Sound Dessert had an unofficial showcase at Stay Gold on Thursday, March 19 during SXSW Music. Stay Gold is a beautiful new venue in east Austin serving craft cocktails & beer that proved to be the perfect fit for the showcase.
Thursday night’s lineup consisted of performances by Josiah Leming, Born Cages, Teen Men, Kevin Garrett, Prinze George and T0W3RS.
One-man show T0W3RS (pronounced “towers”), kicked off the night in electric fashion. From diving to his knees to scaling amps, to hanging from the ceiling, T0W3RS easily commands a room with his dramatic stage presence. A triple threat, the North Carolina native sings, plays multiple instruments and has some killer moves like Jagger. Fitting considering his sound mixes 70’s disco, 80’s dance, and contemporary synth-pop.
Keeping the momentum strong was electro-pop trio Prinze George. Speaking of stage presence, these three have it in spades. Lead singer Naomi Almquist dazzles with her melodic voice, her own set of dance-moves and her bleach blond bun, while drummer Isabelle De Leon completely lets loose on the drums in glorious fashion. She’s clearly in her element behind a set of drums and it shows. Kenny Grimm (production and multi-instrumentalist) rounds out the band steadily rocking out as he holds down the rhythm. Check out their self-titled EP which just dropped in early March.
Singer/songwriter Kevin Garrett slowed things down with his emotive set of ballads including, “Coloring,” “Control” and “In Bloom.” The lively room suddenly fell to a murmur as the crowd listened with rapt attention to every note. It just so happens that Katy Perry tweeted about Garrett a couple days later, so if that doesn’t tell you he’s on his way to the big leagues I don’t what does. Garrett drew a few comparisons to Sam Smith from audience members, though most we’re too busy swooning over his voice and lyrics to comment.
Up next were Teen Men. This brand new band features music veterans Nick Krill and Joe Hobson, former members of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Spinto Band, plus visual artists Albert Birney and Catharine Maloney. This visual element comes into play during their live shows where interactive videos synchronized to Teen Men’s music creates a multi-sensory experience. Their dreamy pop sounds, like single “So Dangerous” will have you fantasizing about sparkling waters and warm summer nights.
Brooklyn rockers Born Cages took to the stage with a little visual show of their own in the form of LED lights, transforming the intimate setting into what felt like an arena-sized show. Appropriate since the trio has some pretty anthemic songs fit for a stadium like hits, “Rolling Down The Hill” and “Don’t Look Back” (having opened for Guns N’ Roses they’re no strangers to the big stage). Frontman Vlad Holiday leads the charge with his distinct vocals and hair that’s as big as Born Cages’ sound. Get ready for their next move when Born Cages release their debut album, I’m Glad I’m Not Me on June 2nd.
Can you hear it? That’s the captivating sound of Josiah Leming. The singer/songwriter and his band closed out the night with a handful of stirring serenades before sending SXSW revelers home to their beds. The Los Angeles based singer’s warm, soulful voice utters tales of love, loss and lessons learned from someone who’s wise beyond his years on songs like “Can You Hear It” and “Long Gone”. Though Leming isn’t all stoicism all the time. While his lyrics pull at heartstrings on stage, his infectious energy and charm melts hearts offstage.
Each artist put on an amazing performance and captured the sonic range of Sound Desssert. The showcase received wonderful feedback from guests who gushed about the lineup, the artists who revealed how much they enjoyed playing the showcase (likewise Sound Dessert was so grateful to have them be part of the night), and music industry piers alike. One highlight was Sean Moeller, founder of Daytrotter, who called the Sound Dessert showcase, the “Best lineup/show I saw all of last week!”
Planning a party during the madness of SXSW is always a huge undertaking, but having the ability to curate a showcase of artists you advocate for, providing a platform for them to see and be heard, and receiving positive vibes from everyone in the room makes it well worth it. Can’t wait to do it all over again next year.
Thank you to all the bands, the fans and everyone who made the showcase possible.
All photos by Samantha Urell. IG: @SamanthaUrell