CHECK MATE! Choux Choux’s Single Release and Sister Show with Bands lluvii and Hey Cowboy!
In all honesty, synth-pop isn’t really my thing anymore, but when Hey Cowboy! announced one more show before the end of the year, I decided I didn’t want to miss it. So on the night of December 29th, my friend and I made our way out to downtown Austin to a bar called the Chess Club. In typical me fashion, we wandered in circles for a little because despite how hard I try, I’m incredibly directionally challenged. However, we eventually stumbled upon a building that was covered in black and white checkered which was – you guessed it – the Chess Club. I’ve never been to a show downtown but as far as venues go, it was pretty alright. The room was mainly standing room with a stage in the back lit in blue and red along with each band’s instruments stuffed on it, a bar taking up half the room, and two booths shoved into the back corners. One thing that was more surprising than anything else was the average age of the room. Maybe it’s just me, but when I think synth-pop, I think more along the lines of kids around college age but by the time the first band, lluvii, took the stage the bar had filled in a little and the average age was actually closer to thirty. Despite that, the crowd was almost as entertaining as the music with people dancing to each song.
Ok, enough about the venue and crowd and all that, it’s interesting but that’s not what the people came for, the people came for the music. There were three bands playing that night – lluvii, Choux Choux, and Hey Cowboy! which all share members, hence the “sister bands.” However, despite sharing one or several members of bands, each band had their own unique flair that made them sound distinct and separate from each other.
The first band up was lluvii, which consists of Carol Gonzalez, Ryan Gordon, Kaylin Martinez, and one guy on keyboard that I didn’t catch the name of (sorry guy on keyboard, you were cool though). The thing about lluvii that stood out to me was their incorporation of nature sounds into a lot of their music. Now I did some digging after the show and I found that Carol Gonzalez, the lead singer and bassist of the band, is actually a marine biology research assistant and spends half of her time in the Pacific Ocean which is a clear influence on the incorporation of nature into their music. There was a lot of utilization of, for lack of a better word, rainforest noises that consisted of a bird chirping, wind, and rain sprinkled throughout several of their songs. Not only that, but lluvii had a distinct latin (and possibly bluesy) influence to their music, with several of their songs being in spanish with more up-beat tempo than the rest of the bands. Some of my favorite stand-outs were Bass Case and actually a cover of Water by Tyla that they did.
(lluvii covering Water by Tyla)
Up next was the band Choux Choux which was actually releasing their new single Bappy that night. Ok, I’m going to be really honest with this one and tell you guys I was outside for at least half of this set yapping. I really wish I had seen more of their set however, because they had a significantly more garage punk sound than either of the other bands and that’s right up my alley. From what I saw, they honestly had a really great stage presence despite being a newer band and had a lot of the people in the audience moving their feet and dancing around. I did listen to their new single when I got home and I really enjoyed it. They have an album coming out in early January of 2024 so I’ll definitely be looking for it when it comes out.
Finally, it was the band that I came to see, Hey Cowboy! I found this band at the beginning of the year and was obsessed with them for a couple of weeks before kind of weaning off it and revisiting once a month or so. They have 2 albums, ‘The Soft Kind’ and ‘Get in My Fanny Pack and Let’s Go’, and from what I could tell, they were the most established band of the night. They’ve been releasing music since 2018 and from the few people I talked to at the concert, they have grown a loyal fan base outside of people who know them personally, myself included. Their sound is classic synth-pop which sounds even more dreamy in person with vocals from all three members. The band is adamant about not having a guitar in the band, it’s even in their Instagram bio, but you don’t even miss it. While on stage, the band has great chemistry when they play. They played several of my favorite songs including Cherry Juice Citrus, Feelin’ For, and their new single Mesmerize. They had the attention of the entire audience for the duration of the set and had the audience hollering back with “Hey Cowboy!” after each song. At the end of the set, they came back for an encore and played Mr. Nasty which was so much fun and a great way to end the night.
All in all, it was a great show. I’ve been to more indie-sounding shows before and while the music is good, no one moves at all, I mean we all kind of stand there and stare until the artist is done. However, in this tiny little chess-themed venue, people found a way to do more than just stand and slightly bob their heads and I think that’s what really made the show for me. I really enjoyed the music. Don’t get me wrong, each of the bands had great energy and there never was one that I wasn’t interested in, but I really think the audience made it a truly enjoyable experience. So the moral of the story is – synth-pop is cool, take your friends to shows (you’ll have a great time), and dance if you want to dance.