SXSW Broken Bells @ Lustre Pearl ATX

03.22.2010 § Leave a comment

While half of Austin’s SXSW fans were making deals with street scalpers trying to get a coveted pass to see Muse at Stubbs, I was intrigued and determined to snag a wristband to watch Broken Bells; a “left-field” type and unlikely collaboration translate into concert.

I literally ran in flip flops from 5th St. to the south side of the Austin Convention Center to get to the Lustre Pearl Dickies SXSW 2010 showcase. Holding my breath that I would be the first to get to the door in time to blurt out the pass code I saw on their Twitter to get wristbands for the Dickies Sounds SXSW gigs, I tried to catch my breath I mumbled “847.” “What did you say?” said one of the shows promoters at the west gate. “847!” I repeated.

After being escorted into Lustre Pearl, a.k.a. the old wooden house on Rainey St., I planted myself on the porch steps in their fenced-in backyard after grabbing a bottled water and watched the sound guys prep the stage.

For those of you that haven’t heard of Broken Bells, it’s fronted by James Mercer (lead vocalist of The Shins) and artist-producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) who has scored with Beck, Gnarls Barkley and who had a run-in with the industry via his controversial “Grey Album” mash-up of The Beatles and Jay-Z.

Starting off with a guitar strum under a giant pink orb, same imagery from the album cover, and progressing into a black and white halftone texture that was projected onto the white tent ceiling above us all pulsating as the band started their songs from their freshman album.

Making tons of live appearances at this years music and film festival, Broken Bells was the highlight of my SXSW experience. For many it was an introduction but as they got deeper into their set list, the backyard crowd at the intimate venue grew. Brian Burton showed off his talents as a multi-instrumentalist starting off playing the drums and moving back and fourth from the guitar to the keyboard while James Mercer’s vocal range was at its best; melodic and experimental. They started a bit behind schedule, yet managed to throw in a great interpretation of Tommy James and The Shondells hit; Crimson and Clover, and beforehand playing tunes like the ‘60s pop influenced “Your head is on Fire” and the toy-piano propelled “October” off their album.

Carefully layered modern psychedelic and tuneful pop sounds with lazy-moving vocals are indeed a perfect match. A hoped for show for my SXSW weekend… and it did. thank you twitter hashtags.


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