- Courtesy Photo / Gustaf
- Gustaf makes its San Antonio debut with a sold out show at Paper Tiger Wednesday.
The band released its debut Audio Drag for Ego Slobs earlier this year, and it’s in the middle of a nationwide tour with Britain’s noisy, scathing and critically lauded Idles. The joint trek stops at San Antonio’s Paper Tiger for a sold-out show on Wednesday, Oct. 27.
Gustaf’s Alamo City debut has been a long time coming. A planned March 2020 gig that would have coincided with Austin’s SXSW was cancelled as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. What is the band looking forward to for its SA debut?
Tacos came as the unanimous response on a Zoom call with the band during a break in its jam-packed tour schedule.
Guitarist Vram Kherlopian elaborated: “I’ve always felt that food is one of the greatest treats of this planet, and we get to go around playing music, meeting nice people and asking for recommendations for great food. What a joy.”
Food, sure. But what kind of music is the band playing that allows its members to sample said culinary delights? Gustaf’s label, Royal Mountain Records, calls the band “art punk,” while NME declared the act “danceable NYC post-punk that refuses to take things too seriously.”
So, what’s the deal?
“If I’m in a hotel lobby, I say we play artsy post-punk, you know, Talking Heads or Pixies,” lead vocalist Lydia Gammill said. “The deeper-cuts reference would be ESG. People who come to our shows say B-52s, which is great because they’re an amazing band.”
Gustaf’s members also cited the vocals of Laurie Anderson as a key influence.
While listeners have invoked comparisons between the band and classic riot grrrl sounds, percussionist and vocalist Tarra Thiessen said that’s not entirely accurate. Even if it might have been the case for some of the band members’ previous ensembles.
“We’ve been influenced by riot grrrl [in past bands], but I don’t really feel that with this project. We’ve grown from riot grrrls to riot women,” she said, before laughing and correcting herself. “Riot people.”
Gustaf is happy to be on the road with Idles, currently on a winning streak itself. After racking up plenty of accolades since dropping its debut album in 2017, some critics have trumpeted the British band’s most recent long player Ultra Mono as the best of its career.
“We’re two different, very distinctive bands,” vocalist Gammill said. “I always like playing shows where it’s a mixed curation, because there’s a lot of overarching themes and expressions that can link genres together. Promoters always think people want to see three versions of the same band, but my favorite shows we’ve played have a whole range of genres.”
Like many music fans, the members of Gustaf are ecstatic that — at least for now — live music is back from the dead. Even if it means they’re forced to shake off a few cobwebs.
“We’re getting used to being on tour again since we all got domesticated in our own little ways,” drummer Melissa Lucciola said. “We’re learning how to be on tour again, how to do rock ’n’ roll again.”
Despite a recent wave of proclamations that rock music has run its course, Lucciola feels optimistic about the future of the genre — especially when it comes to the energy that comes with live performances.
“It seemed like for a minute it was, ‘Oh no, it’s got a guitar, no one wants to see it,’” she said. “But I believe everything pendulums back and forth. Everything goes super-electronic, but then people are excited to see people playing instruments again. There’s such a release when you get to hit a drum, do some crazy guitar thing or scream.”
Sold out, 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 27, Paper Tiger, 2410 N. St. Mary’s St., papertigersatx.com.
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.