The Blood Arm
Live at SXSW
After four days of late nights and early starts at SXSW, we dragged ourselves up to a small pub backroom late on Saturday night to get a good spot for The Blood Arm. With a couple of local bands playing beforehand it appeared likely that we’d be crammed into a corner but a handily placed stool helped to keep the fatigue away before the room emptied out, much to my surprise.
So, everything’s set up on stage and then this guy comes up to introduce the band. A wonderful tale follows about how the band’s hotel was on fire and so he saved the baby of rock and roll but it had to be given away to someone to look after and the only band capable of keeping this spirit of rock and roll alive was The Blood Arm, which sounds kinda crazy in the cold light of day but at 1.15am it all sounded pretty plausible.
So I’m ready to testify when the band starts playing the first song. Without knowing the names, all I can tell you is that it was a simple, catchy number that got the body moving in all directions. Singer, Nathaniel Fregoso, walked out into the crowd and one of the best shows I have ever seen, started up.
Ok, so we’ve all seen singers climbing up on top of speaker stacks and jumping out into the crowd before, and yes, it is fun to watch but have you ever seen someone walk through a crowd to a complete stranger, ask them what their name is, give them a big hug before dedicating the next song to them? Jeff enjoyed that bit. I did too. You see it wasn’t just the people dancing at the front who got a close up view, Nathaniel was determined to cover every inch of the venue, walking back to the booths, to the sides, stopping half way through the crowd to rest his hand on someone else’s shoulder. We hadn’t come to this show, it was coming to us.
Speaking of which, the venue wasn’t your average British back room pub with a couple of grotty chairs and a picture of the local railway station 130 years ago. Against a backdrop of saucy 1940s starlets with candles and red lights, the band continued to play while their wandering minstrel found a home on top of the bar’s serving hatch. Not content with blowing out some candles on either side, it was amazing to watch as Nathaniel climbed through the serving hatch, through the bar and on top of the counter on the other side, singing to the lady sat enjoying a drink and a smoke before tip toeing along the bar to the old Texan cowpoke who was drinking there. I really didn’t know how he would react to someone singing while ruffling his head, but fair play to the fellow, he just went with it. This was followed by a quick hop and step back into the serving area to give the barmaid a hug so she didn’t feel left out.
Then they played ‘Do I Have Your Attention’, the song that I had heard on the radio back home and kept singing one evening. This time round, I couldn’t get the chorus out of my head for days. Although the band took the opportunity to play an encore (unusual at SXSW with it’s strict showcase timetable), the show was over far too soon. Suddenly charged with energy, we headed out to walk around the bustling streets of Austin for one last time.
Go see this band. I’m glad I did.