Julie Delpy

SXSW Live Shots

SXSW Live Shots
Photo By John Anderson

Julie Delpy

Friends, Wednesday, March 17 Willowy French actress Delpy has a voice to match her gamine frame; two parts sultry lounge chanteuse, one part Johnette Napolitano rocker chick equals ... well, at the very least a full house. Delpy, the thinking man's femme fatale and eternal flame of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise (and the soon-to-be-released sequel, Before Sunset) and cult-favorite Killing Zoe, among others, fronts a band whose rock & roll reach exceeds its grasp by a furlong or two. Delpy's voice strains on the high notes, but you can tell she's eager to attach the emotional intensity of her confessional lyrics to the music. Opener "Something a Bit Vague" featured her thinnish voice immersed in a vaguely Crime & the City Solution background. Everything – guitars, bass, drums – was, for better or worse, relegated to background behind Delpy's vocals, which may be either a mixing error or simply the way the band likes it. Regardless, Delpy's voice seemed stretched thin on several numbers – Aimee Mann minus the abdominal punch. Delpy dedicated midset number "Mr Unhappy" to "an ex-boyfriend of mine," and with its opening lines, "Why do you want me to be what I cannot be?" the up-tempo rocker felt sidelined by a serious lack of subtlety. English isn't Delpy's native language, of course, and Friends is hardly the ideal setting to hear her work (an early visit to Delpy's sound check was far more invigorating and relaxed). But even her crackerjack backing band felt as though they were trying awfully hard when it would have been so much better had they just let it all go and ignored the star-studded audience.

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