Silversun Pickups

We woke up early on an overcast Austin Saturday morning to meet with Silversun Pickups and shoot them for our feature in a friend’s nearby loft. The setting: the Silversuns lounging on a luxurious, Victorian carved bed, was quite cozy indeed, but it was too bad there wasn’t time to chat about their new songs over coffee. They were onto the next promotional outing for their new album, Swoon, out on Dangerbird Records on April 14th, so we ducked into an early day party launching the best of Yorkshire bands at Latitude 30.


The dramatic, sugar-coated Talk To Angels, with their Cooper Temple Clause-style blond shags, kicked brunch into high gear with their anthemic tunes.


They were followed by Bella Union singer/songwriter Paul Marshall, based in Leeds, who then took it down a notch, easing us into the next hour of the British Music Embassy festivities with a bittersweet acoustic and piano set, highlighted with his swoony scorchers like “Greenfly”.  Most in the Brit-based audience were chuffed to sit back and eat their early lunch, Guinness in hand, as he strummed through his tunes.


Having seen them at the Kerrang! showdown a few days before, we knew what we were in for when Rolo Tomassi then took over the stage.  Their set couldn’t be more the polar opposite of Marshall’s, a wake up call of controlled musical mayhem, seemingly insane riffs and tight tempos.


The room was packed, and members of British bands like Late of the Pier, Come On Gang and Danananakroyd were there with the best of us, jostling for a good spot with a view.  Even if you aren’t into pairing intense, gutteral prog rock with your morning ale, you can’t help but be captivated by this young Sheffield band’s power.  Ay, Caramba!


We knew the trio Sky Larkin, led by the talented singer/guitarist Katie Harkin, would keep the party mood up with the tightly-wound pop tune “Beeline” and “Fossil, I”.  Just after spotting Harkin in the ladies’ room redoing her braids, the band took the stage with the perfect melding of perky and edge, given Harkin’s Siouxsie-esque vocals and the band’s Sonic Youth/Placebo spiky, rough guitars.  As soon as the set was over, the gracious Harkin was seen passing out band pins to anyone who stopped to chat or comment.


The afternoon was far from over, and it was time for a change of scenery, so we gathered the strength to leave one dark room for another, heading over to the Parish for a beer at Q Magazine’s party.  Luckily, we got upstairs in time for the always impressive Delta Spirit playing their hit, “People C’Mon”, and ending with their crowd-pleasing, percussive “Trashcan”, which features the singer/guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, Kelly Winrich, and singer Matthew Vasquez switching places, the latter singing while banging furiously on the piano.  Winrich, meanwhile, plays his part in Delta’s epic finale, beating a trash can lid with tambourine attached.

At this point, a few of us had to rush off to the airport to get back to New York City, leaving two behind to check out some of the last night’s best shows.


Echo and the Bunnymen performed at a taping at the Bat Bar, with Ian McCulloch’s amazing vocals crooning  audience favorites like “Lips Like Sugar”, “The Cutter”, and “The Killing Moon”.  Leaning forward with his hands behind his back in a pair of sunglasses, McCulloch can’t help remind us of Liam Gallagher at times, or rather, Liam Gallagher’s stance is spot-on Ian McCulloch.


Late of the Pier, also performing at the Bat Bar taping, turned up their energy up to ten (nearing the eleven mark), and as always, it was great seeing their quirky dance-electronic-pop, along with dramatic hand gestures reminiscent of Siegfried and Roy.  For their finale, guys in masks and robes grabbed them and carried them off stage as if they were being kidnapped.  Drama!  The kids in attendance were in bliss.  Damn, we felt old!


Enter Shikari were on at our next stop, Emo’s Annex, with the good-looking frontman Rou jumping feet first into the audience, and of course, the crowd went mad.  We ended up moving over to the side of the stage after a couple of songs since it started to feel a bit out of control.  Unfortunately, no human pyramids were erected at this show.


Hot Leg came next, and were the best show of the festival, in our humble opinion.  It was the return of stage-ham Justin Hawkins in a black leather jumpsuit standing as close to the audience as he could, legs spread out, crotch thrust forward in front of a sea of adoring females.  He loved it and so did we.


Hawkins certainly knew how to entertain the crowd, and even the one guy in the audience seemed to enjoy it, (the show that is).–MVW and Bat Bar review by Tear-n Tan/photos by Tear-n Tan (Sky Larkin and Delta Spirit photos by Eileen Murphy)