AUSTIN, Texas -- Four years ago, I got a tip that I should go see a young Irish band that was playing an afternoon show about a mile from the downtown venues where the South By Southwest action is.
I hiked out and discovered The Strypes, who immediately became my favorite band in the world. I saw them twice more that week and, a few months later, made “Snapshot,” their debut, my best album of the year.
They’re back at SXSW for the first time since -- and they’ve never played anywhere close to Lincoln that I know of. So I had to check out their Thursday set and they’re still one of my favorite bands in the world -- and after I see them again tomorrow they may again hold the top spot alone.
Hitting the stage to the supercharged r&b of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” The Strypes tore through 40 minutes of pure rock ‘n’ roll -- some songs from their 2017 third album “Spitting Image” and more from “Snapshot.” They included a blistering “Mystery Man,” their best known song, “Blue Collar Jane” with some behind-the-back Les Paul from guitarist Josh McClorey before wrapping up with hopped up blues of “Scumbag City.”
The Strypes aren’t reinventing the wheel with their maximum r&b. But they do better than anyone else today. Man, I like that band.
The Strypes were in the middle of Irish showcase at The Velveeta Room, which is usually a comedy club.
So Wednesday became an early St. Patrick’s Day for me -- with propulsive punks Touts, who I really liked first, then the sibling folk duo The Lost Brothers, who had that harmony thing going and some good songs, The Strypes and Saint Sister, a quartet with a pair of female singers, one who played harp -- as in real harp not harmonica, one on electric keys and other gadgetry and whose voices blended beautifully.
I then saw the indescribably weird, but somehow good Norwegian brother duo Sturle Dagsland -- imagine if you will a stand for say the ropes that go across entrances played with an electric bow, a cornet blaring inches from a microphone, a cymbal being slammed by hand and a screaming singer throwing the seats around. Yep.
Night number there of SXSW 2018 ended in disappointing fashion. Todd Rundgren, one of the few oldsters playing festival, sounded, well, old and the music dated and I strolled about halfway through his set.