SXSW Music Review: Bush Tetras

Dance music only the Lower East Side in 1979 could’ve produced

Johnny Rotten snarled to Rolling Stone in 1978 that the Sex Pistols were “a great dance band that’s out to destroy rock & roll.” Clearly, the man about to revert to John Lydon didn’t know Bush Tetras stood on the horizon.

Photo by John Anderson

Bush Tetras’ original core trio – muscular drummer Dee Pop, abstract expressionist six-stringer Pat Place, shamanic vocalist Cynthia Sley – uncorked their timeless, action-painting funk in a tent in Hotel Vegas’ backyard Friday night. With Val Opielski replicating the pressure drop bass of the late Laura Kennedy, this was dance music as only the Lower East Side in 1979 could have produced.

Vintage dance floor killers like “Too Many Creeps” and “Snakes Crawl” shared space alongside large chunks of last year’s crucial Take the Fall EP. Pop, who celebrated his 63rd birthday Thursday, detonated deadly go-go rhythms all night. Opielski filled huge amounts of space with her deep, four-string throb, ripped straight out of the heart of the rootsiest dub plates.

Sley channeled various goddesses and demons from a place deep in her soul, casting them upon the room. Place, meanwhile, proved the greatest anti-guitarist in the world. The anti-Keef!

“This one’s called ‘You Can’t Be Funky If You Haven’t Got A Soul,’” Sley grinned at set’s end. Bush Tetras are so funky that middle-aged white-boy rock critics (ahem) danced all night. That’s damned funky.

Bush Tetras

Friday, March 15, 10pm, Hotel Vegas Annex

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Bush Tetras, SXSW 2019, SXSW Music 2019, Dee Pop, Pat Place, Cynthia Sley, Val Opielski, Laura Kennedy, Johnny Rotten, John Lydon, Sex Pistols, Keith Richards

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