Stereogum Range Life 2019 Recap: 2 Days, 24 Bands, 500 Packs Of Gum

Stereogum returned to Texas in full force this year for Stereogum Range Life 2019, throwing a two-day day party in downtown Austin during the SXSW festivities. We took over the indoor and outdoor stages of Cheer Up Charlies on Tuesday and Wednesday, helping to get the week off to a strong start with swag including free sunglasses, Stereogum gum(!), and silkscreened posters, a fancy photo booth, specialty pun cocktails, and varied sets from exciting up-and-coming acts (Black Midi, Ellis, Samia, etc.), recent Band To Watch alumni (SASAMI, Westerman, Thyla, etc.), Stereogum favorites (Priests, Nothing, Rico Nasty, etc.), and New Zealand jangle-pop legends (the Chills, etc.).

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

Despite the weather threatening to rain on Tuesday, Cheer Up Charlies remained a bright spot all day — both metaphorically and occasionally literally, when the sun deigned to peek out from behind the assembled clouds. The young band Disq, whom we just named a Band To Watch last week, kicked things off on the inside stage, waking up anyone still sleepwalking through the morning with a powerful blast of shaggily psychedelic alt-rock energy.

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

Meanwhile, Berlin garage-poppers Gurr were the first to grace the outdoor stage. In between getting the musical party started with hooky old-school guitar-pop jams like “She Says,” off of their upcoming EP of the same name, they conducted informal audience polls of breakfast habits (all hail the bagel and the breakfast beer) and scooter usage (thankfully, the crowd had only witnessed one accident).

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

The first day of Range Life continued apace with New Zealand pop-punkers the Beths, Samia’s punchy indie-rock, and “post-country” Chicago band Ratboys outside — followed by Washington, DC’s Priests, who between this and our Christmas show have cemented themselves as one of the best live acts around.

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

On the inside stage, Ellis and Thyla, both recent Artists To Watch, showed the packed room two different sides of the dream-pop coin. Bedouine, another Artist To Watch, cast an enchanting spell with her ’70s-inspired psychedelic folk, while hometown hero Jess Williamson stunned with her own gorgeously dusty folk-rock.

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

Finally, the ’80s Dunedin sound progenitors the Chills closed out the inside room with their sparklingly melodic college-rock, including classics like “Pink Frost,” “Heavenly Pop Hit,” and “I Love My Leather Jacket,” while Nothing closed out the entire day with their muscular hardcore punk-turned-shoegaze wall of sound.

It rained on Tuesday night and all morning Wednesday but cleared up an hour or so before day two of Range Life began, presumably because the capricious Texas weather gods have really good taste in music. Control Top and Illuminati Hotties took advantage of the good fortune, with the former delivering searing punk riffs and the latter bringing their instant-classic debut album Kiss Yr Frenemies to glorious life.

The day only got hotter and sunnier from there, giving those free sunglasses a good workout and drawing large crowds for Empath and Sidney Gish. The Philadelphia trio dominated the smaller indoor stage with towering cascades of noise, bits of shiny glistening melody bubbling up to the surface and then submerging again, while Gish’s understated guitar-driven indie-pop and dry sense of humor — to paraphrase, “This song is called ‘I’m Filled With Steak, And Cannot Dance.’ Who here is filled with steak and cannot dance? Always go for the audience participation.” — proved a perfect fit for for the beer-sipping early afternoon outdoor crowd.

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

Indoors, Irish post-punk upstarts Fontaines D.C. played to a room so packed that none of the Stereogum staffers on-site actually managed to get inside. They burned through a few songs before blowing out not one but two amps, cutting their raucous set short but leaving a lasting impression.

Afterwards, SASAMI more than capably kept the fun alive outdoors with soulful vocals and guitar leads both fuzzed-out and pretty, and Sir Babygirl kept the party going for the indoor kids with her quirky pop anthems supported by a sparkly pink cowboy hat, chaps, and two backup dancers/cheerleaders working up quite a sweat with their moves.

Black Midi only have a couple of songs out right now. But they’re poised to have a breakout SXSW on the strength of their live show, which combines prickly noise and twisted math-rock riffs into a surprisingly cohesive sound. And Westerman, another one of the many artists on our lineup currently having a big SXSW, dazzled fans with his folky, entrancing art-pop.

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

Stereogum favorites Charly Bliss took the outdoor stage to play songs both old and new, giving fans of their hooky guitar-driven rock a taste of the pop genius that is their impending new album Young Enough.

After a brief lull while bbymutha was stuck in traffic, things got heated indoors when she finally showed up to an eager at-capacity room, proving once again that she can and will win you over.

CREDIT: Daniel Topete

And another fiery, no-fucks-given rapper, Rico Nasty, played us out with a simultaneous set on the outside stage, prompting audience members to rush the stage, dance on tables, and scream along to her many, many bangers. It was, to put it plainly, lit.

Thus ended Stereogum Range Life 2019. See you all next year!

CREDIT: Daniel Topete