The Wedding Present @ Emo’s Annex
Despite their legendary status in certain circles, Leeds, England’s the Wedding Present appear to have only played once during SXSW this year. Was it worth the flight over? Ask just about anyone who was in attendance for the Wednesday afternoon set at Emo’s Annex and you’ll likely hear that it was. Performing as a two-piece, the band turned in a number of earnest, stripped-down readings of songs spanning their 20-plus year career. “That bloke peeking over the fence there thinks he’s getting a deal,” frontman David Gedge said pointing to a man peering over the top of the fence. “He doesn’t know that this is free and everyone is welcome”. What Gedge didn’t know, however, is that the venue had reached its capacity and large line had formed outside—and rightfully so. While the band’s half hour set felt like a tease, Gedge promised that the band will return to tour the States—as a full band—in the fall.
WHY? @ Emo’s
Just a day after the release of their excellent new LP Alopecia, Oakland’s WHY? turned in a matching performance at Emo’s, breathing life into Yoni Wolf’s gloomy, desperate narratives. Performing as a four-piece, the band played some of the best hip-hop-meets-psych-pop tracks of off both Alopecia and 2005’s Elephant Eyelash. Live, as on the band’s albums, Wolf’s presence is by turns intense, endearing and unnerving.
The Mae Shi @ Emo’s
They may have calmed down a bit on their latest LP HLLLYH, but during their Wednesday afternoon performance at Emo’s, L.A. experimental punks The Mae Shi proved that they can still bring the noise. “There are no lead personalities in this fucking band,” one of them remarked during the soundcheck and as it turns out, it wasn’t just posturing: during the set, all five members of the band ran around the stage screaming their heads off and banging on the various instruments that were strewn about the stage. At one point, they opened up a massive plastic tarp, draped it over the audience and then continued their performance in miniature underneath the makeshift tent. While it’s not too surprising given the often-truncated nature of their songs, their set seemed to last for only an instant—in the blink of an eye they had disappeared whence they came.
YACHT @ Emo’s
Jona Bechtolt must have had a lot of sugary cereal for breakfast Wednesday morning because he sure as hell was bouncing off of the walls. Performing under his YACHT moniker with partner in crime Claire Evans, Bechtolt jumped, yelled, squirmed and danced his way through a half hour set of lo-fi electro-pop jams. The set consisted almost entirely of new songs, most of which sounded similar to his previous work albeit dancier and more intense. Despite the fact that it was a Wednesday afternoon at 2 pm, by the end of the set, a cadre of fans had formed a dancing circle at the foot of the stage and Bechtolt and Evans never turned down an opportunity to dive directly into it. I think a friend of mine put it best: it was like watching a karaoke act on speed.