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SXSW: The Jim Ivins Band / The Horde and the Harem / The Beautiful Bodies

After a writing break, I hustled on over to The Blind Pig to catch The Jim Ivins Band at the Ernie Ball stage. I’ve covered Jim Ivins for a while, and I’m a fan of their catchy pop-rock tunes. I was really impressed, however, by how much they rocked them out live: “Sight of Fire” and “Everything We Wanted,” two of my faves, were way heavier than I remembered them being, with pounding drums, heavy bass and ripping guitar. But I still could sing along to the choruses, which are stellar. It’s always fun to see a band that I’ve covered for a long time in the flesh, and Jim Ivins Band was no exception. If you’re into Matt Nathanson-style pop-rock with a wicked rock’n’roll bent tossed in, Jim Ivins Band should be on your radar.

I stuck around after Jim Ivins to see The Horde and the Harem based on the strength of their name and their hometown of Seattle, WA. I was not disappointed, as the quartet mixed gypsy-indie folk (a la Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) with the perkiness of a “Lust for Life” dance-rock band. The band routinely called upon four vocalists, often with several of them singing not just harmonies but true counterpoint melodies and rhythms. The resulting unique textures to their songs kept me engaged through each tune. Their overall enthusiasm was endearing as well: the pianist bobbed, hopped, shook her head and grinned through the entire set, while the rest of the band did similarly. THaTH got the crowd involved, teaching them to sing a melody and asking them to clap along. It was a blast to hear them play, and the long set ended too soon for my taste. If you like music that resembles a party among friends, then THaTH will tickle your musical funnybone. It was another thrilling SXSW find.

Since I was doing well at The Blind Pig, I stuck around for the Beautiful Bodies. I didn’t know what to expect from them, but I was enlightened about 10 seconds into their set. The modern rock band bounced around the stage, ran through the audience, climbed on gear, banged into each other and interacted with the audience before the first song was up. They had moved more in three minutes than The Horde and The Harem had in their entire set, and I just mentioned how bouncy THaTH was. In short, this set was an athletic event for both band and audience, as the listeners got into it with dancing. One male audience member in particular danced like mad, making the most of the fact that the female lead singer pretty much only sang from the audience and not the stage. He and her danced around for several songs, which was awesome. The band’s modern-rock was air-tight and incredibly well-done: the band knew how their sound worked and exploited it for all it could produce. I don’t really like modern rock, but The Beautiful Bodies know how to throw a show, for sure.