Friday, March 16, 2012

SXSW 2012 Dispatches: Worlds Of Synth

If there’s a secret place to enjoy day parties, it may be Red Eyed Fly. Two covered stages mean you don’t have to be out in the sun, and alternating set times let the music flow nearly continuously. Plus, it’s cool inside and not impossible to sit down. It’s the little things that count.

Yesterday on the back patio at Red Eyed Fly Brooklyn’s Savoir Adore moved from a cool dreampop opening to a snap-happy rhythm, topped with guy/girl vocals. They sounded a bit reminiscent of the San Francisco band Minipop, especially on “Loveliest Creature,” which found the crowd waving their arms from side to side and singing along.

Inside, the buzz-garnering Charli XCX was waiting for her keyboardist’s board to be fixed. If it’s easy to forget that the British singer is only 19, the two huge black Xs on her hands were a big reminder. That and the fact that it looked like she’d been styled by Ke$ha – wearing ripped black stockings and a mauve nylon and velour dress. She worked through a super-short set, including “Stay Away,” and “Nuclear Seasons,” ‘80s-inspired pop tracks with vocals that sometimes drifted into Shakira-sounding territory. It felt like a rare instance where the space was too intimate – there has to be some distance between the performer and the audience to really sell a sexy pop song.

CharliXCX - Nuclear Seasons by charlixcx

There’s nothing better to see than a band that’s enjoying getting to play together, and St. Lucia looked like they were having a great time. Playing synth-heavy tunes filled with themes of nostalgia and missed opportunities, St. Lucia sound something like the Naked and Famous by way of Yeasayer. They played “Closer Than This” and “Before The Dive,” but when they got around to closing with “The Old House Is Gone,” I couldn’t help but think they might switch it up half-way through and play Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax.” All that synth-y orchestration.

Closer Than This by St. Lucia

Not only are the four Canadian girls that make up Chic Gamine adorable, it’s hard to imagine an instrument that one of them doesn’t play. Throughout their set they punctuated four-part harmonies with drums, triangles, tambourines, cowbells, cabasas, and cymbals. A little gospel, a little soul, a little French, and a lot of percussion.

If the backyard at Beauty Bar had filled up for Com Truise, it filtered out a bit for Teengirl Fantasy, the remaining patrons likely staying to see Dan Deacon. Teengirl’s electronic stylings left something to be desired – I’d never seen someone actually yawn at an electronica show before. Of course that attitude did a 180 after Dan Deacon arrived, planting his characteristic green glowing skull in front of the stage and projecting flashing colors and images onto the side of the venue. The backyard became a jumping dance party, with Deacon clearing space for a rotating dance-off to occur, which happened nicely until someone mooned the crowd and it went back to being a jumbled mass of dancers. There’s one in every crowd.

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