The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Live Shot: San Fermin

By Melanie Haupt, March 16, 2014, 11:55am, Earache!

Pale, male, and Yale: three words that when lumped together conjure the epitome of American privilege. And yet, despite his degree in classical composition from that vaunted Ivy League realm, Ellis Ludwig-Leone has managed to compose a deeply American document of youthful existentialism, while also capturing the sheer, messy joy of existence.

The eight musicians onstage Saturday night, fronted by singers Rae Cassidy and Allen Tate, comprised a diverse aesthetic palate, each player weaving in their own threads from the classical, soul, rock, and even lounge canons to create a musical tapestry with hues of Sufjan Stevens and Burt Bacharach.

For their seventh and final SXSW set, San Fermin kicked off with “Renaissance!” and a few other tracks from their self-titled debut, touching on the expected “Sonsick,” during which trumpeter John Brandon, his hair arranged into an architectural swoop, climbed on top of a monitor to deliver an enthusiastic solo. The outfit also introduced a new song, the sexy, trancey “Parasite,” which fans should expect on the group’s sophomore disc, due to start recording later this year.

Meanwhile, because this is an American story, dozens of spectators shut out from the club watched from the street like something out of a Dreiser novel. Privilege has its limits, after all.

Angular end-note “The Count” closed San Fermin’s first SXSW on a high. It’s exciting to know that they’re just getting started.

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