Fallulah / Teen - The Lexington / Shacklewell Arms London
I've attended the music part of Austin's SXSW event for the last eight years. Over 2000 acts perform every March over the space of a week at various showcases and parties, with several managing to play a host of shows while there. Every year I find myself guilty of viewing several sets from acts I really like, especially if they're not from the UK as I'm never sure when I'll have the opportunity again. This has worked in my favour on a handful of occasions but more often that not bands tend to make their way to these shores fairly soon after their Austin stint.
Two of the "Class of 2013" arrived in London within a fortnight of their final Texas show, with Danish Electro Pop sensation Fallulah returning to the capital to play the Lexington and Brooklyn girl band Teen making their UK debut at the Shacklewell Arms.
Fallulah last played London while promoting her debut album The Black Cat Neighbourhood. I was fortunate enough to view a couple of gigs at that time so eagerly caught a quartet of shows in Austin, especially as they were showcasing the singer's sophomore release Escapism.
"TBN" is a very decent debut but Escapism is a far more accomplished affair, with the album containing superior songs. The collection got to number 2 in the Danish album charts, so it's certainly made an impression on the folks back home anyway. The singer was headlining as part of the Ja Ja Ja Nordic Music night alongside Delay Trees and Pascal Pinon, with a set again pulled from her second album. I was actually hoping before the show that this would be the case so it was fantastic to hear tracks like album opener 'Deserte Homes', 'Your Skin' and the infectious 'Superfishyality' live again.
Fallulah was on great form at The Lexington, with sumptuous vocals, a few nifty dance moves and a lot of hair action and tambourine bashing!
Although it sounded great out front the singer seemed to be having problems with what she was hearing onstage, commenting a couple of times on the poor sound, but I must say I was oblivious to any issues out front, especially as I was really appreciating set highlights like 'Dried-Out Cities' (a track that's currently creating a real online buzz) and forthcoming US single (and the only track that doesn't feature on Escapism) 'Out Of It'.
Fallulah wrapped her set up with a full on powerful and punchy 'Dragon', with it's "Who's Got The Keys To Your Heart?" refrain helping to end the night with a bang.
I actually viewed a set from Teen less than a minute from where I viewed my final SX performance from Fallulah. The girls were playing a very early afternoon show as part of the Brooklyn Vegan Party. I think they were on just after midday and although I stood near the front, taking a few pictures and watching the whole thing I have to be honest and say I didn't really take much of it in!
By this point I'd been watching bands and socialising for five days solid so was slightly running on empty at this point and didn't give Teen as much of my attention as they merited. With this in mind I felt duty bound to show up at their first London show to see what they were really about and I have to say, I came away impressed!
Teen were formed by former Here We Go Magic keyboard player Kristina "Teeny" Lieberson now on vocals and guitar, with the band including Teeny's sisters Katherine and Lizzie, with Jane Herships on bass. The Brooklyn band pulled their set from their debut album In Limbo and EP Little Doods alongside additional older and newer tracks. On first listen the the group are reminiscent of a garage band, with simple melodies and Moe Tucker drumming but each track gets added to as it goes on, with bass runs, lengthy guitar solos and keyboard flourishes, giving them a hypnotic psychedelic groove at times.
A few songs shone at the Shacklewell, especially set opener 'Paradise', the slightly droning 'Better', the requested oldie - 'Charlie', 'Circus' with its Krautrock vibe and song of the night 'Electric'.
A new track also showed how Teen's follow up album may shape, with 'Glass Case' reminding me at various points of The Doors and Pink Floyd, with the odd Kate Bush style vocal flourish thrown in too, so album number two may be a bit more adventurous than their first collection. I was very glad I heading along to their intimate show anyway (fully awake this time round) as they're certainly a band I'd make the effort to see again.