Wednesday, March 25, 2009

xo's SXSW show review

Lights Resolve (9:00pm)
Admittedly, I was at first put off by the band’s pretentious badgering of the soundman for sound check after sound check. It’s live music fellas – it won’t ever be truly perfect, so deal with it. When you factor in that the guitar player looked like Ric Ocasek from The Cars, the bassist was a skinny, raven-haired goth look-alike, and the band’s sound is a bit dated (coming across as Jane’s Addiction lite), I just wasn’t feeling it at all. However, as the power trio plowed through their glam-inflected rock set (complete with a drummer who couldn’t stop smiling), I was won over by the group’s un-ironic rock-n-roll earnestness, especially that of the lead vocalist/guitarist. When he placed the microphone in the pit, and gathered the 40 or so people near the stage in a huddled mass around him, I cast aside my earlier claim of “pretentious” and realized that he probably just wanted the best sound possible for the best show possible. It’s not my preferred musical style, but you can’t fault this group’s attitude.

The Photo Atlas (10:00pm)
If Lights Resolve could be seen as hoping that early ‘90s alt-rock makes a revival very soon, The Photo Atlas is probably hoping that its emo-core/post-hardcore sound isn’t fading away (though it actually is). I greatly appreciate the fact that the lead singer had a credible voice that stayed in tune throughout the set, but I would suggest that a band with this kind of talent shift its sound and either play straight-up pop-punk stuff or move on to a more contemporary indie dance-punk kinda sound. There’s a great amount of energy present with this act, but it’s going to waste by playing a formulaic style.

After Midnight Project (11:00pm)
Wow – it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a living, breathing example of a Hot Topic goth rock wannabe band actually perform. This was pseudo hard rock blather at its worst, especially the post-emocore, My Chemical Romance nonsense. I was thoroughly put off by the lead singer, who incessantly projected an annoying “I’m much too cool and hip to be playing this showcase” attitude, all while sporting a flannel shirt over a v-neck t-shirt and a horrendous ducktail haircut. Elements of trendy, lite metalcore sprung up, right down to the angry vocals, attempts at big rock guitars, and an abundance of misplaced testosterone. When your lead singer spits this line into the microphone – “It sounds like the devil took a shit in the speakers up here.” – you probably aren’t going to become friends with the sound guy or anyone outside of your immediate circle of fans.

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