Set in the heart of Austin’s Red River music culture district, Empire Control Room boasts an enormous space with visuals spanning and surrounding a 180 degree scene inside their venue. No place could be more fitting than to host a bill comprised of this city’s very own psychedelic and shoegaze acts Casual Strangers, Sixteen Deluxe and Ringo Deathstarr.
Casual Strangers are something of an enigma – continually toying with music genres of varying nature, one never knows quite what to expect from this experimental tour de force. Rather than scripting out the precise why’s and how’s, the band lets loose their creative energy to present a raw and independent performance. Throughout their set, Casual Strangers moved from extended psychedelic solos to avant garde spoken word, interwoven with shoegaze reverb. Waclawsky and Gunn’s expressive and relentlessly engaging stage presence coupled with their subtle interactions and male/female vocals compelled the audience to be present with them. Mitchell’s bombastic drumming served as the steady backhand beat to their songs, and synth-player Davidson looked caught in a wonderfully surreal and dream-like trance. Casual Strangers will be playing Denver’s Underground Music Showcase on Friday, July 24th.
Forming back in 1994, Sixteen Deluxe had become something of a relic for the Austin psychedelic music scene. Upon announcing their reunion back in 2010 and playing a handful of shows since then, having the chance to catch them in a rare live setting was a treat indeed. The audience packed the floor as Sixteen Deluxe put on a spectacle of a light show joined with an entirely animated noise-pop set. With a wall of lush sound from their array of effect pedals onstage, their set drove an adrenaline filled rush to the soul; a nostalgic reminder of 90’s psych rock, yet simultaneously a very present and modern vibe to their performance. Clark’s vocals were strong and vibrant, and Chris “Frenchie” Smith packed a punch with his spirited antics, closing out their set by throwing his guitar into a sea of spectators. If witnessing a live Sixteen Deluxe show wasn’t celebration enough on its own, it was also Frenchie’s birthday bash, and a night to celebrate things all Sixteen Deluxe indeed.
For fans of My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain that have yet to experience Ringo Deathstarr live, you best get on that bandwagon. Initially veiled as a surprise guest for the lineup, it was a pleasant and fitting revelation to experience the trio to close out the night. The band’s cacophonous sound was a brilliant fit with Empire Control Room’s capable soundsystem. Their sonic shoegaze soundscapes paired with stunning and kaleidoscopic visuals had their fans utterly immersed in an aural and visual experience. Alex’s cool presence and sweet vocals alternated with Elliott’s made for delightful juxtaposition with the melodious intertwined with punchy and fuzzy noise. With the promise of a new album on the way, you can rest assured Ringo Deathstarr have only great things on the horizon.