating the earlier half and then the late night turning spectacularly noisy. I hunkered down at The Mohawk for much of Saturday, beginning with the Hot Freaks! (a music blogger collaborative) party. There I stumbled on The Acorn, a Canadian folk-pop troop I had never heard of whose intricate polyrhythms and instrumentation absorbed me immediately and completely. Later in the afternoon the raspy-voiced singer-songwriter David Bazan (pictured), armed with only an electric guitar, drew a legion of fresh-faced and eager young fans who sang along for most of his performance (which they interspersed with shouts of “We love you, David”). The crowd especially appreciated the Pedro the Lion (the slowcore band he fronted for more than a decade that often explored Christian themes) he added to the mix of his mostly post-Pedro solo work. My evening at The Mohawk Patio opened with Deer Tick, a country-tinged folk-rock trio fronted by the hilarious and charming John McCauley. When his amp failed mid-set, he sang a cappella while he hooked up new equipment, and then smoothly resumed the show, ending with a seriously spirited cover of “La Bamba.”

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Photo by Greg Burgett
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SXSW Day3: Some Great, Mostly Quiet, Rewards

Written by Amre Klimchak on . Posted in Music, Posts

I’ve learned it’s inevitable during every SXSW trip I take (this is my eighth visit) that one day will be remarkably less eventful for me than the rest. This day is usually the Saturday, when I’m totally exhausted. But it came early this year. So my Friday wasn’t the usual marathon, but instead a laid back break from the hectic pace.

The Other Music day party, which was outside at the French Legation Museum, with its beautiful grassy expanse that’s perfect for lolling around, was my first stop. Although I’ve seen indie stalwarts Yo La Tengo a dozen times (at least once at a previous SXSW), I couldn’t resist the lure of the Hoboken trio. Playing to a full crowd, many of whom were seated under the huge tent, they stuck to a fairly quiet set of favorites old and new, including “Autumn Sweater,” and they tossed in a Roky Erickson song for good Texas measure. Ira Kaplan kept the squealing guitar attacks to a minimum, perhaps due to the setting, but I appreciate the group’s subtle dreamy pop excursions (of which there were many) just as much as the wild improvisations. Later, Atlas Sound (pictured), the new project from Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox, performed songs from the group’s debut Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel. Although Deerhunter’s garnered well-deserved acclaim, I prefer Atlas Sound’s calmer, more melodic experimentation. And though Cox is known for his outlandish onstage antics at Deerhunter shows, he was fairly straight-laced with Atlas Sound and hewed close to the spaced-out ambiance of Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel to dazzling effect.

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Photo courtesy of Nariposa on Flickr

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SXSW Day 2: More Swedes and some secret (and not so secret) Canadians

Written by Amre Klimchak on . Posted in Music, Posts



Ah, the Swedes. Like my NY Press cohort in Austin, Greg Burgett, I spent part of Thursday savoring the sweet indie pop that seems to pour out of Scandinavia. In the late afternoon sun on the patio of the Flamingo Cantina, the Shout Out Louds, a quintet from Stockholm, wooed the enthusiastic audience, which danced along to their ebullient confections. Later, at the Secretly Canadian/Jagjaguwar/Dead Oceans showcase on the Mohawk Patio, I saw Jens Lekman, but first, a slew of Americans in the warm evening.

Though official SXSW showcases (typically organized by a label or promotions company) can be wildly uneven in quality, this one was, simply put (as a friend of mine said), “the kind of showcase where you want to go buy the records of every single band.” Early on, Bodies of Water, an angular art-pop group from California that can swell in size to 10 or more members, performed as a party of five, but their theatrical delivery and soaring vocals created an expansiveness that was greater than the sum of the parts. The ever-excitable and endlessly energetic Norman, Okla. band Evangelicals followed with a flashy show that included strobe lights and dry ice, which only increased the fervor of the foursome’s psychedelic freak-outs. To add to the drama, lead singer Josh Jones asked the audience members how they felt about crowd surfing, and though the response seemed a little ambiguous, he apparently had faith that no one would let him crash to the ground. Towards the end of the set, he leaped out onto the sea of waiting hands, which carried him along and then safely deposited him back on the stage to finish the dazzling set.

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Photo of Black Mountain courtesy of Nathan Malone on Flickr

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