Show Review: The Radio Dept @ Mohawk

I’m sure if you’ve ever read our site, you know how much I was looking forward to the Radio Dept blowing into Austin on a crisp evening. My anticipation was pretty high, and for the most part, the band was successful in their delivery to a grateful crowd.

Photoguy Comment: During their set, fans would randomly raise their hands in an effort to catch the music. I love that feeling. It happened a lot. It also rained just after their set was done. That was cool.

Thoughts and B.Gray photos follow.

Germans were our evening appetizer, whetting our ears just enough to build towards the euphoria that would follow. It was a simple musical set-up, loops, live bass and vocals from Julia Kwamya. A backlined stage kept the duo pretty stationary, though one couldn’t help but to latch onto Julia’s contagious smile, beaming behind bright stage lighting. What’d they sound like, you ask? Well, it was like a modern take on pop disco, using heavier beats and a really beautiful voice that soared into the night. Pop music for the modern age, and the best way to tease the evening’s headliners.

When the Radio Dept took to the stage just before 9 pm, the house at Mohawk was packed…a much older and eclectic crowd than I witnessed a few nights before during Joyce Manor. My big concern was going to be how the little odds and ends of texture would make their way into the band’s music in the live setting. Well, they pulled that aspect off with great ease, using multiple loop and keyboard setups to build the layers behind the band. That being said, there were a few snafus, causing the band to restart a few tracks, and at one point, having to completely abandon a tune in the set.

The musical performance was pretty subdued, which is to be expected considering the stylistic leanings of the group, not to mention the band hails from Sweden, so perhaps interaction in a foreign tongue didn’t come so easy. Still, the set managed to have some really captivating moments, with my preferred highlight coming via “1995” off of Lesser Matters.” Johan’s voice sounded really great during that moment, if not throughout the whole evening. They also managed to squeeze in a bunch of hits from their recently released Running Out of Love like “Occupied” and “Swedish Guns.” They even threw in the one-off single “Death to Fascism.”

I was pretty fulfilled walking away on the night. It was great to see the band’s pop sensibility really shine through in the live setting, leaving me to treasure the recorded version in the comforts of my own mind. Seemed like every other attendee was beaming as they exited as well, which is always a great sign.

Photo guy note: “Committed to the Cause” was my favorite thing. Such a brilliant blend of live instruments, looping, programming and vocals.

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