Last week, two acts that both played SXSW and received notable attention returned to Austin for a sold out joint show at the Sidewinder. Initially known for his role as the bassist for Woods and later as a co-founder of garage-pop outfit The Babies, Kevin Morby is several records into a burgeoning solo career. Each record seems to garner a little more acclaim for Morby, who has melded the psych-rock sounds of Woods and garage-pop tenacity of The Babies with a haunting singer-songwriter approach to lyricism to create some outstanding material. Morby eschews some of the affectation or elaboration to focus on distorted, melodic arrangements. It’s solid rock ‘n’ roll, plain and simple.
Big Thief, who recently signed to Saddle Creek and released their first album, opened the show with a powerful set. I caught the band at SXSW in March, and they sounded great. But of course, SXSW is SXSW. There was something a little off about the show. It was literally the first show ever at 3Ten at ACL Live. The space was far too pristine for a crunchy folk rock band like Big Thief. The sweaty, outdoor room at Sidewinder fit their aesthetic much more aptly, and the four-piece seemed far more at ease. Big Thief loses some of the subtly atmospheric, reverb-touched production that defines their album, Masterpiece. It took me a few songs to adjust to, but ultimately what the band misses from the recorded material, they compensate for in rugged energy. They definitely feel to me like a band on the cusp of something big, and it seems the music industry agrees. See em if they stop through your town.
Check out our photo gallery from the show below. All photographs © Bryan C. Parker & Pop Press International. Please click any image to open set in slideshow viewer.