SXSW Music Review: The Beths

Kiwis process the Christchurch mosque shooting at last SX set

Auckland, New Zealand’s the Beths established themselves as a buzz band this year at SXSW, beginning with a bold, punchy, guitar-pop takedown at Mohawk on Monday night. By Friday’s 9pm slot at Rolling Stone’s Native Hostel Showcase, their mood had shifted.

Photo by John Leach

The music retained the strikingly tight performance of prior sets all week, but took on a mostly unspoken, raw somberness as the band grappled with news of the Christchurch mosque shooting – the deadliest attack in their home country’s history.

“It’s been a weird day,” admitted guitarist/vocalist Elizabeth Stokes, thanking everyone who had extended kindness to them throughout the day. “We’re sending lots of love to everyone back home.”

Otherwise, the fourpiece skipped the small talk and focused on the music, whirring through 40 minutes of dazzling, layered power-pop led by Stokes’ incisively clever lyrics and airy vocals.

Culling from critically lauded 2018 debut Future Me Hates Me, the Beths effectively cut through the din of an industry-heavy crowd plied with free cocktails. A subtly retro influence snuck into their Nineties college rock sound. Credit the honeyed group vocals of bassist/vocalist Benjamin Sinclair, guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Pearce, and drummer Ivan Luketina-Johnston, who worked through the hand-clapping “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” the feverish, hopeful crush song “Little Death,” and the anthemic “River Run: Lvl 1.”

It felt outrageous that a band should have to process the trauma of the day at a party, but the Beths persevered, poised and gutsy, closing out their SXSW remarkably brave.


The Beths

Friday, March 15, 8:55pm, Native Hostel

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 Libby Webster
Glassing Album Review
Glassing Album Review
Spotted Horse (Brutal Panda)

May 17, 2019

The Infinites Get Loopy at the Intersection of Jared Leibowich and Dan LeVine
The Infinites Get Loopy at the Intersection of Jared Leibowich and Dan LeVine
Zoltars' frontman and Ghetto Ghouls' guitarist come together in the hypnosphere

May 10, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

The Beths, SXSW 2019, SXSW Music 2019, Elizabeth Stokes, Benjamin Sinclair, Jonathan Pearce, Ivan Luketina-Johnston, Rolling Stone

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