Hey Cowboy playing their set

Hey Cowboy! Live at Cheer Up Charlies

By Claire Barker
Local Music Journalist

Sydney Harding-Sloan playing synth
Sydney Harding-Sloan playing synth for Hey Cowboy during their live set at Cheer Up Charlies. Photo by Claire Barker.

Hey Cowboy! is an experimental synth-pop band hailing from Denton, Texas. The trio is comprised of Micah Vargas on bass, Sydney Harding-Sloan on synth, and Gaby Rodriguez on drums. Punk influence combined with bedroom pop and atmospheric harmonies create the band’s signature sound. Their first and only album, a seven track project entitled The Soft Kind, blends ethereal synth tunes with punctuative melodies. It’s the kind of album you put on while attempting to be productive but instead, find yourself dancing to like nobody’s watching. At first glance, their set seems to be missing something, but even without a guitar player, Hey Cowboy! invents a refreshing sound.

On Feb. 1, I was lucky enough to catch Hey Cowboy! play at Cheer Up Charlies. The lineup for the night varied from synth-pop, to psych rock, to punk. The venue was almost too packed to be comfortable, but by the time Hey Cowboy!’s set began everyone was too focused on dancing to notice. Something about the intentional restraint of the rhythm section matched with airy vocals made the entire crowd start grooving.

Micah Vargas playing bass
Micah Vargas playing bass for Hey Cowboy during their live set at Cheer Up Charlies. Photo by Claire Barker.

Most of Hey Cowboy!’s setlist came straight from The Soft Kind. The sound is gentle yet strong, pop with a hard edge. Harding-Sloan’s delicate voice had a vintage yet timeless sound that made the audience only want more and more. The band’s gorgeous harmonies filled up the entire room. It was admirable to see such a talented female fronted band absolutely kill it in the name of experimental synth-pop, especially in a scene that isn’t always so inclusive or diverse.

Gaby Rodriguez playing drums
Gaby Rodriguez playing drums for Hey Cowboy during their live set at Cheer Up Charlies. Photo by Claire Barker.

Hey Cowboy! concluded their set with the song “Cowgirl”. It changes from fast to slow tempos, and from forceful to dreamy melodies. The entire band calls out, “Smack em in the face!”, and then transitions into a funky bassline. Looking around Cheer Up Charlies that night, the entire audience had cracked a smile. “Cowgirl” completely encapsulates the band’s essence and was a perfect way to end to a perfect night. You can hear exactly what I mean at on Hey Cowboy!’s Spotify or on their Bandcamp.

Featured image by Claire Barker.

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