SXSW Music Review: The Veldt

Afro-shoegaze pioneers re-emerge for their close-up

The Veldt are having a moment. The Raleigh, N.C., band’s creamy mix of psychedelic guitar wash and muted R&B has been cited as an influence by Miguel and the Weeknd.

Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

That, coupled with recent collaborations alongside TV on the Radio and Mos Def, plus a tour with Phantogram and its 1994 LP Afrodisiac given space on Pitchfork’s list of Top 50 shoegaze albums, gives the group a higher profile now than it enjoyed during its early-Nineties heyday on a major label.

Whether that goodwill transfers to more attention from the industry is another question.

The band’s late-afternoon slot at the Ginger Man’s New Granada Records day party on Friday didn’t come close to overflow, but did fill up the patio tables with die-hard fans. Fielding an expanded, three-guitar lineup, the Veldt revisited the past and previewed the future over the course of a half-dozen songs.

Mixing live drums with programmed beats, guitarists Danny Chavis and Hayato Nakao layered hazy shimmers of distorted six-strings atop rubbery grooves, over which Chavis’ twin brother and singer Daniel Chavis belted his ponderings of love, sex, and the divine. “The Color of Love Is Blue,” from latest EP Thanks to the Moth and Areanna Rose, and “Sanctified,” from last year’s The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur, sounded tentative, with Chavis unable to hear himself properly.

Once the mix scanned copacetic, the frontman poured his soul through his larynx, often switching to a vulnerable falsetto. The Veldt thus locked into its distinctive sound as if they’ve gigged every day of the last 26 years. New song “Morning June and Yesterday” glistened like rainwater running off a car window, but the set reached its apex when the sextet launched into the searing “Heather,” a shoegazing classic from Afrodisiac.

Final song “In a Quiet Room,” also from Fuzz, started with a howl and progressed to a whisper, guitars crashing ashore, but receding gently, firmly.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

The Veldt, SXSW Music 2018, Danny Chavis, Daniel Chavis, Hayato Nakao, Migos, the Weeknd, Mos Def, TV on the Radio, Phantogram

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