SXSW Music Live: Modern Outsider Showcase
Austin label packs club, dance floor, and homegrown breakouts
By Doug Freeman,
10:45AM, Wed. Mar. 15, 2017
Modern Outsider’s SXSW showcase proved why the imprint earned repeat honors for Best Local Label at this year’s Austin Music Awards. Taking over the inside stage of Cheer Up Charlies, a stellar local lineup kept the house packed throughout the night.
Quiet Company served an opening dish of strong cuts from last year’s Transgressor, the quartet sharpened with a new edge as frontman Taylor Muse traded in his previous dramatic crescendos for an anxiety addled tension. New songs from two upcoming EPs unleashed adventurous hooks (“Celebrity Teeth Poacher”) and bitter bite (“On Ex-Husbands and Wives”).
Psych-tuned quartet Mirror Travel unloaded a heavy droning wave, Black Angels meets Mazzy Star behind Lauren Green’s vocals and guitar. Jess Williamson mesmerized more with Mirror Travel’s rhythm section sitting in alongside the songwriter and Shane Renfro’s lead guitar.
Opening with the title track from November’s Heart Song, Williamson enchanted with slow-licking, psych-edged folk. In a set only five songs long, “Say It” and “See You in a Dream” stood out, unfolding a gorgeous melancholy – heartbreak wrapped in lonesome, last call melodies.
Leslie Sisson’s quartet Moving Panoramas, meanwhile, threw heavier power behind a slew of new songs, from familiar shoegaze riffs with “Home Alone” to the more upbeat “Whiskey Is the Reason” and percussive groove of “Dance Floor.” The evening closed with a shift from psych waves to unabashed blowout, ninepiece outfit Hard Proof barely contained onstage as they blared a horn-fronted funk fusion onto the transformed dance floor.
Expected 2017 breakout Walker Lukens then shut down the party with the jagged rhythm of new single “Where Is Thunder Road” and flailing across the floor to punch up his madcap rockers like “Jacket on Ya Shoulders.”