Day four of SXSW dawned a rainy, slushy mess and it stayed that way. Austin was transformed from a BBQ-and-band mecca into sloppy slush pit with everyone scurrying to the nearest venue. This change in weather had just one benefit, I suppose: you ended up catching some artists that might not've been on your list. Like Ryn Weaver who first made waves over the summer thanks to the quavery synth-pop of "OctaHate" (and some supportive tweets from ladies like Jessie Ware and Hayley Williams). Nine months later and that tune has had over three million plays. The 22-year-old is an excitable tumult of a performer with a belter of the voice, even if her songs occasionally come off a tad overcooked.
Other highlights include Tei Shi with her newly teal-tinted hair. I've been fan-girling about her for 18 months now, wondering why she hasn't blown the eff up, but actually this Brooklyn-based singer needed a moment to find her footing. I'm not even talking in terms of music—her debut EP, Saudade, is assured, inventive, and beautiful—but watching her at Fader Fort versus a year ago at Mercury Lounge in NYC, and the comparison is stark. Her confidence has swelled and that has given her the freedom to really perform. Plus new songs like the creeping future-pop of "Go Slow" and "See Me," which hangs on a simple bassline and Tei Shi's rippling, siren-esque incantations, are commanding and poignant even in their sonic restraint.
Tei Shi. Photo via elreygato.
After that I had a little pause for some sushi spurred on by this thankfully unsent text (to Noisey Editor-in-Chief, no less) which my ass accidentally typed out. I felt like I was trying to tell myself something and I should listen to what my subconscious was trying to communicate.
Favorite exchange I observed:
A plaid short-and-plaid-blazer-wearing nerd asking OG Maco for selfie at 4 AM in front of a shawarma food truck. He then asked the dude next to him, “Who was that guy?”
Favorite whisper I heard that I hope was true:
That Miley Cyrus was going to join Lolawolf in a hotel room to shoot a budget video. I’m praying for a slo-mo pillow fight sequence between Zoe Kravitz and Miley. Come on ladies, say you did this.
Favorite thing overheard last night:
“I wish I had my hair back, man. I used to have wild, curly, long hair and people used to stop me at the airport for my autograph.”
Favorite thing an uber driver told me:
My 5 AM Uber drive was keen to inform me that although he wasn’t stoned he had in fact just emerged from a house party where A$AP Rocky was in attendance. Turns out said Uber driver had been invited into the party by the passenger he was ferrying there. Uber driver told me was fascinated watching A$AP roll a joint, and how when he moved from room to room, people constantly orbited around him like a halo.
Favorite female sibling band:
The Brooklyn-based sisters, Chaos Chaos (who used to be preteen band Smoosh) are now in their early 20s and crafting sparkly synthpop that's just the right amount of skewed and tilted. (Listen to “Breaker” for evidence.)
The Cribs at Parish.
Standard behavior at The Cribs.
Favorite male sibling band:
The Cribs are one of the finest bands the UK has ever produced—of this I'm absolutely convinced. It's not their first time at the rodeo that is SXSW—the trio of brothers have been a band for over a decade—but in two days they'll drop their sixth record, the Rick Ocasek-produced, For All My Sisters, which is what brings them here to soggy-ass Austin. From "An Ivory Hand" (note the nod to Weezer), to the sweet, but spiky "Different Angle"—their new record is classic Cribs: bristling, tender, hook-heavy. And it's been a minute. Although Ryan released a 2013 EP under the name Exclamation Pony, via Julian Casablancas's label Cult Records, this is the band's first full length since 2012. Tonight the dude-heavy crowd includes the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner, The Vaccines, and Carl Barat of The Libertines.
With Ross holding it down on drums, the see-sawing tension and release and rage and tenderness between identical twins, and dual frontmen, Ryan and Gary, is what make The Cribs such a killer songwriting partnership. Not to mention a live force like few others around today. They're each other's dramatic foils: Ryan, pale, skinny, chaos-courting and crowd-baiting, versus Gary, just a smidge more meat to his bones, he's at least recently glimpsed the sun, and his sturdy basslines anchor and drive the band's genius. Quite apart from the new material, the Wakefield brothers' early cuts like "Mirror Kissers" and "Hey Scensters!" are strikingly prescient. The former, with its shouty refrain of "The mirror kissing ways of the hipster type," was written over 10 years ago, way before selfie-snapping and online personal brand curation became the Millenials ultimate time-suck.
The Cribs are watching us and they're watching themselves. They're assessing and digesting and translating the human condition in strokes that are broad and adroit and pointedly accurate. The fact that the trio's live performance are, legendarily, a mass of colliding bodies, a squalling yet deeply melodic group catharsis full of singalong moments, means they (continue) to pack a solid punch, but they're also so much more than a late night good time that'll land you with a thumping headache the morning after. The Cribs are important and we need them. So thank fuck they're still around.
Oh and then I caught Snoop. Sup Snoop!
Kim Taylor Bennett needs a cup of tea. Follow her on Twitter.