SXSW: Cut Copy can’t catch a break in Austin

Cut Copy can’t catch a break in Austin it seems. In October, the Australian dance act was playing a late afternoon set at ACL Fest when their sound was cut off mid-way through their set-closing biggest hit, “Lights and Music,” as part of a festival-wide Tom Petty tribute. At Lustre Pearl Saturday night, at their only honest-to-goodness SXSW show (two members played a DJ set earlier in the evening), the four-piece wrestled with persistent sound issues.

Frontman Dan Whitford was visibly upset, wincing at the piercing shrieks of feedback and knocking down his keyboard during crowd-pleaser “Hearts on Fire.” Having a seemingly amateur sound issue like egregious feedback tarnish the polish of their slick, carefully crafted electronic sound was no doubt frustrating for the guys of Cut Copy, but they played on and made the best of it, with Whitford rebounding from the apparently unfixable annoyance by focusing on pushing the crowd harder to sing and get moving.

“It’s the last night. If you’re not going to dance now, when?” Whitford asked.

Adding to the mix of sound pains was music pouring over from a neighboring Rainey Street bar. But, as with the feedback, the crowd seemed eager to forgive and focus on dancing. “SXSW is a bit of a battle of the bands sometimes. But as long as you’re on our side,” Whitford said with a smile.

Through it all, Cut Copy kept the packed crowd at Lustre Pearl moving, with hands waving in the air and voices raised shouting along the words from a short run through hits from albums In Ghost Colours, Zonoscopeand their latest, Haiku From Zero.

Maybe next time the band can undo their current streak. Fortunately, fans won’t have to wait long: Cut Copy gets a redo in Austin next Friday, March 30, at Stubb’s. Let’s hope they can find and replace the sound guy before then. (I’ll see myself out…)

Setlist

  • “Need You Now”
  • “Black Rainbows”
  • “Airborne”
  • “Pharaohs & Pyramids”
  • “Hearts on Fire”
  • “Take Me Out”
  • “Out There on the Ice”
  • “Lights and Music”

Crowds line up to get into day parties along Rainey Street during SXSW on March 13, 2018. JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN.