If you attend South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) and fail to discover new bands, you’re probably doing it wrong. After taking in upwards of 40 performances over 10 days in March a few bands stood out. New York City surf-rockers, High Waisted is one act we took notice of while hanging with show sponsor Do512 at their Lounge Session tapings.
The band returned to Austin for a couple of one-off performances last week. After headlining Mr. Fest in San Marcos on Saturday, the group headed up I-35 for Sunday’s set at The Parish in Austin organized by former Do512 Managing Editor turned booker, Lawrence Boone.
High Waisted is led by energetic, purple-haired front woman Jessica Louise Dye who was sporting glitter-covered silver boots, daisy embroidered stockings and a mini-dress. Dye and the rest of the band were enjoying themselves as the band led the set off with their three most popular tracks on Spotify, Trust, Party in the Back and Shithead.
High Waisted is clearly influenced by surf-rock pioneer Dick Dale. The band also pays homage to The Ventures and Serge Gainsbourg. Along with familiar surf-guitar sounds, the group employs a heavy dose of low-fi, fuzzed-out garage rock, balancing out the sweetness of Dye’s vocals. The effect turns what could have been a hazy, ethereal song into a raucous party tune. GQ magazine once named High Waisted best party band. After seeing them twice it’s hard to argue with that assessment.
We spoke with drummer Jono Bernstein before the performance. He told us about the crazy show in San Marcos the night before that included a crowd-surfing moment that saw Dye playing guitar while floating on top of the crowd. Fan photos from that night confirm folks had a good time partying with the NYC act.
Bernstein mentioned the group is currently working on their second album due out early next year. New singles from the record will begin dropping in the second half of this year. Follow the band on social media to get updates when new material is released.
The Parish set ended strongly as the band put their own spin on Dick Dale’s “Misirlou.” The mostly instrumental song reached its dizzying zenith as guitarist, Steven and Dye faced each other during the solo. Dye ended up on her knees opposite her guitarist while stretching backwards over her legs, playing her own axe. Watch High Waisted perform Misirlou as recorded at the Do512 Lounge at SXSW 2017.
Party in the Back
Boys Can't Dance