A SXSW double feature on Red River: Tall Juan and Soccer Mommy

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You’ve got your at-capacity Sylvan Esso shows that bleed into an alley, and you’ve got your Dashboard Confessional sets full of fans screaming karaoke. One of the best things about South by Southwest, though, is catching up-and-comers in smaller club shows. Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie’s, at the end of the Red River music district, can make for a great one-two punch of discovery. On Friday night, we caught the madcap Latin punk singer Tall Juan inside Mohawk, immediately followed by Nashville indie rock outfit Soccer Mommy on Cheer Up’s outdoor stage.

Tall Juan

Argentina-born Tall Juan performs at The Mohawk during the 2018 SXSW Music festival March 16. 03/16/18 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

I walked into Tall Juan’s set a couple songs late and was immediately bewildered and delighted. To start with, the Argentina-born, New York-based singer mimed smoking a joint, which he passed to a bandmate who immediately took an imaginary toke, who then passed the phantom pot to an audience member who gamely grabbed it.

Did I mention Tall Juan’s day-glo jumpsuit, or his two-toned hair? Or his charming theatricality, including punching himself in the head and pulling his face down in mock tears? Or that he asked us to sit down on the floor of the Mohawk? The singer’s good-natured chaos accompanied songs just as vibrantly pieced together as Tall Juan’s jumpsuit. There was cumbia in Spanish, there was old-school rock with a streak of surf-punk abandon, there was plenty of eclectic percussion.

Wholly unpredictable, wholly original.

Argentina-born Tall Juan performs at The Mohawk during the 2018 SXSW Music festival March 16. 03/16/18 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Soccer Mommy

(Eric Webb/American-Statesman)

Sophie Allison knows her references, but her point of view is all her own. The singer and her band, Soccer Mommy, made a connection despite sound issues at Container Bar earlier this week, and Allison said their Friday night show at Cheer Up Charlie’s was their second of the day at that venue. The tunes are dreamy, woozy and introspective, but they still bang in spurts of indie-kid rock catharsis.

“Your Dog” struck strong images of defiant wins (“I don’t wanna be your [expletive] dog/That you drag around/A collar on my neck tied to a pole/Leave me in the freezing cold”), but also losses in the same relationship game (“Forehead kisses break my knees and leave me crawling back to you”).

Allison spun tales of looking in from the margins that stand with the best of them: I want to be like your last girl, she sang. On “Cool,” she found inspiration in a classic alt-rock character with a heart of coal that will “break you down and eat you whole.” “I wanna be that cool,” Allison mused from the sideline. But from the SXSW stage, her everywoman voice filled the space with a dignified honesty that you couldn’t help wanting to claim for yourself.

Food poisoning can’t stop Sylvan Esso from playing to fans in an alley at SXSW

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Electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso had already made it through about two-thirds of their South by Southwest set Friday night, when singer Amelia Meath dropped a bombshell.

“Guys, I have food poisoning,” Meath said at Lustre Pearl. “I threw up on Sixth Street at 11 this morning. It was just Bloody Mary. … You’re the only people I’ve seen all day.”

(Sean Collins Walsh/American-Statesman)

Meath’s bandmate, synth player Nick Sanborn, called Meath a “(expletive) champion.” If you watched the pair’s set at the M&Ms Sound & Color showcase, you’d be inclined to agree. A little pallor didn’t keep Meath from glowing all night, throwing down her signature smoky vocals and crowd-riling arm waves. Meath put in a full-body performance — nothing goes with Sylvan Esso’s EDM-for-grownups quite like an Alyssa Edwards/”Black Swan” moment. Sanborn, presumably not saddled with food poisoning, put in a full body, back-arching performance while plunking away at that synthesizer.

In a SXSW year short on star power, festival veterans Sylvan Esso packed in a massive crowd. An hour before they went on, admittance was reserved for platinum and music badges, and that line snaked quite a ways down Rainey Street. A cardboard sign posted on Lustre Pearl’s fence said that the venue was at capacity, and people would only be let in on a one-in-one-out basis. Still, that did not stop people hungry for a bleep-bloop fix, and some fans watched the show from the alley behind the bar.

“This song is for you,” Meath shouted to the folks in the alley before playing “Coffee.”

Those people wouldn’t regret their Friday night choices, because a closing performance of “Radio” was a real barn-burner. Meath chewed into a particularly sexual line in the song involving the word “American” (you know the one, if you’ve ever sung along to it). By the time she got to the line “Do you got the moves,” Meath went full banshee, growling and stirring up audience members in all states of bar occupation.

Would that we could all put on such a show after throwing up.

MORE AT SXSW:

Kim Petras: the best pop star at SXSW you’re currently sleeping on

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Kim Petras is a human pop hook. Everything about the German singer gets your attention: Her diamond-studded choker and her giant hoop earrings give the sense of a Harmony Korine character brought to life. She speaks fluent Britney Spears with a Jewel accent, though her pop dialect can be distinctly traced to Charli XCX.

Then there is Petras’ hair bun. It’s a jaunty thing, cocked to the side of her head. When she made her way through the crowd up to the stage Thursday night at Palm Door on Sixth, you could track Petras’ progress by watching the bun. It was as if Jaws had developed an ear for a good pre-chorus and decided to hit up a South by Southwest showcase.

And man, does Petra know good pop when she hears it percolating under that bun. Like if a Real Housewife had actual musical talent, her impeccably structured songs sparkle like champagne, full of self-described “glitz and glamour.” There’s “Faded,” an ode to nocturnal debauchery that gives the lowest common denominator something fizzy to turn up to. There’s “I Don’t Want It All,” a celebration-cum-parody of Los Angeles rich girls that Petras dedicated to “all the daddies in the room.” She’s fully Marilyn Monroe in bike shorts and a puffy jacket in the song; Paris Hilton makes a cameo in the music video. More than one young dude in the crowd broke out a little light vouguing.

Petras knows how the auto-tune and backing track look. Her way of letting people know she’s a serious vocalist Thursday night: an acoustic Killers cover. “Brandon Flowers is my favorite songwriter of all time,” she said in a goofball intro to a terrific, unplugged rendition of “Human.” Even when she’s punch-dancing her way through a song like “Hillside Boys,” she goes the Mariah Carey finger wave on the big notes, just so you know what she’s doing the work.

Petras has spoken openly about her role as a visible transgender woman in the pop landscape. The youngest person on record to ever receive gender affirmation surgery, she was subjected to sensational media coverage as a teenager, according to Out magazine. She’s worked with big-name producers, including Aaron Joseph, Dr. Luke (who’s been publicly accused of sexual abuse by pop star Kesha, a matter Petras has been asked about in interviews) and the aforementioned Charli XCX (who featured Petras on her 2017 mixtape “Pop 2”). Her SXSW set was packed; the crowd already knew most of the words.

At one point in the night, Petras asked the question that might as well be her mission statement.

“Who’s ready for this underrated bop?”

MORE AT SXSW:

A letter to Dashboard Confessional at SXSW

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Emo rock band Dashboard Confessional headlined Pandora’s South by Southwest showcase at the Gatsby on Thursday. 

To whom it may concern, but primarily Chris Carrabba,

Right now, there is a cool mist floating in Austin’s night air, and you are wearing black leather loafers. They look great. Where do you get off?

Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba preforms at The Gatsby during SXSW, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

In all seriousness, I was a little worried I wouldn’t get into your SXSW show at the Gatsby tonight. But there I was, at the bar and talking to a charming woman from Erie, Pennsylvania, about our favorite “Project Runway” contestants, when you planted those loafers on the stage. Me and everyone else in the audience were on the same page. We wanted you to sing “Hands Down.” I’m sure you get that a lot.

MORE PHOTOS: Dashboard Confessional at SXSW 2018

You’ve made a career of backing away from the microphone, in these latter days of millennials having life insurance policies instead of LiveJournals. “Should we, like, sing one together?” you asked almost as soon as we saw you. I truly don’t think you got past one verse of “The Best Deceptions” before you dropped back and let your audience fill in the blanks.

See, I don’t get the feeling that you’re salty about singing to a flock of parrots every night. You smiled through your sound problems, and you maintained eye contact longer than my optometrist does. You stared deep into individual audience members’ peepers when you sang “you have stolen my heart.” I’m not saying I’m afraid of commitment, but when you did that, I wanted to change my address. You’re a ray of sunshine singing the saddest songs in black skinny jeans. You know your oeuvre is the “previous experience” section on the emotional résumés of most people here. (Duties included: screaming infidelities, laying my armor down, light clerical work.) Thanks for playing ball.

And yep, “Hands Down” gave everyone their life around 1:30 a.m. I know that you meant it, Chris. You meant it.

Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba preforms at The Gatsby during SXSW, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

But let me address the elephant in the room (note that I avoided using the phrase “confess,” and you are welcome). I am not a deep cuts Dashboard man. As a #teen discovering music that was not sold at Family Christian Store for the first time, I went Death Cab when I was sad, and I went Yellowcard when I was amped. I don’t know if a 42-year-old is super jazzed to play their contribution to the “Spider-Man 2” soundtrack 14 years after the movie came out, but it meant a lot that you played “Vindicated.”

All you need to know is that it’s my 29th birthday as of midnight. When I was 15, I listened to “Vindicated” on repeat on my CD player, taking deep into myself the parts about being flawed but cleaning up so well. Correct, the actual story of the song has nothing to do with anything I was going through when I was 15, starting with the diamond ring and ending with parting anyone’s lips with my fingertips. But the point is, when I was doing “sad secret gay teenager,” I sat in the Regal Westgate movie theater and actually stayed for the credits to “Spider-Man 2.” Hope was dangling by a string, after all.

Send my best to the whole band, especially Chris Kamrada’s tank top.

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He defeated her in Shakey Graves’ SXSW scavenger hunt. Then he took her to the private show he won.

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If you’ve never raced to every moontower in Austin in search of secret clues, then you’re not a serious Shakey Graves fan. You almost certainly weren’t at the Austin musician’s private performance and listening party Thursday during South by Southwest.

William Abete and Sarah Barnes, however, are serious Shakey Graves fans. The pair can prove it.

Shakey Graves performs for a small crowd of fans, friends, and contest winners at Geraldines on Rainey St. during SXSW Thurs., March 15, 2018 JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

Leading up to SXSW, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, the man behind the Shakey Graves stage name, put together an “immensely weird and complicated” scavenger hunt around Austin, with challenges gradually dripped out over social media. The quest’s objectives ranged from bowling a score of 200 or higher, to winning first place at Blazer Lazer Tag using the codename “Shakey,” to the aforementioned moontower hunt. Those who successfully completed one of Rose-Garcia’s challenges would locate a box containing, among other things, a tape of a track from Rose-Garcia’s upcoming album, “Can’t Wake Up,” as well access for five people to Thursday’s party. At the party, Rose-Garcia gave guests an exclusive listen of his new music.

RELATED: Japandroids at SXSW 2018: like riding a chrome-plated pterodactyl into hell

“I was with my girlfriend and we were looking at the clue list,” Abete, a student at Texas State University, said at the party, held at Geraldine’s in Hotel Van Zandt. Abete wanted to attempt a challenge at Pinballz arcade but saw someone else had already won. Then, another scavenger hunt challenge appeared: Go to 13 moontowers in Austin, across which one would find 14 clues. Assemble the clues to order a secret beverage at an East Seventh Street bar. Get your prize.

Abete shifted gears and started mapping out moontowers. He said went to most of the historic Austin light structures in search of the clues, which turned out to be letters affixed to the bases of the towers.

Rachel Rattan, 16, of Ft. Worth, completed a scavenger hunt to win this custom cassette player and tape of a Shakey Graves song, as well as admittance to a private performance at Geraldines on Rainey St. during SXSW Thurs., March 15, 2018 JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

At the same time, Barnes embarked on her own moontower journey in search of Shakey Graves’ gold. When the University of Texas graduate student found letters at the landmarks, she would contact a friend — her “man in the chair” at home base — to try to figure out what word the found letters spelled. When Barnes arrived at the moontower at Eleventh and Trinity streets, she found that the letter that should have been there was gone.

That’s because Abete started ripping letters off of the moontowers he visited, to throw competitors off the scent.

Abete said he figured out the letters spelled “transcendental” and, following the rules of the challenge, drove to Hard Luck Lounge and ordered a “transcendental margarita.” The bar owner was “flabbergasted,” Abete said, and mentioned that Rose-Garcia had been at Hard Luck just an hour before Abete arrived.

Meanwhile, Barnes would not accept defeat in the form of a missing letter. She thought the word might be “transcendental,” so she drove to the bar to try her luck. Thanks to parking troubles, Abete had just barely beaten Barnes.

MORE PHOTOS: Shakey Graves at SXSW 2018

None of Abete’s friends, as it turned out, could make it to the private Shakey Graves party. So he asked Barnes to go.

“Shakey made us friends,” Abete said.

And that Pinballz challenge? Rose-Garcia said that the man who won that prize, a teacher, deduced that task before it was even announced. The winner of that challenge spent all day racking up a boatload of tickets at the arcade after seeing the singer test the challenge on his Instagram account, Rose-Garcia said.

It sounds like a lot of work. For some fans, though, Shakey Graves is worth channeling Sherlock Holmes.

“Shakey fans ’til death,” Abete said.

William Abete and Sarah Barnes at Shakey Graves’ private listening party and performance at Hotel Van Zandt on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Eric Webb/American-Statesman)

Noah Cyrus is here to sing popular music for you now

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There are many Cyruses in the world.

There is Billy Ray Cyrus, the Cyrus Prime, Acher of Breaky Hearts, Businessman of the Front and Partier of the Back.

There is Miley Ray Cyrus, the Cyrus That Was Promised, goddaughter of Dolly Parton and owner of one of the 20th century’s most fascinating celebrity stories. She’s been a megawatt child star, a fascinating pop culture provocateur, a welcome odd-duck vocalist in our musical canon, a friend of Bill Murray and a pretty dang good “Saturday Night Live” host.

There is Cyrus the Great, an ancient Persian ruler.

There is Trace Cyrus, who has tattoos and a MySpace account.

And then there is Noah Cyrus, an 18-year-old pop upstart who came to South by Southwest with the kind of name recognition that makes you go “Oh, maybe I should check that out.” So, I checked that out for a few songs at a very-late-and-running-later showcase at Empire Garage.

Noah Cyrus performs at Empire Garage during SXSW, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Known until recently for child acting roles, Cyrus has released a string of buzzy singles leading up to a debut album expected this year, and she’s also opened up for Katy Perry on tour. (That puts her in the fine company of pop artists like Robyn and Carly Rae Jepsen, for those seeking candy-coated context.) Cyrus’s trend-channeling pop is for parties and playlists and product placements. Songs like “Again” and “We Are…” are tight and glossy, sewing swatches of hip-hop and EDM sound into the canvas liberally, because that’s what the kids want, probably.

PHOTOS: Noah Cyrus at Empire Control Room during SXSW 2018

Played to the SXSW stage with enough bombastic guitar to soundtrack a montage from “Point Break,” Cyrus emerged at Empire Garage with a game face and a Bebe Neuwirth ‘do. She instantly played her own hype-woman, gamely working up the bleary-eyed crowd for “Nothing Lasts Forever.” In between sprints of rap-singing (it’s a family affair), Cyrus intoned “Wouldn’t it be nice to stay together for the night?” on the chorus. One of those naughty schoolyard chants about drinking and carousing, the kind of song you’ve heard on the radio and in mayonnaise commercials.

RELATED: Japandroids at SXSW 2018: like riding a chrome-plated pterodactyl into hell

By the time we got to “My Way,” a turn-up that surprisingly doesn’t mention “Ibiza” even once, I noticed Cyrus’ calibrated efficiency as a stage performer. The choreographer’s flowchart was right there in plain sight, each movement across the space a tick on a checkbox. Up on the speaker. To the lip of the stage. Back to the mic stand. The singer’s face was tabula rasa from point to point, from note to note.

Noah Cyrus performs at Empire Garage during SXSW, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

You’re supposed to do a cover at a festival these days, so Cyrus furnished “Feel It Still,” Alaska indie band Portugal. The Man’s big pop crossover success story. Cyrus’ vocals sounded technically superb — perhaps the strongest of her musical family — coming out of the sound system unblemished by little things like grit or breath or a sense of place. In between songs, Cyrus pitched hurried banter about being stubborn and about people being drunk. You love being drunk, remember?

Noah Cyrus, slick like the bumper for an MTV reality show set on one of America’s many scenic beaches, undeniably has the right stuff. She’s using that stuff to make capital-P Popular Music. Or at least, populist music.

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Japandroids at SXSW 2018: like riding a chrome-plated pterodactyl into hell

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In the immortal words of Canadian rock two-piece Japandroids: “WHOA OH OH OH OH OH OH OH.”

Sorry, I have to collect myself, for I have become verklempt. And I ain’t being sarcastic.

Punk bros Brian King and David Prowse flew into their Wednesday night South By Southwest showcase at Lustre Pearl like bats out of hell, ready to spew adrenaline from their full-throated screams, guitar power that shredded the cartilage around your ear and drum thunder that could throw you down Rainey Street into an entirely different bar. And on those screams: King sounded a little more like he was gargling gravel then you might expect from the band’s records, but power comes at a great cost sometimes.

Two key facts to help curate your mental picture of this set:

  1. King took the stage looking like he was already drenched in sweat.
  2. A fight broke out at the front of the crowd on the second song.

Japandroids’ SXSW show (their first concert of the year, King said) was an experience worth checking your sense of self at the door and submitting to the band’s symphony of turbo-charged sloganeering. Do not mistake lines like “Remember when we had them all on the run/And the night we saw midnight sun” for cheese. Such lyrics are brimstone plucked straight from Satan’s hearth; they are features, not bugs, of the most cathartic part of your night.

Let’s illustrate:

  • Seeing Japandroids live is like entering a wrestling ring in full spandex, and then “Macho Man” Randy Savage bodyslams you and yells “NOW YOU GOT ME ALL FIRED UP” in your ear.
  • Seeing Japandroids live is like watching a new industrial revolution be born in front of your eyes, with two well-oiled machines working overtime to chant “My love’s bigger than your love” enough that the song replaces coal as a power source.
  • Seeing Japandroids live is like riding a chrome-plated pterodactyl into hell and plowing down a skeleton army, but every skeleton is wearing a sign around its neck labeled with one of your deepest insecurities, and the pterodactyl’s sound system (go with it) blasts the words “hearts from hell collide on fire’s highway tonight” while obliterate those bone monsters with a bullwhip.
  • Seeing Japandroids live reminds you to put “North East South West” and “Younger Us” on the playlist for your summer roadtrip to Asgard. Don’t forget to pack salty snacks!
  • Seeing Japandroids live is like going to the nightly cabaret show on a cruise ship made of wrought iron and powered by gasoline, and Gilgamesh is the cruise director and he’s leading a singalong, and you wait to go get more cocktail shrimp at the buffet until the song gets to the part of the song that goes “We yell like hell to the heavens.” It’s kind of like your version of “Sweet Caroline.”

When I say that seeing Japandroids create their melodic punk alchemy on stage is an emotional experience, please realize that I realize it sounds laughable. Their lyrics are Springsteen on MDMA — consciously blue collar, sometimes cartoonish and unrelentingly surreal. But seeing those two guys, completely consumed in the moment, conjure such grand thrash-theater with just two instruments and vocals that indicate a future need for lozenges? To that, I only say “WHOA OH OH OH OH OH OH OH.”

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With a teen idol smile and some tongue, Porches thaws out at SXSW

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No, that wasn’t Rider Strong, aka Shawn Hunter of “Boy Meets World” fame. Yes, he was wearing a baggy leather jacket and rocked floppy parted hair and twin hoops in his ears. But that was Aaron Maine, the frontman of synthpop outfit Porches.

Aaron Maine of the band Porches flashes the metal hand symbol during a performance at Container Bar on Rainey Street during the 2018 SXSW Music festival March 14. 03/14/18 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

But like the bad boy of 1990s sitcoms, Maine knows something of twinkles in your eyes.

It took a little while for Porches to get things started Wednesday — the sound situation at Dr. Martens-presented Collide @ Container party during SXSW froze every band that performed in their tracks. Poor Bully seemed to have it the worst. But once Porches took the stage? Effortlessly and actually quite sexily thawed.

There was the butt wiggle to kick off the set, for one thing. Later on, Maine licked his microphone and doled out more than one “rock on” sign to the audience. He found people in the crowd and locked eyes.

Porches’ sound, while facing issues on a technical level, was icy and sharp. The electronic dancefloor frost cooled down the rock, perfectly channeling Maines’ sly vibe. His voice isn’t bombastic, and it’s not shy. It’s a little inviting, a little jaded and a little arresting. You wouldn’t dare not listen to his confessions.

For the band’s final song, Maine ditched the baggy leather jacket, and he curved his spine with the rhythm, perched on the edge of the stage and stretching his arm out. Beckoning someone? Beckoning everyone.

A “s***show,” Maine repeatedly called the SXSW experience, spurred by the sound woes. He said it with affection and probably a slice of sincerity. It can’t be that much of a disaster if you’re smiling that much, though. And a smile like that always seems a little dangerous and a little safe at the same time.

See all our SXSW 2018 coverage here

Lucy Dacus is SXSW’s calmest force of nature

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How could Lucy Dacus possibly get better? A recent alum of Austin City Limits Music Festival’s undercard, the calm Virginia powerhouse blew me away when I first saw her perform. Her lyrics are scary vulnerable, and her nonchalant demeanor belies a voice that roils and overwhelms like the sea. The sea!

Eric Webb/American-Statesman

But the sea can always get deeper, I guess. Dacus opened up NPR’s South by Southwest showcase Wednesday night, and yes, she was as deep and placid as ever. But on her new album, “Historian,” the singer’s intimate confessions are more assured, and she walks through them with a steadier gaze.

“You said don’t go changing. I’ll rearrange to let you in,” she sang to kick off the set, ambient noise cracking hearts open. Dacus also sang about how we’ve all got addictions, and about the destruction of a relationship and the subsequent avoidance it causes on “Night Shift”: “I feel no need to forgive but I might as well/But let me kiss your lips so I know how it felt.”

RELATED: Female rockers reign on Rainey Street: Bully and Soccer Mommy at SXSW

Dacus is all over Austin this SXSW, and with good reason. Her voice, in case you had not heard, is singular, a warm pour that becomes a flood when she hits an emotional high-water mark. On “Yours & Mine,” about admitting you’re discontent in the place you are even if that means present-day America, Dacus ripped into a chant of “me and mine” like I hadn’t heard in previous performances, stirring up a fever that burst into a cry of “this ain’t my home anymore.” I wouldn’t say it was quite a revival, but a tent wouldn’t have been out of place.

Sure, Dacus still laments about everyone else seems to have it all figured out. Doubt is part and parcel with handling the heavy stuff. The point is just that you’re handling it.

See all our SXSW 2018 coverage here

SXSW 2018: Shamir is so over straight boys and bad friends

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Shamir Bailey’s giggle is so infectious, so fully surprising when it slips out of him, that you almost forget just how many things he seems over.

The Las Vegas singer — shredding, squeaking, soaring and stoic at any given point of a South by Southwest showcase at Sidewinder on Tuesday — is over people who have done him wrong. That’s why “You Have a Song” is about someone he hates that he didn’t want to feel special. Carly Simon for the queer kids: “You have a song/Which means you’re doing something wrong.”

RELATED A-LIST PHOTOS: Superchunk, Shamir, Bully, Wye Oak at Mohawk for SXSW 2018

Shamir is over straight boys: The song “Straight Boy” (natch) is about “how we don’t trust them.” You see, it’s partially because “being true is not their thing/Oh, it eats them up internally/Then they take it out on people like me all the time.”

And yeah, Shamir is over those friends that probably aren’t good people, too. The ones you don’t bring around your good friends, he clarified through the song “Easier.”

Shamir performs at the Mohawk in Austin, Texas during SXSW on March 12, 2018.

After first album “Ratchet,” a disco-flavored bop, last year’s “Revelations” took a more indie rock route. Wielding a glittery gold guitar and backed by a bassist and a drummer, Shamir caught a Ramones-style punk wind and let it carry him away at SXSW. He locked dead stares out into the crowd and sang through pained smiles. The singer’s “Very Black” pin, affixed to a truly rad Velvet Underground denim jacket, paired wonderfully with the signature golden butterfly perched in his hair. No note was off limits.

MORE SXSW: Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is an artist to watch

Late in the set, someone screamed out that they loved Shamir. The singer started to return the affection, but stopped short to see who had said it. Once seeing who it was, Shamir followed through, explaining that love was a sentiment he wasn’t going to pass out to just anyone.