Cut Off Your Hands at Bottom of the Hill, 6/18/09

by Marie Carney on June 19, 2009

Cut Off Your Hands:  great music and easy on the eyes

Cut Off Your Hands: great music and easy on the eyes

Cut Off Your Hands live sound like their record turned up to 11.  While the record sounds clean and poppy, live they are like madmen, jumping about, playing intensely and not missing a single note (including the four part vocal harmonies).  It is wonderful to watch a band who really cares about what they are doing and sees the value in putting on a good show.  This was their fourth to last show of their four month American tour, which is where most bands would have phoned it in  just thinking of home (they hail from New Zealand); but they played as passionately as they did four months ago at SXSW. 

Bottom of the Hill was empty when we first got there, about 20 minutes late.  Opener Y La Bamba was on stage in the middle of a song.  There was a man playing musical saw, drums, a female singer/guitarist and two guys doing background vocals.  I was extremely intrigued by this odd combination, but was disappointed when they shuffled around at the end of the song to a much more normal band formation.  Two guitars, bass, drums and the musical saw was swapped out with an accordion player.  Still a good combo, just not quite as exciting.  The highlight of the set for me was a song called “Winter’s Skin” kind of an oompa indie rock number which they brought back the musical saw player for.  Singer Luzelena has a strong full voice and blended beautifully with harmonies from bassist Ben Meyercord.  Definitely worth checking out.

But I was here to see Cut Off Your Hands, who I never would have guessed would become my favourite SXSW discovery.  They sound like The Beach Boys as an emo band or possibly a punk rock Phil Spector.  The interesting combo of pop and aggression keeps me from getting tired of their album and made me excited to see them again, despite the fact that I knew I should be sleeping.  The band did not disappoint, but their sound quality did.  I could not believe that the sound was worse than it was in Austin, with vocals turned so loud they distorted in the mics and guitar slowly mutilating my eardrums.

Even without the great music and interesting vocals I would love to watch Cut Off Your Hands just for their energy.  Singer Nick Johnston starts the show with a nervy spaz to end all spazzes; twitching about the stage and throwing down his tambourine when he is done with it.  In the row of enraptured dancing girls in the front, I was the only one over 21.  This show felt like the beginning of something greater; that in six months 50 more teenage girls will be there dancing harder, screaming louder.  At least I hope this is just the beginning… talent and passion like that deserve to be rewarded.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gordon Elgart June 19, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I totally forgot this show was happening! I was, unlike you, fast sleep during it. I still say these guys need to be on Warped Tour.

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