Wednesday , May 22 2024
Glove at SXSW 2022 (Photo: Tan The Man)
Glove at SXSW 2022 (Photo: Tan The Man)

SXSW Music Festival 2022: Tuesday, March 15

Every now and then I need to remind myself that many of the artists and bands that perform at South by Southwest aren’t all that random. They’re here in Austin for a reason. Why else be in Texas during spring break?

As much as the Grammys have declined in musical relevance over the years, physically performing at certain venues still holds both personal and professional prestige for a lot of artists. SXSW is still a big deal – even performing during low-key hours off the beaten path. Case in point: Global Street Farm presented by International Fresh Produce Association. Idle Hands hosted this year’s Global Street Farm, and I caught some sets by Ayoni and Phebe Starr.

Los Angeles-based Barbadian pop singer Ayoni hit all the right notes with her afternoon set – a pleasant mix of pop (“If You Leave”) and soul (“September”). Outdoor daytime sets can be strange musical settings, especially if they’re on nontraditional stages amongst unconventional surroundings. There was a giant tree that bisected the crowd, and there were numerous flowers and fruits spread throughout. But Ayoni and Australian singer-songwriter Phebe Starr (who had initial technical difficulties) both sang appropriate to the environment. Starr even amused that her COVID-delayed American debut performance was farm-fit with stripped down versions such as “Air” – she “Dolly Parton‘d it up.” (Aside: Parton is featured at SXSW this year.)

Speaking of American debut performances, Side Bar warmly welcomed Norwegian post-punk quartet Pom Poko to their first visit to Austin. The band generously reciprocated by performing their self-professed “noisy, sugar-coated songs.” Vocalist Ragnhild Fangel was definitely energetic as she led the band through songs such as “Like a Lady” and “Time,” the latter from their recent EP, This Is Our House.

One of my favorite Austin venues is actually a house of worship: St. David’s Episcopal Church. St. David’s actually features two “stages,” Bethel Hall and the Sanctuary. Both feature spiritual and almost cathartic settings for artists and listeners alike. Understandably, I see a lot of folk bands here, and tonight was no exception. Scottish folk quartet Constant Follower performed a set befitting at the chancel of Bethel Hall – poetic, reflective, and purely gorgeous (my favorite: “The Merry Dancers on TV”).

Phebe Starr at SXSW 2022 (Photo: Tan The Man)
Phebe Starr at SXSW 2022 (Photo: Tan The Man)

Montreal singer-songwriter Le Ren (Lauren Spear) livened it up a bit at the Sanctuary. She was accompanied by a backup singer and friend – apparently they came up with a new band name if they ever became a duo: Wormhole. Spear played, chatted with her friend, and played some more. It was such a pleasant set, but I was somewhat offended by Spear misnaming Sandra Bullock’s great romantic comedy, Miss Congeniality. I definitely don’t hold that against her … much.

But honestly, the best act of the night belonged to Florida’s new wave rock quartet Glove that performed at Cheer Up Charlie’s. It’s hard to articulate how much of a welcomed sound they were, but gosh I so much appreciated the ’80s vibes and nostalgia of “Behaviour” and “Glass” amongst a sea of indie and folk that I predominantly earmarked most of my time for. I tried to catch a bit of Bristol’s punk band Grandma’s House, but Seven Grand hit its capacity. My happy alternative was returning to Cheer Up Charlie’s for Minnesota’s indie rock band Night Moves that recently released their new single, “Vulnerable Hours.” Lead singer John Pelant’s disco-tinged vocals provided another welcomed change of sound.

I ended my night on a mellower note. Canada’s Living Hour provided the type of psychedelic dream pop that I missed about being in California. The kind of music you put on, smoke on, and fall asleep in your bed on. I’m old and miss those carefree nights where a song like “Double Bus” could encourage your mind to wander so effortlessly. Those nights are definitely closing, but at least I got to catch a German dream pop trio like Roller Derby that can help whisper the night away (“Flying High”).

About Tan The Man

Tan The Man writes mostly about film and music. He has previously covered events like Noise Pop, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, South By Southwest, TBD Festival, and Wizard World Comic Con.

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