Lomelda Bring Starry-Eyed Texas Romanticism To SXSW

Lomelda are based out of Silsbee, TX — a four hour drive east of Austin — but the crowd at their opening slot at AdHoc’s unofficial showcase yesterday at Cheer Up Charlie’s was filled with friends and eager admirers, making it feel like much more of a local show than anything at SXSW tends to be. The Hannah Read-fronted band released their debut album, Forever, back in 2015 and are putting out a new full-length later this year. Read opened solo for Pinegrove on a string of European dates earlier this year, which is how I first heard about the project, and oh boy, am I glad I did. They make dusty, romantic rock that feels as dry yet full of life as the Texas landscape, and their sound translates beautifully live.

They’re one of those bands that you watch in awe because their craftsmanship and skill is just so high. Read is an arresting presence, her voice quivering through every line, and though Lomelda had to play opposite Palm, whose nervy panic attacks bled through from outside stage, they more than held their own. “Palm, my favorite band!” Read said jokingly at one point before launching into a song that ensured that no one in the audience would be paying attention to anything but her own music. Lomelda’s songs are dreamy meditations on love and loss, twinkling slow dance numbers that leave you breathless and starry-eyed. “With You,” a one-off that came out a few months ago, is exemplary: A dreamy keyboard fades in and out of view, and Read’s voice is both yearning and satisfied: “So just tell me if there’s any life in me/ Somehow I got the feeling you’d be here with me/ And I’d be there with you.”

They closed out their set with “Brazos River,” the opener from their debut. It’s one of the most muscular songs in their small discography, named after a river that runs through a large portion of Texas (including Austin), and it builds to a stunning conclusion. “And I don’t know why, but I want to say, I feel at home with you,” Read sings at the end, repeating it over and over like an open invitation. It’s a warm and welcoming song, equal parts heart-wrenching and celebratory, and it feels like just the beginning for this young band.