Like exorcising a demon from a helpless child, Starcrawler‘s Henri Cash, Austin Smith and Tim Franco began their SXSW set at The Main II on Tuesday, March 13 making raucous sounds. I can’t say music, because it wasn’t a song. Rather, it was a ritual, a calling to summon the missing frontwoman who would lead the gawking crowd through an intriguing set that even the weirdest SXSW acts would struggle to top – at least in terms of audacious strangeness.
Amidst the electric distortion, causing helpless folks without earplugs to consider an exit, she flew through the center of people congregated directly in front of the stage. Like a lightening bolt leaves people struck and confused, her entrance alarmed most as she pushed and shoved her way to the front of the stage before climbing on; here she was in all her glory, Arrow de Wilde. Dressed in a corset and, frankly, not much else, the music could finally begin – the demon loose.
Much like the opening song (in my best Steve Carell as Brick in Anchorman voice) LOUD NOISES, the songs were a cluster of screeching guitar licks and shrieks from de Wilde. When she chose to sing, which was rare, you were surprised, because a majority of her words sounded like the laughter from Anthrax vocalist Joey Belladonna in the famed “Madhouse.”
The set proved theatrical as she threw herself around the stage, hurled herself to the ground and even punched herself (though hopefully not too hard.) At one point, she knelt down to drink water before spitting it out toward the crowd, and in another instance she knelt, but when she arose her mouth gushed with faux (we think?) blood.
Harnessing the look of Carrie and the body language of Freddy Krueger when he playfully stalks victims, de Wilde overshadowed the rest of the band, and even her own music, with her magnetic stage presence. And while the drummer and the bassist were largely hidden away from the lights, keeping a rhythm for her to prance menacingly to, the guitarist joined her to a lesser degree, climbing the amps and speakers.
However, if I hadn’t have taken photos of the other members, I wouldn’t remember what they looked like, or even that they were there. Not to say they were bad, but simply overshadowed by the red-haired dynamo.
The only words I remember coming from her microphone was the phrase “ants in your pants,” a term parents use to describe kids who can’t sit still. There isn’t a more apt description for Starcrawler, and de Wilde. She wouldn’t stop moving, and even when she did, her eyes and mouth refused to play along. From start to finish, she rose and fell and rose again; her exit mirroring her arrival, a furious dash through a sea of people.
For more information about Starcrawler, click here.