Esben & the Witch

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by Todd V. Wolfson

Esben & the Witch

The Windish Agency House @ ND, Wednesday, March 16

There's nothing like standing within striking distance of lyrical lunacy to focus your evening. Brighton, UK, trio Esben & the Witch beguiled the thin but entranced ND audience by a cunning and crafty sonic slight of hand and howl. Singer Rachel Davies – disarmingly gamine and sporting a wild mane that would've made Lord Byron retitle "She Walks in Beauty" – fluctuates between the mad, the bad, and the deliciously dangerous. Opener "Marching Song" set the tone, with Davies, alternating with guitarist Daniel Copeman and keyboard/guitarist Thomas Fisher to pound a floor tom senseless, whip-poor-will-trilled the sound of impure rage-ache. Tribal, even primordial single "Skeleton Swoon" shrieked like Siouxsie Sioux and a banshee crashing Nick Cave's birthday party deep in the woods. This wasn't goth, nor was it – despite the spastically minimalist stage lighting – some kindred spirit to retro-dance darkwave. Call it gloom-pop or call it nightmares off wax. Really, the only question is: When shall these three meet again? In thunder, in lightning, or in rain? Best bring along a black mackintosh and prepare for weather both foul and fair.

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  

Friday Showcases
Friday Showcases
Korea, Japan, Spain, Africa – see the world from single showcases

March 20, 2015

Saturday Interview
Saturday Interview

Kevin Curtin, March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Marc Savlov
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
The Prince is dead, long live the Prince

Aug. 7, 2022

Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone
Texas-made luchadores-meets-wire-fu playful adventure

April 29, 2022


Esben and the Witch

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