As SXSW's music events take over the festival, we'll be reviewing some of the top acts. Here are our takes on Laura Marling and Milky Chance, who both performed Wednesday:
Folk rock singer-songwriter Laura Marling is Twiggy if Twiggy could play with the ferocity of Alanis Morisette. The British darling performed seven-song set as a part of Santa Monica radio station KCRW’s Radio Day Stage.
With no introduction, Marling started with the heady song “False Hope,” a song from her fifth album Short Movie. Her guitar-heavy set contrasted her dainty look. Her second song was the darker love song “I Feel Your Love.”
Her set veered on the edge of Mumford and Son’s meets Alanis Morisette — the acoustic guitar skills of a Mumford son and the vocal range and playfulness of Morisette.
Overall, the performance was lackluster. Marling’s vocals were superb and demanding but the energy was lacking. She barely moved from behind the mic and said a total of nine words in 45 minutes.
It’s hard to say if it was the conference room atmosphere that deterred experimenting or if Marling just prefers to play it safe. Marling and her three-piece band will perform from 1 – 1:45 a.m. at the Mohawk on Thursday and from 8:45 – 9:30 p.m. at St David's Historic Sanctuary on Friday.
Listen to Laura Marling perform "I Feel Your Love" here:
In the comfort of an air-conditioned Austin Convention Center ballroom, the German duo Milky Chance capped off KCRW’s Radio Day Stage line-up. Celemens, the lead singer and guitarist, Philipp Dausch, the percussionist and
The set began with the sultry “Stunner” that drew a large crowd to the front of the room. The song exemplified the band’s ability to write and perform catchy pop ballads.
It’s apparent that that lead singer Clemens Rehbein has a heavy Germany accent, but when he’s singing, it’s more charming than confusing. In between the first and second songs, the crowd was quiet which prompted the percussionist Philipp Dausch to call everyone out.
“It’s pretty much like a library in here.”
By the end of their second song, the crowd of bobbing heads doubled. The psychedelic folk songs aren’t lyric heavy making them perfect dance tracks. “C’est Necessaire Oui,” the third song of their set, did not depart from Milky Chance’s beat-based formula that delivers a beat-drop every 15 seconds.
“Well I don’t want to tell you what the next track will be. Surprise,” Rehbein said before launching into fourth song, “Flashed Junk Mind.” It was clear the song is the band’s next hit when phones emerged from pockets.
They moved into the acoustic portion of their set, which meant a lot of harmonica and even more smoldering glances. While the song kept some of Milky Chance’s iconic electronic beats, it turned into a performance more characteristic of Ed Sheeran’s acoustic guitar ballads.
The set wouldn’t have been complete without the single “Stolen Dance” off their first studio album Sadnecessary. The version was a couple beats slower than the radio edit but brought a new level of energy to the older crowd.
Milky Chance played it safe and relied heavily on thumping beats to bring energy to the performance but there is no question the band will continue to make SXSW appearances.
The band will play again at Cedar Door on Wednesday from 8:20 — 8:45 p.m. and at Stubb’s on Thursday from 12:15 — 1:30 a.m.
Listen to "Stolen Dance" by Milky Chance: