I spent most of my musical time at SXSW ‘1o enjoying old favorites and just wandering up and down 6th St. with friends old and new. You can actually almost get by just doing the latter given the event’s coincidence with St. Patrick’s Day, the NCAA basketball tournament, and the weekend.
But hell man. It’s a long year ahead, and there’s so much new music available over these few days you might as well go see something cool while you’re in town.
If nothing else it’ll make trying to read Pitchfork easier. Or give you some ammo next time you get trapped in a conversation with a hipster.
You know, they’re prattling on and on about how ironic the name ‘Zak’s Bat Wings’ is for a band of feminist chicks, and ‘man you can tell they really could rock out if they wanted to but how it’s so much more effective to just leave that the unstated reality which completes their performance.’
You can just go straight to the ‘well yeah, they’re cool, but have you checked out Rumpringa yet?’ They’ll likely start a similarly inane monologue, but at least you’ll know what they’re talking about (and whether or not they do). It also opens the possibility that yes they really did see them, they really do like them, and suddenly you’ve made yourself a new friend who still tries too hard with their clothes but otherwise doesn’t seem that bad anymore.
I saw Rumspringa at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room and they were really good. They’re a two-piece (I know, I know…another one!?) but they’re way less monochrome than any of the recent rock iterations of that arrangement and way more rocking than any of the sensitive folkie types roaming the world with their musical partner and trying to figure out whether to add a string player.
Even on a live first listen you find yourself exploring the music rather than simply listening to it. It probably doesn’t hurt that both drummer Itaru de la Vega and guitarist/vocalist Joey Stevens excell at their crafts. But the main culprit is quality songwriting. Gimmicks are kept to a minimum and used simply as occasional dressing. You can almost see them dancing around, pulling faces in the background, while Joey and Itaru focus on the business of making sure to pull you in with the sort of multi-dimensional tunes you will not only have a hell of a hard time turning away from the first time around but actually catch yourself humming after the third.
The Los Angeles duo have their first full-length album ‘Sway’ coming out this summer. I’d recommend picking it up, sight unheard. And even more so going to see them live if they’re heading your way. Do it in Houston and I’ll see you there. In the meantime, check out these clips to see what I’m on about.