Austin Psych Fest Live (Sunday): Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band

TV on the Radio frontman goes dub, Afropop, and electro-punk

With Mikal Cronin still raging on the Reverberation Stage, the crowd in the Levitation Tent was surprisingly sparse when Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band kicked off. TV On the Radio vocalist Tunde Adebimpe was keen to start on time, an especially admirable trait for someone with a tableful of electronic effects in tow.

Photo by Gary Miller

Adebimpe’s side project bears passing sonic resemblance to TVOTR, but the overall feel is more expansive and groove-oriented. Hints of reverb-saturated dub roiled alongside nods to electro-punk, Afropop, and Saharan blues. It wasn’t long before this intriguing combination drew more people into the tent.

In the middle of it all, the singer held court by filtering his soulful, commanding vocals through all manner of filter-sodden, pitch-bent, time-shifted processing. The fact that Adebimpe’s voice is singularly distinctive in raw form made this mechanical approach all the more remarkable. Lots of acts at this year’s APF fed their vocals through effects, but few (if any) integrated humanity and technology so seamlessly.

Onetime Lee “Scratch” Perry/Matisyahu bassist Josh Werner and San Antonio-born Tall Firs drummer Ryan Sawyer comprised a particularly formidable rhythm section. Werner handled the foundational grunt work, creating a full, steady bottom end without overplaying. This gave Sawyer and guitarist Alex Holden more room to flesh out the atmospherics.

In a set full of new songs, “Mad Lifeline” from the band’s debut EP got the warmest response. Although Adebimpe’s forlorn whistling bears the sleekness of a sample, he delivered it live without a scratch.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band
Austin Psych Fest Live (Sunday): Kikagaku Moyo/Bo Ningen
Austin Psych Fest Live (Sunday): Kikagaku Moyo/Bo Ningen
A second Japanese twofer pilots the APF mothership

Raoul Hernandez, May 5, 2014

More by Greg Beets
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band, Tunde Adebimpe, TV on the Radio, Alex Holden, Lee Scratch Perry, Matisyahu, Josh Werner, Tall Firs, Ryan Sawyer, Mikal Cronin, Austin Psych Fest 2014

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle