Tanlines Hit Their Stride In Austin (SHOW REVIEW)

Want to go to Brooklyn without spending money on airfare? Go to East Austin. Sixth street, east of I-35, has earned the moniker ‘Little Williamsburg’, mainly because its plethora of bars are chock full of patrons with facial hair, skinny jeans, obscure music interests, and particular diet preferences. So when a Brooklyn band like Tanlines plays in Austin, they aren’t too far from their home turf. The dance electro-duo played to a receptive Austin crowd on Thursday night at the Mohawk, which is not on East Sixth, with Wrestlers opening for them.

Wrestlers were surprisingly entrancing, given they are not very well known. The Houston-based duo dished out house and R&B beats much better than you would expect two fratty looking dudes to be capable of. After they warmed up the crowd’s dancing shoes, Tanlines took to the outdoor stage.

With the release of Mixed Emotions in 2012, Tanlines became Pitchfork darlings who cashed in on the last vestiges of chillwave with tracks like “All Of Me” and “Not The Same”. Although Tanlines have been playing since 2008, Highlights (released in May last year), is only their second full-length album.

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Tanlines kicked off their set on a flat note. The most unbecoming attribute of their live show is the pretentious snark-filled banter of Jesse Cohen. His gems included:

“Hi! We’re Tanlines from New York…There used to be a time when we would say that and someone would say ‘Grab the rope’.”

“Did you know Austin is the 11th biggest city in America? I’m not sucking up to you by saying that, I’m just restating a fact I already knew to remind you.”

“This next song is about – well it’s about whatever you want it to be – because that’s what Austin is about right- ‘Keeping it Weird’ right?”

Add some ear-splitting sound issues to the mix and the first few songs of the set were negligible, if not detestable. It wasn’t until their new hit “Palace” broke over the crowd that the band found their stride, and the crowd followed suit. Other songs off of Highlights like “Pieces” and “Bad Situations” showed that this album was worth the wait.

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The set and crowd energy continued to build and snowball until the band unleashed their biggest hits, “Not The Same” and “Real Life”, before finally reaching a fever pitch with the last song “All Of Me”.

While Tanlines may not put on  “epic” or “legendary” shows, they do evoke emotion in the way that a New Wave band, like Simple Minds or Tears For Fears, can rouse romantic or nostalgic feelings en masse. In an age where audiences judge a band by their “hook” or “drop”, Tanlines choose to defy this expectation. Their dance-electro still manages to galvanize audiences, and musically they seem to be focusing on quality over quantity. If only they applied that to their between-song banter.

Photos by Maggie Boyd. 

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