SXSW Recap Day 3: Of Monsters and Men, Kindness, and Grimes | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Grimes, Kindness, Of Monsters and Men, SXSW 2012

SXSW Recap Day 3: Of Monsters and Men, Kindness, and Grimes,

Mar 21, 2012 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Grimes
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What a difference a day makes. Friday night (after a long day at our final SXSW day party—naturally) the Under the Radar team caught three sets. While two artists I had seen earlier in the week, all three shows were significantly different than expected.

First up was Stubbs, where Icelandic six-piece Of Monsters and Men were already on stage, kicking out a vibrant instrument-swapping swapping set. Clearly attempting to become heirs to the Arcade Fire throne, their brand of upbeat orchestral folk was well-received by the crowd—packed in to near capacity. While the band enjoyed the greatest response for single “Little Talks” the set highlight was—without a doubt—their glowy version of The Cure’s “Close to Me.” Thanks for successfully reaching out to the children of the 80s! (Not like they needed to.)

Next up, we headed over to the British Embassy at Latitude 30 to catch Kindness. While I ranted about them earlier in the week, time, lack of sleep, and a glut of other tunes hand successfully washed the initial thrill of first listen from my mind. Their performance successfully cemented the British group as one of my personal hype bands. Performing nearly every song from debut album Would You Need a Change of Mind in rapid succession, the musicians danced and strutted their way though their blend of indie R&B. Frontman Adam Bainbridge even took a sexy second, bringing his one man dance party off the stage into the crowd. The band was joined by Blood Orange’s Devonté Hynes for “Doig Song”—Hayes’ quick-fingered guitar solos turning the tune’s funk up to 11. One of the week’s many undisputable highlights.

Exhausted, but not ready to call uncle, the team trooped over to the edge of town (which at that point felt like the edge of the world) to catch Grimes at Clive Bar—our sore feet carried along by my insistence that her Pitchfork set from the night before was near-transcendent.

To my dear friends, I hereby apologize.

It’s not that Grimes wasn’t trying. But from the moment she took the stage—almost an hour late due to tech issues—it was like watching a slow motion car accident. Fizzy electro pop alone isn’t enough to carry a performance, as Grimes quickly found out. From her disclaimer that her throat hurt (complete with a note that her high notes were going to suck), to persistent tech problems that forced her to stop and start songs, to a beyond sub par sound team, the deck was stacked against her. Still a young performer, her inability to rise above showed—from pulling faces during songs, to muttering “fuck” under her breath after every screw up. Ultimately, her lack of professionalism made otherwise enjoyable album Visions sound not-unlike artless cooing over pre-programmed beats. While the crowd remained faithfully on our side, we spent the majority of the set alternately concerned for the future of her career and looking for an easy exit.

It was a bummer of a way to end the evening—but therein lays the risk of SXSW. Sometimes you end on a great note. Other times….well…not so much.



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