Lewis Del Mar was set to perform at the Pandora Stage in The Gatsby toward the end of the third day of SXSW Music Festival. After a full day of photos and performances, I was ready to quit. As soon as Lewis Del Mar hit the stage, I was completely revived. The crowd waited with complete awe and anticipation as the first few bass-filled lyrics began to play on the empty stage. Frontman Danny Miller took the stage and immediately commanded attention. His face was beaming as they began to ease into the first song.
The beginning of the concert was a blur. Miller and producer/drummer Max Harwood flowed effortlessly from song to song, only stopping to deny a fan’s request to turn down the bass. “Painting (Masterpiece)” drew an ecstatic response from the crowd with its upbeat melody and Miller’s contrasting soft and raspy voice. Harwood’s energetic drumming kept this song and others in constant motion, making sure to highlight their bouncing sound during every beat. Miller and Harwood were rounded out by a full band, including a keyboardist, guitarist and bassist.
Bass is the one word I would use to describe their set. People who describe that they can feel the beat during a song need to attend a Lewis Del Mar concert. Almost every song had a commanding bass line that succeeded in shaking everyone at The Gatsby. If a particularly strong note was played, it elicited cheering. Even I failed to avoid its power with my earplugs.
A highlight of the show came during “Tap Water Drinking.” Miller requested that the lights be turned down to reflect the darker mood of the song. His strong and haunting voice rang through the entire venue at this point in the concert. Eventually, Miller ended up picking up an electric guitar and forcefully shook it in front of the amp to produce a gritty, sharp guitar sound. This song is the perfect example of what Lewis Del Mar is. There is an extremely large contrast between the softer characteristics of Miller’s voice and the boldness of melodies showcased later in many of the songs from their self-titled debut, Lewis Del Mar.
Everything about Miller and Harwood was genuine. The way they energetically committed themselves to every song kept the audience engaged. Miller’s attention to the crowd and the gratitude he expressed to Pandora was evident throughout the set. His allusions to the strict rules regarding international artists underscored the end of the performance. Miller sarcastically joked about Trump potentially deporting him and, before the last song, simply asked the crowd to respect one another. They ended their set with their hit song, “Loud(y),” to complete the most authentic and powerful performance I have seen at SXSW so far.
Lewis Del Mar will be performing at the High Noon Saloon on May 2 in Madison with opener Anna Wise.