SXSW Saturday Dispatch: Forest Swords, Eagulls, Perfect Pussy, The Toadies

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Finally, the final day of SXSW, where even the people wearing all black all week looked dirty and the bluff of serious rain kept the partially committed at bay. Through aching knees and splitting ears, we saw:

Forest Swords - Holy Mountain

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Starting their set with a sampled poem that would depress all but the most Irish of writers, Liverpool's Forest Swords want you to know they're a dark, brooding electronic outfit. Led by producer/composer Matthew Barnes, Forest Swords triumphantly capture the feeling of doubt, transferring their sleepless visions to the audience via midi loops, looming bass and scratching guitar feedback. Barnes' debut LP Engravings channels electro-architect Nicholas Jaar, but through the k-hole, disoriented and violent.

Eagulls - Holy Mountain

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Photo Credit: Jaime Monzon

No, not those Eagles - it's Holy Mountain, not Hotel California. It's difficult to describe this post-punk crew from Leeds without name-dropping classic UK bands of the same vein. With the baritone vocal stylings and backbeat dependence expressed by Joy Division and the jangle of Robert Smith's guitar, Eagulls aren't doing anything particularly new. With the material on their self-titled release, they're just doing it better than most acts out there.

The Toadies

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Photo Credit: Jaime Monzon

The Toadies iconic and platinum-selling album Rubberneck turns twenty this August.  Not that we don’t love all their catalogue, but when we see them, we really want to hear every song on Rubberneck.  So to celebrate the 20th anniversary, thats exactly what they’re doing.  To kick off their tour, they announced a SXSW appearance where they ran through every song in order. People from all age ranges sang every word, which speaks to the staying power of Fort Worth's Toadies. - Jaime Monzon

Perfect Pussy

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Photo Credit: Jaime Monzon

Each year at SXSW, there's an act that plays more than anyone else, hustling their gear from venue to venue all for no pay (the free, unofficial day showcases at SXSW don't pay acts, official evening billings do). In 2014, Syracuse's Perfect Pussy won the workhorse award, appearing on multiple billings every day.

Friday evening, rumors spread of the band's show on a bridge over Ladybird Lake, where the bassist threw his four-string into the water's depths. By their Saturday show at Holy Mountain, the bassist had regenerated his gear and the band was ready to roll.

Decibels above any other set we've seen this week, it took all of one blisteringly fast song to blow the speakers. It's brutally loud, violently fast hardcore in the league of 80s D.C. punk and LA's SST label. Frontwoman Meredith Graves transformed from polite punk to vicious aura of positive energy as soon as the blast beats began. Though the language is unintelligible, when referenced on the internet, it's quite strong and quite brilliant. On their EP I Have Lost All Desire for Feeling, Meredith drops references to Roland Barthes and releases honest, captivating brilliance in her work.


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