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

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Patty Griffin on Her Battle With Breast Cancer and New Album
Patty Griffin on Her Battle With Breast Cancer and New Album
Local songwriter rises through the fire

Doug Freeman, March 29, 2019

Nardwuar Gifts Quin NFN a Copy of the <i>Chronicle</i> in New Video
Nardwuar Gifts Quin NFN a Copy of the Chronicle in New Video
“They had it everywhere. My momma was loving it.”

Kevin Curtin, March 26, 2019

More by Tim Stegall
Texas Platters
Thunderosa
Ride the Snake (Record Review)

April 19, 2019

Texas Platters
Dogs & Diamonds
Last Free Exit (Record Review)

April 19, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

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

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle