After a busy South by Southwest that saw them playing six times in five days (including two official SXSW showcases), My Education — our Austin360 Artist of the Month — wrapped a busy March by playing two sets in one club on Saturday night to celebrate the release of their new album “Schiphol.”
Named after the international airport in the Netherlands, “Schiphol” is pronounced “skip-hole.” That seems appropriate for the band’s fascinating instrumental excursions, which sometimes feel like skipping through a hole in the fabric of space and time. They played all of “Schiphol” from start to finish on the patio stage at Sidewinder, highlighting a night that also featured sets both indoors and outdoors by more than a half-dozen other local bands.
“Could we get the lights turned down? Because we’re not much to look at,” bassist Scott Telles deadpanned as the six-piece group began just past 11 p.m., following a set by Megafauna. The darkness that shrouded them was occasionally punctured by bursts and textures of light; the band credits Skye Ashbrook’s live visual contributions as if he’s a member of the group, and it was easy to see why on this night, given how those elements enhanced the trancelike nature of the music.
My Education gravitated back and forth between loud and quiet passages, between distortion-driven damage from guitarists Brian Purington and Chris Hackstie and beautiful melodic passages from violist James Alexander and keyboardist Kirk Laktas. Telles, an energetic performer on bass, was as close to a bandleader as this egalitarian outfit has, coming to the mic mid-set to let folks know they’d reached the spot where “you have to flip the record” from side A to side B. Drummer Earl Bowers churned the rhythms behind them throughout, then came out during the last song to knock his sticks against Hackstie’s pedal steel guitar stand on the hushed closing number.
“We’re going to play another set of old favorites later on inside,” Telles announced as the set wrapped up just past midnight, revealing the structure of their ingenious plan to play on both of Sidewinder’s stages for this special occasion. Indoors, the art/dance band Total Unicorn, complete with unicorn-head costumes for all three members, were just getting started. What better way to support My Education?