SXSW showcase reviews

by John Anderson


Club de Ville, Friday, March 15

On any given night in any given town, Cheatahs would be perfectly serviceable architects of the early-Nineties drone pop revival. The London quartet had all the sonic elements in place to deliver a mesmerizing performance, but on Friday night, they fell frustratingly short of delivering on their frenzied accolades. Sussing out the finer points of their songcraft proved to be a major challenge. Guitarist Nathan Hewett's vocals didn't cut through the fuzz, nor did they meld seamlessly into the maelstrom, either. The set started out recalling anonymous, left-of-the-dial noise from 1992. As one song plodded into another, things got less and less distinctive. A slow grinding midset detour into Dinosaur Jr. territory failed to kickstart the momentum. Finally, it was time for "The Swan" from 2012's Sans EP. Only then did the band's charm offensive reach full flower. Constructed around a guitar hook Ride would've killed for and driven by an equally contagious bass line, the song implanted itself in the skull before the first verse ended. That was it, though. Maybe we're getting spoiled, but during a week when there's another band next door playing like their lives depend on it, one memorable song per set isn't good enough.

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