SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
by Shelley Hiam


Swan Dive, Thursday, March 14

In a brief set only 25 minutes and four songs long, Braids kicked off the second night of an embarrassment of Montreal riches with the sweet bleeps of "Peach Wedding," Raphaelle Standell-Preston's vocals a bit buried in the swirling samples, loops, and layers as she fiddled with knobs on one of the trio's two synthesizers. At times evoking an ethereal will-o-the-wisp and at others channeling Harriet Wheeler's razor-toothed sweetness in the Sundays, the singer proved personable and charming, particularly when a jarring malfunction with the group's second keyboard made some decidedly unlovely sounds, grinding the set to an awkward halt. Standell-Preston attempted to regroup, engaging in a bit of abashed improv, riffing on Gandhi and forgiveness, claiming, "We had a great set yesterday, I promise!" Meanwhile, the song proved unrecoverable despite the band's best efforts. Rebooting with grace but clearly rattled, the group concluded with the trance-inducing "Plath Heart," all rhythmic pulses and dreamy, cotton-candy melodies. In an abrupt goodnight that came far too soon. Standell-Preston signed off with, "That's all we have. I'm glad that mistake happened, because I felt a lot closer to you as a result."

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