“The Other Side” Sound at SXSW

todayMay 25, 2022 124

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Ashley Farnie

Music Director

San Marcos locals and Texas State Alumni are familiar with KTSW’s sound and slogan, “The Other Side of Radio.” KTSW spins tracks you would not hear on a commercial radio station: undiscovered artists, local musicians, and unconventional tunes make for the perfect unpredictable programming – a cornerstone of KTSW’s philosophy.

SXSW’s intent to showcase up-and-coming artists coincides with KTSW’s music department, always looking out for new sounds for our airwaves. KTSW journalists and photographers explored the streets of Austin, hopping venue to venue catching show after show. As a music staff we divided ourselves amongst performances, claiming our favorite artists and venues to attend. I had the chance to see my favorite bands we spin on-air perform live, and their live performances radiated an energy that airwaves cannot sustain.

Bad Waitress at Swan Dive

Bad Waitress kicked off a wild week of performances, shredding their guitars at Swan Dive’s outdoor patio. Falling in line with the riot grrl movement, this punk band adds a new dimension to their debut album, No Taste, with their live performance. All entertaining in their own regard, the combined energy of the band members creates a powerful performance.

Nicole Cain, dressed in a zebra print two-piece set, plays bass in front of drummer, Moon, in a neon tank top.
Bad Waitress’ bassist Nicole Cain on electric. Shot by Ashley Farnie, 14 March 2022 @ Swan Dive outdoor patio.


Lead singer Kali Butala’s unique vocals take the audience back to an 80’s music scene. “Delusions of Grandeur,” a favorite from KTSW’s fall rotation, exemplifies the sonic capabilities of Bad Waitress. Experiencing the intricate guitar solos, complex bass lines, and Kali’s powerful vocals, Bad Waitress’ live performance exceeds the limits of recorded audio.

Sloppy Jane at Mohawk

Performing at the Saddest Factory Records showcase at Mohawk, Sloppy Jane’s Madison blends orchestral instrumentation with cinematic production and melodramatic melodies. Equipped with an orchestra bathed in royal blue lights to complement frontwoman Haley Dahl’s velvet suit, Sloppy Jane’s performance adds a new dimension to their image. Although you cannot beat the acoustics of recording Madison inside of a cave, seeing the individual instruments incorporated in the sound drew me into the performance and allowed me to hear elements of the music I had yet to notice.

Frontwoman of Sloppy Jane, Haley Dahl, performs in a royal blue velvet suit lined with sparkles.
Sloppy Jane conducts her orchestra during SXSW performance @ Mohawk outdoor.

We spin “Wilt” on The Other Side, a song written acoustically by Phoebe Bridgers. Sloppy Jane further produced “Wilt” to include cinematic chord progressions, an ethereal bridge, and Haley’s operatic voice atop eloquent strings. Carried by a steady piano melody, the sonic shift to a spacey, electronic harmony mesmerizes the crowd. Call during a request block or check out this track on your own – Sloppy Jane will be performing weekend two of Austin City Limits this year.

Haley Dahl smiles with microphone in hand, dressed in a royal blue sequined two-piece, topped with a matching cape.
Haley Dahl smiles as she concludes her SFR set at SXSW @ Mohawk outdoor.

Gustaf at Antone’s & Valhalla

A fan favorite at KTSW throughout 2021 with their debut album Audio Drag for Ego Slobs, Gustaf played back-to-back sets at SXSW this year. Musician Tarra Thiessen uses gadgets stuffed in a toy box, including cans and wooden spoons to squeaky dog toys and a whistle. If anything communicates KTSW sonically and through performance, it is Gustaf.

Lydia Gammill, frontwoman of Gustaf, holds the microphone while performing for the crowd. Lydia wears a sage green button-down over black pinstripe slacks, topped with a black leather jacket. Behind Lydia is drummer, Melissa Lucciola. Vram Kherlopian (left) plays electric guitar dressed in a multi-patterned, multicolored ensemble including shades of blues, pinks, and purples.
Gustaf performs at Antone’s for SXSW 2022.

I had the opportunity to see Gustaf at Antone’s and a few days later, after experiencing their energy and wanting more, at Valhalla. A dark bar with low ceilings in a narrow building, Antone’s cinematic red curtains backgrounding the stage create an environment void of distractions. With the spotlight on Gustaf, vocalist Lydia Gammill exudes a confident, careless attitude, captivating the crowd while encouraging their participation in singing along. Transported to a pub with a circular bar extending from the entrance and through to the stage, Valhalla Tavern packs their crowd into a dark room, allowing the music to subsume the audience. Gustaf’s energy picks up with each performance they put down.

Bandmembers of Gustaf surround a phone, held by Program Director, Sammy Wells, to record a legal ID.
Gustaf records a legal ID for KTSW’s airwaves @ Antone’s.

Both “Book” and “Best Behavior” air on KTSW – tune in on your radio or mobile device through the TXST app and call to request Gustaf!

 Lydia Gammill, frontwoman of Gustaf, holds the microphone while performing for the crowd. Lydia wears a sage green button-down over black pinstripe slacks, topped with a black leather jacket.
Gustaf’s live performance brings their sonic qualities to life.

Pom Pom Squad at Empire

Rocking a cowboy hat as a tribute to the Texan crowd at Empire Garage, Pom Pom Squad’s Mia Berrin pairs a mini skirt with black platform boots, preparing the crowd for the formidable feminine energy encapsulated within Death of a Cheerleader.

Mia Berrin wears a black two-piece with a silver chain belt, and a white cowboy hat, while playing a powder blue electric guitar.
Pom Pom Squad plays for Austin crowd in a cowboy hat.

Despite the Texas heat and the hectic schedule of SXSW, Pom Pom Squad delivered an energetic performance with steady bass lines and an intricate ensemble of drums and electric guitars. Pom Pom Squad’s sound varies from powerful rock with heavy instrumentation and piercing vocals, to melodic ballads spotlighting Mia’s voice. Throughout the many sonic styles of Pom Pom Squad, Mia’s intentional lyricism lingers throughout each track.

Mia Berrin wears a black two-piece with a silver chain belt with charms reading “heaven.” Mia stands in front of her hat on the stage in black platform boots.
Pom Pom Squad sings to the crowd while her cowboy hat sits at her feet @ Empire Garage and Control Room.

KTSW showcases the softer side of Pom Pom Squad, airing “Be Good,” a melodic track balanced with strings and horns, backed by a steady percussion laying the lullaby to rest.

 Mia Berrin wears a black two-piece with a silver chain belt, and a white cowboy hat, while playing a powder blue electric guitar.
Mia Berrin lets out a scream for the Austin crowd.

The Thing With Feathers at Augustine

I wrapped up my week at SXSW with a set by The Thing with Feathers at Augustine. The dark emerald and grayscale wood backgrounded the rock boy band fronted by David Welsch, placing the audience within the garage sound of the band. The camaraderie between the bandmates illuminates throughout their performance, creating an inclusive environment that made the audience feel involved in the performance.

David Welsch (left) in white ringer tee lined in red, with “USA” across the chest behind an image of a globe centered on the African continent. Kyle Briskin (right) in white button-down short sleeved top with black jeans.
TTWF’s David Welsch on electric guitar and Kyle Briskin on bass.

KTSW spins “Lights Down Low” from TTWF’s debut EP Sundays in the South. This track is emblematic of the college garage rock sound, incorporating steady drums and energetic guitar solos.

Experiencing the music we spin at KTSW live added a new element to the experience of being a music director. With the opportunity to play up-and-coming artists, it only makes sense that such a wide variety of KTSW artists performed at SXSW 2022. Not only did I discover new music while in between the scheduled shows on my agenda, I discovered a newfound appreciation for my favorite artists from KTSW’s library.

I am still living vicariously through my SXSW experience – join me in reminiscing with a playlist of my favorite acts:

Written by: ktsw899

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