There are very few things that can get me out of bed on a dark day. The smell of fresh coffee, perhaps. The painful, desperate urge for a cigarette or the last season premiere of Entourage. A booty call from Johnny Depp. But the one, ahem, realistic thing that will get me out of bed on a dark, rainy day is a live show in Austin, Texas. Today I rolled out of bed, fought the annoying traffic that took over town thanks to Obama’s visit, and stood in the rain to watch Junip and Acrylics at Mohawk.
Brooklyn-based band Acrylics opened the show. Acrylics is not a stranger to the Austin music scene, having played at South by Southwest the past two years. There were even a few audience members familiar with their music. Acrylics is impressively good live. Having only listened to their recorded stuff, I was pleasantly surprised. Their music, which combines soft sounds with edgier alternative, fell perfectly in place with the mood of the night. They’ve got enough range that kept their set interesting, touching upon elements of late ‘80s and a bit of soft punk with subtle pops of psychedelia. Members Jason Klauber and Molly Shea make a true impact on their music with lead vocals that compliment each other well. The band played stuff from their last album, Lives and Treasure, such as “Counting Sheep” and “The Catacombs.”
It started pouring mid-set and some squeezed against the stage, fighting to stay dry while others—myself included—stayed back and gave in to the dreary weather. Six years of wearing heels prepared me for this night, swaying to the music in 5-inch heels on the slippery pavement, just tall enough to be able to see the stage properly. It paid off when Junip took the stage and the place was suddenly packed. For those unfamiliar with Junip, the Swedish band is made up of Elias Araya, Tobias Winterkorn and José González, whose solo work probably had a large influence on the great attendance of the night.
Junip opened with “Official” and the crowd was instantly captivated. Silence took over the place at the beginning, people gently moving to the sound of González’s entrancing voice. But by the end of the first song, the appreciative silence was replaced with loud applause and whoops and yells of “I love you.” The set continued with music from their first EP, such as the beautiful “Black Refuge” and newer stuff, like “To The Grain” and “Sweet & Bitter.” The audience hung on to every lyric, every riff, every bongo hit. As “Don’t Let It Pass” played, you could only see heads nodding along, and the tiny light of a cigarette here and there. Everything else seemed like darkness, and only Junip had the spotlight.
The band surprised us with beautiful 3-minute instrumentals, and the crowd—guys with tattooed heads and preppy frat boys wearing boat shoes—gobbled it up. The band members had palpable chemistry and played their set with tiny, knowing smiles that made the girls swoon (loudly). Even after the band finished up their set with “Tide” and “Always,” people applauded and shuffled out slowly, smiles never leaving their faces.
Junip’s sound is everything but traditional and it’s every bit mesmerizing and entertaining. While their songs carry out unique beats with the additions of acoustic guitar, bongos and keyboards, Junip’s music also has that warm feeling of familiarity. The combination of their music and drowsy vocals make for a perfect show—a show with that right kind of energy, you know, excited and passionate but deliciously relaxed. A show with the stench of beer and weed lingering in the humid night air, people moving and smiling, eyes shut, under the red lights of the stage. That right kind of energy for the perfect kind of show.
(Junip performed at Mohawk in Austin, Texas on May 10, 2011)