SXSW Diary, Day 2: Chicano Psychedelic, Old-School Soul and Up-and-Coming Country Rock

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Chicano Batman: Psychedelic Chicano soul
  • Chicano Batman: Psychedelic Chicano soul

Wednesday was great night out last night at SXSW, beginning with the incomparable Charles Bradley at the annual NPR Music Showcase at Stubb’s Barbecue. The 67-year-old Bradley belted out a set of horn-heavy soul music and told the crowd: “All I want to do on my journey back to my father’s house is show all my brothers and sisters that I am for real.” You are, Mr. Bradley. You most certainly are.

Bradley was followed by Chicano Batman. Like Tucson’s own Sergio Mendoza with his indie mambo act, Chicano Batman has found a way to mix traditional Latino sound with something else: In this case, rthe L.A. band does some kind of psychedelic Chicano soul music accented with a rare dash of polka. Que bueno! Hear what they're all about here.

Up next was Mitski, a simple three-piece led by Mitski Miyawaki, who led the crowd at Stubb’s straight into the uncanny valley with her otherworldly and occasionally on-the-edge-of-creepy vocals that felt like emo punk straight out of Twin Peaks. Get a taste here.

And then there was Margo Price, who brought a lot of rock to the country-rock spectrum she’s on. She sings a lot about tough times on the farm and such, but lights up those country tropes with a band that delivers sizzling guitar licks. If you want to check it out, Price’s new album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, is streaming on NPR music starting today.

I set off from Stubbs for a change in scenery and found myself catching a little bit of Astronauts, Etc. and Yuck before finally landing at an absolutely explosive set by Diarrhea Planet, which was everything rock and roll was, is and should ever be—loud, in-your-face screeching electric guitars and booming drumbeats that had the audience—and the occasional band member—crowdsurfing atop the dancing masses. Zounds, it was a good way to finish out the night.

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