By Taylor Faber
Whether the temperature is finally coming down or the temperature is finally coming back up, these transitional seasons we consider as “fall and spring” in Texas provide for a mysterious surprise to lead you to decide on what to wear that day.
It also provides a more accessible environment to go out and enjoy oneself instead of sweating to a pulp or wishing one was doing so.
Lucky for me that is, the weather seemed to have me in mind when I had the opportunity to see the mysterious and spectral (Sandy) Alex G, Alex Giannascoli, at the outdoor venue at the Mohawk.
It all started at around 9:15 p.m. on a late, mild October evening after two beyond stellar performances from the acoustic hymns of Tomberlin and the psych-garage rock infused ARTHUR.
Yet, the true journey began with the minimalistic “Project 2” as Giannascoli and his band casually set up their equipment.
It did make for a pleasant intro to the show, but its immediate response provided with the grungy-progressive single “Gretel” offered a well received waker-upper from the crowd.
This could’ve been caused by the sudden flash of white lights as the first chord was struck or the somewhat dissonant, but welcoming void that the band manages to fill.
From here, Giannascoli did not waste anytime diving into his back pocket of essential tracks as he fired back with the smooth, rhymatic jingle “Southern Skies.” It seemed that by doing this, he was able to capture the audience’s attention and keep everyone on the same page from the get go of the show.
This thought made me second guess myself because I had never seen a crowd get fully enthralled by a show (including myself) so fast.
Although my own self-doubt vanished as soon as multiple people around me claimed that he was playing his masterful folk jam “Bobby” after just strumming a few strings just once, and of course he ended up playing it.
This could not only be attributed by the loyal fanbase that Giannascoli has been able to establish since the days of his early mixtapes on BandCamp; but also the fact that he can captivate those people into gravitating towards these genuine attributes that he presents just from being a normal human making music for the sole sake of making music.
It seems so common for artists to get so caught up in their work and what they want to receive from it that they lose grip of reality. Giannascoli, on the other hand, is just thoroughly happy to be able to record music and be able to perform it live for a living.
His revolt towards the professional persona of musicians was glorified whenever he was taking requests from the crowd towards the end of the show. A remarkable amount of people were asking him to play the deep cut “Wicked Boy” from the album Rules.
While some artists will ignore a request of a song they are worried about playing because they can’t remember how to play it, Giannascoli sarcastically exclaims to the crowd, “Fine, we’ll try to play Wicked Boy, are you happy?” and proceeds to kill it just like every other song.
While that was quite a trick for Giannascoli’s magical show, the real wizardry came along when he sat down at his keyboard and started slamming repetitively. At this moment, I knew he was in the process of playing the hectic masterpiece known as “Brick.”
Never in my life would I have thought Giannascoli would’ve been able to execute that song live, yet I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong. It was an instance of pure organized chaos in my life.
That was the first time I had ever seen or heard such madness in a way that made me calm while still embracing the distorted rage that carried on down the rest of 8th Street. This insanity was then resolved by the Rhodes driven tune of “SugarHouse.”
For this being a song about someone who appears to be throwing their life away with the help of a gambling addiction, I had never felt more of a sense of bliss throughout the show. Not only that, but the fact that someone could suppress the insanity that had gone on moments before with anything less abrasive is a milestone to say the least.
As he danced from jangly sing-a-longs, to destructive turmoil, to serine palates of sound; Alex Giannascoli had everyone at the Mohawk in the palm of his hands.
In a time where some artists feel as though they need to stick to a particular sound to support their brand, he is able to expand the horizon of spontaneous unpredictability that keeps everyone on their toes while providing a safe, balanced environment for his fans.
From here on out, I will be arranging my schedule around the next few times that (Sandy) Alex G will be in the area.
Featured image by Madeline Hausmann.