SXSW Live Shot: The Strypes

Wake Joe Strummer, Ireland Calling

Your life was saved by songs like “Anarchy in the UK,” then you spent a good chunk of your life writing about rock & roll. Continually, over time, you’re let down, because the music business sells you placebic “rock & roll.” You begin to believe rock & roll is a euphemism for "mundane." Then you see a band.

Photo by Shelley Hiam

For me, at 14, it was the Clash. At 23, the Lazy Cowgirls. At 38 – the Libertines. And you believe again how great pure, undiluted rock & roll truly is. The band doing it for me at 48? The Strypes, 16- to 18-years-olds from Cavan, Ireland.

Their parents apparently raised them in three-button suits and Chelsea boots. On Gretsch guitars and a diet of 1965 London R&B – Brian Jones-era Stones, Jeff Beck’s Yardbirds, the Pretty Things – plus the Willie Dixon catalog and first generation punk rock. They take the stage at fourth gear and never stop.

Full-on flying scissor kicks, sneers, badass sunglassed singer twirling his tambourine gunslinger style, guitar hero comically shrugging through his hammer-ons. The tension never relents. They’re cool enough to mention Lee Van Cleef in a lyric.

Finally it explodes in their first great original, “Blue Collar Jane,” then Dixon’s “You Can't Judge a Book by Looking at Its Cover,” and Nick Lowe’s Ramones pastiche “Heart of the City.” The guitarist kicks his Gretsch across the stage towards his amps, howling feedback, and they’re gone.

I feel like I’m 14 again and just saw the Clash.

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Strypes, SXSW Music 2014, Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones, Nick Lowe, Willie Dixon, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Pretty Things, Libertines, Lazy Cowgirls, Lee Van Cleef

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