SXSW | Best Of | Banditos

26 Mar





And the award for most humble dudes with the highest talent goes to….

As I recover from SXSW 2014 you’ll notice more and more artist reviews based on specific sets and how they cured cancer or some shit but before I move on to further stroke already inflated band egos I want to make sure that one group of guys (and babe) get mentioned for shyly blowing my mind all week. I was lucky enough to get to play on the same bill for the Burger City Rock & Roll SXSW Kickoff show and watched our paths casually cross throughout the week, the impression they’ve left will stick with me for as long as I’m still recommending bands and pretending my opinion matters. If Banditos have not managed to catch your attention yet have no doubt that everything we believe bands should aspire to be, the skill hidden behind pure appreciation, nice guys not always finishing last and the whole bit, this band out of Birmingham via Nashville are all of that but better.

Most bands you can feel out before they ever take the stage, there is a certain arrogance in demeanor, especially the venomous confidence which most SXSW bands seem to convey, not that anyone is to blame, obviously playing any SXSW showcase pretty much guarantees a step up for the future of a band. With every label, promoter, writer, and hardcore fan corralled in Austin it is nearly impossible not to feel good about oneself as a result. Still it is the bands not fitting within that mold who always find a warm place in my heart; it is a rare find but damn it is fulfilling when you do. I knew a fighter years ago who would always say, “when I walk into a room it’s the quiet guy in the corner who makes me nervous, the guys who can destroy you have no need to bark like a dog on a chain.”   Banditos remind me quite distinctly of those words. The difference between the group of dudes chain smoking with awed face appreciation and the dancing flames of country madness which appears for their fleeting forty minute set is unreal.

My buddy Jimmy (The Bad Lovers/The Wolf/ One-Hitters etc…) told me weeks earlier that I HAD to see this band when they were in Austin. Jimmy’s not a hype man, if he recommends something there is a reason and within fifteen seconds of their opening song clarity and self-realization as to why was all that crossed my mind. They may easily be the tightest and most relaxed band I have seen play, no one else comes to mind worth disputing in contrast so that truth should hold for a while (I once recommended that someone HAD to see Sidekicks so I’m not always right…for the record I still love that movie though) these guys tour religiously, catch one of their sets, see for yourself if I’m leading you astray.  There are sparks but this is far from a flashy band so I guess to some extent even when in their element they are humble because those flashes of energy, the swells of emotions which keep the crowd edging forward, are controlled with precise restraint. When they do go off though it is hard to remember where I am even at for a few minutes.

I don’t talk often about instrumentation, I mean, what they hell can be said pressing play can’t do for itself?  Yet as I’m watching over clips to share from these guys there is something which makes them seem flat in comparison to being there sweating in Texas with one of the last remaining remnants of those glorious outlaw days of country; not being able to feel just how tide-like their overall set is factors into this quite a bit. It is how they can have a jazzy feet-along-the-pavement stand-up bass line one second followed by an almost Ha Ha Tonka revival stomp, then there is the backwoods banjo contrasting the Alabama Shakesish soul vocals shattering the universe in a homage to the glory days of Etta James and Janis Joplin, the absolutely defining precision of breaks and stops, the presence of calm regret destroyed in a raging fury of lead guitar, and I haven’t even gotten into their facial hair which without a damn doubt has a presence all its own. These guys have it all and just happen to be selfless enough to reign all of the mad cruel passion into this ruse of Honky Tonk perfection, I’m sure there is a lot of two-steppin’ to these guys in Tennessee but in Texas these guys are down home rock & roll the way we always hoped it would be.

If you find yourself rooting for  the heroine imminently friend-zoned before defeating all odds and capturing your heart sort of characters then Banditos are all you have been waiting for. Regardless of that, even if these guys were complete assholes they rule live, this is a band you need to catch when they are in town.


Banditos – Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website


Upcoming shows
3/26 The Sahara Lounge – Austin,TX – w/ Meagan Tubb & The ShadyPeople | Chris King & The Liberators | Kathryn Legendre | The Hang
3/27 – Hotel Vegas– Austin,TX – w/ The Bad Lovers | One-Hitters | The Motel Ball Band | The Electric Friends
3/28 – The Prophet Bar – Dallas,TX – Big Folkin Festival  (Full lineup here)
3/29 – Bear’s Den – Conway,AR
3/30 – The Hi-Tone Cafe – Memphis,TN – w/ Coyote Union | Swampbird
4/4 – Willie’s Locally Known – Lexington,KY
4/5 – The 5 Spot – Nashville,TN – Terryfest (full lineup here)
4/10 – Music City Tippler – Nashville,TN
4/11 – Alabama Music Box – Mobile,AL
4/18 – JJ’s Bohemia – Chattanooga,TN – w/ The Scarlett Love Conspiracy | Dead Dawis
4/23 – Awendaw Green – Awendaw,SC – Barn Jam w/ Youth Model | Call Momma | Melon & the Mayhem | Ayala Asherov



%d bloggers like this: