By Paul Stinson
Selling out Austin’s ABGB venue in early July, Sweet Spirit announced for good their graduation from the city’s vast ranks of anonymously talented, taking on the road for a month-long summer tour before coming back to stop local traffic. (Followed by a fall tour with Har Mar Superstar).
Or at least close a couple of bus stops, so they –along with Houston’s mighty The Suffers– can bring their eighteen-armed joy machine to hold court for KSGR 93.3 Blues on the Green in Austin’s Zilker Park on Aug 3.
In slightly more than two years, the band that once played a monthly residency above the ebbs and flows of the Rainey Street clown show at the loveable Black Heart has seen their demand grow from holes in the wall to breweries, a parking lot and now a vast green pasture that demands sunblock or at least lots of cold beer.
That may sound like run of the mill evolution and yet another band taking flight, but you’d be wrong.
Following two years of relentless shows, and a ten-spot of engagements at the 2016 SXSW, the band’s fall 2015 debut Cokomo (Nine Mile Records) vaulted to the top of the Texas charts for a brief spell in March at Austin’s landmark Waterloo Records.
In a music saturated town populated by nonstop shows and venues increasingly booking early and late shows, Sweet Spirit’s sell out of a 300-capacity club is no mean feat. Add to that, commanding ticket prices befitting a national indie touring act and it’s nothing short of remarkable in a town flooded with talent.
The pedal-powered Ringo Deathstarr sells out west coast venues and tours Japan; the mystic Mirror Travel will see their first album put out in Europe by Anton from the Brian Jonestown Massacre; and the immensely-gifted Emily Beanblossom of Ruby Fray honestly should be playing to hundreds of people in berets and striped sweaters at a Parisian club.
All of these jaw-dropping bands/singers get/got nowhere near the amount of local attention they deserve. There’s just so much scene –and that’s not even getting into the Red River postpunk deserving of a completely separate rant.
Local interest –or the lack thereof— is only occasionally a good indicator of an Austin band’s export potential.
Sweet Spirit frontwoman/lyricist Sabrina Ellis and guitarist/songwriter/occasional lyricist Andrew Cashen’s first love ‘A Giant Dog’ needed eight years of nonstop shows and getting signed to Merge Records before finally getting to hear themselves on the radio.
While it’s not in the band’s nature to shy away from intimate gigs entirely, one this is clear: their big is getting bigger.
So, take shelter America, Sweet Spirit is coming to town to steal your hearts. If you don’t see your city listed below, sit tight. This band is just getting started.
Oct 21 The Pyramid Scheme Grand Rapids, MI
Oct 22 Musica Akron, OH
Oct 23 The Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
Oct 24 Underground Arts Philadelphia, PA
Oct 25 Black Cat DC Washington, DC
Oct 26 Brighton Music Hall Allston, MA
Oct 27 Club Cafe Pittsburgh, PA
Oct 28 Bottom Lounge Chicago, IL
Oct 29 Classic Rock Coffee Co. Springfield, MO
Oct 30 Gabe’s Iowa City Iowa City, IA
Nov 01 Vega Lincoln, NE
Nov 02 Marquis Theatre Denver, CO
Nov 03 Metro Bar Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 04 The Palace Lounge Missoula, MT
Nov 05 The Crocodile Seattle, WA
Nov 06 Dante’s Portland, OR
Nov 07 The Chapel San Francisco, CA
Nov 10 The Garage Ventura, CA
Nov 11 The Casbah San Diego, CA
Nov 12 Backstage Bar & Billiards Las Vegas, NV