Tap Room, Austin, TX
Friday, March 19, 2010
The motto around South By Southwest might be “Keep Austin weird,” but a Friday-afternoon set from Chicago’s Loyal Divide took things one step further in making Austin creepy, courtesy of the band’s white-lined black body suits and face-obscuring emoticon masks. Even with midday sunlight pouring into the bar, the operation’s unsettled sound brought an air of unease to the Tap Room, a venue something akin to a basement rec area, with comfortable couches and pool tables. The group brought out its seductive new single “DDF,” which fused a grinding riff and both organic and electronic percussion with a chopping synthetic bleat, while the slow-unraveling “Vision Vision” proved suffocatingly claustrophobic, casting a hypnotic hold on the room.
Fellow hometown act A Lull, meanwhile, took things in the opposite direction, unleashing an oversized psychedelic sound with hints of chamber-pop elements. On last year’s “Weapons For War” track, the six members create a lush and urgent whirlwind of noise, with the outfit’s three drummers working overtime to amplify the band’s buzzing pop. The more sprawling “Skinny Fingers,” meanwhile, starts deceptively low-key, then suddenly springs to life courtesy of a trumpet and a marching-band beat. While two radically different acts, both the more art-noise Loyal Divide and the free-flowing and expansive A Lull brought inimitable performances to the Austin alehouse. With full-length efforts due from both outfits within the year, it’s worth watching to see how Loyal Divide and A Lull keep Chicago innovative.
Jaime de’Medici will be reporting in live from this year’s SXSW music festival. Watch for more micro-updates on Chicago artists playing showcases this year.
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