Purity Ring, Caveman, Wallpaper & Neon Indian @ SXSW 2012 [Day 3]

03/22/2012

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Purity Ring @ MWTX

After listening to the womping bass, I’d say Purity Ring should aim for a bid to steal Bass Drums of Death’s name. During their performance the bass frequency rattled the metal roof of the warehouse that housed MWTX, as though a tornado was approaching. At times bridging hip hop rhythms (drawing comparisons to jj), Purity Ring also has elements of avant-rock similar to Fever Ray. Sharp synth notes were magnified over the bombarding bass, masking vocalist Megan James’ soft and sheepish voice. James’ singing was almost intelligible, serving more as complimentary instrument most notably on the song “Ungirthed.”

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Wallpaper @ Hard Rock Hotel

The debate began before Eric Frederic, aka rapper Ricky Reed or that guy who gets #STUPiDFACEDD, took the stage at the Hard Rock Hotel party. The question was, “Is Wallpaper a joke?” With the group’s budding single “F***ING BEST SONG EVERRR” you can’t help but smirk–or can you?

The Black Eyed Peas wouldn’t think twice when asked if “Let’s Get It Started” or “I Gotta Feeling” were artistic pop songs. They are. But can the same be said about “F***ING BEST SONG EVERRR” or “#STUPiDFACEDD?”  or “I Got Soul (I’m So Wasted).” Now while my friends argue Wallpaper is trash, I disagree. I see social critique. I mean, the guy made a song called “Booty Tweet” calling it the new booty call. It’s silly, but yes, kind of true. His appearance (with thick gold chains and stunner shades), over indulgence of auto-tune, and outlandish content is fun, silly—and yet, also suggestive of what pop culture likes, follows and hypes.

Wallpaper didn’t walk on stage, they charged it like the Jets in West Side Story. Ricky Reed and his posse that included pink-haired vocalist, Novena Carmel, brought more energy than the Energizer Bunny. They kept going, and going, batting back beach balls to the crowd with drumsticks, hopping around in Hammer pants, or choreographed dancing. The feeling spread onto the smiling crowd that danced in the afternoon sun like nothing mattered because it didn’t. We were all too stupid faced to care.

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Neon Indian @ Hype Hotel for IGIF Showcase

Neon Indian took plenty of time to sound check, which ultimately forced the last band, Star Slinger, to cancel. Not cool if you ask me. However, I’m probably in the minority since the group packed the HypeM Hotel tighter than any band during the week of showcases with the exception of Miike Snow. (Yes, I spent my entire week at the HypeM Hotel).

As Neon Indian’s set got under way, the crowd packed tightly towards the stage. Clearly,  the group’s two singles “Deadbeat Summer” and “Polish Girl” were the driving force behind the excitement as  the crowd danced crazily when the tracks cued. Drawn out synths washed in reverb swept over Alan Palamo’s vocals as each verse crashed like waves of dreamy sounds. The two singles were so much more noticeably engaging than the rest of the set that my friend yelled into my ear, “The crowd clearly only knows two tracks.” So it is.

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Caveman @ Hype Hotel for IGIF Showcase

I was fortunate to hear Caveman twice. One, because this became my favorite band at SXSW; two, because their second performance affirmed their sound is even better live. Tracks like “Thankful” highlighted the reverb and distortion that briskly washed over the melodic hook. Then there was “A Country’s King of Dream,” its dynamic range increasing tenfold with crisp claps and mellowed drum kicks punctuating the dreamy melodies. The group quickly draws comparisons to Vampire Weekend or Local Natives for their artsy indie pop that draws from the psychedelic periods of the Beatles and blends it with lo-fi, and pop hooks. And where many bands struggle during performances to balance sonic layers, this was never the case for Caveman: lyrics were enunciated, guitar progressions were poignant, and rhythms were firm, but not overpowering. Besides the unflattering name, Caveman is a promising new indie sensation.