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SXSW 2013: Guardant / The Del Toros / The Kamals / Josh Sallee



It only took Guardant 30 seconds to win me completely over to its team. The quintet’s hyperactive, quirky dance pop is simply irresistible.

The group head-bobbed, shared microphones, switched instruments, clapped for each other, clapped in songs, and generally had as much fun as possible. Its incredibly peppy sound was anchored by herky-jerky keyboards, speedy bass and enthusiastic vocals.

It was easily one of the most fun shows I’ve seen yet at South by Southwest.

If you haven’t checked this Tulsa band out, you really need to: Its brand of dance pop is just too giddy to pass by.

The Del Toros
Photo: Stephen Carradini

Many bands mix their rock with other sounds, but not The Del Toros. The Tulsa quintet threw down rock that was heavy on the riffs and light on everything else.

The two guitars and bass turned into one thundering sound turned loose on each riff, creating a freight train of noise. It felt like The Del Toros were barreling through me as they tore through their set. They did feature a keyboardist to counterbalance the low-slung, bass-heavy sound, but it was clearly there for balance.

This is a rock band, and they’re good at being a rock band. I don’t head-bang (the bout of “rock neck” the next day is the worst), but I found myself almost involuntarily being moved in that direction. It was an impressive show of rock songwriting chops.

The Kamals
Photo: Stephen Carradini

Where The Del Toros restrained their heaviness into pointed riffs, The Kamals unleashed it, as their rock veered almost into metal/thrash speed and heaviness. They don’t totally let go of melody, as a keyboard and a harmonica solo appeared.

However, I must admit that it was probably the most intimidating harmonica solo I’ve ever heard. This Oklahoma City act knows how to throw down the type of familiar, yet powerful riffs that seem like I’ve always known them and was just waiting for them to come around again.

If you like your rock heavy, then The Kamals are your band.    

Myke Brown and Josh Sallee
Photo: Stephen Carradini

I’ve seen Josh Sallee several times, and he never disappoints. His energy, showmanship and passion shine through no matter what the environment, and his set at The Buffalo Lounge was no exception. He rushed around the stage, flailed his arms, jumped into the audience to greet listeners (during a song!), pointed the mic at singing listeners, and generally went nuts onstage, all while rapping complex rhymes.

The Oklahoma City rapper doesn’t need any cheerleaders, because he’s peppier than a whole squad of them. One highlight of the set came when he brought fellow rapper Myke Brown up onstage. They played off each other expertly, both in raps and body language. The duo commanded the stage, exuding an infectious energy that got the crowd pumped up.

I’m no expert on rap, but I do know that I have a ton of fun every time I watch Sallee go at it.  —Stephen Carradini

Hey! Read This:
The Del Toros’ Young Blood Rising album review     
Josh Sallee interview     
The Kamals interview    
Myke Brown’s Don’t Forget the Y album review     

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