Show Review: Radiation City at Sidewinder

by Dany Recio

Photos by Nick Radcliffe

A few weeks ago Radiation City embarked on a cross country tour to promote their new album, Synesthetica, which we spoke about with them here. They made a stop here in Austin at Sidewinder and brought their good friends from Seattle, Deep Sea Diver; along with locals Bali Yaaah, they brought that dreary Thursday night back to life.

Bali Yaaah opened up the show with a mix of groovy psych-rock, riding the line between surf and post-rock, like the lost soundtrack to a bad 60’s sci-fi movie. They play like a steady pulse and ornate their sound with trippy synths and dim vocals. There’s no need to shoegaze, your feet won’t stay still long enough.

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Deep Sea Diver gave the best performance I’ve seen all year, given that it is only March and we’re on the heels of Southby. This Seattle outfit took me by surprise because up until that night I was almost completely unfamiliar but their live performance was surely one hell of an introduction. Right out the gate they took the energy of the room to a new level and it never came back down. With an infectious no holds barred attitude, Deep Sea Diver confidently feed you hard rock riffs with a spoon full of indie-rock charm. They are a force to be reckoned with, polished and ambitious, it is clear they do not fit into any one category and prefer it that way.

The most enjoyable moment of the performance came in their fourth song of the set. The bridge came over the slow roll of the bass and drums when suddenly the song began to swell into a moment of musical wonder as the entire crowd released a collective sigh of awe. At that moment I knew that I would be watching them again the next chance I got. Oh and I bought a shirt.

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Closing the night, Radiation City delivered a stellar set. They’ve entered a new stage as a band, and with three LP’s they now have quite a catalog to build a set with, each LP being considerably different in style than the last. For this tour and perhaps the remainder of the year they’re focusing primarily on their latest release, Synesthetica. This brought a new kind of challenge to their live performance. As a band, Radiation City has prided itself on taking a sometimes more cerebral approach to song structure, but Synesthetica is not built that way by any means. The result is a performance that is much more focused, maintaining an undeniable draw as you swing along to the whimsical colors they paint with the voices of Elizabeth Ellison and Patti King.

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The band paints more than they play and understanding the meaning behind Synethestica really brings to light how unique their approach to writing music is. The definition is taken from the word synesthesia; a condition that Ellison experiences. Synesthesia is when one sense stimulates another, so sounds can be interpreted as colors or taste. Their performance is more dream-like than anything else; without the aid of visuals they do leave feeling like you’ve experienced more than you’ve heard. I had never seen them before that night but I’m glad that I hadn’t. It’s taken them sometime to become the band that they are but at this moment I feel is them at their best.

Dany Recio looks like he’d vote for Bernie Sanders but wouldn’t gentrify an entire neighborhood. He’s about as opinionated as your grandfather but never fought a war. Words that have been used to describe him are: young, wears glasses, lost (while not wearing glasses), and hopeful. A couple nights a week he tries to make everyone in Austin like him, one person at a time. (It’s going okay) If you feel like engaging in appropriated rap battles or a couple of twitter feuds you can google him, if you’re into it:  @saidthedanny