After a whirlwind week in Austin, the Radio 1190 crew is finally back in Colorado. I could go on for a while about all the great acts that we saw, but some of my personal highlights were Chai, Utah and Black Midi.
We had the privilege of seeing Chai on the release day of their newest album, “Punk.” Fusing garage-style indie rock and J-Pop, the four piece from Japan is a leader in the direction that guitar music seems to be taking into the turn of the decade. The group came out on stage in matching pink outfits and gave a bubbly introduction. After picking up their instruments, they showed they meant business by performing banger after banger. Their coordinated dance moves are typical of J-Pop and K-Pop groups, but Chai pushes the boundary and makes it clear that it’s completely OK to dance to rock music.
Utah is a longtime favorite of mine. After their performance in Boulder last summer, I’ve been dying to get another chance to see them. Singer-songwriter Erik Savage has a powerful voice that fills the room. His three-string bass guitar provides a minimalist melody and harmony for the band. While the performing lineup of Utah changes from time to time, this performance featured a member of the Philadelphia band Florry on slide guitar. The Wild West flair of the slide guitar, meandering strumming, and Erik’s slight American twang makes Utah an innovative voice in the slowcore revival.
Few knew about Black Midi going into Southby, but by the middle of the week, they were the talk of the town. With very little available online, there isn’t much to see from them, but I guarantee that you’ll be hearing a lot more about them soon. The London teens rolled onto stage with a bit of a “too-cool-for-you” stage presence that’s typical of a lot of young rock bands, but once you hear them play, it’s very possible they actually are just too cool for us. It’s hard to pin down what their style is. From song to song, you can hear math rock, no wave, noise rock and post-hardcore sounds. Throughout the set, I heard a little bit of Sonic Youth, Slint and Talking Heads, but just as I thought I began to pin down what they were up to, they surprised me again. All four performers are exceptionally talented at their instruments, especially the drummer, whose hands moved so fast, it was hard to tell where they’re going next. As of right now, I would consider them the band to watch in 2019. I’m excited for whatever they put out next, but for now, I’ll have to be satisfied with the few videos of them available on YouTube.
We’re all very thankful to be able to attend SXSW, and we came out even more excited about new music than we usually are. Aside from the above, some of our other favorites worth checking out were Living Hour, KOKOKO!, Puma Blue and Palberta. Keep an eye out for more SXSW content from Radio 1190 in the coming weeks.
Askari is a music director at Radio 1190. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists