Love Letters to Fuzz: SXSW Adventures

By KWVA Music Director: Thor Slaughter
As any person that has experienced SXSW will say, it’s a crazy experience. The overused phrase, no matter how vague and non-descriptive it may be, still is the only one I can use to describe the festival. Being born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, I couldn’t have been more culture shocked by the state of Texas in general and the week long music festival has taken a toll on my ears that I will never be able to get back. I promise to keep it short in this re-cap, more is on the way though! Lots of pictures and stories but here is a list of three performances I was lucky enough to see!

-Icky Blossoms at the Parish. This Omaha goth dance collective crammed the tiny stage at the Parish with their own state of the art light and projection system that was in sync with their blistering electronic dance rhythms. Dark and moody vocals covering the thumping dance rhythms made for a combination of head banging and butt shaking in the crammed venue. Their set was second to last at the Saddle Creek showcase, which meant a lot of Saddle Creek staff filled out the room and it was great to see a record label get to enjoy their bands as much as they did during the Icky Set.

-Shugo Tokumaru at Red 7. The pop wizard from Japan wowed the audience at the Terrorbird PR day showcase at Red 7. Shugo records much  of his own instrumentation but brought along an ace drummer and an accordion, melodica, tambourine, ping pong paddle, kazoo, harmonica, bell and whistle player (yes, one person played ALL THOSE THINGS). He thanked the crowd in broken English in between each and every pop symphony and his band wore smiling faces the whole set as they brought down the house track after track. It was nice to see such a humble performer gets to stretch out when he ripped through a loop layered guitar ballad that showed off his six string prowess.

-You Me, & Us at B.D Riley’s. What seems at first glance as a standard three piece fuzz pop band, quickly revealed itself as one of the hidden gems of SXSW. The lead singer Carlee packs a voice that places her at the head of the pack as far as female pop vocalists in the garage rock game. The song-writing coupled with instrumentation that flirts with everything from sunshine-fueled fuzz-pop to darker shoegaze places them as a jewel among the all too familiar format of three piece lo-fi pop groups. Their unique take on the lo-fi pop format is only heightened by the sheer amount of fun the trio was having, their smiles and side to side steps and hops only helped to carry their catchy melodies to my ears. “How many of you watch Arrested Development? This song is called Steve Holt!” Carlee shouted before the storm of fuzz swept them and us up together.