“I start to play and then I kinda get into it,” Jamison Isaak of Canadian chillwave act Teen Daze said at the start of his Tuesday night South by Southwest set. “So see you in 45 minutes.” Isaak would see few of these people, because most of those assembled hemorrhaged out of the 12:45 a.m. showcase but the time 1:30 a.m. came.
Manners, people. Manners. There’s no problem in trying to catch a bits of SXSW sets before moving on to the next gig, but it’s a dirty shame that so few people stuck around for Teen Daze’s gorgeous, entrancing spotlight closing the night on Cheer Up Charlie’s outdoor stage.
As an opening volley, Teen Daze — just Isaak, a synthesizer, a guitar and a laptop table — spun swoony, glitchy reverie with “Cycle.” A big ol’ cloud of sensitivity and swells, it was less dream pop and more hallucination pop. That detachment from reality is Teen Daze’s signature, but Isaak cut the recipe with some guitar grooves mid-set, first noticeable on a song he said was about death. Toward the end, “Garden Grove” allowed him to intensely channel “Ixora”-era Copeland, a band that’s definitely on the same musical family tree.
It was late, yes, and Teen Daze’s ambient, meandering music has a sedative quality at times. If you play soundalikes of the “Twin Peaks” theme song for 45 minutes straight after midnight while singing about planets and the end of life, it stands to reason that you might lose a few folks. But they missed out. Isaak deserved a better reward for his dreamy efforts than a handful of people left at the stage.
Teen Daze plays two more official SXSW showcases: 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at ScratcHouse backyard and 10 p.m. Friday at Barracuda.