Red Bull Sound Select: Tobacco Show Review – Austin

It was a packed house last night at the Mohawk where a dull and ordinary Tuesday suddenly turned into an electro-hipster dance party extravaganza. The bill included local Austin opening acts Technicolor Hearts and Roger Sellers, but the real draw was the psych-electro extraordinaire, Tobacco, who emblazoned his unique electronic stylings across the spirited Austin crowd.Tobacco is the side project of Black Moth Super Rainbow frontman Thomas Fec, who channels sleeker and darker beats than the more pop-orientedBMSR. His 2008 album,Fucked Up Friends, was one of my favorites of that year, and the hip-hop, stoner rock, and synth-electro influences on the record coalesced into something that was certifiably unique.

With a $3 cover, discounted drinks, and virtually nothing else going on, the Mohawk was filled with jorts-wearing, colored hair youths who piled in to catch the local opening bands before Tobacco came on. Technicolor Hearts seemed to be cut from the same cloth as most of the crowd and their self-described ‘Arts & Crafts Pop’ style was captivating and intriguing. Lead singer Naomi Cherie reminded me of a nascent version of Glass Candy’s Ida No, and her voice was breathtakingly deft as her and her only other bandmate Joseph Salazar left their hometown crowd spellbound with their performance.

Roger Sellers was up next with his unique fusion of progressive, folk-electronica. He was selling stickers at the merch booth that read ‘Roger Sellers is not a DJ,’ which was indicative of his genre identity crisis. Roger brings a patience and subtlety to the electronic genre, of which there are very few comparisons. His set was technically proficient and brilliant but it may have been lost on the youthful, angst-riddled crowd, many of which seemed to be impatiently waiting for Tobacco’s electro-blowout that would follow.

Tobacco took the stage abruptly at 9:15, and since the set times had been running late and Red River famously touts a sound ordinance that ceases all outdoor music around 10PM on weekday nights, the headliner was pressed for precious minutes. Like a wizard behind a litany of potions and charms, Thomas Fec conjured beat after beat of crowd-pleasing, skull vibrating electro beats. Oscillating from 80’s workout music to dark Transylvanian trance, one could almost mistake Tobacco’s music for dubstep, but that would be like mistaking a sleek thoroughbred for a flea-bitten ass. The beats are complex, unpredictable, and heavy enough to get an entire crowd humming with approval.

By finishing his set with a remix of Rob Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss 65,” Thomas had the whole audience cursing Austin’s confounded and constrictive noise laws. Tobacco was only able to play for 45 minutes, but the music packed an electronic wallop that is still ringing in my head as I write this.

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