SXSW 2012 Friday review: THEESatisfaction, TacocaT/Don't Talk to the Cops!, Pickwick
More Friday photos here
Seattle duo THEESatisfaction (rapper/producer Stasia Irons and singer Catherine Harris-White) had a few hundred people dancing hard and hanging on every word Friday night at the Sub Pop Records showcase. "QueenS" was an especially effective anthem, its rolling keyboards and sampled squeaks swaying with a chanted mantra, "don't funk with my groove." It's the single from their debut album "awE naturalE," out March 27 on Sub Pop. They played lots of songs from the album and some newer ones that aren't on it, hinting at future recordings. One brand new song included a looped snippet of Mary Jane Girls' '80s dance track "All Night Long," famously used by LL Cool J for "Around the Way Girl" (1990), and the recognition of the familiar music sent the sweaty room's energy to another level.
Earlier in the evening, Seattle bands TacocaT and Don't Talk to the Cops! joined forces in a musical group-hug at the outdoor punk rock showcase SiiickXSW. The former played sugar sweet pop rock in a classic house party mode, performing tracks from their new EP "Take Me To Your Dealer." "Spring Break-Up" in particular sounded great in the open air, a cool breeze lifting singer Emily Nokes' clear soprano voice outward as she sang "In like a li-i-on / out like a lamb." After a few songs, Seattle rap trio Don't Talk to the Cops! jumped on stage and chipped in on backup vocals to TacocaT's "Bike Party," then segued into a mini-set of their own dance-rap. TacocaT stayed on the stage, and the audience kept dancing right through the transition from rock quartet to digital beats. The joint set finished with DtttC's most punk-sounding song, "Rachel," a blast of cathartic anger with TacocaT co-performing, shouting along to every word: "I don't like Rachel! Rachel ain't special!"
During the day I checked out the SXSeattle showcase to see Pickwick, one of the leading lights in Seattle's crossover soul revival. Singer Galen Disston captivated the hundred or so gathered guests with his theremin-like falsetto and shouty vocal explosions. He is a diva and had the crowd in the palm of his hand. People exclaimed "Yeah!" every time he sang loudly, and I watched two beer-drinking, 50s-ish women in sunglasses heartily cheers each other when he accomplished an impressive vocal run. His sextet played big, somewhat lead-footed pop rock behind him, full of slow-burn organ tones and some psychedelic electric guitar pedal effects. I talked to Disston after the set about Pickwick's upcoming album, recorded in part with Richard Swift, who made one of Seattle's best albums this year with Damien Jurado. Disston said Swift pushed him really hard to get his singing right. At times, Disston wanted to quit. But he said the resulting vocal takes and the way Swift recorded the band in general made him realize Swift was a musical genius.