SXSW Music Review: Bully, Wye Oak, Superchunk

Nineties grit sandwiches a quieter reprieve

Mohawk’s outdoor stage – sponsored by The Onion/The A.V. Club – belonged to Bully on Monday night. The Nashville fourpiece hammered out a 40-minute set thriving with pop encased in the sludge and grit of Nineties grunge, a clamor conjuring up everything from the dissonance of the Jesus Lizard to the poppier Pixies or Hole.

Guitarist-vocalist Alicia Bognanno’s voice kicked from gentle and lost-in-the-mix to hollering herself above deafening guitar fuzz. That whipped the packed outdoor stage into a frenzy, after which a violent mosh pit erupted. Pulling from both 2015’s Feels Like and 2017’s Losing, Bognanno abandoned her guitar to close with a thrashing, breakneck cover of “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues” by Welsh post-hardcore act McLusky.

Baltimore’s Wye Oak offered a quieter reprieve, the entire set devoted to debuting its forthcoming fifth LP, The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs. It marked a night of firsts for the duo – the first live performances of the songs, the first performance as a trio. The Louder I Call leans heavily into electro ambient pop, an amorphous, spacier instrumentation thrumming beneath Jenn Wasner’s velvety voice.

Superchunk (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Superchunk closed out the evening totally buoyant, an elated, hourlong adrenaline rush delivered via the band’s seminal blend of power-pop and punk. Fresh off of the release of last month’s What a Time to Be Alive, the 11th album from the North Carolina quartet, the newer work made up the bulk of the set list.

Of course classics made key appearances, too.

“Skip Steps 1 & 3,” “Hello Hawk,” and the crowd-pleasing “Slack Motherfucker” from 1990’s self-titled debut all blended seamlessly into the new catalog. Anchored by Mac McCaughan’s snotty vox and expert, rapid-fire guitar solos, Superchunk was a blur of constant motion live. Boyish energy fed high kicks and guitars being spun like pinwheels, all radiating a reckless sincerity.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

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  

Dungeon Family Headlines SXSW’s Free Outdoor Stage
Dungeon Family Headlines SXSW’s Free Outdoor Stage
Big Boi & Co. rolling into Auditorium Shores next Friday

Kevin Curtin, March 4, 2019

Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
A smaller SXSW Music week still satisfies

Kevin Curtin, March 23, 2018

More by Libby Webster
Little Mazarn Album Review
Little Mazarn Album Review
Io (Self Sabotage)

May 31, 2019

Christelle Bofale Album Review
Christelle Bofale Album Review
Swim Team (Father/Daughter)

May 31, 2019


Bully, Wye Oak, Superchunk, SXSW Music 2018, The Onion/A.V. Club, Alicia Bognanno, Mclusky, The Jesus Lizard, Pixies, Hole, Jenn Wasner, Mac McCaughan

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