Photo: Trent Johnson

Bad Moves, Good Vibes at SXSW

Bad Moves makes the 90s kid in me perk right up, transporting me back to the days of (early, and therefore good) blink-182 and other pop punk guilty pleasures. The DC-based foursome took the stage at Sidewinder on Tuesday night, kicking off the Don Giovanni Records showcase at SXSW.

The first thing I noticed as we approached the stage was the vintage orange leather briefcase (or maybe music case?) to the left of where the band was setting up. Straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, the bag caught my eye when boarding our JetBlue flight on Monday night just 24 hours before. I found the coincidence exciting, and then Trent quickly reminded me that duh, they’re a DC-based band and we work for a DC-based magazine, so of course the chances we’d be on the same flight were high.

Nevertheless, I was still geeking out about the orange Wes Anderson bag and continued to have all the happy music geek moments when Bad Moves took the stage and played an energetic, impossibly catchy set that had everyone moving (impressive given that this was one of the first shows of the night and most everyone was still sober and recovering from a long night of music – or travel, in our case).

Emma Cleveland (bass), David Combs and Katie Park (guitar), and Daoud Tyler-Ameen (drums) offer something unique to a lot of bands in that they all sing – and harmonize quite well – in most of their songs. They even include layered hooks in some of their songs, often pairing female and male vocals together as they carry the tune. The effect works, and you’re drawn in and start to sing along with them in your head (there’s something to be said for the beauty of simple lyrics, no?)

The band tackles a range of subjects, from climate change to having “gay feelings at church camp,” and approaches them all with the same combination of playfulness and serious musicianship. Their look – orange bag aside – is cool too, with a mermaid tint to Park’s short locks and a shaggy mop on Combs. My favorite set moments were Cleveland’s little punk bounce in multiple songs, and the line “Being no one isn’t so bad” repeated in “Get Slow,” which gave me all the angsty feels of my formative years. Ah, teen feelings.

The band’s single, “Cool Generator,” is definitely fun too, though not my fave of the set. It does have a cute music video, and a super catchy hook. The set was memorable, and I’d love to catch them back on our home turf again for a longer show – and to find out who owns the orange bag. (Are you tired of hearing about it yet? Because Trent definitely is.)

Learn more about Bad Moves here.