The Boat People

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by Gary Miller

The Boat People

Buffalo Billiards, Wednesday, March 18

A sparse crowd of early birds gathered at the very front end of KCRW's Wednesday night showcase to welcome Melbourne, Australia's the Boat People. The pop-heavy quartet, which has perhaps wrongly been compared to the Shins, Elliott Smith, and the Decemberists, opened with big vocals and tight instrumentation, exuding confidence and good-naturedness despite the audience's reluctance to clap along to the song. The group emerged on the international stage in 2008, garnering much acclaim and a CMJ Grand Prize, but stateside, critics can't seem to nail down the sound. With "Unsettle My Heart," TBP revealed a chunk of influences in fellow countrymen Powderfinger, both in the bigness of their sound and the power of bassist James O'Brien's vocals. He and fellow vocalist/keyboardist Robin Waters engaged in light banter between songs, joking about the fourth wall and MoonPie-related squirrel bites. In fact, the quartet was so charming and polished-sounding that it could almost be forgiven for rhyming "soporific" and "terrific." Most of the set drew heavily from last year's Chandeliers, including the searching "As If I Could." The Boat People went out on a neon-hued note with "Born in the 80's," even though they never could get the audience to clap along.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 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
Review: Grandmaster, <i>Grandmaster</i>
Review: Grandmaster, Grandmaster
Funk prog rock supergroup lures listeners through each stage of cosmic cult indoctrination

Miranda Garza, May 24, 2024

Review: Nova, <i>NovApocalypse</i>
Review: Nova, NovApocalypse
Experimental folk-pop player Nova’s sophomore release gets twisted

Laiken Neumann, May 24, 2024

More by Melanie Haupt
Restaurant Review: Bambino
Restaurant Review: Bambino
New Eastside pizza joint from L’Oca d’Oro owners has something to say

June 7, 2024

Greek Fest, Taylor Swift Wrestling, and More Weekend Events
Greek Fest, Taylor Swift Wrestling, and More Weekend Events
No weekend plans? We have some suggestions.

May 24, 2024

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

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