Some of our favorites from Thursday night’s action at SXSW Music Festival.
PWR BTTM - Cheer Up Charlie’s
“Next time you see a queer person, thank them” said Ben Hopkins of New York City’s PWR BTTM, who played an outdoor set at midnight Thursday at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Audio issues with the vocals delayed the band’s start before Hopkins declared “F—- it. It’s only rock ‘n roll” to their packed and anxious fans. Donning signature thrift store drag and smears of face paint and body glitter, the queer punks performed for an adoring and giddy crowd who sang along. PWR BTTM also performed their latest single, “Answer My Text” – a relatable song about a boy who hasn’t texted back. - Mike Baden
L.A. Salami - Latitude 30
Lookman Adekunle Salami, aka L.A. Salami played the packed BBC showcase at Latitude 30 on Thursday night. Salami’s rich storytelling captivated me as he sang about contemporary issues like immigration and cultural dislocation in his hometown London. If there was one unsettling note, it was the gleefully vicious song he introduced midway through, about a narcissistic former friend. Apart from that, Salami moved fluidly and unpredictably from hushed ballads with finger picked guitar to raucous full-band songs with dystopian themes. Salami’s career has reportedly picked up steam faster in the U.S. than in the U.K. and if he tours through Portland this year, I know I’ll be there. - David Christensen
The Royal Teeth - The Belmont
New Orleans band The Royal Teeth played their first SXSW set at The Belmont Thursday night. They performed one infectious pop/rock anthem after another, including a cover of The Knife’s “Heartbeats.” The group maintained unswerving energy and tight precision, all the while pleasing the crowd with their southern charm and big smiles. It’s always a good sign when you leave a show singing the band’s songs. - Mike Baden
For me, Thursday turned out to be an international day of rock and roll that began in the U.S. and ended in Australia. First, I made my way to Hotel Vegas for a day party jam-packed with artists I had been wanting to see (Tim Darcy, WAND, Cosmonauts and Alex Cameron, to name a few), but it was a group I’d never heard of that blew my mind: The Blind Owls. A four-piece from Corpus Christi, Tex., these guys have crafted a sound akin to the modern throwback ‘60s soul masters J.D. McPherson & Nick Waterhouse. They were a fiery ball of energy onstage and their singer rocked some fancy footwork any chance he got. The bass player was stationed in front of the drummer and —because he only had about 10 inches of stage to work with — he was nearly falling off the stage as he bounced around. I couldn’t help but bounce around a little myself.
From there is was on to BD Riley’s for Brazilian duo FingerFingerrr who, despite some technical difficulties with a sequencer, powered through with some vicious rock tunes. The duo was all hair and flamboyance, doing everything they could to engage the crowd. Next, Belgian rockers The Sore Losers played a bluesy rock set at the Sidewinder. The singer’s shirt pretty much sums it up: “You can only trust yourself and the first six Black Sabbath records.” They worked with producer-of-the-moment Dave Cobb on their latest album, which would fit nicely alongside your Sabbath collection. Rounding out the night was a group from Melbourne called Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. Their brand of driving rock and roll was exactly the push of energy needed late in the night. With three guitar players, it would have been easy for the sound to get muddled, but each player had their unique sound, which translated into solid, melodic rock tunes. A great cap to the day. - Matthew Casebeer
See our slideshow of photos from SXSW.