SXSW is a unique little thing—you walk from bar to bar, only intending to go to the next hub that’s giving away pounds of food and free booze, yet end up in the middle of one of the best live performances you’ve ever seen from a band you had no idea existed. And even though music showcases don’t technically start until today, yesterday was no exception. With unofficial showcases flooding the hotels, retail stores, food markets and bars of Austin, it’s not surprising such a beautiful thing exists.
Monday, Hotel Vegas put Austin’s very own Smoke and Feathers on their stage for a packed mid-afternoon show. When the quartet dropped their first beat, it was apparent the southern, psychedelic rock and roll coming into airwaves was going to be heavy and we were going to dig it. The band’s inspiration is chummed to one word “women.” Boys, we hear it.
The vocals of guitarist Josh Terry and Hunter Cahalan mystically weave themselves in and out of a juxtaposed set of graceful desire and compelling temptation. If you’ve got to check out any one, it’s Smoke and Feathers. Let them carelessly sweep you off your feet with track “Gypsy” and into the longing melodic pulses of “Wicked Ways.”
Following Smoke and Feathers was a talent we’ve pegged as The Best of What’s Next. The Allah-Las, though youthful in age and as a touring band, performed to a swarming room with the confidence of veteran musicians. Their music is a transport, back to the ‘60s, the ‘70s, the ‘80s… merging these origins and influences into a silhouette of an innovative 21st century sound—a sound that we are sure will be mirrored and copied by many within very little time.
Instrumental track “Sacred Sands,” is a perfect example of the surpassing musicianship teeming through the fresh Californians. Lead guitarist Pedrum Siadatian drops in on the back end of the track with riffs that are simultaneously blithe and melancholy, creating a seductive dream space that leaves you asking, “where did these mavericks come from, and how can I get some more?”
Today we’re keeping our eyes out for more of the new and we suspect Austin won’t let us down.