Hikes EP Release at Cheer Up Charlies: Live Review

Hikes_at_CUC_062014-2After seeing Hikes perform a few times, I’m convinced they’re one of Austin’s most exciting bands. The young outfit of math rock musicians are closely affiliated with rising DIY collective Raw Paw, who sponsored the Friday night Cheer Up Charlies event celebrating Hikes’ new EP. The night showcased not only Hikes’ stellar live performance, but also sets from some of Austin’s other integral bands including Big Bill, Young Tongue, and Chipper Jones.

Young_Tongue_at_CUC_062014-1Jeff Tweedy’s ACL Taping forced me to miss Big Bill, but I arrived in time to see Young Tongue deliver an outstanding performance. The group morphed from the Baker Family into Young Tongue recently, and has embraced their new moniker by increasing the energy and power of their live performances. They’ve added a guitarist and have adjusted staging setups in a continuing effort to keep shows diverse and fresh as they seek the perfect arrangements. On stage, Stuart Baker’s tangle of hair hides his eyes as he focuses intently on guitar lines. Meanwhile, Liz Baker bounds about the stage, dancing, banging a keg with drumsticks, and smiling between intervals at her keys.  While we’ve heard rumors of an impending full-length, details have yet to emerge. For now, the band has released one single, the outstanding song “Cat Calls,” with which the band concluded their set on Friday night.

Hikes_at_CUC_062014-10Hikes, the band everyone had been waiting for, took Cheer Up Charlies’ outdoor stage next as the venue began to reach capacity. Frontman Nathan Wilkins had been battling a cold in the days preceding Hikes’ performance, but it didn’t seem to hold the band back at all. Possibly, some fever-dream state of mind only made the songs more beautiful and surreal. As always, the band was well-received by their loyal following of fans who mosh and crowdsurf with more glee than one could imagine. This isn’t the “fuck you” of punk rock pits; it’s a celebration of togetherness.

Hikes_at_CUC_062014-11With their brand of buoyant math rock, Hikes channels what it is to be alive, all the joy, restlessness, and fury. Their songs amble forward, notes and beats bouncing against each other in orchestrated chaos before exploding into cathartic heights. Hikes has quickly become one of the city’s most talked about bands, packing venues when they play. The colorful backdrop of Cheer Up Charlies’ outdoor stage made the night particularly transcendent and visually captivating. We hope you were there.

Kudos to Raw Paw for another successful event. If you have yet to hit a show orchestrated by the whimsical art collective, you should make it a priority on your to-do list. See photos from the event below. All images © Bryan Parker & Pop Press International; all rights reserved. Click any image to open in slideshow viewer.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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