One of the best lineups rounding out SXSW is Stubb’s Friday night official showcase presented by Sound Exchange. Newcomers Wild Cub, American Authors and London Grammar all bring unique perspectives to the lineup.
Sunshiny indie popsters Wild Cub from Nashville, Tennessee steal the show. Highlighting their debut album Youth, out in January of this year, the group has a lot of ground to cover. Their poppy sound with a borderline tropical tinge is infectious and ripe for the picking. After playing “Colour,” lead singer Keegan DeWitt addresses the crowd gratefully for attending their first ever performance at their favorite Austin venue. He packs a punch whether he is feverishly banging on a pair of high toms, running across the stage with his guitar or singing his heart out. It is no secret that this group gives the performance 100% effort. DeWitt even takes a moment to remind onlookers, “We’re working our asses off for you!” With so many appearances at SX this year, it is clear that Wild Cub is indeed working itself to the bone. Top songs of the night are without a doubt “Wishing Well” and “Thunder Clatter.”
Next up is American Authors. The audience is officially full and the crowded venue anxiously awaits more music. Unfortunately, the set change takes an unusually long amount of time. Apparently, there is a blown soundboard and the mics and stage amps are not producing enough volume to be audible in the audience. After several awkward attempts, the band finally resolves to take it with a grain of salt and perform a modified acoustic set. The frustrating delay does not deter their ambitions to give a great show to their fans, so they take to the stage like champs and perform with the utmost of professionalism. The New Yorkers make it work – picking up morale with “Trouble,” off their latest album Oh, What A Life, which is their full-length debut. By the time they get to “Best Day of My Life,” morale is entirely restored. The audience happily claps and sings along. Unfortunately, American Authors can only crank out a few songs before their set time passes. Even though their live set was just a teaser, it is fair to say that they are worth seeing again.
By the time London Grammar hits the stage, the sound issue is revived so that they can deliver a full live set. This electronic trip hop trio quickly captivates the audience. Bongos and twinkly guitar illuminate the stage with a magical symphony of song that is only enhanced by singer Hannah Reid’s ethereal voice. She smoothly transitions from baritones to high notes – a welcome complement to the unique symphony coming from the stage. Such a complex juxtaposition of sounds is like ear candy, and the taste is so addicting. The slow, soothing version of “Hey Now” hypnotizes the full audience enough to be entranced by the rest of the set. Their first album If You Wait, released last year, has reached great popularity across the charts. It is no wonder that their haunting music casts a spell on anyone who listens to it.
Minus the sound hiccups, the night proves successful. An eclectic progression of artists fills the bill with a little something for everyone, hence a full audience stays for the duration of the night at Stubb’s, and judging by their faces, it is worth the wait.