Friday, March 16, 2012
Thursday at SXSW: Sarah Jaffe, Seryn, and Sundress (March 15)
It was a day of the Dallas-Fort Worth "S" bands.
Wednesday at SXSW (Fiona Apple, The O's, Astronautalis)
The lineup of Day Three of SXSW reinvigorated our tired feet and overloaded schedule. Sarah Jaffe's folk music and Seryn's enthralling performance helped remind us of home.
With a new album coming out in April and an on and off the road schedule, Sarah Jaffe is staying busy. Jaffe's lone showcase at SXSW previewed much of her upcoming release, giving the hearty crowd a glimpse into her evolved sound. Her regular drummer Jeff Ryan and violinist Becki Howard were missing from the stage, filled by an additional drummer and DJ/beat maker. Jaffe’s newer material relies on electronic elements and sound more like mainstream singles than her former hushed folk tracks. Songs like “Glorified High” and “Mannequin Woman” brought more cheer and attitude to the once-gloomy singer. We've got a new perspective from Jaffe -- one we look forward to.
Denton rockers Sundress played to a quaint crowd in a pitch-black theater room attached to Hideout, a full-size coffee shop in Austin. Although the darkened room was a bit dramatic for their dreamy rock, the guys in Sundress made the best of it with a full set of orbital tracks. Lead singer Ryan McAdams resembled Thom Yorke of Radiohead's higher chords. With the amount of material Sundress played, a drastic change in tempo or style could have been possible but wasn’t used. Their songs blended together, staying with the same hazy pedal effects, electronic backdrop, and pace. Guitarist Kennon Talley stole the show with his concentrated finger work and veiled sound that brought the group closer to the Smith Western’s chillwave stylings.
Seryn’s mesmerizing performance at Frank’s was nothing short of spectacular, giving the Austin crowd a taste of what stacked instrumentation and crashing melodies can do. Even with a 1 a.m. time slot, the Denton group filled up the small restaurant with eager fans and newcomers alike. Their spine-tingling harmonies and roaring crescendos entranced the room for the entire set. They played one song with only strings and minus any vocals, for a rich, calming number that no one expected. Lead vocalist Trenton Wheeler – who also plays the ukulele, accordion, and drums – played the uke with his teeth during the instrumental song. With only a freshman album that’s more than a year old, Seryn can still thoroughly captivate new or returning audiences.