The Sleepy Jackson

SXSW Live Shots

SXSW Live Shots
Photo By Gary Miller

The Sleepy Jackson

Exodus, Thursday, March 18 The Sleepy Jackson's debut, Lovers, is all over the place. The Aussie outfit swings wildly from the lush orch-pop of "This Day" to the straight Ryan Adams Americana of "Miniskirt." Largely the work of one man, Luke Steele, Lovers is delightfully uneven. It misses in spots, but when it's on, it nails it. Live, the Sleepy Jackson gives up all its versatility for volume. Lots of it. It's not an arty band; it's not even a bar band. This is a bona fide arena rock band, right down to the bass players' penchant for finger pointing and the break-it-down intros toward the set's end. Moreover, Michael Hutchence's hair is apparently still all the rage in Australia. But that's nitpicky, as opener "Vampire Racecourse" came off like a roided-up version of a Badfinger tune (advice: Lose the falsetto background vocals). From there, the Sleepy Jackson steadily inched it up, slowing only to work in a pair of songs that would've fit perfectly on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. After that, Steele and company cranked it right back up. Only by the time they got to "Tell the Girls," they might have cranked it just a little too much, as Steele's guitar went silent. After an unfortunate pause, power was restored, and the band rapidly regained momentum, banging out more big guitars only to lose power again shortly thereafter. Now clearly frustrated, the Sleepy Jackson rode out the rest of the set once volume was restored a second time, maybe fearful of a third outage. Abbreviated as it may have been, it was all rock show, albeit without the charm of the album's unpredictability. Nevertheless, the boom crash opera was anything but sleepy.

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