SXSW Music Live: City of Austin Showcase
Calliope Musicals and Emily Wolfe blow the rooftop off
By Bryan Rolli,
11:30AM, Wed. Mar. 15, 2017
Credit bassist Scott Telles of Austin instrumental spellcasters My Education for knowing just how to fire up Maggie Mae’s rooftop crowd on Tuesday, the second night of SXSW’s music portion. “Can we turn the stage lights down? We’re nothing to look at.”
Equally self-effacing and self-aware, the sagely post-rock sextet churned through hypnotic dirges that did little to move the apathetic audience. Former Voxtrot frontman and indie-pop rocker Ramesh met the same fate, his earnest stage strutting and keyboard flourishes unable to stop badge-holders from hitting the bar.
Enter Austin’s new Band of the Year, Calliope Musicals, whose frontwoman Carrie Fussell literally sprang onstage to begin their set, a whirlwind of soulful psychedelia swarmed enthralled fans onto the dance floor. The band pogoed and sashayed, leading instant converts in a sing-along on transcendent closer, “What My Eyes Found.”
“I dreamed this dream would never end.”
Contrasting Calliope’s Seventies glam-folk, native six-stringer Emily Wolfe’s smoldering blues-rock evoked mighty power trios of decades past. The guitarist has mastered the art of space, centering her songs around an infectious riff and sensual groove while leaving room for pyrotechnic fretwork.
The 26-year-old planted herself firmly behind the microphone and let her rich, raspy howl fill the air. She loosened up as the night progressed, stalking the stage and snarling atop the audience as she ripped another solo.
“I got two more. I also don’t know how to smoke,” Wolfe said as a fan offered her a cigarette drag, then plunged into the filthy, mid-tempo grind of “Atta Blues.”
The guitarist decided against an extended, blistering outro solo, as if to suggest – in regards to her own schedule and the rest of South By at large – that the best is yet to come.