Tosca String Quartet & Lambchop

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo By Roxanne Jo Mitchell

Tosca String Quartet & Lambchop

Habana Calle 6 Annex, Thursday, March 15

Forlorn bards and string quartets aren't necessarily meant to be heard in tents sandwiched between freeways and police-station parking lots, but at SXSW, you play ball with the venue you're dealt. Lambchop mainstay Kurt Wagner joined Austin's Tosca String Quartet for stripped-down versions of his ornately arranged baroque blues that managed to hold the front half of the tent rapt despite the surrounding chaos. Unlike the Nashville-based enterprise's cinematic, full-bodied recordings, this set featured just strings and two hollowbody electric guitars, which imbued songs like "Prepared (2)" with a mournful lonesome beauty. With a cigarette burning away like incense on his mic stand, Wagner's droll Mayo Thompson baritone occasionally gave way to emotive belting more akin to Tom Waits. Through it all, the Tosca strings shimmered and skittered their way about the melodies, lending texture and weight to Wagner's obtusely dark lyrical allusions. Although the delicately nuanced package might've had more resonance in a quieter setting, making it work at the corner of Sixth Street and I-35 might be just as great an accomplishment.

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
Saturday Interview
Saturday Interview

Kevin Curtin, March 20, 2015

Friday Interviews
Friday Interviews
The Church, Leon Bridges, Best Coast – vintage, meteoric, and sincere.

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Faster Than Sound: SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
SXSW Online Offered Lots to Look Forward To
Virtual festival forecasts incoming local debuts and tentative fall touring.

Rachel Rascoe, March 26, 2021

Faster Than Sound: Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Virtual ACL Music Fest Keeps Flags Flying
Nostalgic livestream and rising Austin talent fundraise for the Austin Parks Foundation.

Rachel Rascoe, Oct. 16, 2020

More by Greg Beets
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
Our Music Critics Pick Their Top 10 Austin Albums of 2018
80 local picks from Molly Burch to Brownout

Dec. 28, 2018

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

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle