The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Live Shots

Music Showcase

Reviewed by Michael Chamy, March 14, 2003, Music


Emo's Main Room, Wednesday, March 12 Judging by the massive lines outside Emo's as early as 8pm on this SXSW Wednesday, the word was out on this formidable lineup. The Kindercore showcase on the inside stage was no small shake, but on this night, the outside stage was home to two of the finest representatives of their respective subgenres. Following the energetic time warp electro-pop of NYC's Soviet, the Seattle instrumental fourpiece Kinski just about blew the roof off the place with their pummeling sonic whirlwind. Opening with a mood-setting drone that featured flute and bowed guitar before erupting into a wailing caterwaul, theirs is a sharp dichotomy. One would think the strength of their awesome live shows is what got them signed to their hometown label Sub Pop, more or less the big leagues for an instrumental drone rock band. During "Semaphore," off their brand new Airs Above Your Station, disjointed tremolo screeches gave way to a mammoth tidal wave of sheer volume, and finally a lightning-fast shot of pure adrenaline. Spontaneous cheers erupted from the normally cool-as-a-cucumber conferencegoers; they were absolutely galvanized by these masters of the cosmic jam. Electro-clash wunderkinds Soviet took the stage at 9pm, with a live drummer (wearing a cape and bandana) adding beef to the oh-so-Eighties sounds of their wonderful We Are Eyes We Are Builders. Thankfully there were none of the technical problems that plagued their set earlier in the day at Thirty Three Degrees, and they looked overjoyed just to have everything sounding right. Frontman Keith Ruggiero was clad in shades, tie, and blazer and turned out to be quite the grandstander. As many as four keyboards tied together some of the bounciest electro-pop imaginable, behind Ruggiero's understated Depeche Mode-style vocals. Should-be hit "Marbleyed" drew the biggest reaction from a set that was as charming as humanly possible, if not providing quite the visceral sonic experience of Kinski.

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