Shout Out Louds
SXSW 2013, SXSW Parties 2013, Big Black Delta, DIANA, Shout Out Louds, Young Dreams, Young Galaxy, Gold & Youth, DIIV, Poolside, NZCA Lines, Dan Croll, IO Echo, Small Black
Under the Radar SXSW Party Recap: DIIV, Small Black, Poolside, Shout Out Louds and More, March 15th, 2013
I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to at Under the Radar’s seventh annual SXSW party. (Like any good hostess, I found myself often forgoing the entertainment to make sure no one went thirsty.) However, I was able to see a large handful of favorites (old and new) including: DIANA, Big Black Delta, Shout Out Louds, Young Dreams, Gold & Youth, Young Galaxy, Poolside, DIIV, Dan Croll, NZCA/LINES, IO Echo, and Small Black. Below is a walk through memory lane.
The day kicked off with slick Canadian four-piece DIANA. A kissing cousin to Destroyer (Saxophonist Joseph Shabason even toured with them), they brought smooth vibes and dance moves to the Flamingo Cantina. A few audience members were even caught swaying to their single, “Born Again.” As polished as their music would imply, the performance appeared effortless. Frontwoman Carmen Elle even found time for a mid-song snack, darting to the back of the stage during a vocal break to stuff a cookie in her mouth. I can respect a band capable of multitasking.
In a moment of musical whiplash, Big Black Delta took the stage next. Frontman Jon Bates (formerly of Mellowdrone) ran the majority of the tunes off his laptop, with dueling drummers holding down the impressive (and loud) rhythm section. Bates was anything but a static performer, throwing the microphone, draping it around his neck, and dancing like a latter-day Fred Astaire. (He has some serious moves.) Plus, who doesn’t love a musician who shows up for a day showcase wearing suspenders?
Swedish quintet Shout Out Louds performed cuts from their new album Optica. In an in-studio interview last year, they expressed concern that they wouldn’t be able translate the album live after a chaotic recording process. However, it appears that not only have they worked it out, but managed to make songs such as “Sugar” and “Illusions” some of their most exciting live material to date.
Continuing the Scandinavian invasion was Young Dreams, who first caught Under the Radar’s ear at last year’s Øya Festival. The group—which can blossom up to a dozen or so members—was on the small side for their Austin debut. Arranged in a line with two members up front and three in back (plus a drummer holding down the rhythm section), the Norwegian band pulled off the impressive vocal harmonies of their debut full-length, Between Places.
The second day of our parties began with newcomers Gold & Youth. The band gave a business-like performance, their dark 1980s sound boding well for forthcoming full-length, Beyond Wilderness. They also revealed a few unlikely influences, including “Kathleen Turner, the actress.”
Young Galaxy performed an incredibly emotive set. Frontwoman Catherine McCandless (the second musician to sport a pair of suspenders) sang each song with her eyes closed, clearly feeling each note. The majority of the band’s set came from their new album, Ultramarine. Clearly proud of what they created with producer Dan Lissvik, before playing their next single “New Summer,” band member Stephen Ramsay joked, “This song is called “New Summer.” It's so good people who haven't heard it yet already love it.”
Los Angeles duo Poolside took the stage with two additional touring members, filling out the sound of their sunshine funk. Rather than break up songs, they played the set as one continual stream of music, folding in their laid-back, romantic cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.”
DIIV closed out day two. Still roughly twelve hours from their “Fuck SXSW” blog post, the Brooklyn band seemed to be in incredibly good spirits. They plunged into their set as if auditioning for a slot on the (sadly defunct) C86 label. Despite having only one album to their name (last year’s excellent Oshin), they made every song count. “This song is meant for swaying back and forth,” joked frontman Zachary Cole Smith before playing “Air Conditioning” to the sweaty crowd. They also performed a cut “so new it doesn’t have a name yet,” about life in a big city.
Dan Croll braved the first slot of the day, attracting a sizable crowd with his folk/electro/tropical songs. The solo artist introduced his backing band, joking, “Together we are me.” In a first for our parties, a line formed after his set, where fans new and old flocked to meet him. Croll graciously held court until the last autograph had been signed. Not bad for an artist with a single EP to his name.
The British invasion continued with NZCA/LINES. Frontman Michael Lovett acknowledged his country mate, joking “Dan Croll! We know him! One of him anyway.” Alongside two bandmates, he led the crowd through a number of high-octane electro/dance cuts from his self-titled debut album. The audience dancing may have been half-hearted (it was early on a Friday where the majority of the crowd had three days of partying under its belt), but the response was warm.
IO Echo came packing enough energy to power a small city—and enough stage dressing to redecorate it. Performing in front of a series of Japanese shades and next to burning incense and Japanese fans, the Los Angeles “pastel Goths” managed to evoke a sense of mystery, even in the bright of day. Frontwoman Joanna Gikas gleefully ran through the crowd, her pink kimono fluttering in the breeze as she knocked over a stack of napkins. (Punk!)
Small Black finished out the day. Frontman and audience alike danced to the band’s newly fleshed out sound. The songs from their upcoming album Limits of Desire proved to be bigger and more sonically appealing then their already enjoyable debut.
And with that, another year of Under the Radar’s SXSW parties was in the books. A huge thank you to our sponsors Shure, MailChimp, Sapporo, Arts & Crafts, and Polyvinyl. We are also incredibly grateful to all the readers and fans that turned up for the three parties. It is an incredible privilege—not to mention a lot of fun—to share our musical passions with all of you.
See you all in Austin for SXSW 2014.