SXSW Music Review: Black Fret Teases the After Times

“This song goes out to Snoop Dogg and the Dalai Lama”

A year without any local in-person shows took its toll on the ATX music scene, but Black Fret’s hometown SXSW showcase early Wednesday evening felt like a springtime rejuvenation awaiting us from just around the vaccination bend.

Eimaral Sol

Packing six artists into an hour-long slot filmed at the Pershing, the short two-song sets nonetheless fulfilled on a tight video edit without changeover and minimal banter.

Sydney Wright kicked off quietly anthemic with the pop-inflected “You Can Stay” and grooving through the buckshot beats of “Danger,” before Ley Line soothed behind the South American rhythms of last year’s beautiful sophomore LP We Saw Blue. “Oxum” washed in the harmonies from the AMA-nominated Band of the Year, while new song “Senseless Way” lilted poignantly.

Motenko dished funked-up soul, the quartet’s frontman Micah Motenko channeling something of Professor Longhair and Leon Russell.

Motenko dished funked-up soul, the quartet’s frontman Micah Motenko channeling something of Professor Longhair and Leon Russell with “On Your Level” from last year’s eponymous debut EP. Eimaral Sol shone even brighter, poetically dripping through a stripped down “Soul Thrilla” and the R&B heartache of “10K,” the tight trio format suave but begging for her bigger sound.

PR Newman’s shaggy indie jams ripped behind Spencer Garland’s high whine on “White Volkswagen,” and the quartet recalled The Nude Party with the rootsy psychedelic roll of “Let’s Go Meet in a Small Town.”

Stephanie Hunt’s latest project Buffalo Hunt slotted in the headliner, previewing much anticipated Spaceflight Records debut Play the Fool. The actress and Nancy & Beth songwriter brought a playful, wry energy. Announcing, “This song goes out to Snoop Dogg and the Dalai Lama. Can you imagine?,” she launched into a crooning country ode to getting high in paradise, with harmonies from fiancée Shakey Graves on drums.

Though only a taste of what we’ve missed over the past year, tonight’s musical exhibit highlighted the exceptional work waiting to be unveiled when live shows resume.

Stephanie Hunt and Shakey Graves

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Black Fret, SXSW Music 2021, Sydney Wright, Ley Line, Motenko, Eimaral Sol, PR Newman, Buffalo Hunt, Stephanie Hunt

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