Half Waif on the secret of surviving SXSW: Cheese and Jeopardy

“This has been a real rollercoaster of emotions. We just got done playing a show and I was nervous about that, then I was excited after we played, and now I’m nervous again,” singer Nandi Rose Plunkett said as her band Half Waif took the indoor stage at Cheer Up Charlie’s Friday night. Plunkett performs under the name Half Waif, doing double duty on vocals and a pair of synthesizers and joined by a bassist and drummer on live and electronic drums.

Eric Pulsifier/American-Statesman

Plunkett’s nervous chatter was utterly endearing, but hearing her sing live I feel her nerves may be unjustified. Plunkett’s voice is stunning, with that lovely, vaguely witchy St. Vincent sound and a tinge of Celtic delivery that reminds of Tori Amos. It’s both fragile and powerful and delivers intimate, personal lyrics with a full-throated passion in perfect pitch paired with music that isn’t too sleepy to get a mild dance/sway going.

This is the first SXSW for the Brooklyn trio, who have been riding a wave of good press, including a cred-boosting “Best New Music” nod from Pitchfork. SXSW has meant a gauntlet of shows for the group, striking while the iron’s hot, including another set at Cheer Up Charlie’s today at 3:30 p.m.

Though it’s her first SX rodeo, Plunkett may have already cracked the code to SXSW success. “Go out one night, eat a big dinner, eat a bunch of cheese, watch an episode of Jeopardy, and go to bed before midnight,” she said. “That’s what I did last night and I feel great.”