Ryan McPhun & the Ruby Suns

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo By Gary Miller

Ryan McPhun & the Ruby Suns

Whisky Bar, Wednesday, March 15

There's inherit danger in one's LPs being the function of studio luxuries, and Ryan McPhun's debut is a lesson in utilizing all the tricks of the tape. Compound that with the limitations of playing a festival and you've got a recipe for, well, something less than tasty. Still, McPhun's Brian Wilson-esque sonic montages were particularly vulnerable, and it showed. The set's second song, "Criterion," with its super-sweet and sing-songy signature lyric "You deserve to be with the one you love" was marred by background vocals that trumped the lead. Other times, it was the reverse, and there were no backing vocals. And there were fits of feedback throughout. Combine that with hot levels on the horns and enough bass to occasionally raise the hair on your legs (literally), and it should have been a mess. But no. Rather than bitch ("Can I get more x in my monitor?"), New Zealand's McPhun and his mini-Polyphonic Spree quintet just plowed through the set like it was the most normal thing, and the unmitigated euphoria of the songs somehow penetrated the mix.

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