AUSTIN, Texas -- I went into Main II Tuesday in part to try to sneak in the back way to see Pussy Riot, but mostly to see, at the recommendation of a friend Starcrawler.
I got a few glimpses of the Russian all-female outfit -- which played electronic music and did some political ranting between songs. But then was blown away by the young L.A. punk quartet.
Fronted by Arrow de Wilde, who’s tall, very thin, at least for Tuesday red-haired, and is a riveting performer, throwing herself onto the floor, diving out and running through the crowd and, for good or ill, bringing back the ‘70s British punk act of gobbing (Google that one if you need to).
De Wilde, who is 18, is joined by another teenager, guitarist Henri Cash, who wore a fringed cowboy shirt and, for a few songs, played a guitar with just three strings. And they’ve got a pair of oldsters at 22 in the rhythm section.
Musically, I heard ‘70s punk, ala Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, a little bit of X’s Exene Cervenka in de Wilde’s vocals and some shades of metal riffing. That’s not exactly original. But de Wilde’s exhilarating theatrics and the band’s pedal-to-the-metal assault made for a thrilling 40 minutes.
Apparently all the songs save for the shaking “Ants” come from the band’s Ryan Adams produced self-titled debut album released by Rough Trade in January.
How much did I like them? They’re playing again Wednesday and Friday and I’m going to try to catch them at least one more time. So I might come back to Lincoln deaf -- Starcrawler was ear-splittingly loud.
Starcrawler was my band of the night -- if not all of SXSW -- on an evening when I, unintentionally, saw only bands that had female members, most of them singers.
The other band that really impressed was also an L.A. outfit, a quartet called Livingmore that’s been described as “Blondie meets the Everly Brothers.” Guitarists Alex Moore and Spencer Livingston don’t have the sibling harmonies of Don and Phil -- in part because they’re male and female.
And the music isn’t really new wave or even “alt rock” as they’re also billed. The sound is 60s guitar pop -- and it was delivered beautifully by the band that was crammed into a corner on the 720 Club Patio, one of the tiniest SXSW venues.
That was Livingmore’s only SXSW so I won’t be seeing them again this week. But I’ll sure be listening to “Ok to Land,” the band’s just released album.