On Air Next: The KVCU crew hits SXSW for live looks at Combo Chimbita and French Vanilla

  • "Ahomale" by Combo Chimbita

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The Radio 1190 crew is spending the week down in Austin, Texas, catching tons of shows at SXSW music festival. After driving 16 hours straight from Boulder to Austin on Sunday, we immediately started hitting venues. Here’s what we’ve already seen and what we will be seeing.

On Monday night, we were able to catch an incredible set from the band Combo Chimbita at a venue called The Mohawk in downtown Austin. Combo Chimbita combines classic Cumbia rhythms and vocals with psych and a bit of punk to craft an absolutely mesmerizing performance. The singer belted high notes with such a powerful vibrato that the room literally started to shake, and she played a Guiro (a Latin hand percussion instrument) to keep up the energy while she wasn’t singing. The guitarist ripped delay-soaked solos that gave the set that definitive psychedelic feel, and the bass player occasionally played strange tones on a modular synth rig that added a crazy new dynamic to the Cumbia sound. The whole set was notably upbeat, and every single person in the audience was on their feet and moving. At one very memorable moment, the lead singer leaned off the edge of the stage into the audience and belted a long, unwavering note into the crowd with a facial expression of deep anger and emotion that I had never seen before during a live performance. The emotions she had written into the songs passed through her as she performed, and it was captivating to experience all those emotions with her. Combo Chimbita is releasing their album “Ahomale” on May 3 and going on tour later this year, so be sure to catch them at the Hi-Dive in Denver on May 25.

Following the Combo Chimbita show, we walked next door to a venue called Cheer Up Charlie’s and caught a set from one of my favorite bands, French Vanilla. French Vanilla is a no wave punk band out of LA. The band has four members — a guitarist who occasionally plays bass, a bass player who occasionally plays saxophone, a singer and a drummer. The singer’s voice has an uncanny resemblance to the voices of the female vocalists in the B-52’s, but her voice definitely packs more of a punch. During the set, her screeches and screams were peppered with more melodic vocals, and she never stopped jumping or dancing on stage. Between songs, the primary bass player would give the guitarist his bass and strap on his saxophone to deliver no wave-inspired sax riffs over the fast dancy punk music. Overall, the show was simply so fun. Everyone danced and thrashed around, and the singer’s energy perfectly carried over into the crowd. They are playing at Larimer Lounge in Denver on Aug. 6, so grab those tickets while you can.

We had a great first day at SXSW, and we can’t wait to catch many more great shows throughout the week. We’re planning on seeing some Radio 1190 favorites including Palberta, Jerry Paper, Crumb, Lily & Horn Horse, J Fernandez and more. Stay tuned next week for more updates on what’s going on in Austin.

Koett is a music director at Radio 1190. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists

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