Cross Record, Adam Torres, Nadia Play Spellbinding Sets at Mohawk

Cross_Record_020616-3Cross Record’s album release event at Mohawk on Saturday night emerged as a transfixing and indelible moment in music. Years after musicians have become legends, people muse about what it might have been like to hang out in a hotel room in L.A. with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix or to visit a New York party with Andy Warhol and Lou Reed. How easy it is to forget that creative geniuses of our own era occupy these nightly venues on any given night of the week. Saturday night, The Mohawk hosted three special sets by three outstanding artists. It felt like a night that everyone in attendance will remember forever–the kind of show that makes your hair stand up.

Cross_Record_020616-2Wabi-Sabi, the new album by Dripping Springs-dwelling duo Cross Record, is out now. The songs have already garnered high praise from Paste, UK’s Observer, and Pitchfork. But more important are the awestruck conversations exchanged between fervent supporters of the Austin music community: friends who proclaim with sincerity to one another the otherworldly quality of this collection. From Mohawk’s indoor stage, Cross Record delivered live renditions of their songs as ghostly, shimmering, and powerful as on record. Donned in a long dress split evenly down the middle, one half white and the other black, Emily Cross commemorated the wabi-sabiness of the occasion as Dan Duszynski unified arrangements by operating a 33-inch bass drum while laying down guitar lines and mixing loops.

Cross_Record_020616-1As Emily begans to strum the opening chords of standout song “High Rise,” it crossed my mind that this perfectly simple yet unmistakable pattern is the sort of opening that sends crowds into applause at a song’s onset. Without fail, a big guy standing down front nodded vigorously and offered a few stray claps. Undeniable, there’s something significant happening; with Wabi-Sabi, Cross Record have created an artistically profound album we will be listening to for years to come.

Adam_Torres_020616-3Late in the set, Emily announced that it was a special night–since it was past midnight, it was now Thor Harris’s birthday. Thor, who played drums with Adam Torres earlier in the evening, has played in dozens of bands and has worked on a number of incredible recording projects, contributing to songs by Bill Callahan, Shearwater, Swans, Nazi Gold, Hospital Ships as well as performing under his own name. The community knows Thor by not only his music but also his unwavering kindness and giant hugs. Emily Cross led a rousing, reverbed-out rendition of “Happy Birthday” from the stage as Thor’s main squeeze Peggy lit candles on cupcakes.

Adam_Torres_020616-5Before Cross Record, Adam Torres performed with a new lineup of musicians, including Thor Harris on drums, Dailey Toliver on bass, and Elizabeth Warren on violin. As Torres began with an unreleased song, “Juniper Arms,” gently picking guitar and singing in a haunting falsetto, the room grew quiet. As the set went on, the room grew even quieter. Torres’ songs are minimal yet carefully developed and arranged, and he possesses uncanny vocal abilities as he slides from one note to another in a series of gorgeous, affecting melodies. No one in the room can take their eyes away. During one song, we can hear a patron ordering a cider at the bar in the adjacent room and there’s an immediate pulse of tension as the audience wants the spell to remain unbroken. I have never heard the Mohawk quieter.

Adam_Torres_020616-1Adam briefly asks his band if he can play the last song solo and they oblige. It’s a beautiful, wandering meditation called, “I Came to Sing the Song.” In its final lines, Adam reflects, “Listen to the bluebirds sing around you / Fluttering their wings and then they’re gone.” The set resolves inside that perfect metaphor. We have these brief moments of transcendent joy shared with other humans. Adam Torres’ set on Saturday is the reason I see music. You could see a thousand shows, and not one might match it. But everyone once in a while, a moment like this makes it worth it. It’s like laying in the grass waiting for a shooting star. And if you blink, you miss it.

Nadia_020616-2Earlier in the evening, Nadia kicked off the night with a memorable set of R&B leaning pop songs distinguished by Nadia’s kinetic onstage performance. The New York-based Nadia is a member of the Phantom Posse, and she’s got our attention. Below you can view photos of all three artists.

All photos © Bryan C. Parker & Pop Press International; 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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