Toronto's girl-fronted dance/rock outfit Controller.Controller was one of my favorite live acts from this year's SXSW. Maybe it was the intimate, dancing crowd, the 200 Red Stripes, or just the cool Austin vibe that clouded my perception, but I left their Saturday night gig craving to hear some demos from the band's forthcoming new album. Last Friday, I had the chance to confirm or deny my previous suspicion that this is one of the best up and coming bands today (if you like shaking your ass to non-synthetically created dance music).
The Empty Bottle crowd was still filing in when Controller.Controller took the stage for their second show of the night. A second, early show was added to meet demand for this bill, which also included headliners Death From Above 1979. The hipster kids were out if full effect as Controller.Controller broke into the first notes of what would be a devastating 45 minutes of dance/punk excitement. The five-piece outfit all ooze energy and spend most of the set dancing around with reckless abandon. The Empty Bottle stage is so small that they were all basically gyrating on top of each other, but the close quarters added to the intimate environment. Being only Controller's second time in Chicago, the majority of the audience was there to see DFA1979, but that didn't stop the band from transforming a bunch of cross-armed hipster kids into head nodding hipster kids into all out booty-shaking hipster kids over the course of about 10 songs.
The band ran through their entire debut EP, including tracks like "History", "Sleep Over It", "Disco Blackout" and more, but it was the new songs that really grabbed my attention. Hearing a few cuts off of the forthcoming full length (out in August via Paper Bag Records) had me begging label co-owner Enrique for an advance copy or even some rough demos. Sadly, I lost that battle, but even that didn't put a damper on my spirits.
Controller.Controller ended their set in an explosion of wailing guitars and flying drums, as skin banger Jeff Scheven took a dive off his drum stool and sent a few pieces of his drum kit tumbling across the stage in a "did he do that on purpose, or just fall down?" set-ending move.
Get ready for this band. When they drop their debut full length in August, Controller.Controller are going to cause quite a commotion. I bought a T-shirt on Friday, so I'm ready. Four months and counting!
I'm not sure what it is about Canada and the non-stop onslaught of great new bands getting their start in Toronto and Montreal, but all of a sudden I'm feeling really upset about the hockey season being canceled and craving a sip of Labatt Blue.