By Conner Yarbrough
Blog Content Contributor
Sitting down to write a review of Ohmme’s most recent show at Mohawk Austin’s indoor stage is (probably) the hardest time I’ve ever had writing a show review, like… ever. And, it’s not because I don’t have anything to say about their set, but, instead, I have too much to say about the talent that I’m convinced no one in that room was ready for.
Ohmme is the Chicago-based power duo of Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham whose musicality reaches back into each of their childhoods. I would go so far as to say that music is literally in their blood, as Stewart described to me her mother’s music experience and Cunningham recalled a time when her brother and Stewart were performing in other bands together. Fate does have cunning ways of forcing destiny, and I’d say the formation of Ohmme was written in stone before either of these musicians had even crossed paths growing up.
The show, put on by Margin Walker, opened with local bands Hey Cowboy and Ama who each destroyed the stage in their own right, delivering their own takes on dreamwave and experimental alternative. Without any crazy lighting or theatricality, both bands filled the small back room behind Mohawk’s bar with energies I’d call intense and enchanting; energies that continued between each of their sets as they intermingled with the crowd of Austinites who had likely wandered over from the bar or the Gary Numan show happening outside.
As Ohmme took the stage, I could tell they meant business. From the moment the straps of their electric guitars wrapped around their necks, I felt how comfortable it was for both Stewart and Cunningham to be in this kind of control. It was their stage. It was their music. It was their show, and they didn’t miss a beat.
During my interview with the duo, they explained to me how, despite being classically trained in piano and violin, they decided to make Ohmme an electric guitar-based project because of how the instrument lends itself to a variety of sonic landscapes (my heart!). Listening to these landscapes on the album was powerful enough, but seeing them live was nothing short of transformative. I have never (ever) seen the guitar played the way that they played it. Scratching. Plucking. Strumming. I swear if you looked up “shredding” in the dictionary, the video I took of the two playing their track “Peach” would somehow have been sent to Merriam-Webster. There were actually times during the show that I found myself gasping and having to catch my breath because of how genuinely shocking it was. I was exceptionally enthralled by Stewart’s poise, clearly influenced by the formality of playing violin – it almost made her look like Sex Bob-omb from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World when they conjured that giant glowing gorilla to defeat the Katayanagi twins.
Each and every movement looked and felt calculated, like the two had somehow simplified their complex, experimental sound when, in actuality, they were just that good. I have never ached for a band to keep playing more than I ached that night.
Listen to Ohmme here:
Featured photo by Conner Yarbrough.