Lost Weekend SXSW day 3 pics: Andrew WK, Lucy Dacus, Gang of Youths, APTBS, more
It all began at noon on the outside stage with confrontational punk performance artists Sloppy Jane, who really need to be seen live to get the full experience. Their show feels equally influenced by theater productions as by The Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop and Patti Smith, it contains nudity, and it's clearly making a statement and meant to provoke. They had nine members on stage, five of which sang, some of whom were in unconventional positions (like lying on a PA speaker or sitting upright on a monitor in front of the stage or standing on a guitar amp), and leading the way is the often-fully-nude Haley Dahl, who has zero restraint and gives a highly animated performance that included writhing around on stage and climbing the scaffolding. Haley is the star and the director, but every member brings something unique to the table and they're all crucial to the Sloppy Jane experience. It's more than just shock factor or a big spectacle -- it's a meticulously composed performance with so much attention to detail and so much raw talent.
After Sloppy Jane played outside, garage rockers Susan still had a few songs left inside, and that made for a nice transition into surfy garage pop band La Luz, who brought their enjoyable live show to the outside stage after Sloppy Jane. About halfway through La Luz, Haley Heynderickx took to the inside stage and put on one of my favorite sets of the week. When we recently caught the Portland indie-folk artist making her NYC debut, she played solo, but this time she had a band (including a trumpet player on every song) and she's even better this way. Her voice soars even more powerfully than it does on the album, and it's nice to hear her aided by some nice harmonies from her keyboardist/backing singer. When Haley and her band bring their folky sound to a rockin' roar, like on set closer (and set standout) "Worth It," it's next level.
After Haley Heynderickx, the outside stage hosted Natalie Prass, who previewed material from her funky new album. Her debut garnered Disney princess comparisons, but this time she's channelling a mix of '70s/'80s disco and '90s R&B. You could hear hints of anything from Diana Ross to Janet Jackson to Brandy to Solange, and Natalie handled it all well. Natalie transitioned well into the inside stage's next act, Australia's G Flip who has only released one song so far ("About You") but who proved during her live show that she's got a whole arsenal of very catchy pop. "About You" was obviously the set highlight and a lot of people in the crowd already knew the words, but every song she played was on that level. She said it was not only her eighth show of SXSW but her eighth show ever, but she and her band already seemed like they'd been touring together for ages. They were super locked-in, and they had a unique setup where sometimes Georgia Flipo herself drummed and other times the bassist switched to drums so Georgia could just sing. The show was full of energy and it felt like they won over everyone in the room. Speaking of energy, the next act on the outside stage was Andrew WK, who turned the party-ometer up to 11 and was as loud and in-your-face as you'd hope.
Andrew WK started a little late which resulted in me not seeing much of Nilufer Yanya's set on the inside stage, but from what I did see, her jazzy pop sounded very tight. Meanwhile, the volume stayed turned-up on the outdoor stage as A Place to Bury Strangers followed Andrew WK. Their noisy, shoegazy wall of sound was as overpowering as ever, and as they've done at more than one SXSW show this week, members of the band played part of the set in the audience.
Next up inside were enjoyable Australian indie rockers RVG, and then outside had another Australian band, Gang of Youths. I don't think any band exceeded my expectations this week more than Gang of Youths did. They sound like an ambitious rock band on their latest album, but the live show nearly doubles that ambition. They already seem like they should be playing to crowds 10 times as big as they played to on Saturday, and they don't hold back one bit from playing like the rock stars they deserve to be. Sometimes that means getting what you might call a little cheesy, but Gang of Youths own all of their guilty pleasures so confidently that it ends up seeming like there's nothing guilty about it (they also mentioned on stage that they'd rather do what they were doing than ever be pretentious hipsters staring at their shoes, which the crowd appreciated). They have some slower songs on the new album, but they kept this brief set to all ragers, and they were the perfect songs to be hearing on a sunny St. Patrick's Day afternoon, as much of the enthusiastic crowd would surely agree. If you're unfamiliar, they've got a serious Springsteen vibe, but they keep things interesting with an atmospheric side that feels equally influenced by The National and post-rock. Post-heartland rock? Whatever you wanna call it, it's a great sound and the live show must be seen.
After Gang of Youths was another artist who seems ready and destined to become very big, Jade Bird, on the inside stage. The UK singer/songwriter released an EP last year channelling Americana and country music, but she's said in interviews that lately she's been revisiting her love of '90s pop/rock like Alanis Morissette, and it wouldn't be tough to imagine Jade Bird crossing over with pop audiences. She's a commanding performer and her live show already has all the kinks worked out. After Jade Bird, the outside stage hosted Gus Dapperton, whose lite fm-inspired pop and colorful attire both hearkened back to the VHS era. Matching his pleasantly catchy songs was some funny and irony-laced stage banter.
The inside stage stayed on the Americana side, with Courtney Marie Andrews, who also put on a very full and pro-sounding set, and after Courtney the inside stage hosted the mathy art rock band Palm who sound straight out of 2007 (hints of Animal Collective, Akron/Family, Battles, Dirty Projectors, etc). Then the day wrapped up on the outside stage with a wonderful set from Lucy Dacus. Lucy had been closing her shows with the lengthy and emotionally powerful "Pillar of Truth" off her great recently released album Historian, but after already playing 16 (!) other SXSW shows, she decided to mix things up this time and open with that song. It really set the tone for what went on to be an awe-inspiring set, full of other highlights from the new album like "Additions," "Yours & Mine," and "Night Shift," as well as fan-fave "I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore" from her 2016 debut, and Lucy and her band nailed every single note. Very tight set, and an incredible way to wrap up the three-day Lost Weekend.
photos by Amanda Hatfield