The Church SXSW 2015 at Emo's (photo credit Robyn Carter)

The Church SXSW 2015 at Emo’s Concert Review

The Church SXSW 2015 at Emo’s Concert Review: Australian alternative act’s euphoric set ends this year’s SXSW in grand fashion.

SXSW 2015 closed out on a gloriously psychedelic note at Emo’s. Following sets by performance artist GABI, garage rockers Gateway Drugs and shoegazers Swervedriver, Aussie alt-rock stalwarts The Church gave a searing headlining set.

Frontman Steve Kilbey playfully stated that the band’s latest effort Further/Deeper was :the greatest album of all time. But he had right to be proud of the band’s new material: tracks like the lush Laurel Canyon and eerie Toy Head went down like gangbusters live. It further proves that new guitarist Ian Haug has carved out his own unique sonic territory while still meshing perfectly with veteran guitar architect Peter Koppes.


The band also catered to longtime fans with a wide swath of vintage material: 1982’s You Took was a dynamic powerhouse, with the group creating a locomotive whirlwind of sound with drummer Tim Powles going just up to the brink of collapse as Kilbey’s sinewy bassline buffered between the Koppes/Haug guitar onslaught.

Kilbey joked that the band would play their last mainstream hit, which was over 25 years ago, but that it’s not the one that you think, before breaking into 1990’s spritely Metropolis.

Click here for my interview with Steve Kilbey

He put down the bass and went into theatrical dramatics for The Disillusionist, amping up the inherent sleaze of his evocative lyrics: They say that he’s famous from the waist down
/But the top half of his body is a corpse. 

The band also shined its scales with Reptile, that echoing, jewel of a tune from their hit 1988 album Starfish, culminating in a orgiastic guitar explosion.

The group closed out their set with that other major hit (from Starfish), the astral ballad Under The Milky Way, before finishing with Miami, their latest epic tune from Further/Deeper (and the first song written with Haug).

Thus concluded the set, and as Kilbey stated, the band’s U.S. tour. And you couldn’t have asked for a better performance to end a tour, or SXSW 2015. 35 years in, they remain masters of their own brand of rock majesty. Long may they reign.

 The Church SXSW Emo’s Set-list:


About SLIS

Middle Aged Gen-Exer obsessed with Alternative rock, metal, cult movies, comic books and cable TV.

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2 Responses to The Church SXSW 2015 at Emo’s Concert Review

  1. Elijah Frank March 30, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    Thanks for the review. I thought The Church was superb! I saw them earlier that day, but in the rain, at Waterloo doing a shorter more acoustic sounding set. Anyway, I’m not sure if you’d remember what the sound person was playing overhead before The Church went on. I’ve been a bit obsessed in finding out and could kick myself for not asking. I’m not sure if it was the intention but it was sounding very, er, sacred, at Emo’s with a chant of some sort being played, sort of on a loop. It was a female vocalist singing, from what I could tell, some sort of Byzantine or Orthodox chant, possibly Nana Peradze? However, it also sounded like isolated vocals from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack that have been mixed, and perhaps put on a loop, the vocals of Elizabeth Fraser singing the Lament for Gandalf? Again, I could kick myself for not asking the sound person at Emo’s at that time. Well, that’s all. Cheers!

    • SLIS March 31, 2015 at 12:16 am #

      Unfortunately that music was unfamiliar to me as well. Glad you enjoyed the set and the review :-)!

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