SXSW Music Review: Viagra Boys

Stockholm irony punks contort mass hypnosis

A little past the midway mark of the Viagra Boys’ first SXSW set on Wednesday night on the Swan Dive patio, leader of the pack Sebastian Murphy lay prostrate on the stage, shirtless and sweat drenched, having chugged through the Swedes’ tongue-in-cheek single “Sports.”

Photo by David Brendan Hall

“Athletics. This is what we’re all about,” he huffed in an uncanny, faux-machismo drawl.

Twenty-five minutes earlier, the singer took the stage in a Hawaiian shirt and black sports shades, cigarette in hand, leading his assemblage of five on early hit “Research Chemicals.” By its end, the frontman stripped down to skin, revealing his Sistine Chapel of grotesque tattoos spanning fingers to forehead. Add to that nonchalant microphone swings, spit beer fountains, and full body contortions straight from Iggy Pop’s playbook.

The irony punks churned out an impeccable set for the full-cap audience, which backed as far as eyes could see. NYC No Wave meets noir-jazz sax lines burned through the band’s sedimentary foundations of thick, churning strings and unwavering percussion. Blistering, three-note bass runs boomed underneath and created a hypnosis that glued every element together. Unsuspected usage of Moog and bongo teetered sludge into art-punk boogaloo.

Boys’ bro-schtick stuck out best in Murphy’s chorus howls and shrimp-induced stage banter, a sea of heads banging in slow-motion. Anything less than a giant mosh qualifies as full-on sacrilege given the performance by these smirking Stockholm punks.


Viagra Boys

Wednesday, March 13, 10pm, Swan Dive Patio

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW 2019, SXSW Music 2019, Viagra Boys, Sebastian Murphy

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