Befitting the theme of “Odd Man Out” (on WUOG every Tuesday from 4-5 PM!) Here’s three all-female acts that absolutely killed at SXSW:
Savages were the best accidental show I saw at SXSW and ended up beingone of my favorite shows of the week. I caught the English all-female post-punk band at old Emo’s as part of the Brooklyn Vegan showcase. Each of the members rocks so hard. Vocalist Jehnny Beth rocked a choppy Natalie Portman pixie cut, she had a powerful voice but an even more powerful stage presence, swinging clenched fists and march-sliding side to side in a hypnotizing way. Her vocals were not too high and not too low – they sounded clear and sustaining but she surprised the audience with some punchy “oof” adlibs and wavering vibrato. Drummer Fay Milton was incredible to watch. She put a light and intentional touch on some pretty complex rhythms. She was heavy on the crash cymbals, clenching her teeth and scrunching up her face to keep up the heavy intensity through some impressively long breakdowns. It was an interesting show in that the band members remained serious and intense while the crowd bounced, smiled, laughed and generally just vibed. Savages officially release their first album May 7.
This week was also my first time catching Atlanta band the Coathangers. This was an all-female punk outfit and I was already pretty familiar with from their 2011 album “Larceny and Old Lace.” Three out of the four members took turns on lead vocals and they all played every instrument. Halfway through the set, they started rotating on guitar, bass, drums, and keys after every song. The music was simple and clear, roots of garage rock decorated by tambourine, slammed against shockingly explicit playground vocals. My favorite vocalist of the four sounded like a zombie valley girl; she has this sort of whiny, playful voice that sounds crazy when she pulls out songs like “Don’t Touch My Shit” from their first album. It was a lot of fun to be at this show – they have great chemistry with each other.
I was able to catch a house show during SXSW, a cool change of scene from the crowded venues. Nine blocks away from downtown, the house was named “Soccer Camp” and featured a showcase brought together by “guerilla gallery” Hounds of Love and Not Not Fun Records. Artists played all night, including Real Estate side-project Duck Tails, but the act that grabbed me the most was New York’s Weyes Blood. Weyes Blood is vocalist Natalie Mering (who has a darker Joni Mitchell tone to her voice). The music sounds like mountain songs being played in an echoic cave. Weyes Blood has played with a live band in the past but at this show she only had her guitar and a guy live sampling her on a giant sampler/control board. It was cool to hear the organic, cavernous sounds of Mering’s voice nest in what sounded like a glitchy outer space environment. People sat and quietly huddled beneath the open staircase and by her feet to make room, which made for a really special and intimate show. It was a really intense way to get off of my feet and into my head.
By Andrea Amszynski
(The Coathangers photo credit: Andrea Amszynski)