SXSW 2009 Day 2 | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Cut Off Your Hands

SXSW 2009 Day 2, March 19th, 2009

Mar 19, 2009 Web Exclusive
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A boisterous set by Auckland quartet Cut Off Your Hands–one of the 10 shows they played at this edition of SXSW–was the centerpiece of another strange bill at Emo’s on Thursday night, wedged in between the refined, reggae-fied rock of Sean Bones and the trendy indie tropes of Boston’s Passion Pit. Topping the bill were Swedish whistling champions Peter Bjorn and John, whose delayed and ultimately disastrous set (due to epic technical fail) they later described as “awful.”

For this reporter, it had been a lopsided day for music, ranging from the heartwarming roots ditties of Elliott Brood at the Austin Convention Centre to the petulant pop of Dallas’s Airplane at B.D. Riley’s to the hardcore mayhem of twitchy, overly tattooed British band Gallows at Dirty Dogs. But Cut Off Your Hands’ Kiwi approximation of Britpop was the happy medium that Goldie Locks would’ve chosen. Particularly if she liked cute boys, catchy melodies and punk prowess.

Combining ambitious pop-craft and hardcore roots, the quartet delivered such disparate tunes as “Happy as Can Be,” “Oh Girl” and “Closed Eyes” with great energy and furious flamboyance. Singer Nick Johnston showed off his profile for practically the entire duration of the set, bent forward with closed eyes, a bobbling waist and the occasional dramatic fling of the arm. On their Bernard Butler-produced debut album, You and I, their songs are driven alternately by an opulent wall of sound, sing-along sweetness and free range riffage. But on stage, the band streamlines it all into one vehicle–fast, fuel efficient and hauling tonnage aimed straight at your eardrums, rib cage and pelvis. And minus the fat of the record (ballads, mainly), the live setting is the best way to tune in and turn on to Cut Off Your Hands. Consider my arms stumped.


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