Frank Yang, Chromewaves It may not be the cultural mecca that is SXSW, but…
- Posted on Mar 12th 2011 11:20AM by Richard Trapunski
So there was a lot of anticipation leading up to Austra's hot-ticket Wrongbar set at Canadian Music Week on March 10, but those waiting to hear some new material from the hyped-up gloom-pop outfit would have to wait a little while longer.
Technical difficulties pushed the already late-night set well into the early morning, eventually forcing frontwoman Katie Stelmanis to sacrifice her keyboard to another member of her band.
"It'd be nice to have our whole setup, but after 20 minutes of waiting for a show to start, it's like c'mon, you've got to do something," she told Spinner.
Luckily, Stelmanis had more than enough stage presence to carry the performance without hiding behind an instrument. Using a live drummer, keyboardist, and twins Romi and Sari Lightman (of gothic folk band Tasseomancy) on backup vocals, Austra took a surprisingly organic approach to industrial goth-pop.
But it was Stelmanis' classically trained vocals that truly stole the show. Unafraid to use her upper register, the singer's confident high vocals acted as the perfect counterpoint to the bass-heavy synth beats behind her, while her expressive stage movements kept her occupied without her instrument and created a weird symmetry with the twins dancing on either side of her.
Lead single 'The Beat and the Pulse' inspired the most dancing, but the new material off Austra's long-awaited debut (out May 16, Stelmanis tells Spinner) was just as impressive. The group was obviously still working out some of the kinks (the singers used lyrics sheets for one of the numbers), but the songs fit the dark, electronic mold of the teasers we've heard so far.
Austra's CMW gig may eventually inspire some "I saw them when" chatter, but the band members are making sure not to get ahead of themselves.
"It's nice that so many people come out and support us before the album comes out, but we can't pay too much attention to the hype," Stelmanis told Spinner. "We kind of just treat each show like any other show."
Next stop, SXSW.