Austra played twice this past weekend: Friday night at Santos (which these pictures are from) and Saturday night at Glasslands. I caught the Glasslands show and, despite some truly horrible sound that buried the vocals for the first half the set, I left really impressed. Anyone who's seen Katie Stelmanis before knows her powerhouse pipes are a big part of the appeal, which she now augments in Austra with two additional singers, and the rest of the band (guitar, bass, keyboards). This was the first most of us got to hear Austra songs other than "The Beat and the Pulse" and their short set (seven songs?) highlighted the dancier numbers from their debut, Feel it Break, which is out May 17 on Domino. When sound issues were fixed, Austra really soared.
Of the newer material I really liked "Lose It" which seems likely to be the second single from the album, and the anthemic "Spellwork." But "The Beat and the Pulse," which has been all over the internet, was the crowd favorite. While that song does recall The Knife, those comparisons kind of melt away when you hear the rest of Austra's songs. It's not that far from what Stelmanis did as a solo artist, just more dancefloor-friendly. (There are a couple piano ballads as well, which is more in line with her solo work.) And when people get to hear more of the album, look out.
Domino has put a couple new, non-LP Austra songs on their Soundcloud page, which you can stream below. If you're going to SXSW, Austra will be all over the place down there (official Domino showcase and BrooklynVegan Saturday day party included) and I highly recommend you put them on your must-see list.
Video from Austra's Glasslands show, plus more pictures of Austra and opener Arpline at Santos, and the setlist, are below.
Austra - "Spellwork" Glasslands 2.26.2011
Austra - "The Beat and the Pulse" @ Glasslands 2.26.2011
Austra NYC setlist
Darken Her Horse
Young and Gay
Beat and the Pulse