Shows We Went to: Alex Napping’s LP Release at Cheer Up Charlie’s

by Joel Greatbatch

Photos by Adrian Gandara

Alex Napping Mise En Place Release Show

Every venue on or adjacent to Red River St is always a host to a fine collection of up and coming Austin bands and artists and the establishment with the choicest name would have to be Cheer Up Charlie’s. Charlie cheeringly welcomed in Alex Napping, the Austin (and New York) band of the moment, with a party for their new album Mise En Place, officially released both physically outside the front door and digitally around the world.

The further reason for smiles that night was how much of a quality group of acts were collected. Arranging such a great line-up on one bill is quite the achievement. Since there’s not a lot of height on Cheer Up’s stage, when wandering into the bar and hearing the first act emerge, it required a faithful walk closer to the front to see where this fantastic sound was coming from. Lomelda was the group in question, and it was an exciting experience to see a shy looking performer with her glasses sliding down her nose turn a softly toned voice into a huge wave of sound from her lips. These dynamics for all of us under the roof was exciting to be a part of.


Lomelda were without a drummer that night, so the drum machine joined by minimal guitars, bass, and keys gave an The XX sound they perhaps weren’t aiming for. What separated them from that comparison was the height to which they can climb, with the final vocal note that Hannah Read held at the set’s conclusion causing everyone to clap and hoot in appreciation.

Ama, the four piece that assembled in front of Cheer Up’s psychedelic back wall, further showed how a diversity in sound during one setlist makes for an absorbing show. What began with a semi-relaxed affair of reverb laden guitar strums erupted into a blasting barrage of angular rock by the next song, with frontwoman Blair Robbins joining Lomelda’s Hannah with a voice that can go from soft to gigantic in the flick of a pick. These moments gave hints of Wolf Alice alt-rock, though they never quite went back to that intensity for the rest of set, which I personally missed.

As Ama stylishly wrapped things up they were no doubt encouraged by the loud shout of “You guys are dope!” by a member of the crowd, as well as others who made the effort to give them personal thank you’s as they put their guitars away.

Then as Caroline Says began to entwine roses around their microphone stands, I’m sure many others were curious as to what would come next. The Smiths came to my mind when looking at the floral arrangement, and the tunes that followed weren’t too far from that comparison; what with bright shining guitar tones and a slightly British sensibility in the way the bass and drums grooved along.

Caroline Says

By now the attendance for the night had grown to quite a number, and as Caroline Says went through the set, this number were very appreciative as shown in their slow swagger to the tunes and heartfelt handclaps when the sprightly last song closed. They were the most relaxed act of the night, but a great one to prepare us for the awaited headliner.

They began with no verbal introduction, Alex Napping simply started with a more subdued track from the new album they were here to release. Unsurprisingly, a larger portion of the tracks played were from the new offering Mise En Place, and I did wonder if they might play it from start to finish, something Alex Cohen perhaps jokingly alluded to. But due to the now capacity crowd making a fair amount of noise between each song I wasn’t always able to hear what she was letting us know.

Alex Napping

Hearing the songs was at least what everyone was here for, and tunes such as “You’ve Got Me” and “Trembles Part II” was played with such a confident energy, one which would result in bassist Tomas Garcia-Olano rocking out like he was auditioning for At the Drive-In. It was in these instances that the crowd not only gingerly danced on the spot, but heads began to bang along.

It was when Mise En Place song “Wife and Kidz” appeared that things took quite a change in pace. The song is slow and foreboding, and as Alex gave her guitar to her bassist to slowly play with, she strolled around the front with just the microphone and her voice to regale us about being a “sultry mistress” who has her lover constantly tell her about his wife and kids, which most certainly drove her to feel misused. It was quite the divergence from the rest of the set, and was the penultimate instance of the night in how every act that played was never defined by just the one dimension.

Alex Napping

They returned and finished the night with what they’re most known for, fine guitar pop that was to soon be on its way up the East Coast (including Brooklyn, New York where Alex has recently been living). As she thanked the crowd for showing their love, she encouraged us to not just check out the albums arranged outside, but to matter-of-factly “come talk to us.”

You can read Joel’s interview with Alex Cohen of Alex Napping here, and check out Adrian’s full photo set from the show here.

Joel Greatbatch is a Kiwi but please don’t eat him. Instead, follow him on Twitter at @joelgreatbatch or read his writing at The Kiwi Cowboy