SXSW 2015: KCRW Showcase feat. Wolf Alice, Hiatus Kaiyote, Big Data, and ODESZA at Parish 3/18/15

photos by Chad Elder | words by Cassie Purtlebaugh | Friday, March 20th, 2015

On the night of March 18th, in the midst of the craze of what is Austin’s Sixth Street, three incredibly long lines amassed to watch the KCRW Showcase at the Parish. Members of the second line were told admittance was questionable, and that the third wouldn’t have a chance. And the line waiting to get in was justified by the lineup. The bill, though eclectic, was stacked with talent. As we walked upstairs, the deep, long venue was already two-thirds of the way to capacity.

Wolf Alice, a four-piece alternative rock band from North London, was already in full swing. All of the members had high energy and were accompanied by the venues dancing lights and disco ball. Singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell flowed in between chanty vocals, sweet cleans, and gritty screams in manner that hearkened to the days of grunge.

Next up, Melbourne, Australia’s Hiatus Kaiyote brought a funky, soulful style to the stage. Singer/guitarist Nai Palm finger-picked her guitar and occasionally sang sans lyrics, as if she were an instrument herself. However, bassist Paul Bender was the real heartbeat behind this performance, as his musicianship drove the entire set. Quirky sounds, sensual dancing, and eclectic attire kept the crowd’s attention from start to finish.

Tension and impatience began to build among the audience as Big Data, an electropop project Brooklyn, took awhile to hammer out the kinks in their setup. But at last, the group took the stage. Big Data is the brainchild of producer Alan Wilkis, but for this performance he was accompanied by a full band (and second vocalist), to great effect — the heavy use of live instrumentation redefined the nature of the project into something much more organic. This performance helped to usher in the dance party that was to come with ODESZA.

It is surprising that by this point, ODESZA, a DJ duo from Seattle, hadn’t dropped from exhaustion. The show’s host for the night jumped onstage and praised the duo for their work ethic — and it was praise well-earned, considering that this was their second show of the day and fourth in less than 48 hours. Once the screen projector was erected and they took the stage, they were greeted with enthusiastic cheers. The entire room quickly kneaded into dancing, prompted by ODESZA’s synchronized controllerism and live drumming. It was a real treat to see them again in a night setting with some visual accompaniment, just a day after catching their set at the Spotify House.

Chad Elder is a Los Angeles-based photographer who focuses on live music and band portraits. Cassie Purtlebaugh is a writer and musician in Los Angeles.

  • Quinn

    Hiatus Kaiyote is totally one of my favorite bands right now. No one sounds quite like them, and the new album looks like it’s going to be fantastic. Definitely check out this new tune called Breathing Underwater if you haven’t listened to it already:

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