Many musicians soften with maturity, trading amps and axes for acoustic guitars and barstools on stage. Singer-songwriter Thao Nguyen is going against the flow and hardening with age with her band The Get Down Stay Down. The result is a genre-jumping gem of a show built on an impressive catalog of passionate songs.
At her Friday afternoon SXSW 2016 set the fingerprints of frequent collaborator/producer Merrill Garbus (Tune-Yards) appeared in the bombast and bite in Thao’s unqiue take on folk rock. She switched from childlike sweetness to lip-snarled screams, stomped and danced, and traded clean electric guitar for shreds of high-pitched mandolin. Through it all it was clear Thao and the band were having a blast on stage. The crowd was loving it too, heads bobbing and hands clapping in the air.
The band closed with two songs from their most recent album, the stomping single “Nobody Dies” followed by the fiery “Meticulous Bird,” which plays like what might have happened if Beastie Boys dabbled in folk.
Thao played at Clive Bar, branded today as Showtime’s “Roadies” House to promote Cameron Crowe’s upcoming series of the same name. (In a bit of cool marketing, the venue is celebrating the unsung and unseen heros of rock with the VIP treatment free barbecue and back massages for SXSW crew.)
You can catch Thao & the Get Down Stay Down again tomorrow during day shows at Barracuda and Hotel San Jose.