SXSW Live Shot: Cikatri$

Swedish/French avant punks dignify the keytar

Pity the poor keytar, an instrument that will forever be associated with badly permed guys wearing blue duster jackets. It’s physically impossible to look like a badass while playing a keytar. Unless you’re Aurélie Ferr, of course.

Representing the keytar, Aurélie Ferr! (Photo by John Anderson)

Ferr is the vocalist ringleader of Cikatri$, a Stockholm-based avant-punk quartet that employs a bright red Korg to beat their warhorse genre with a different whip. Though the band’s Swedish, Ferr herself is French – as are her lyrics. Don’t let the dollar sign at the end of the group’s moniker fool you.

It means scar.

Taking the tiny 720 Club stage in front of a sparse early evening crowd, Ferr and company kept the intensity level high, burning through key-infused souvenirs of hardcore dystopia. At times, the blonde, dark shades-sporting chanteuse resembled a Francophone cross between Nico and Penelope Houston, unflinchingly cool yet dramatically deranged when the song called for it.

Sixties garage influences also crept in, particularly on “Je suis C,” which wouldn’t sound out of place alongside the Love Me Nots. “Le Voleur de Châleur” from 2013’s Oui Le Deux Non Non Non EP lit a torch song then lunged full-throttle midway through. A couple one-minute buzz bombs came off structurally underdeveloped, but the band made up for it with “La Lumière se courbe,” a five-minute creep into infernal abandon.

The take-home lesson was clear. If someone asks whether you want more keytar in the mix, the only acceptable answer is, “Oui.”

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Cikatri$, SXSW, SXSW Music 2015, Aurélie Ferr, Nico, Penelope Houston, Love Me Nots

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