SXSW Live Shot: Dry the River

Non-show from dire East London gang

Let’s be honest right up front. Helluva thing to follow Malian exiles Songhoy Blues right after the documentary covering that band’s horrific struggle to make music beneath the radar of Al-Quaeda plays onscreen at SXSW Film.

Dry the River’s sloppy seconds, 3.17.15 (Photo by Sandy Carson)

Yes, sure, Buffalo Billiards was packed to the rafters, grooving, vibing, and — if they’d seen Johanna Schwartz’s documentary They Will Have to Kill Us First — most likely sympathizing with the expat African rockers. That doesn’t forgive top-billed Dry the River’s disastrous non-show one iota. If anything, it stinks of inter-band issues and snafus.

After nearly 45 minutes of soundchecks that amounted to less than nothing from the usually explosive and dire Stratford, East London, outfit, a SXSW tech whispered that the reason the band never fully took the stage was due to “their ear pieces not working properly.” The irony is that it was Britpop epicenter Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz that traveled to Mali to ballyhoo/appropriate that nation’s indigenous sonics. Dry the River, on the other hand, spent the entirety of their set doing everything but playing music.

Ultimately they announced, via a presumed PR rep, that they would be performing “an acoustic set” on the ping pong-and-booze floor below. By then, the interested had moved on and those that remained — those still crowded in front of upstairs stage — found themselves left out of even that. Cry them a river, or better yet make amends.

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Dry the River, SXSW Music 2015

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